You Can’t “Recruit Socially” Using LinkedIn? Who Cares?

Very few things ruffle my feathers. I’m easy like Sunday morning. But the debate over whether or not LinkedIn is a social network (or that if someone recruits using it, whether or not they are social recruiting) is one that makes me want to stand in the corner of my room, put my fingers in my ears and quietly bang my head against the wall until the bad words stop.

Exaggeration? Barely.

I’ll always hang my hat on one principle: nobody is paying for sourcing for novelty’s sake. There are literally thousands of potential sources out there to find great candidates. LinkedIn is just one of those sources. But disregarding it because it is or isn’t social is a mistake.

You can’t find cool people on LinkedIn

Over at tech publication ZDNet, they had a piece yesterday that caught my attention by Alex Churchill. The headline: 5 ways to recruit socially – Hint: LinkedIn is NOT one of them. Oh really? He says,

The average placement for the digital entertainment industry is a 27-year-old, social networking guru. He’s picked up and dropped technology before most people have even heard about it. Finding talent like that through LinkedIn is a bit like placing a want ad in the Penny Saver – antiquated.

I’ll be the first to tell you that LinkedIn isn’t ideal for finding all candidates. Neither is nearly any other possible source. I would hope that a “social networking guru” is on LinkedIn but maybe that’s just me.

The broader implication here is that you won’t find people in cutting edge industries on LinkedIn. I don’t know if that is true but even if it is, that doesn’t determine whether you’re recruiting socially or not. There are a lot of pure social platforms that don’t have people in cutting edge industries.

33% of all jobs found on Facebook?

What’s the alternative? Churchill recommends using Quora, Twitter and Facebook to find and interact with candidates, seeking out newer networks like Google+ and even hiring a community manager (because that’s “more exciting than LinkedIn”). He recommends playing in the same online sandbox that your potential employees are playing in.

That’s great advice. I still can’t reconcile two things from that.

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For one, he cites a unsourced statistic that a third of all jobs were found on Facebook last year. That simply doesn’t jive with every other reliable study about where people are finding jobs. Can Facebook be a great place to find potential candidates? Sure. But it suffers the same problems as LinkedIn: it isn’t a one stop shop. I know plenty of VP’s and top execs who don’t have any Facebook presence whatsoever.

And, if the potential employees in your sandbox are on LinkedIn, tell me again why a sourcer shouldn’t absolutely be hitting that as a resource time and time again? And what does social have to do with whether an online destination is a good place to source from.

Social argument fallacy

The argument about whether or not LinkedIn is a social network or if you can socially recruit from there is a distraction. A tired one at that.

The choice of a potential source for doing a search should be a fairly straightforward process. Does it hit the target demographics you’re looking for? Is it cost and time effective? Do you get the candidates to properly meet your business partner’s needs? How has this source performed and does it make sense to keep using it?

Asking whether LinkedIn is social is the wrong question. Churchill found that LinkedIn was not a great place to find people in the digital entertainment industry. It has nothing to do with the social aspect. The right question is whether LinkedIn is an effective source for you? Hopefully that’s a question everyone asks as they look to create the right slate of candidates for a particular position.


19 Comments on “You Can’t “Recruit Socially” Using LinkedIn? Who Cares?

  1. I could not find the 33% statistic either.  However, I did see a stat that stated 33% of job searchers were planning on using a social network to search in 2011.  Which is up 13% from the year prior.   This however is not a hiring statistic.  I hope that the actual hires coming from all this FB use is higher than their advertising ROI.  It has a less than 1% click rate.

    1. Perhaps that’s what was meant (which makes a lot more sense). It definitely did not come off that way in the article.

  2. Even further, Churchill states, ” He’s picked up and dropped technology before most people have even heard about it.”  With that in mind and the relative privacy issues with Facebook, most of those people he is talking about are already off Facebook and on the next great site, have been for the last few years now.  No, it’s not Pinterest.

  3. Great article! You’ve hit the nail on the head. Everyone is still looking for the “one stop shop,” but you’ll never find it.  Fantastic read. Thanks!

    1. If anyone could ever pull off a one stop shop, that would be brilliant of course. I don’t think it is going to happen though.

  4. Thought provoking article, have to agree with you when you said “Does it hit the target demographics you’re looking for? Is it cost and time effective? Do you get the candidates to properly meet your business partner’s needs? How has this source performed and does it make sense to keep using it?” surely this is the ONLY list of criteria we as sourcers should look at when considering sourcing strategies, not whether something is “cool” or not. I for one, would rather source 5 suitable candidates from an uncool sourcing tool than source 1 from a cool sourcing tool, at the end of the day, my job is to place candidates in jobs, not use the coolest sourcing methodology around just because it’s new, if someone uses LinkedIn to source candidates, they are recruiting, tell me if I’m wrong?

    1. I like cool things! And it is great to explore different tools and different techniques. I just don’t believe in abandoning something simply because it isn’t social enough. 

  5. Great article Lance totally agree with you this! 

    Isn’t sourcing all about identifying the “Sourcing Sweet Spot” for your targeted audience so whether they are on LinkedIn, Facebook, G+ or whatever we are using next week it’s about making sure you cover the market and can identify the best people for the job.

    1. Thanks Martin. Finding the right channels to identify and market to candidates with is essential. And certainly if LinkedIn doesn’t fit your bill, you should spend your time on things that do work. The social-ness doesn’t matter.

  6. Great article Lance! As a sourcer I will take any
    resource I can to make a connection and be social enough to start the
    conversation. Besides, as a sourcer why would you eliminate a tool, unless you
    aren’t using it correctly to your benefit. My .02 Great discussion!

    1. If you never found a candidate using a tool, maybe it doesn’t make sense to continue using it. But if you’re finding candidates where ever, social or not, you should use it!

    1. Agreed. People who are used to doing DB searches are comfortable on LinkedIn and that’s okay. If that’s where the people you are looking for are at, then you should be there.

  7. In a new study several ‘old’ ideas have been uncovered:
    – 33% of recruiters actually used their smartphone to ‘speak’ to a candidate.- 40% of the responding recruiters had actually posted a job on [of all place] Linkedin…AND were sent a resume by a candidate. As a result of this information 20 job boards were re-launching from the job board graveyard.- One enterprising recruiter who prided himself on being strictly a ‘social’ recruiter actually dug into mapping a single new hire. The recruiter learned that he (the candidate) had told a friend on Facebook he was looking for a new job. She (the friend) suggested asking Siri to search Google. He did. Apparently somebody paid off Siri to forward him to Indeed which led him to Job Central which linked him to an great position on the career site of a firm in his commute range. He then went to Linkedin and found a friend of a friend who worked there and had gone to the same school as he did. Wanting to be cool he followed the employee on Twitter, then put him in his “must meet” circle on Google+ and soon found out that he (the employee) would be at a meet-up nearby where they #accidentally-on-purpose met and he dropped the name of the friend they both new in common, found other common ground (they both pinned Italian recipes on Pinterest) and the now new friend and employee agreed to be his referral for an open position. When asked in the application, “How did you find us?”, the candidate put in the name of the referral and, internally, the employee completed his form referring the local candidate. When the recruiter searched his ATS, the software’s [proprietary] algorithm weighted and tagged the referred candidate as a highly qualified match and the rest is history.

    Except, the firm’s SOH reporting had switched to last IP address and, since the candidate had come directly from his home computer to the company career site, the ‘unknown’ IP address was coded “Other” for Source of Hire. Fortunately, the recruiter could alter this field based on his interview of the new hire and so he changed it to…”Facebook”.

  8. Of course you can socially recruit on LinkedIn. That’s absurd. Recruiting is all about finding people who would be relevant to your opportunity, verifying that they are, yes, a fit that’s going to be make sense, and that you’re not wasting their time, and then reaching out. 

    LinkedIn is clearly the best way to do that, in that the data by which to find these professionals is the most complete and well structured for the recruiting use case. No surprise there.

    But there are, of course, more and more sites where candidates hang out, leaving breadcrumbs about what they’re doing, and providing vectors by which you can reach out. Twitter, Facebook, Quora, etc.  

    The challenge with those is a. they’re early days with some (not Facebook), b. the data may not be structured to make it easy to search them out etc.  (See Lance’s great article on “Sourcing on Pinterest: Sure you can, But is it worth your time? )

    This is what we’re really excited about at TalentBin, because our belief is that this volume of data will only grow, making life easier for recruiters to bring smokin’ opps to candidates who will genuinely excited about them!  Now to make it work ; )

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