Exactly What You Need to Do Before Using Linkedin to Find Candidates

With the talent pool shrinking almost as fast as the job market is growing, recruiters are in for a tougher time than ever when trying to find candidates for a client.

The good news is that we can look forward to seeing more and more requests for specialized candidates, which equals more work. However, you need to be on top of your game to flush them out of hiding before your competitors do.

LinkedIn is the place we most often turn to for our initial searches when trying to source candidates quickly. However, this rapidly growing platform is fraught with pitfalls — unless you know exactly how to find what you are looking for. After all, there are over 500 million users on this platform.

You will find that careful preparation saves you time in the end and gets better results faster.

First, follow all of these vital steps to find out how you can use this powerful tool to find more suitable candidates on LinkedIn and other online platforms too.

1. Make sure you are clear regarding the hiring manager’s expectations

Surely this is an obvious first step, right?  Many recruiters simply take the job advert at face value when searching for top talent on behalf of a client.

To find the perfect match for your client though, you need to talk about it.  A successful hire depends on so much more than simply qualifications or experience.

Don’t assume

No matter how experienced you are, or how many times you have had to find candidates for your client, make sure you understand exactly what the hiring manager has in mind.

This is especially pertinent if you have filled the exact same position for the client before.

This can only be done by asking the most obvious questions face-to-face, especially ones that you may be asked during an interview with a prospective employee.

If the recruiter and hiring manager are not on the same page, a mis-hire is bound to result.  This can be costly to the client and devastating for the new employee (who may have left another job to accept the position you offered them.)

Start off your research by finding out as much about the client’s company as you can. Then, schedule a meeting with the hiring manager.

Ask the right questions

It is in everyone’s best interests to ask the hiring manager or client questions such as the following:

  • What is the Job title?
  • How many positions are available?
  • Who will the candidate report to?
  • How many people are in their team and are any more senior than others?
  • Why did the previous person leave or why has the position become available?
  • How long have you been looking for someone to fill the role?
  • Is the team facing any difficulties, such as high turnover?
  • Is there an opportunity for advancement?

2. Go over the Job Spec

While things are still fresh in your mind, set about creating an accurate job ad to assist the client in finding candidates.  Study the job spec in depth and make sure the ad matches it.

It is imperative that any of the must-have’s you uncovered in our interview with the hiring manager are included. Likewise, if a degree is listed as a requirement in your ad, but the client has indicated that it is not a deal-breaker, adjust your ad to reflect this.

Optimize the ad for SEO and include visual elements if you can.  Don’t forget the basics that should be included in your ad, such as:

  • Company Background
  • A summary of the position
  • Reporting structure
  • Key responsibilities
  • Experience required
  • Critical competencies
  • Short term objectives

The keywords you use here for SEO optimization are similar to the ones you will be using in your online searches. So, you should ake them the best they can be.  Not sure how? Keep reading.

3. Assemble great keywords to find candidates

Choosing keywords is not as simple as it seems.

It takes time and skill to come up with the best keywords for your job ad and to use with LinkedIn’s search functionality later on. Let’s talk about how to use keywords to your advantage.

The Universal Search Method

Open up a word document to assist in your search for the best keywords to help you find candidates.  Start by making a note of all the requirements of the job spec.

Include any words that describe facets of the job that could help your candidate to get an interview.

These can include works like ‘copywriting’, ‘graphic design’ and so on, not ‘team player’, ‘dedicated’ and other requirements of the position. The latter characteristics can be delved into later once you have managed to find candidates that meet the basic requirements.

Sources of inspiration

Now search for synonyms for these terms. You can start off this part of the journey on Word, but you should also consult other sources, such as LinkedIn itself. Look at profiles of individuals with the required qualifications to see what their job titles are. Add these to your list.

You can also find out who is currently doing the soon-to-be-vacant job at the company you are hiring for, look up their LinkedIn profile and see how they describe their position.

Search Google for Wikipedia articles on similar positions, these are often filled with keywords that you can use and will contain a definition of the term you have searched.

This is a time-consuming part of your planning but will be well worth it later when you set out to try and find candidates on LinkedIn. You can also use a free keyword tool.

4.  Consider seniority levels

Job titles do not mean the same thing in every company or country.

Take company size into account when using LinkedIn profiles to search for keywords.

Somebody who is listed as a director in a small company may only have the skill set of a manager in a larger organization.  The perfect fit for a very senior role at your client’s company may be working for a huge corporation in a middle management position.

Take this into consideration when compiling your keywords and when you are scouring LinkedIn to find candidates.

Language barriers

Likewise, if you are looking to recruit from abroad, bear in mind that terminology differs from country to country.  The word ‘secretary’, for example, may be synonymous with ‘personal assistant’ in some countries. However, it may describe two totally different roles in another.

Keep your conversation with the hiring manager at the front of your mind. Find candidates to suit the job requirements, not the job title, by compiling appropriate keywords.

There’s one more important step you should not skimp on before contacting recruits via LinkedIn.

6. Hook up with the Company LinkedIn Page

Connect with your client’s hiring manager on LinkedIn and follow their company page, too.  Do this before you start searching to avoid embarrassment later.  Check out any possible candidates that are linked to the organization or the hiring manager directly and red flag them. You don’t want to approach these individuals for two main reasons:

  1. They may have worked for your client before
  2. They may be a personal friend of the hiring manager

It may be a good idea to ask the hiring manager upfront if there are any names that you should not approach for the position while trying to find candidates.

There are also instances, where companies have mutual agreements not to headhunt each other’s employees. You could find yourself in trouble if you cross the line in this regard.

5. Your own Database may have the answers

By this stage, you should be familiar enough with the job requirements to find candidates with greater success.  Even if you don’t think you have anyone on your database that fits the bill, check anyway.

It goes without saying that keeping your database current and correct should be an ongoing task for every recruiter.

It is extremely disheartening for job seekers to see their recruitment agent advertising a job that they know they are perfectly suited for.  You could offend the perfect candidate if you attempt to find a new prospect on any public forum before going through what’s right in front of you first.

This kind of thing does no good for your reputation either.

That said, you can use LinkedIn to grow your own database too.

6. Explore other ways to use LinkedIn to find candidates

Add qualified, highly skilled people to your network, even if they aren’t actively seeking new employment right now. You never know when you may need them, or vice versa.

You can even create groups of contacts according to their skill sets for future reference.  Identify passive candidates who are not actively looking for a new job, but are open to offers and add them too.

Join recruitment groups on LinkedIn to stay in touch with developments and news concerning the recruitment sphere and earn valuable contacts.

Build relationships

By making it clear that you are always on the hunt for new talent to add to your talent pool. Interact with your network on a regular basis, not just when you are trying to find candidates, and you will build relationships that may prove invaluable later.

If you are ‘out there’ on LinkedIn enough, there may be times when you needn’t find candidates – they will find you. Be ready to respond quickly to any potential employees who are tech savvy enough to contact you via email. If you can’t place them right away, add them to your network.

By having an organized and active LinkedIn profile, you can save yourself hours of searching this vast social network to find candidates. This is especially true since you will have a stockpile of great prospects already.

Don’t restrict your networking endeavors to likely candidate either. Stay in contact with other recruiters — there are over 100,000 of them on LinkedIn. You may just get a much-needed referral from them in future.

Ask for referrals

Referrals can be an invaluable source of top talent. Keep asking for them.

If you find candidates who are unwilling to accept the position you are offering, ask them if they know of anyone with similar skills. They could a top candidate to you the next time you are looking, even if they don’t have anyone in mind right now.

Scott Allen, co-author of The Virtual Handshake, says that “by building authentic relationships, virtually as well as face-to-face, people will actually make referrals — taking the time to think of possible candidates/prospects in response to your query, or even proactively referring people to you when they hear of a need.”

Referrals are one of the most effective ways to find candidates that are highly skilled.

7. Other Avenues

Besides LinkedIn, there are several other avenues that you can use to find candidates.  Use these before and during your online searches to ensure that you leave no stone unturned in your quest for your client’s ideal employee.

Don’t overlook traditional job hunting platforms such as job fairs and workshops to find candidates. Have a look at our article on how to streamline the recruitment process for more on this.

8. Be prepared to get in touch

Time is of the essence when you do find candidates that match your client’s requirements.  Be ready with a series of effective communications to reach out to them in a well-planned, systematic manner.

Here are some examples of effective language to use in your emails. After all your hard work finding the perfect person for the job, you don’t want to lose them with ineffective communication.

It pays to get an automated system in place that can manage the entire process for you, provide analytics, and send follow-ups.

Careful planning and insightful search tactics, make it easier for you to get candidates that keep your clients coming back for more.

Though finding the right candidate isn’t always an easy of quick job, taking the time to ensure you’ve found the best candidate for the position makes everyone happy.