Follow Us

Like what you're reading?

Subscribe to receive periodic updates about new posts by email, or follow us via Twitter or RSS.

Please enter a valid e-mail address to subscribe.


You have subscribed.

How LinkedIn Uses LinkedIn to Recruit


Eat your own dog food

Since its launch in May 2003, LinkedIn has become the go-to social media site for professional networking. Over the past decade, it has grown to over 259 million users in over 200 countries and territories.

The number of LinkedIn employees has grown, too. As of December 2013, the company employed almost 5,000 people, up from 1,000 in 2010. What makes LinkedIn’s growth so special? They used their own social network and recruiting tools—the same ones available to other organizations—to recruit many of their employees.

So, how does LinkedIn use LinkedIn to recruit? To find out, I interviewed Mark Alfaro, one of the company’s senior product recruiters. He shared some of LinkedIn’s best practices for hiring, and described how he uses the company’s own platform—LinkedIn Recruiter—to find top talent. By following his lead, you can do the same at your company.

Use LinkedIn Recruiter to Access More Than 259 Million Professional Profiles

The tool he uses most often is one of LinkedIn’s own products: LinkedIn Recruiter. Alfaro is a long-time champion of the product, and has been a paying customer of LinkedIn for the past six years—long before he was hired at the company in 2011. So, how does LinkedIn Recruiter work?

LinkedIn Recruiter customers get access to all of LinkedIn’s users—not just those in their own personal networks. The product allows you to scour this enormous pool of professionals using advanced search functions such as industry, location and current company. LinkedIn-Recruiter-Dashboard

LinkedIn Recruiter’s Dashboard

So, how does Alfaro use it to recruit? Here are a few features that he and his team use regularly to ensure they’re not missing out on any great candidates.

Automatically Fill Your Candidate Pipeline Using Custom Search Criteria

Alfaro notes that some recruiters may not be using the “Projects” tab (seen above at the top left of LinkedIn Recruiter’s home page) effectively to organize their candidate lists. “Projects are an extremely useful way to build a talent pipeline for current searches, and to pipeline passive candidates for ongoing or future needs,” he says.

If you’re an in-house recruiter, this means you can create a separate Project for each department or team that has open positions. If you work for an agency, you can organize your projects by client. Within each Project, you can view and save candidate profiles, searches and relevant job descriptions.

Projects can stay open as long as you need them to, and can be shared with your entire recruiting team. That means potential candidates you find who either didn’t apply or weren’t the best fit for a specific job can be saved and reviewed for future roles: with the Projects feature, you only have to find them once. You can also have your Projects’ saved searches automatically and continuously update as new, qualified candidates join LinkedIn. Voilà: an ever-growing talent pipeline for all your open positions.

While the design of LinkedIn Recruiter’s interface has changed since it was published, this video by Kenexa provides valuable information on how to create and use Projects.

Use Tags to Organize and Find Candidates with Requisite Skills

The “Tags” feature, says Alfaro, can help you better organize candidates (if your team uses it consistently). Alfaro recommends tagging candidates with certain skills or attributes that are important to you. For example, say you’re looking for software engineers with a thorough knowledge of Linux. When you find a good prospective candidate, simply go to their profile page, either within your Project or during a standard search, and add a “Linux” tag in the menu below their name. LinkedIn-Tagging

Tagging Prospects with Certain Skills or Attributes

You can use these tags as an additional filter in LinkedIn Recruiter’s advanced search option to make searching LinkedIn’s ~259 million profiles even more powerful. If everyone on your team uses the same tags, you can easily pull up all candidates with a certain skill or ability, no matter what project you may have originally stored them in—saving time and energy. Filtering-by-Tags-in-LinkedIn-Recruiter

Filtering Search Results by Tags

Use InShared Content to Start a Conversation With Potential Candidates

Most recruiters, Alfaro says, only review member profiles to determine whether a prospect has the requisite skills and experience for an open position. But Alfaro recommends that recruiters also review the content a prospect has InShared (i.e. content shared within the LinkedIn network), commented on and ‘liked’ in the Groups they belong to, as well as at what influencers they follow. This is a whole new way for recruiters to vet potential candidates: InShared information can provide insight into a candidate’s professional interests, and can be used as a starting point for introductions. LinkedIn-Groups-and-Influencers

Check Out a Prospect’s Groups and the Influencers They Follow

By showing you have taken a moment to review both a candidate’s experience, and their interests as they relate to potential career growth, you increase the likelihood of a response and a potential interview.

Ignite Candidate’s Interest with Genuine Enthusiasm

While all of these tools are essential to stay competitive in the war for talent, there is one thing Alfaro recommends you keep in mind to maximize their effectiveness: enthusiasm. If you’re really going to get the best people, you have to get them excited about an idea, a vision and a team that they can believe in.

“My enthusiasm comes through when I’m talking to a prospect,” Alfaro says. “They may or may not choose to take a job with us, but that person will definitely remember my passion for my work and my belief that what we’re doing is special!”

Alfaro says he’s so enthusiastic about LinkedIn, he wants everyone to be able to experience the joys of working there—and this allows him to deliver more than just the standard pitch of salary, benefits and so on. Once you know how to represent your company accurately, honestly and persuasively (with enthusiasm!), then you should focus on which tools to utilize to build your talent pipeline.

When you can effectively sell your company, get candidates excited about working for you and leverage social media tools to source great candidates, the sky’s the limit. By combining their enthusiasm about the company with an effective use of LinkedIn’s recruiting tools, Alfaro and his team have been able to find the talent LinkedIn needs to grow. With these tips, you can do the same for your business.

LinkedIn Chocolates” created by Nan Palmero used under CC BY / Resized

Share this post:  

About the Author

Erin Osterhaus joined Software Advice in 2012 after earning an M.A. in German and European Studies from Georgetown University. She focuses on the HR market, offering advice to industry professionals on the best recruiting, talent management, and leadership techniques.

Connect with Erin Osterhaus via: 
Email  | Google+  | LinkedIn