Recruiters: Don’t Kill LinkedIn

One of the most interesting tracks I have been involved in this year was hosted by a Google sourcer, Wojciech Smailinski at #TruDublin, and he made a really interesting point that really made me sit up and take notice of what he was saying. The point he was making was that the type of engineers he is recruiting for probably won’t have a LinkedIn profile, or at best a sketchy one. He needs to look elsewhere to identify the people he is looking for. You can find the full blog post HERE.

When Wocjech made this point, I asked him why this was the case. His answer was that the people he was looking for on the most part weren’t looking for a job. They were usually working for themselves or on contract, and had chosen to hide their details because they were fed up of being hit by messages from recruiters and sourcers, usually with irrelevant opportunities. The example Wocjech gave was of an engineer at Google who past a difficult qualification that was in demand. he updated his LinkedIn profile, and thanks to alerts, was contacted by phone, mobile and e-mail by 90 recruiters within 30 minutes, the result, he quickly took the qualifications off his profile.

Since hearing this I have been exploring this point further. It seems that quite a few people are thinking the same thing in all kinds of fields, and only update their profiles when they are serious about looking for a job. This is great as an early advisory system of intent (think Radar on Bullhorn Reach), but results in the rest of the possible candidates hidden from view, and this is not a good thing in terms of what LinkedIn can offer recruiters.

LinkedIn has the best structured professional data, which makes it easier to identify what people do, or have done. Most recruiters use LinkedIn as one of their main sources for identifying potential candidates. This has seen many recruiters move from a post and pray strategy in the job board age, through to a tactic of source and spray. Use LinkedIn data to find everyone that fits a job title or skill and spray out the same cut and paste messaging to everyone in the hope that some of the messages will land in the right place.  The problem with this approach is that most of the messages are landing in the wrong place, and each misplaced irrelevant message does damage to brand recruiter, and to the network as a whole. There are many more losses than wins, and any short-term gain is leading to long term pain.

When I first looked at the paid for Recruiter product on LinkedIn, the volume of results and messages available for agency recruiters was about half that of their corporate counter parts because agency recruiters were considered to be the worst offenders of this practice. From what I understand, this is now changing with the same volumes open to anyone who is willing to pay. I don’t think this is a bad thing, all recruiters should be equal. I’m calling on all recruiters on all sides of the fence to recognise this and exercise some caution and best practice to avoid the channel losing its relevance, as people look to hide or omit details.

Best practice for me is about treating each match and each message as an individual communication rather than a mass spam out. That means actually looking at profiles of people you want to message beyond a key-word search to make sure there is real relevance between the profile and the opportunity. Your message should give reference to the relevance of the opportunity and be tailored to where the two match up. Each message should be tailored to the individual. Cut out the BS statements that seem to prevail, things like “I have a perfect job for you” when you know nothing about the target. This will not only enhance your chances of making a successful connection, but also your reputation. Use the 3 R’s as a rule to your LinkedIn messaging:

> Research

Do some real matching before identifying who you want to message.

> Relevance

Only short list people for a message where there is genuine fit on both sides.

> Reference

Include the reasons for the match in your message. Be clear this is not a random message.

Taking the sniper approach to sourcing and messaging changes everything. LinkedIn is the primary sourcing channel for recruiters. The channel has the potential to move in to being the primary people reference point for all things on-line. Recruiters have the opportunity to build it or break it according to how we conduct ourselves in this channel. Lets play the long game and move away from the quick buck. You know it makes sense.





10 comments on “Recruiters: Don’t Kill LinkedIn

  1. Great to hear from you on this topic Bill.

    For me case is simple, LinkedIn pulled everyone into the database selling “professional networking”. They maintained basics of networking like 3 degree level reach, introductions through common contacts etc and provided enough “firewalls” to protect spamming. Only people with relevant network could reach out to each other with proper “networking protocol”.

    Now with LinkedIn Recruiter (and other paid accounts) LinkedIn broke their own rules. Pay me and all network is yours! On top of it, they have made LinkedIn Recruiter looks like a job portal to seduce recruiters. You have “mass-InMail” facility for god’s sake to officially bombard everyone. They have also trimmed down some “cheat sheets” which could have been used by Recruiters – well, blame it on us as they were all over internet blogs.

    Recruiters are using it in a same way they use job portals. The very “core” of networking and heart of LinkedIn is lost with this approach. Yes, LinkedIn earns big money but this may go against their loyal users who may shy away.

    My take is simple that LinkedIn should stay as a pure networking portal with enough side-ways to let users walk and talk across each other. Copy pasting job portal is not a best way – LinkedIn will loose it’s USP soon.

    Make no mistake – I love LinkedIn. Good, Intelligent and smart recruiters will use it in a “networking” fashion which is best for recruiters and users both.

  2. Well said Sarang. I always respected Linkedin. But increasingly, I have seen this turning out to be a job portal. Assuming that recruiters themselves will have a self control of not abusing this channel is naive. The core USP of Linkedin is the members who can vouch for their professional connections. I think we should be doing our own bit in accepting connections/approving professional or technical groups. This will help us keep the network clean.

  3. Agree with the above comments. I don’t think blaming the recruiters is correct. I don’t deny that there are rogue recruiters who spam mindlessly. But, Linkedin has to share a major part of the blame here. Very subtly, they are playing a double game. They are inviting consumers to be part of a “business networking” site. At the same time they are blatantly inviting recruiters to pay money and leverage the database.

    This is causing the disconnect. Many people are on Linkedin, not because they are looking for a job, but, to expand their professional network. Such people; like the Google engineer mentioned in the article; will get offended even if they receive messages about relevant job offers. What does a recruiter do? How can a recruiter know that someone isn’t looking for a job without sending a message?

  4. Good words Bill, but the horse has bolted.

    Recruiters have been ruining LinkedIn for years. It’s a lazy headhunters playground, and people can make massive success through sniper effect, not getting involved in networking, and merely making it an extension of their database.

    The reality is, LinkedIn does little to stop it. If LinkedIn lose the recruiters, they diminish the activity massively; hence the money pot is in the recruiter accounts and hiring options.

    There is sure is `good practice`, I adopt what I consider to be `good practice` – but often for the average target-choked recruiter – the direct and unplanned route still works. Mostly, people WANT to be approached about new roles, and rarely take a dim view of recruiter attention – apart from the occasional shouter.

    I don’t love LinkedIn very much – but it serves me well, and is data beyond my normal means. Who needs a database anymore, when you have LinkedIn…?

  5. Think the article is bang on, candidate identification and target a small group of the best individuals, with a personal message. I’m hearing from candidates that now getting over whelm with agency recruiters sending inmails with irrelevant job positions.
    This is self defeating, not quality driven and highly skilled passive candidates away from a valuable tool for all recruiters.
    Think that agencies need to move away from been driven by numbers numbers numbers to quality, quality, quality.

  6. With a recruiter licence you only get to send 50 inmails monthly although if you’re connected though groups then you can send them for free. I think it’s a good job LinkedIn have limited these as if they didn’t it would be the end of linked in as recruiters would just rinse it. Remember it’s the recruiters and the other paying members (advertisers) that give everyone else the opportunity to network in this manner. If it weren’t for them then it would be bye bye linked in. Alternatively if every user or everyone listed on linked in paid a monthly subscription fee to have their detail listed then they could afford to do away with recruiter licence. Would you be prepared to pay for your presence on LinkedIn?

  7. First off, in the sense of full disclosure: I am a Recruiter.

    That being said I agree with the article. My only disagreement with anything is where the blame lies. LinkedIn is a business and they are in business to make money, and recruiters are willing to pay a premium to use LinkedIn as a tool. (But those tools are not nearly as advanced as they seem).

    The issue here lies not in the tools but how they are leveraged. The recruiting industry, especially in IT, is on course to implode. More and more recruiters are being hired, not to effectively network and recruit, but to be human SPAM bots. This thought process is if you place 10% of the people to you talk to then talk to 10x more to make 10x more placements. There is no thought to quality, just quantity. To be honest I was almost fired from a very large IT staffing firm because I wasn’t hitting the quantity they wanted. I explained that I was getting more placements and better using my time, their response was that if I did that 10x more I would be 10x more successful. This is whats killing the industry and why qualified candidates avoid recruiters.

    I am now lucky enough to work for a company who understands that we need to redefine the industry and build a team that believes it. We submit only 3-4 candidates a week, only 1-2 people to each position, and last year we had a 92% close rate.

    Recruiting needs to get back to Quality over Quantity.

  8. Good numbers trace. How many candidates do you need to speak to to get three qualified candidates to submit?

  9. […] looking at these two recent blog posts to hear some great advice for recruiters from Bill Boorman, Recruiters: Don’t Kill LinkedIn, and Glen Cathey, Do Recruiters Ruin […]

  10. Good point Bill, though will it help? It is LinkedIn’s reposnibility to make sure they stay popular, but as it is a publicly listed cy, i wonder if it will work out, let’s hope so, for everyoen.
    I noticed quite a while ago already that some groups took the point of adding ‘recruiters not welcome’ on the group’s title.
    Well put and thanks again

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