LinkedIn Needs to Up Its Human Game for Recruiters

The challenge of using social platforms to reach talent is partly in how cold and detached interactions can feel. We send an inquiry. Perhaps we receive a response, perhaps not. Those times that we do, it’s a cointoss on how it’ll go. Regardless of the success of the interaction, having the option to follow up with a simple “thank you” or well wishing is woefully lacking on a platform like LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a prime example of the importance of building platforms and social technology that enable the level of emotional intelligence that recruiters need to use in our work.

You see, I was miffed with LinkedIn Recruiter when I had two candidates click “not interested,” which means I couldn’t go back and thank them for taking the time to think about it and let me know. Instead I had to get out of LinkedIn Recruiter and send a message separately.

Recruiters are finally turning away from the old-school shotgun approach to the talent search. Talent wars aside, there’s not much good that can come from mass lead-generation tactics, especially not in terms of quality. But when we come across someone who seems like they might be a great fit, we have to turn to the tools that we have at our service. LinkedIn is often our solution. Sometimes, it’s a fantastic way to have an initial conversation with talent. It’s our equivalent of a reconnaissance mission.

The intelligence that LinkedIn provides is important. There’s human data to sift through, but it doesn’t paint the whole picture. That’s what a conversation is for. Initiating the conversation isn’t the difficult part — it’s being able to follow-up after a “no, thanks” that proves to be the most difficult.

While the protective layers are understandable to keep talent and potential candidates from being spammed by bots and overly aggressive headhunters, it prevents emotionally intelligent recruiters (more on that in San Diego) from building long-term relationships with potential candidates. A person may not be looking for a new job at the moment, but chances are good that they will be in the not-so-distant future. The ability to build connections with high potential talent, even if the timing isn’t quite right for them, is how recruiters can be proactive in their talent searches.

Technology may be a means to an end in many ways, especially when it comes to connecting with talent on social media and social networks. But the digital red tape that flies up as soon as a candidate clicks the icon stating that they’re not interested creates a binary, transactional relationship that is the antithesis to how an emotionally intelligent recruiter shows up in their work.

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What we need is for platforms like LinkedIn to provide options to continue authentic conversation. As long as the initial interaction (or string of interactions) is neutral and non-aggressive, there should be a way to, at the very least, send a genuine “thank you for taking the time to review the opportunity and let me know” message as a follow-up. Sometimes, that extra moment could make a person feel like they matter. It has the potential to create a moment of delight, ensuring that if there’s another job that might be right, the person will be much more amenable to making the jump from potential to candidate.

Emotionally intelligent recruiters need emotionally intelligent tools that allow interactions to be more than transactional. When we’re given the ability to pursue conversations in lieu of asking the person to do or be something that they’re not ready for, the work becomes transformative. We’re able to lay that bedrock of trust and change the narrative in a way that furthers the world’s understanding of how the recruitment process can feel.

As the eternal optimist, I’m looking forward to the LinkedIn product manager, UX designer, and engineer responsible to making this minor but important tweak to enable recruiters to do the right thing.

Caroline Stokes is an executive headhunter, certified executive coach, and certified EQ.2.0 trainer, for global technology and entertainment innovation leaders. In 2017, she founded The Emotionally Intelligent Recruiter, a service for recruiters who want to traverse the the AI landscape with enhanced human skills. It can be found at

She draws from her previous experiences as executive headhunter and partner of international search firm Natural Selection, and from her time working in media relations and product strategy for PlayStation, Nokia, and Virgin across North America, Europe, and APAC.

During that time, she was appalled to discover how the recruitment ecosystem was broken: from talent evolving their leadership and career journey, to recruiters lacking EQ that impacts employer brand, through to companies poor first 100 days management when their expensive unicorn joins.

Organizations and talent from Amazon, Disney, Microsoft, Autodesk, the BBC and other tech leaders work with Caroline to move their human capital development and acquisition plans forward.


1 Comment on “LinkedIn Needs to Up Its Human Game for Recruiters

  1. The problem with any public space is that an option to keep going back, even one as well-intentioned as your suggestion, will be gamed by less scrupulous users. This is the fundamental reason why a public system is ill-suited to long-term deeper relationships and why we’d suggest that you bring people into a private network, like Hollaroo, once you get that initial interest.

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