By Ron Proul, CEO
As recruiters, we are constantly asked about how LinkedIn has affected the business of recruiting. Is the impact positive or negative? The inquiry seems to originate from the perception that LinkedIn is a way to find a job and therefore what role does a recruiter play?
Maybe a valid question if you haven’t worked with a well-networked recruiter. After all, the business of the recruiting industry is that of professional networking. LinkedIn is just another avenue for networking. Business associations, professional associations, recruiters and responding to advertisements, yes good old fashion job boards, are ways to expand your network. Some are more effective than others. But have you ever heard the term “work your network”? It’s what you do with introductions that are impactful.
The right way and the right description of how a job search is most effectively conducted is by working a network. Networking is active… it requires effort. LinkedIn is passive for the most part. It’s just another advertising vehicle to promote yourself through creating a LinkedIn profile, which is a passive job search endeavor. This isn’t new, only the medium is different. Companies and the recruiting industry have been advertising for years. Some of you remember newspaper ads, which took a major effort to respond to. Internet ads (job boards) overwhelmed employers with stacks of unqualified candidates because it is too easy to respond, burying qualified candidates right along with the unqualified. And now, we have social media or LinkedIn. You promote yourself to your network with the hopes someone takes notice, but like the job board responses – it’s overwhelming.
What all these job search vehicles have in common is they are passive job search methodologies. What I mean is; you are putting yourself out there, but you still need someone to respond to and engage you in a dialogue. Think “if a tree falls in the forest”… if I don’t hear you, do you exist? Given the psychology of human behavior, most individuals will want to talk to someone throughout the process before making an important life decision such as choosing a new job. All these advertising vehicles serve the purpose of expanding your network and making you known to the general job market. They do not do the work of finding the right career opportunity and making a match that aligns with our career goals.
Recruiters and recruiting firms are successful because they don’t wait for the candidate to find the career opportunity or vice versa. Proactive recruiters respond to any means of introduction by understanding needs and making decisions based on those needs. LinkedIn cannot assess overall candidate fit – it has not met the candidate, discussed their strengths and weaknesses, or career goals. It’s unable to assess their culture fit and doesn’t know how well they interview. It’s the conversation that takes place between you and your recruiter, where they assess your background and you express your personal and professional goals that result in an introduction to serious employers that can meet those goals.
All other job introductions, through any other medium except possibly working the phones with your personal network, are blind. Not always bad, but a candidate must do the leg work during the first interview vs. the recruiter. LinkedIn limits your networking to a limited number of connections unless you pay for increased exposure. But you still have to actively work your network yourself. Through a recruiter, you can invest your time going on those interviews that meet your needs. They will identify opportunities that align with your timing, career goals, compensation requirements and cultural fit. You get exposure to their whole network and the firm’s entire network.
Think professional sports, the agent representing professional athletes and the teams that want them are following statistics, watching film and assessing the team fit. They find out what it is the athlete wants in a team, beyond the biggest contract you have ever heard of, and facilitates the introduction. Your LinkedIn profile might be the closest thing you are going to have to film, but it isn’t going to watch itself.
So when you think of your LinkedIn profile, remember it is a passive advertisement of your credentials and work history. Make the best impression you can, but realize you need a recruiter to see it, contact you and start to actively network you to make it as impactful as possible in meeting your career goals.
So back to the original question….positive or negative? For recruiters, it is a definite positive for finding you to help you work your network and get maximum exposure. As a business professional and candidate, if you don’t work at expanding your network, a LinkedIn profile is just another neutral passive form of advertising.