As a retained executive search firm, we are often asked if LinkedIn is a viable recruiting tool for executive level openings. The answer, as it is with most questions, is that it depends. LinkedIn is a very useful social platform and provides tremendous value when looking for a new position, staying in touch with your network, and identifying potential candidates based on their profile. If you’re asking yourself if you should use LinkedIn for executive recruiting, consider the following as you make your decision.
It’s not just corporate HR departments that use LinkedIn, 87% of recruiters also use LinkedIn to identify and source potential candidates. LinkedIn’s search algorithms simplifies finding candidates who meet a set of criteria. There are also paid options that provide even more segmentation and outreach capabilities. In this sense, LinkedIn is a valuable tool for starting an executive level search.
There are more than 500 million users on LinkedIn globally, with nearly 150 million in the US alone. On average there are over 100 million unique monthly visitors. At any given time, that is just 20 percent of the user base. As a database, this is still a good pool of candidates. However it is just a database of potential candidates.
While LinkedIn will give a good selection of candidates, it shouldn’t be the only resource for finding people. Recruiters have a wide network of people they have worked with in the past that match your search criteria. Not only are these people highly qualified, they are also known quantities. Even if they are not looking, they may know of someone who is. The referrals carry more credibility than a found social listing.
The next step to consider is the actual outreach, filtering, and recruitment of the candidates you’ve identified. Your LinkedIn people are most likely going to be a cold outreach. Have you identified who is going to be handling these elements? Do they have both the time and the skill set to do so? At the executive level, finding the right person is critical to the continued success of the company. The impact on revenue and company culture is disproportionately higher, and making a mistake can have lasting ramifications.
Many, if not all, of the candidates you’ll talk to are only passively looking. Thus, building a relationship with them is important. It takes time, and it requires trust, transparency, and confidentiality. Because of this, many executives prefer to work with retained executive recruiters. They have invested the time to build a relationship. There is also less chance that their candidacy is ever known, and the recruiter acts as a sounding board for the negotiation process.
LinkedIn should be part of any recruiting toolkit. It provides an excellent starting point for recruiters of every kind. But it can’t replace the due diligence required to vet candidates. Working with executive recruiters provides you with current best practices, access to more and often better candidate pools, and guarantees in the event the person hired does not work out. To learn more, send us a note. We’d be happy to talk with you and see how we can help.