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LinkedIn’s Limitations as a Sole-Source Recruitment Solution

LinkedIn’s Limitations as a Sole-Source Recruitment Solution

The perception exists that social media in general and LinkedIn in particular, are the solution to every recruitment question. While it’s true that LinkedIn is a very useful site and an important tool for anyone involved with recruitment, it’s not the solution to every recruitment problem.

LinkedIn has two main avenues for in-house recruiters to source candidates. The first and most obvious recruitment tool available is the job posting feature. Postings are relatively inexpensive and are good for a period of thirty days. This strategy captures the active candidates who have up-to-date resumes, time to actively pursue opportunities, and no issues with confidentiality.

The second tool LinkedIn offers is LinkedIn Recruiter. This feature allows users to search virtually the entire LinkedIn network, filtering and refining the results any number of ways, including by industry, title, function, specific skill set, etc. Once the user has their target list, they can then send an InMail to people they feel may be appropriate for the open position. This strategy targets “passive” candidates, people who might be willing to entertain other opportunities but are not actively on the market. This service requires a relatively expensive annual subscription, but it does give users access to practically the entire LinkedIn network.

Both of these approaches can be effective, but companies relying on these tools to sole-source candidates need to be aware of their proper application and limitations.

Job postings are the way to go for junior echelon positions. This is how most placement agencies acquire the bulk of their candidates and if you’re willing to spend the time and the effort to sort the wheat from all that chaff, you can often get good results. However, as much as job postings are the normal convention for junior people to find their next job, it becomes increasingly less so the more senior you get. Junior level accountants often expect to find their next position through postings so they keep their eyes open and their resumes up-to-date even if they are gainfully employed. Gainfully employed controllers and vice presidents of finance tend not to scan job postings, don’t keep their resumes up to date, and typically only respond to postings if they’re in active career-transition mode.

LinkedIn Recruiter is designed to give you access to those “passive” candidates – gainfully employed, senior-level accounting executives who might be interested in making a move, but are not responding to job postings. The user defines the search, applies the filters and up pops a list of people that fit those particular criteria. But as good as the filters are, users will usually end up with hundreds of profiles to sort through, most of which won’t be what that user was asking for. Then the question becomes: does the user have the time and training to effectively triage the hundreds of profiles presented and pick the ones that might be viable candidates?

Once the user has identified a number of profiles that seem to fit the search criteria, the next step is to send out an InMail detailing the particulars of the position. In theory, when passive candidates receive an InMail about a position that may be of interest, they get their resume up to date and promptly post a response requesting further action. In practice, it often doesn’t work that way for a couple of reasons.

Confidentiality is a big issue, especially for executives. People at the top echelons of any industry often know of each other and the last thing someone exploring the job market needs is word that he or she is looking around percolating back to their current employer. Even though the user sending the InMail usually states up front who they are recruiting for, they are effectively anonymous to the recipient. Once the potential candidate sends off their resume, they have no control over who gets to see it.

This assumes, of course, that they have the time and inclination to update their resume and take on what essentially becomes a special project.   Busy finance and accounting executives want to know up front that the time and effort invested pursuing an opportunity is well spent. That usually requires an upfront, detailed discussion. Potential candidates usually want to drill down into the details of the position, the firm hiring, personalities involved, current challenges and future opportunities before committing to the process. This level of detail and nuance is almost impossible to cover in an InMail.

Once they do decide that an opportunity is worth pursuing, potential candidates also want to ensure that their resume and candidacy is treated with the utmost discretion throughout the process, no matter what the outcome.

There’s no question that LinkedIn is a valuable site with vast and myriad applications. One of those applications is certainly recruitment. But as powerful as LinkedIn may be, depending on the level and complexity of the search, users should recognize that it is just one of a number of recruitment tools, not necessarily a sole-source solution.

If you think you may be in the market for top financial talent in the next few months, call me direct at 416 567-7782 or email me at lance@osbornefinancialsearch.com for a no obligation consultation.


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lance-1Osborne Financial Search is an executive search firm that works exclusively with finance and accounting professionals and executives. Our team has been helping companies identify and attract key financial talent for over twenty-five years.For information about how we can help your organization with its recruitment needs, visit us at www.OsborneFinancialSearch.com or contact me, Lance Osborne, President at (416) 915-4119, or via email at lance@osbornefinancialsearch.com.