How recruiters use LinkedIn to headhunt

By Neil Patrick

What goes on inside the head of a headhunter?

Last week I met up with a recruiter who is an old friend of mine. He’s been a recruiter for over ten years and for once we had time to just chat. That’s a rare situation, so I took the opportunity to quiz him about how he and his colleagues use LinkedIn to search for job candidates.

Here’s what I found out:

Recruiters use LinkedIn all the time to find the candidates they seek

If you want to be recruited, you need to be on LinkedIn. But that’s simply not enough. You need to be an active rather than a passive user.

According to a survey carried out by Bullhorn, 48% of recruiters ONLY use LinkedIn for candidate searching vs. 1% that use Twitter and Facebook.

So it’s clear which social media platform job seekers should prioritise.

What’s more, on average, recruiters add 18.5 new LinkedIn connections every week. And you want to be one of them.

ACTION: If you’re not already on LinkedIn, set it up now. If you already have a LinkedIn profile, the following tips will tell you what to do to become more visible and impressive to recruiters.

So how do you go about this?

LinkedIn isn't everything, but it is more or less universally used by recruiters. Recruiters often have several thousand first degree connections, which expands to an immense network of people at the second and third degree.

ACTION: You need to have your relevant recruiters in your LinkedIn network. I know that’s harder to do than say, so I have provided a cunning strategy to help you do this here.

Recruiters use keyword searching by geographic location

Recruiters use LinkedIn's Advanced People Search function to find people within a certain geographic radius who possess the skills, education or experiences they are seeking for their clients’ roles.

Now if you perform a search yourself using keywords, your results will be different to a recruiter’s because the LinkedIn Search algorithm customizes your search results to you based on your network.

A partial solution to this is find a friend that doesn't have your in their LinkedIn network, but is a member of LinkedIn and ask them to search the keywords relevant to your area and find out where you come in their search results.

Next look at the top half a dozen results and see what their profiles, group membership and postings look like. These will give you a template to apply to your own profile and activities.

What matters is that within a radius of say 50 miles, you rank on the first page of Linkedin results when someone carries out a search for your key skills.

ACTION: Don’t just fill your profile with keywords. Instead, incorporate them into the bullet points that describe who you are, what you've done and how you have achieved it. Monitor your rank position, and aim to get to page one. If you are on page one, already aim to get as close to top as you can.

Recruiters join industry and skill-based LinkedIn Groups, and monitor the discussions

They use this tactic to quietly observe what leaders are talking about, and who else contributes to the discussion. This way they can see who really has the knowledge and the skills that they seek. Moreover, they can see who is actively sharing it.

ACTION: Join LinkedIn groups relevant to your skill set and industry to keep up with what is going on, and make constructive contributions to the discussions.

Recruiters follow thought leaders and key influencers

A significant part of a headhunter's value is knowing "who's who" in a particular field.

My friend freely admitted that his biggest personal asset was his huge network of contacts. But he doesn’t just build contacts randomly. He targets people that he can see are the thought leaders and biggest contributors to specialist insights.

So recruiters collect contacts and this is a key reason that you should always aim to nurture your relationship with a recruiter, even if you have an experience which doesn’t initially result in you getting hired.

ACTION: Follow the people whose status and specialism will reflect well on you. Don’t worry if you are not a thought-leader yourself…yet. Your association with those that are will build your profile and make you more visible to recruiters.

Recruiters follow their connections' LinkedIn behavior

Part of the headhunter’s art is understanding the timing of what is going on in people's lives, and the signals they give off which demonstrate that they are open to an approach.

Recruiters are alert to people's LinkedIn behavior patterns to determine when someone is about to begin a job search. Sometimes, a tip-off is obvious, like when a person checks out a recruiter’s profile… or, when someone who has been quiet suddenly starts making frequent status updates.

ACTION: Often people are nervous about letting their current employer or others know that they are in the market for a new job, for good reason. Get smart. You don’t have to proclaim “ I am looking for a new job” to put the right signals out to just the people that matter.

Not all recruiters ignore those who are currently unemployed

Yes it’s true that many recruiters are only interested in those that currently have jobs. It’s unfair and it’s not the best decision in my view. But it’s a fact.

But not all recruiters think like this, especially in the wake of the recession, when so many talented people found themselves unemployed through no fault of their own.

ACTION: Whatever your situation might be, focus on the positive. Demonstrate your knowledge, and your leadership. Capitalize on the fact that you probably now have more time than usual to invest in some powerful personal brand building. 

You can use the latest features of Linkedn to upload presentations and videos that showcase your skills and insight. These can really set you apart, so use them.

Present yourself as a professional (who happens to be currently unemployed), rather than as a person who used to be whatever and is now out of work.

Recruiters don't want to guess

Don't make recruiters have to guess about who you are and what you have to offer. You know exactly who you are but they don’t. And they don’t have time to solve riddles. But avoid the temptation to try and present yourself as someone you are not. Sooner or later you will get found out and you’ll be wasting everyone’s time including your own.

ACTION: Be completely clear about who you are and even more clear about what value you can deliver in your LinkedIn profile. Keep your profile up to date and build long-lasting relationships with quality recruiters.

I have written a post which reveals some secret strategies for using social media to build valuable relationships with recruiters here. Just remember that everything you do online is key to building better professional relationships in the real world.

See it as nurturing your career asset rather than just solving today’s problem and you’ll not only land your next job faster, you’ll be creating a long term career asset which will pay you back over the long term too.

No comments:

Post a Comment