How to Use LinkedIn for Recruitment: A Simple Guide to Finding Employees

<div class="grey-callout"><h2>In This Guide You’ll Learn</h2><p><ul><li>How to search LinkedIn for job applicants.</li><li>How to post job adverts on LinkedIn.</li><li>How to use LinkedIn to promote your company.</li><li>The different kinds of LinkedIn subscriptions you can buy.</li><li>Why you shouldn’t rely on LinkedIn for recruitment.</li></ul></p></div>

LinkedIn is a social media platform but it’s actually a lot less ‘social’ than Facebook or X (aka Twitter) and works quite differently. (For more on how to use other social media platforms for recruitment, see Social Media Recruiting). LinkedIn can be used to find new staff and is particularly useful for white-collar and senior positions (less so for warehouse staff and drivers or for retail, hospitality and catering roles.)

LinkedIn has its pitfalls, and you’ll really need to use it in the right way to see any benefits.

You can find new staff by searching LinkedIn’s CVs, posting job adverts and promoting your company on the site. I’ll go into more detail about each of these.

Searching LinkedIn’s CVs

LinkedIn is essentially a CV database, though most people on it are there to network and sell rather than to find a job.

<p><ul><li>You can find applicants through a paid subscription (LinkedIn Recruiter; see below) by searching by skill, experience and location, then sending messages to possible applicants. When looking for people it can be useful to enter Boolean queries to search more precisely (see How to Use CV Databases</a>).</li><li>When looking at users’ profiles consider the following:</li><ul><li>Have they received strong endorsements from people in their industry?</li><li>Do they actively post and comment? If they’re doing so to champion their employer they may be hard to poach.</li><li>Do they have a strong network, whether through individual connections or their membership of groups, which could be a source of other jobseekers, customers or industry knowledge?</li><li>Do they have relevant experience in the industry?</li></ul></p>

Once you’ve found some likely people, it’s important to contact them in the right way. Passive applicants might not be very interested in hearing from you. They’re probably used to approaches from pushy recruitment consultants, and to spam and phishing on the site and may be suspicious of out-of-the-blue messages. They may well be perfectly happy in their current job and will need a compelling reason to move such as better pay and career prospects. When contacting them, do the following:

  • Personalise your message: use their name and mention their previous jobs or accomplishments. Be brief (under 100 words).
  • Don’t immediately rush in and tell them all about your job. Instead, try to open up a conversation about how they feel about their current job, where they see their career going in the future and whether they might be a good fit for your organisation.
  • Don’t be spammy as this will hurt your reputation (and may get you penalised on the site).
  • A great way of finding warmer applicant leads is to look at who’s recently viewed your LinkedIn profile and so shown an interest in your organisation (you’ll need to have a LinkedIn subscription to be able to do this). If you come across a likely looking person, send them a message saying that you noticed they’ve viewed your page and would they like to have a conversation. This can sometimes get results (my eldest son got a job like this recently!).

LinkedIn does, however, have many of the disadvantages of CV databases generally (see How to Use CV Databases):

  • It contains outdated profiles, undesirable ones and even a few fake ones (there are three profiles impersonating me!).
  • It’s heavily trawled by recruitment consultants.

Posting Job Adverts on LinkedIn

  • You can post job adverts on LinkedIn targeted to specific users such as those with certain skills and experience.
  • You can post them for free on your company’s LinkedIn page, though only followers of that page will see the ads. To increase views, encourage your employees to share ads on their individual profiles.
  • It can be useful to post ads on relevant LinkedIn groups.
  • You can pay to promote your job advert (‘sponsored jobs’) on a pay-per-click basis and set a budget to stop costs from rising too high.
  • There’s the option to allow jobseekers to apply through the site with just a few clicks. Always make use of this facility. Don’t redirect them to your employer career page, which will only make you lose a lot of potential applicants (see Converting Employer Career Pages).

Building Your Company Profile

There’s been quite a bit of hype about using LinkedIn to enhance your company brand using a dedicated company page which will then attract jobseekers.

<p><ul><li>To attract jobseekers this way you’ll need to include on your company page information such as:</li><ul><li>New hires</li><li>Staff accomplishments</li><li>Staff testimonials</li><li>Business achievements</li><li>Thought-leadership pieces on your industry</li><li>Events</li></ul></p>

But there are some downsides to using company pages for recruitment:

  • Often marketing and sales as well as HR will want to control the page. There’s a conflict between using LinkedIn to attract customers and to bring in job applicants. Each of these requires different kinds of material to be included on the company profile.
  • You need to put in a lot of time and effort to create the compelling material that you’ll need to attract the right people. Sales and marketing usually have lots of fresh content to use, which is why they often end up controlling company LinkedIn pages.

Even if your company profile isn’t focused on recruitment, job applicants will use it to find out about your organisation so it’s important that it contains good content and is regularly updated.

LinkedIn Subscription Types for Recruitment

There are four main subscription options for using LinkedIn for recruitment:

  • Free. This gets you started but has very basic functionality.
  • RecruiterLite. This is for outbound recruiting, allowing you to send 30 InMail messages a month to users with links to your current pool of connections.
  • Recruiter. This allows you to send 150 messages a month to anyone. It also provides more sophisticated filtering options for finding applicants.
  • TalentHub. This is an applicant tracking system, helpful for inbound recruiting where jobseekers are replying to your adverts.

Although LinkedIn can be useful, it has a number of drawbacks. I recently met a group of HR directors and most of them weren’t renewing their LinkedIn Recruiter licenses. I’d tend to agree with them and overall I’d say that you shouldn’t rely on LinkedIn for your recruitment strategy.

<div class="grey-callout"><h2>Key Takeaways</h2><p><ul><li>You can search for new staff on LinkedIn, but it’s important to approach potential applicants with care.</li><li>Like any database, LinkedIn contains unsuitable, out-of-date and even fake CVs.</li><li>You can post job adverts to LinkedIn and pay to promote them.</li><li>You can use LinkedIn to attract jobseekers by building your company profile, though this takes a lot of time and effort.</li><li>There are various subscription types available for both inbound and outbound recruiting.</li><li>LinkedIn has quite a few disadvantages so don’t rely on it for your recruitment.</li></ul></p></div>

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Geoff Newman has dedicated his entire career to recruitment. He has consulted for many well-known international brands, and worked with over 20,000 growing businesses. He has helped fill over 100,000 jobs.

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We literally wrote the book on...

The secrets of great recruitment

The Secrets of Great Recruitment is a top-seller. It is easy to read and wastes no time in giving powerful actionable strategies you can use straight away.

Book cover for The Secrets of Great Recruitment