How to recruit on LinkedIn like a pro

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It’s simple, I was told. You just buy one of the LinkedIn Premium subscriptions like Recruiter Lite or Recruiter Corporate or the Business Executive option for non-HR people, and away you go. You can contact any prospective employee, review their profile and start the conversation. Easy solution — not!

1. Use mutual connections to build rapport

The first time I was approached with a cold LinkedIn message from a recruiter who I did not know, I was a bit taken aback. They said they had researched my profile and decided I was a good candidate for a position with a major bank.

Firstly, I am self-employed and intend to stay that way, which was kind of obvious from my profile. Secondly, this person was assuming I would be OK with direct contact from someone I did not know. I deleted the email immediately and after discussing this with colleagues, I learned they also delete it 99% of the time.

However, another colleague mentioned they had a positive experience from a much more professional approach. A potential employer reached out to a mutual LinkedIn contact using the Introductions option and asked them to put the question to my colleague.

Once they got a positive response then the connection was made. Straight away a cold lead became a warm lead, and some trust and good will were transferred through the process.

2. Research candidates 

To use LinkedIn for recruiting, you still need to follow the basic principles, but there are some additional tools you can use to your advantage. The Recruiting-Specific Design option allows you to drill down and optimize your search for potential employees across the whole of LinkedIn’s database, saving time and effort.

Do this anonymously. If you are scanning many profiles, change your viewing setting to ‘anonymous’ under ‘Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile’.

3. Check out a candidate’s activities on LinkedIn

While in normal circumstances a recruiter will get references from a resume, you can use the power of LinkedIn Reference Search to see a candidate’s contacts and industry connections and look for people you can independently approach for a reference check.

You can also see the Groups the person is a member of. Look at their activity and interaction with others, especially their comments. One friend who had identified a potential employee was so glad he checked, as he found out from the LinkedIn Groups activity that the person — who seemed very qualified on paper — was really was out of their depth, not suitable for the role, and very defensive when challenged.

4. Always be polite

Avoid common mistakes that will really annoy new contacts, and use LinkedIn to build relationships instead.

  • Don’t send an invitation to connect stating that you’re a “friend” if you don’t know the person. Find a connection in common and ask for an introduction. It’s simple, plain manners.
  • Write a customised message to potential candidates. One-size-fits-all messages are seen as lazy.
  • Read a person’s profile carefully before contacting them. One recruiter contacted a friend for a job in a company where they had actually worked 5 years previously and was retrenched from the position to make way for the owner’s daughter. Some expletives were included in the reply.

In summary, LinkedIn is just another tool in your arsenal. It must be used wisely and with care to maximise the benefit and not get you labelled as a pest.