Its almost a month since my previous post. As part of ramping up our team, we have been training them about how to use the job boards effectively, its an art that takes some time to master. I keep saying if you can locate the right candidate faster than others – relying on job boards is perfectly fine. But as you move from quick contract placements to Full time (or FTE) positions, it becomes harder and harder to find good candidates on job boards.

That’s where the next strategy of a good “Linked-in Recruiter” comes about. True Linked-in is pretty well known and many people use it; In fact there are 65 million users (mostly professionals). However a majority of them, say 80% may not be actively looking for a job, so to be effective at using it and tapping into it is an art as well. Here are some of the tips to get better at using this resource.

  • Prepare your profile – Create a good profile with nice picture, add a detailed description of your job role, skills, education information as well as some fun stuff like your favorite pastime or movie etc. Then make sure you describe your company and who you are recruiting for really well (should be a sales pitch for the company as well as positions you are recruiting for)
  • Build your network – Besides inviting your friends, colleagues, family into your network, feel free to invite these sales/marketing professionals who have large number of connections. These folks normally “accept” most requests on their way to reaching astronomical number of (many have 5000 or more) connections.  After that start joining associations related to your work – Examples could be Local “Networking Groups” in each geographic area that you belong to / recruiting in – say Seattle area professionals or south bayarea networking events etc. In addition join groups related to specific disciplines you are recruiting in for example – SharePoint users and developers, Ruby on rails etc. Also add yourself to plenty of recruiting groups that are out there. Just search for “Groups” using keywords and majority of them are easy to join and easily get accepted. Then start inviting some of the members to your network to build your network. Its pretty easy through these mechanisms to add 500 or more people in a matter of days.
  • Share updates / tweets – This helps to be on top of most user feeds. It is important to post to your network the current job opportunities you have and some interesting stories/happenings from your daily life such as technology trends, funny stories about candidate conversations (minus the name ofcourse), difficulty you are facing in certain types positions etc. This helps to broadcast your updates to your network. In addition you should be active in some of the groups you join – perfectly OK to ask dumb questions or add comments to ongoing threads. Another tactic is to add a bunch of Linkedin Apps that capture some information like TripIt. All of these tactics will make you more visible.
  • Identify Candidates – Use fewer search terms than job boards since its very unlikely candidates would put detailed skills and capabilities. Use “imaginative” search criteria I described in my earlier post such as using competing companies, university names, ethnicity/language, location etc. to target/limit your results. Then select the right candidates to contact by reading people profiles to identify good match – this is similar to looking at the resume in a job board except that you will focus more on their current/past job details, most importantly the companies they have worked for, how long have they worked etc. Look through their “settings” to see if they seeing job opportunities.
  • First “cold” contact – Once you select a candidate to contact, a significant majority can be directly contacted by choosing them as a “Friend”. Now the trick is to write a good compelling message to them – It will help if the message is unique and targeted – for example, relating how the job opportunity is a logical extension to their careers or the job gives them higher degree of responsibility etc. Write a compelling message that highlight the company, career level, job type and how it matches their interest. Ask them to “add you to the network if they are interested and to pls ignore the message if it does not interest them”. So that way Linkedin does not penalize you for adding a whole bunch of  unsolicited requests.

Finally be patient and diligent in your follow-ups. Do not take “Lack of response” personally and continue to chip away – remember you are targeting the 10-20% of job seekers within the vast user base. Also two things that determine your response rate are (a) careful selection of right candidates to contact which is even more important than the job boards and (b) compelling message that you include in your introduction.

P.S: Linked-in is way way ahead of others, to be fair there is also similar sites like Zoominfo, hi5, Spoke, Plaxo, PartnerUp and others.