How To Use LinkedIn To Source Top Candidates

Professional looking at LinkedIn on their cellphone and laptop

LinkedIn is the social network of a recruiter’s dreams, used by some 660 million professionals in 200 countries. Built specifically for the purpose of networking, it’s where people go to update their virtual resume, look for jobs, and develop beneficial professional relationships.

But despite its many advantages, LinkedIn has one big downside when it comes to sourcing candidates: it’s crowded. The wrong move can quickly take a good candidate from interested to irritated. In this article, we’ll explain how to use LinkedIn for recruiting—the right way—and some common missteps to avoid if you want to make the best impression on prospective talent.

Why Learn How to Use LinkedIn For Recruiting?

When candidates are looking for a new job (or just thinking about looking for a new job), LinkedIn is where they go to find information. 75% of people who recently made a job switch used the platform during their decision-making process.

In terms of the quality and retention of resulting hires, LinkedIn is one of the top recruiting channels. The platform says new employees sourced on its network are 40% less likely to leave the company within the first six months than candidates sourced via other channels.

For hiring managers and recruiters, LinkedIn sourcing just makes sense because of the very nature of the platform: its core purpose is to enable users to make professional connections. Users are in a different mindset when they log onto LinkedIn than when they open, say, Instagram. They’re primed and open to conversations about their career.

So how can you effectively use LinkedIn recruiting to drive top candidates to your open positions? Follow these recommendations.

LinkedIn Recruiting Tip #1: Focus on your company page

Before you do anything else, make sure your LinkedIn company page is up to snuff.

Company pages are different from personal profiles in a few key ways. First, company profiles have followers rather than connections. Your followers are more than just a vanity metric; they’re actually highly indicative of whether a candidate will engage with you.

A LinkedIn member who is following your company is 95% more likely to accept your InMail message and 81% more likely to respond to it than a member who is not your follower, so it pays to focus on growing an authentic following.

Secondly, a company page allows you to create offshoots known as showcase pages that are dedicated to specific products, services, or achievements. This is useful for helping visitors understand what you’re all about. For large companies with many different brands or divisions under one roof, it’s helpful for giving each distinct business unit its own dedicated space.

Finally, and most importantly, company pages allow you to post your open positions, which helps interested candidates find them. You can add a job description, requirements, and desired qualifications just as you would in a standard job listing.

Make sure your company page is 100% filled out and reflects your brand, with your logo and current imagery. Post regularly so that your page looks fresh and up to date when prospective candidates land on it.

LinkedIn Recruiting Tip #2: Enable applying via LinkedIn

Once you’ve ensured your company page makes a good first impression, the next step is to enable applications via LinkedIn. This will allow candidates to submit for your open positions without ever leaving the platform.

You can enable LinkedIn applications when you’re posting an open position (LinkedIn offers detailed instructions on the steps to post a job here). During the posting process, you’ll be asked whether you want to direct applicants to an external site (like your careers page) to apply, or to allow them to apply on LinkedIn.

Enabling in-platform applications allows you to track and manage applications, communicate with candidates via messaging, and track the effectiveness of the channel as a recruiting medium. You also have the option to add a promotion budget to your job listings to help them reach more prospective candidates.

LinkedIn Recruiting Tip #3: Use LinkedIn when candidates are online

Part of conducting effective LinkedIn sourcing comes down to using the platform at the right time. Believe it or not, the time of day you send InMail messages makes a difference in how likely you are to get a response.

For best results, LinkedIn recommends sending InMail between 9 and 10 a.m. on weekdays. This makes sense because most people spend the first hour of their morning checking notifications, responding to emails and getting up to speed for the day. Avoid sourcing candidates on weekends if you can help it. Despite being a less busy time, LinkedIn says InMail messages sent on Saturdays are 16% less likely to get a response.

LinkedIn Recruiting Tip #4: Don’t send generic messages

This is the biggest LinkedIn recruiting blunder staffing professionals tend to make; sending impersonal, uninvited messages to a mass audience. It’s more than just a faux pas; LinkedIn has cracked down on InMail spammers in recent years, and doing this can get you blocked from messaging or even kicked off the platform.

Personalized messages are always a good thing -in recruiting and beyond. In marketing, for example, personalized emails deliver six times higher transaction rates than generic ones. In terms of consumer behavior, 59% of shoppers say that personalization influences their decision to buy. LinkedIn has even noted the positive impact of personalization, pointing out that recruiters who reference a former employer in common when messaging a candidate are 27% more likely to get a response.

Crafting personal messages takes more time than sending a generic blast, but it pays off in the form of more interested, responsive prospects. So, how should you personalize your messages to candidates?

Reference a specific reason their profile caught your eye. You might cite their current job duties or previous experience that’s relevant to the role you’re looking to fill.

Reference connections you have in common or other candidates you’ve successfully placed from their company. If you have a mutual connection, this is a huge leg up, and even better if you can enlist that shared connection to make the introduction for you.

Reference information that you learned outside of LinkedIn. For example, you might comment on a recent blog they wrote for their company website or cite an article that featured their work. All of this shows you’ve done your homework and are connecting for a legitimate reason, not just to add one more resume to your stack.

LinkedIn Recruiting Tip #5: Join relevant groups and participate in them

As a recruiter or staffing professional, this where your personal account will come in handy. While a company page has many benefits, you’re currently limited to posting on your own company’s page when using a company profile. With your personal LinkedIn account, you can interact in groups and connect directly with other users. Group participation pays off; you’re 21% more likely to get a response from a candidate when you send an InMail to someone who shares a group with you.

To use groups for LinkedIn sourcing, approach it in an organic way. Join groups that are a natural fit, like those dedicated to job searching, networking and continuing education within your industry. You might join groups specific to your city, like this one for marketers in New York City or this one for young professionals in Chicago. You can also look for groups dedicated to the specific role you’re looking to fill, like this one for network engineers or this one for CPAs.

After joining groups—and this part is crucial—interact within them. Don’t just pop in only when you have a new opening. Make it a point to stop by regularly and contribute to the discussion. It’s a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in your job market. Some groups even have dedicated threads where recruiters can post job openings.

LinkedIn Recruiting Tip #6: Consider a LinkedIn Recruiter account

If you recruit for a large volume of roles, you might want to consider investing in a LinkedIn Recruiter account.

With a Recruiter account, you can access up to 1,000 candidates with each search compared to the 100 results you’ll get in a regular search. You also have the ability to save search results.

Whereas a personal account limits the amount of profile information you can see if you don’t share a connection with a candidate, a Recruiter account allows you to see the full profile of every candidate. You can send a greater number of InMail messages along with tracking and analyzing their performance, too.

There are several different tiers of Recruiter accounts that vary based on how many people are on your team.

Open New Recruiting Channels With 4 Corner Resources

Are you relying on the same handful of recruiting channels every time you have a new opening? Are you frustrated by the quality (or lack thereof) of candidates entering your hiring funnel? It’s time for a new approach.

The team of staffing professionals at 4 Corner Resources can help you maximize the effectiveness of your existing recruiting channels and find creative new ones to reach more candidates. We’ll help you cut through the noise and reach the best talent in your field, including those elusive passive candidates.

To get started, contact us to speak with one of our hiring experts today.

Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the president of 4 Corner Resources, the nationally acclaimed staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. His mission back then was the same as it is today: to do business in a personal way, while building an organization with boundless opportunities for ingenuity and advancement. Pete is also founder of career advice site zengig, a comprehensive platform of resources, tools, and guidance for every professional journey. You can hear him each week hosting the Hire Calling and Finding Career Zen podcasts. When he isn’t thinking, writing, and speaking about career success, Pete spends his time relaxing and traveling with his family of six.