How to recruit through LinkedIn?

25 January 2011 By Northern Lights

How to recruit through LinkedIn? image

linkedin_icon‘Do you know any way to do recruitment on/via LinkedIn?’  I was recently asked this by a fellow PR professional – and it struck me it would be a good blog topic.

For those still new to LinkedIn it is an online networking site.   Many people say – I have 1,000 contacts on my database.  Why would I want to join or use LinkedIn?

1. Trawling your contacts to find good recruits

This is to miss the whole point of LinkedIn.  Its power is in the access to and getting to know the second and third levels of your contacts.  It’s not about who you know – but about who they know.  And that’s why it is such a great recruitment tool.

Just to make the point.  I currently have 293 contacts.  This gives me access to the 45,500 people that these people know.  I can then reach 3.3m people through the contacts of these contacts – see how this works below.

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So imagine you are looking to recruit an engineer who could help you sell into China.  Your network of a few hundred – or even a few thousand – is unlikely to give you many possibilities of people you know.  However, if you tap into who your contacts know (including your own employees if you are LinkedIn to them), this becomes a considerable database.

And if you then tap into the wider market of your contacts, among 3million people, there is a high chance of finding someone ideal.

2. Basic recruitment techniques on LinkedIn

So how do you find potential recruits on LinkedIn?

The quickest way is to use Advanced search – at the top right corner of your profile.  Click on this and then fill in your search.

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I recently used this to find a PR freelance professional.  Under Industries, I ticked the ‘Public Relations and Communications’ box.  I then put in our postcode and put the search within 50 miles (just below the postal code).  And finally put ‘Freelance’ into the Title box – I could have done this as a Keyword.

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I confess.  This was the first time I had used LinkedIn for recruitment – and I was stunned that 78 names came up.

Quite a few of these had been freelance in the past and were currently employed – so, OK, I discounted those straight away.

Some were former journalists whom I knew – and had not realised had gone freelance.  And 3 or 4 had exactly the profiles I was looking for – genuine freelancers who clearly enjoy the flexibility of this role and have been doing this for years.  One was someone I have known in different guises for 20 years – but would never have thought of.  I emailed her – but she has got a number of commitments and could not take on more work just now.

And finally I honed in on one person whom I had never met or heard of – but was connected to one of the region’s business leaders whom I respect enormously.  If he rated her, she would be first class and enjoy business.  I could have asked him to introduce me but I found her website and just approached direct.  We have now met, she is exactly the quality we want and we have agreed she would like to work with us on some projects.

3. How do I use LinkedIn’s own recruitment tool?


We’ve not used this in our business, but researched what it is about.

LinkedIn offers additional services that you have to pay for, such as LinkedIn Recruiter.  There is a promotional video on YouTube which pretty much explains the whole service – except for the cost.  My understanding is that they quote you a fee depending on your company size, whether you are a professional recruitment business and what you want to do with it.

You can also post jobs on LinkedIn for a fee.

I found a number of useful websites which will give you further views on how this all works

Susan M Heathfield – practical examples of recruiting through various job sites and LinkedIn

Happy About LinkedIn for recruiting – free e-book on recruiting

How to use LinkedIn as a recruiting tool – good step-by-step on paying to use LinkedIn

And a LinkedIn discussion forum on practical experiences of using LinkedIn for recruiting and some pros and cons.

If you are recruiting significant numbers or real specialisms, paying for wider access to people makes sense.  However, for many businesses, their own LinkedIn networks may well be all they need.

4. Can others look at my employees to recruit them?


The simple answer is yes.  Can you stop this?  Increasingly difficult to do.  A few companies have put a complete block on any employees having a LinkedIn profile – particularly banks where security is such an issue.

However, even they are looking at how they can open up LinkedIn without damaging security, rather than saying they will never allow LinkedIn.

As our client, Martin Wright at the Arena Group, said:  “The frightening side of LinkedIn is that it will also be used to try and poach our staff.  But our strategy is to be an employer of choice and we continue to win awards for Best Employer, so it’s up to us to make sure that our employees are not tempted.  We will have to be wary though, particularly for sales people where they tend to be mobile.”

Have you got good or bad experiences to share about how LinkedIn is being used for recruiting?

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Written by Northern Lights

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