How to Use LinkedIn to Recruit Passive Candidates
Is LinkedIn worth $90 a share? If you’re a recruiter, it’s worth a heck of a lot more if you know how to recruit and use it properly. If you just think it’s a great research tool with millions of names of passive candidates, you’re missing its real value. In this case it’s worth a heck of a lot less. Worse, it will be worth even less than that once everyone gets the same list of names.

“Simply put: you can’t source and hire passive candidates who aren’t looking for a new job the same way you source and hire active candidates who are.” – Lou Adler

With this as a backdrop, here are just a few ideas you can use to leverage the value of LinkedIn and their corporate recruiter product, LinkedIn Recruiter:

1. Don’t send boring emails or post traditional job descriptions. In a recent survey we conducted with LinkedIn, only 8% of the fully-employed members on LinkedIn were actively looking for a new job and open to consider a lateral transfer. Another 10% were somewhat active, but wanted a better job than what they now had. 60% were open to take a call from a recruiter if the job represented a better career opportunity. So if your advertising isn’t great, and you can’t demonstrate your jobs are career moves, at best you’re only targeting 18% of the LinkedIn membership!

2. Aggressively expand your network by connecting in real time with all of your prospects. When you get someone on the phone, make sure you connect with them right away, even during the call. Make a habit of this. For one thing, this will quickly expand your network. As your network builds you’ll also get more referrals from others in your network and this in turn will allow you to search through more names on subsequent searches. Even more important, you’ll be able to quickly search on your connections’ connections if the person you’re talking with isn’t ideal for your open position. You need to take our Basics of Recruiting Passive Candidates Using LinkedIn course to optimize this technique.

3. Implement the “Cherry Picker” reverse referral system. If you’ve maintained applicant control during the qualification phase, you can then decide if the candidate should be recruited for the spot or not. If not, search on the candidate’s connections to see if any of these people are better suited for your open spot. If they are, you’ll need to diplomatically suggest that the person is not right for the job, and then ask about some of these connections. Asking, “Who do you know?” is much less effective than asking, “Is Sally Smith a strong person?” Even better, Sally Smith will call you back and you already know she’s a star!

4. Establish a PERP program at your company. Now that LinkedIn is making it easier to connect with your 1st degree connections’ connections, it’s important to take full advantage of this capability. The best way to do this is to implement a Proactive Employee Referral Program (PERP). You do this by establishing a formal company program for your employees to connect with their best connections from their prior companies. When a new job opens you’ll then be able to quickly search through you employees’ connections to find some hot, pre-qualified referrals who will call you back. It’s important to launch this right away as a defense mechanism, since all of your best employees will also be connected the same way with other opportunities at other firms.

5. Use LinkedIn profiles to “clone” your job and tame your hiring managers. Now that you know why traditional job descriptions are ineffective, it’s important to convince your hiring managers. Otherwise, you’ll never reach the 60% of high potential people on LinkedIn who are looking for a career move rather than a lateral transfer. One way to do this is by preparing a performance profile during the intake meeting. During this meeting you also should be conducting a general search through LinkedIn looking for potential star candidates who meet the basic requirements, but might be off a little bit with respect to years of experience, industry, or academic background. Review these profiles with your hiring manager and ask what he/she thinks. When managers see a top-notch high-potential person with a slightly different background they become more open-minded about their real job needs.

Used properly, LinkedIn Recruiter has the potential to be a game-changer for organizations that want to improve their ability to hire more top-notch passive candidates. But caution should be observed: don’t just give your recruiters a subscription and expect the world to change.