Recruiters connect via LinkedIn

Extensive search capabilities, ability to find common ground allow employers to easily target passive jobseekers

Nancy Moulday, manager of recruitment at TD Canada Trust Business Banking, was using the bank’s corporate website and online job boards to advertise an opening for a senior account manager, but she wasn’t having any success attracting the right candidate.

So, in an attempt to be more proactive, Moulday decided to use LinkedIn. She searched for the specific qualifications the position required and found three candidates who matched the criteria — and one individual was the successful hire.

“This was a passive person who obviously had heard of TD, it was one of their competitors, but wasn’t aware of the job and wasn’t actively looking on the job board site,” said Moulday, whose Toronto-based organization has nearly 40,000 employees across Canada.

“I was able to reach out to them and establish a rapport to the point where they felt very comfortable in coming to chat with me.”

LinkedIn — which boasts about 120 million members worldwide, including more than four million in Canada alone — is becoming increasingly popular among employers for recruiting new talent, said Stuart Crawford, president and chief marketing strategist at Ulistic, a marketing and business consulting firm in St. Catharines, Ont.

There are many ways employers are using it to recruit new talent and one way is active headhunting,he said.

But once employers search for unique skills and identify potential candidates of interest, they need to be careful with how they reach out to recruits.

“The wrong way is for me to find you online and call or email you directly at the office — it’s like telemarketing,” said Crawford. “You would want to make sure they are interested first before you open that conversation (about a job offer). Unless you really get to know the person, it’s borderline spam.”

At TD, Moulday looked for something she had in common with the potential candidates and used that as the topic of her first InMail (LinkedIn’s message service). The conversation went back and forth, and it took some time, but she knew it was important to build a relationship, she said.

“LinkedIn gives relevant context to reach out to them appropriately — whether you know people in common, know things about their school or previous experience,” said Adam Nash, vice-president of product management at LinkedIn in Mountain View, Calif.

If it’s difficult to find something in common, the initial message could simply compliment the candidate on her background and work experience and express an interest in finding out more about what she does, said Lisa Paddick, manager of global talent acquisition at Sandvine, a technology company based in Waterloo, Ont.

“Too often, we think about how we want to sell a candidate really quickly on something… but my tip would be to customize it to the person you’re reaching out to,” she said. “Don’t take a cookie cutter approach; think about what would be of interest to them.”

Employers are also using LinkedIn to post open positions within their organization, said Crawford. The days of expensive postings on job boards are pretty much gone, he said.

“LinkedIn allows them to do it for 100 and some odd dollars for some period of time… and they’re able to attract the person who’s actually actively pursuing a career in whatever they have to offer.”

Some of the tools available for recruiting include:

• LinkedIn Recruiter, where employers are given extensive search capabilities, professional contact features and workflow tools that aim to make it easier and faster to find top talent.

• Jobs Network, where employers post jobs and LinkedIn finds the members who meet the criteria and provides comprehensive lists to employers.

• Talent Direct, where employers tell LinkedIn what they are looking for and LinkedIn sends InMails with details of the opportunity to all members meeting the criteria.

These tools allow employers to reach out to the 70 million passive candidates on Linked-In, said Nash.

“Odds are, the best person for your role is already working somewhere else,” he said. “We already know, statistically speaking, that a huge number of people who are in a position will gladly entertain a better position if it’s a good opportunity for them, if it’s a good fit.”

While employers won’t findblue collar workers on Linked-In, such as welders and car salesmen, the range of technical and professional people is much broader than what may be expected, said Crawford.

“You’re going to find everything from C-level right down to the professional level, so the technical engineer, the sales professional, admin assistant, accountant — you’ll find it’s right across the board,” said Crawford. “But it’s definitely a white collar networking activity.”

Moulday uses it mostly for “difficult-to-source candidates” such as those with specific technical experience or commercial lending experience, she said.

One of the benefits of Linked-In is it allows HR to recruit candidates from all across the globe, said Paddick at Sandvine, which operates in more than 85 countries.

“It provides us with access to worldwide talent… and that’s key to the success of our growth,” she said. “It puts us in touch with talent in every region we’re operating in and recruiting in.”

In an attempt to make recruiting even easier, LinkedIn launched Apply With LinkedIn in July 2011. The tool allows employers to add a button to their online job postings — either on LinkedIn or their corporate websites — so jobseekers can apply using their LinkedIn profiles.

Employers benefit from this tool because they receive higher quality information and can see who in the company is already connected to the candidate, said Nash.

“It allows us to connect with different people and more quickly be able to connect with their interests so we can talk about what we have to offer as an organization,” said Paddick. “It opens up choices in which people can engage with us.”

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