Why LinkedIn Will Never Kill the Professional Recruitment Industry

How LinkedIn is eating the recruitment industry suggested that LinkedIn, an essential tool in a recruiter’s arsenal, is actually going to devour the recruitment sector like an aggressive parasite. This is a very popular viewpoint — and an understandable one given the state of the jobs market, the focus on reducing recruitment spending, and the undeniably impressive growth of LinkedIn’s revenues and share price.

There is undeniably a shift in behavior with regard to LinkedIn, and it has impacted the recruitment industry — but in a different way than the article suggests. LinkedIn needs recruitment to survive. Despite views to the contrary, recruitment companies still contribute the lion’s share of its revenue. LinkedIn is undoubtedly negatively impacting parts of the recruitment market. But it’s not the third-party agencies. It’s the job boards.

You only have to look at a company like Monster whose share price has tanked as impressively as LinkedIn’s has risen. Other job advertising sites such as The Ladders have had to change their pricing models to allow free access in order to keep user numbers up and remain competitive.

Recruitment advertising spending decisions are now being driven by the need for platforms which allow effective interaction and the ability to target an audience of choice. LinkedIn is a much better vehicle for this than large generic job boards and is therefore competing very effectively with them — not recruitment consultancies who use LinkedIn as a tool.

Where LinkedIn has had an impact on recruitment consultancies is that it has decreased the value and uniqueness of proprietary databases. Consequently new entrants to the market and in-house resourcing teams now have access to the same candidate information as long-established recruitment firms. This has had the positive effect of preventing the proliferation of more generalist and average recruiters and enhancing the reputation of the credible specialist and niche recruiter.

Unless the psychology of a human being changes significantly in the near future, the vast majority of professionals are still going to want to interact with another person during the recruitment process, as it is still one of the most important decisions an individual has to make. A career move isn’t an impromptu purchase like an item of clothing or a downloadable tune/movie — and it isn’t a discretionary buy like a vacation or a car. A career is the basis on which someone can make all other purchases and support their family.

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While a candidate’s behavior might shift so that they begin to look for opportunities on LinkedIn, and there has been a cultural shift making it acceptable to have a CV in public view, neither the recruitment process nor the ability of clients or candidates to make decisions has improved dramatically due to social networking.

The idea that recruiters can be replaced with some sort of “black box” solution grossly underestimates the impact a recruiter has in the placement of a senior professional candidate or future talent for a business. Individuals whose skill-sets are in high demand and short supply globally will have multiple options, and that professional end of the market will consequently always need third party independent market advice.

However, at the “volume end” of the market, things are different. An advertisement can be placed in a variety of media and a plentiful supply of suitable candidates respond. If you are a recruiter in a market that matches this description, your days indeed are numbered.

Adrian Kinnersley is founding partner and the managing director of Twenty Recruitment Group, one of the world?s fastest expanding independent recruitment businesses. With offices in London and New York the firm specializes in senior appointments within finance, financial services, and technology.


84 Comments on “Why LinkedIn Will Never Kill the Professional Recruitment Industry

  1. Good point about everyone having access to the LinkedIn database. This might be more of a threat to the ATS companies than it is to good recruiters.

    Bottom line, is that the best talent available can only be brought to the table using the direct approach. Email marketing and advertising won’t work with this crowd.

  2. Adrian that’s an excellent, compact analysis- esp. because it matches my own viewpoint exactly. The very core of LinkedIn’s past success has been that “cultural shift making it acceptable to have a CV in public view”.

    Anything that erodes that social permission is bad for LinkedIn- and what has developed is that it’s now bad news when your LinkedIn profile has been dormant and suddenly comes to life: the same red flag as was posting your CV on Monster 10 years ago.

    John, LinkedIn has been superb for the ATS business: once that LinkedIn data starts to get worked on, the value-added product has to go somewhere, and only fools or knaves would trust LinkedIn AS their ATS, since they lust for ownership and control of everything they touch.

    Unless and until 100% of employable individuals have full and current profiles on LinkedIn, recruiters are going to need other tools while their own private, tagged, qualified and processed data is going to have more value than ever.

  3. To even imagine that LinkedIn will kill the professional Recruiting Industry is just plain silly.

    Honeslty now, who really beleives that will happen?

  4. IMHO, that the only people more foolish than those who say
    “This (or that) will kill off the recruiting industry” are *the ones that believe them…As long as there is a need to provide the insufferable to do the impossible for the unspeakable, there will need to be contingency recruiters, who should perform work which is worth 30% fees.


    Keith “Not a Contingency Recruiter” Halperin

    *A subset of these are the most foolish of all: those who pay large sums of money to hear these people who spout idiocy.

  5. Whilst I agree with much of what you say, IMHO there is a big hole in the main plank of your arguement: candidates do not believe commission-only salesmen provide independent advice. You need to change that.
    LinkedIn has removed almost all the barriers to finding people, so agencies are forced to argue that their ability to deliver people is the differentiator. Soon at the rate things are changing in the direct recruitment space that slim advantage may become eroded. Nothings changing on the agency side!
    Agencies need to redefine the value proposition. At the moment the plugs out its only a matter of time before the waters gone.

  6. Adrian: Couldn’t have said it better myself!
    @David: You’ve given me an idea for an article. I haven’t been motivated by anything lately to write and you changed that. Thanks!

  7. Hi David: I am not sure if there is ever to be a value proposition other than a candidate who can do the job and oft times that is enough.

    Advice and council is not the mainstay of the business. Commissioned sales folks are paid on commission and their type of compensation drives behavior. (Human nature…)

    Carol, I look forward to your article.

  8. “Consequently new entrants to the market and in-house resourcing teams now have access to the same candidate information as long-established recruitment firms.”


    This is absolutely and unequivocally WRONG. You sound like you’re drinking the same Kool-Aid as many others believing that LI has EVERYONE in its database.

    LinkedIn WANTS you to think that.

    It profits them for you to think that.

    They put out literature that makes you THINK that.


    I am in a unique position to tell you that everyone is NOT on LinkedIn.

    This may come as a big surprise to many of you; especially those of you new to the industry.

    You old hands out there know what I’m talking about.

    I’ve been tracking who’s on/who’s not on now for two years and I can tell you IN MOST INDUSTRIES less than 10% of a company’s workforce is listed on LinkedIn (or anywhere else on the Internet for that matter in a manner that identifies them as someone appropriate to fill your search!)

    I KNOW THIS IS TRUE because I’m a phone sourcer (NOT to be confused with Internet sourcers) and when I say I’m in a unique position – I am! I often times pick up in real-time WHOLE DEPARTMENTS inside specific companies and when I run the LinkedIn “spot-check” (Howard, are you listening?) most of the names I have picked up are NOT on LinkedIn.

    You CANNOT argue with me on this because you have NO WAY of knowing.

    I do.

    There is absolutely NO WAY LinkedIn (or any online tool) can trump the database of a long-established recruitment firm; ESPECIALLY that of a niche player.

    That is all.


    Maureen Sharib
    Phoen Sourcer
    513 899 9628

  9. Unfortunately i disagree with most of you on all points except that i agree it is hurting the job boards. In Australia there has been a quantum shift towards employing internal recruiters (usually from third party firms) and therefore reducing use of third party recruiters. The arguments are simple (for employers to believe)

    1: An internal recruiter at $60-80kpa plus salary is cheaper than utilising agencies particularly for companies with large numbers of vacancies to fill.

    2. The internal recruiter has access to the same tools as an agency ie: Linked-in and job board sourcing as well as closer ability to follow up leads from the companies own employees and managers. Most hiring managers I know believe (rightly or wrongly)that MOST agency recruiters fill all their assignments through these sources anyway.

    3. The internal recruiter will know the business more intimately and therefore will provide better candidates than an external recruiter.

    Whilst I do not agree with any of these beliefs the reality in Australia is that this is happening at an increasing pace. A similar solution for these companies is to engage in an RPO contract which achieves the same result- ie: don’t use external recruiters

    Bury your heads in the sand all you like and keep telling yourself how indispensable you (and I ) are but as I said before, in Australia at least, this trend is growing not subsiding.

    If anyone has an answer to this ongoing dilema for our industry I would love to hear it!

  10. Peter: Apparently things are done very differently on the other side of the world. I don’t know any professional, successful third party recruiters who would even entertain working as an internal recruiter (Internal recruiters, please don’t bash me for saying that). Why would they work for people who don’t value them, don’t pay them their value, work them in conditions no better than communist China, don’t view them as consultants, etc? Again, please don’t bash me. I know this isn’t the case everywhere, but I think it’s the rule.

    You want to change the industry? Get the attention of the CEO. That’s what I’m doing.

  11. Hi Peter:

    I can go on for endless years on why recruiters will be around forever but I will just make 2 simple comments.

    First comment is that people have been saying that external recruiters will be going away for as long as I have been in the business. I disagree.

    Second, and far more important is that leadership does not care about its recruiters anymore then it cares about its employees. They are both seen as necessary evils. The things we need to care about and don’t are the things that cost us big dollars down the road.

    Bottom line is that for External Recruiters to go away, leadership would have to smarten up about the value employees bring to the organization and I can’t speak to your neck of the woods but I can tell you that as far as the US goes, that ain’t happening.

  12. We have foundLinkedin phenomenally effective in emerging markets of Africa. Middle East and Asia across 23 countries we operate in as many Recruiters not able to cover these territories or have accurate information. Many candidates only access to Internet is via Smart Phones etc so Linkedin profiles have really driven our costs to resource as well as reduced time to place candidates. Point being having a workforce of 51 000 every $ saving helps. We in edition have reduced our Recruiting Vendors significantly and truthfully going forward will be less and less dependent on Recruiters.

  13. @Carol Looking fwd to the article which I’m sure will warrant a Comment!
    @Howard So what’s the answer to the question “Why should I use you?” An subjective “because I’m a great recruiter” is not going to cut it.
    @Maureen Wow a lot of capitals! Think Glengarry Glen Ross. The next generation will not make volume cold-calls to blag names by lying! LinkedIn has acquired 175 million members since May 2003. Once the old school have died off I predict everyone will have an Internet footprint by 2025.

  14. It was assumed job boards would eliminate 3rd party recruiters as well.

    It was assumed internal recruiters would eliminate 3rd party recruiters.

    Now its assumed L.In will do the same.

    None of these things happened. In most cases 3rd party use actually increased.

    In most cases “time to fill” roles has actually gotten longer.

    100k+ jobs go unfilled all the time. Even 300k+ jobs might only have 2 or 3 applicants.

    The assumption is that a slow economy leads to vast pools of unlimited talent just begging at your door.

    The assumption of those who don’t recruit: including V.Ps of HR……is that its just a question of getting enough “bodies” in for interviews and spaces will be filled.

    The assumption is that recruiting is just calling people up and inviting them to send a CV and the job will get filled.

    The assumption is that a 60k,,,9 to 5 internal recruiter has the same level of drive to fill roles as a 3rd party firm.

    Why all these assumptions fail is rather simple: real recruiting is based upon relationships not body counts.

    3rd party recruiting is about knowing “who” the clients competitors are: what they are paying, what they are doing and who would like to leave to join the clients firm and when they want to do it.

    3rd party recruiting is about being available to talk to a choice candidate at 10pm on a Sunday night across a 3 hour time zone difference.

    3rd party recruiting is about hunting that ideal candidate down on vacation skiing.

    3rd party recruiting is about talking the ideal candidate out of retirement to join the clients vision.

    Recruiting isn’t hunting for bodies as much as it is “selling”…selling the vision of the client to the best people available.

    Job boards and LinkedIn don’t do that.

    In house recruiters aren’t even remotely capable of having insider candidate information with their competitors. What candidate is going to create a confidential relationship with his direct competition unless he is one angry candidate?

    What in-house recruiter has the time to develop general relationships with key future candidates when the pressure on them is to deliver bodies for interview……..not develop key alliances over time.

    Its the misunderstanding of those who don’t actually do 3rd party recruiting to dismiss recruiting as simply name generation and crank on about fees being ridiculously high.

    My most recent key placement came about with an executive I pre-recruited 2 years ago for my client when no actual job existed to be filled at that time. Knowing where the client was headed: knowing what they were likely going to ask for next, I made sure I cultivated a relationship over a long period of time with what I knew would be their ideal candidate long term. When the time eventually came: the candidate and the client made an ideal marriage.

    That’s what I really earn my fees doing….being my clients agent in the field over time.

    Job boards, Linked and internal recruiters don’t put even a dent in my business. If anything, they fail so regularly it makes me look like a star! My best years have been the ones LI has grown the nost!

  15. @ Peter I’m glad someone here has got a pulse.
    @Suzanne If you are the superstar visionary recruiter you describe then you do indeed have nothing to fear. However 90+% of the industry is not like this.
    The reason JBs didn’t end Agencies is because HR was fat and lazy and couldn’t be bothered to use them. That was before the current recession. Attitudes have now changed. The byword is “save money” and HR is embracing the trend.

  16. Good point about HR David. I would’ve said that they were too busy during pre-recession times, but you may be closer to the truth.

    When the economy is back growing at 3.5-4%, I suspect that HR won’t have the time to source, and contact people on LinkedIn, or they will be afraid to pick up the phone and prefer to be “fat and lazy.”

    L inkedIn is the latest version of the job board in my opinion.

  17. @David – I would agree entirely if we were commission only salesmen but certainly from our point if view this is not the case. I wrote a piece for The Fordyce Letter recently giving my take on what I believe the UK recruitment industry can teach the US staffing sector – in brief this covered:
    – Pay a salary and commission rather than a draw. Our model is to provide a standard commission scheme that applies to everyone in the business, an increased base salary according to the individual’s level, seniority and responsibilities in the business and the ability for everyone to gain share options providing a long term view. There are also additional bonus structures for managers that are contributing to building teams in the business based on overall team performance. This has the effect of transparency thus reducing politics and staff turnover. This in turn provides a better service to candidates and clients who get continuity of their contacts and therefore repeat business.

  18. @Peter I have to disagree – volume low level recruitment – absolutely – niche hard to find skill sets – not in a million years. Watch out for a follow up post about why internal recruiters will never kill professional recruiters!

  19. David Palmer, I am sorry to say that you are so stunningly wrong.

    The culture of HR will never change in a meaningful way. A few might try, perhaps 5-10%, but they will slide back. HR’s role is deeply enculturated and part of the fabric of our workplace.

    You’re dead wrong. I have heard of HR’s transformation for 30 years. Never, ever gonna happen.

  20. @Howard I think HR leaders are broadly reactive rather than progressive and nothing in the last 30 years has been big enough to them to move from their preferred position safely on the fence.
    However the last 2 years have been different. The No 1 priority for businesses over here is to cut cost, wherever and whenever it can. This time HR will embrace the LinkedIn/Direct sourcing cost-cutting trend like sheep and that’s if they’re actually doing any hiring in the first place.

  21. Re: HR trying to save money……..no question that’s a driver:
    why they flocked to ATS systems
    Why they flocked to Job Boards
    Why they are hiring all kinds of internal recruiters

    If it worked most of the time: I would be worried. It doesn’t.


    Because Job Boards only appeal to actively searching candidates: the smallest talent pool of them all.

    Because most HR and Internal Recruiters only have “lateral moves” to offer that few LinkedIn subscribers are interested in.

    The usual internal recruiter calls up and says:
    I represent XYZ company: we noticed you on LinkedIn
    and that you are (say)a Director of XX……

    Would you be interested in discussing an XX role with us?

    Candidate says sure:
    and waits to hear the “why” he should consider a move to his competitors firm

    -Pay?……probably the same
    -Benefits? …nearly identical
    -Vacation?…probably less due to loss of seniority
    -Opportunities?…..well: you have to prove yourself first

    In short: the internal recruiter sells “risk” to candidates.

    What the internal cant say is: The VP is getting fired next month and lots of advancement is coming……cant even hint at change really.

    The internal is bound by the same level of HR gag rules that basically means they can say next to “nothing” to entice a candidate beyond reading off the job description.

    What 3rd party recruiters do first;
    is call up candidates they know want to make a move to the competition

    -they share the culture of the firm
    -they share the personalities of the key reports
    -they share things such as; structural moves in the works
    -they know the pay grade advancement rates
    -they know what opportunities lay right around the corner

    3rd Party Recruiters sell Advancement not Risk.

    In other words: 3rd parties usually have the full scoop on clients they have worked with over time and are able to say to a candidate: “John: you are perfect for this firm and here is why?”…without putting the clients confidential plans at risk.

    This goes way beyond the usual “We have an opportunity to discuss” and then go on to read from a script. They have the identical job to offer the candidate that the candidate already has with no major career/life improvements.

    As long as HR will continue to try and sell lateral moves 3rd party recruiters will forever be in great shape because the only candidates they attract are the unhappy ones.

    It takes genuine skill to coax a star player out of a firm he is happy with, with nothing but a lateral move to sell.

    (rather like asking someone to sell their house and move down the street to a nearly identical value home)

    If HR ever figures out that you can hire outside at a level slightly below your maximum criteria and get some really ambitious superstars: then we are in trouble.

    Not too worried about that: HR above all prefers to maintain the status quo: never see ripples: and never leave themselves exposed to a failed employee.

    Their fear is our opportunity!

  22. @Suzanne I believe your comments are only valid for a tiny proportion of the recruitment that takes place. Why wouldn’t an Internal recruiter sell advancement? What can most agency recruiters do that an internal recruiter cannot thanks to LinkedIn and other candidate sources?

  23. Interesting topic, interesting comments.
    What is missing here is the overall potential that LI can and will have going forward.
    This is not necessarily about who can be instantly found and whether everybody is on Linkedin (@Maureen, possibly true that no everybody yet on LI, but that is changing very fast and the gap is closing, why only a matter of time)
    For me this is about what the whole ‘networked world’ can yield. Any clever in-house TA manager will know that the real force and opportunity lie in referrals. In my last company, 275 employees gave access to 60.000 1st line connections. With a little extra effort I could boost that to 75.000. Imagine that, one click of a button and you can reach that many people! If at the same time smart and clever EVP and digital presence, then you have in an instant created a ‘monster’ of a machine than can reach further and wider than anything else seen before. So cleverly used this has already bigger potential than we can imagine and potential that will simply keep growing. Latest predictions for referral hiring stand at 60% (up from around 40% 12 months ago, why it is clear to see the trend forming.
    As for agents, some still have a place, but they need to truly sharpen up and find some pretty good arguments to stay in the game.

  24. @David Internal recruiters are often mired in the internal politics of the organization. If a hiring manager (who happens to be a senior executive) is screwing up the hiring process by not communicating on a timely basis, it’s sometimes difficult for the internal recruiter to do much given their level in the organization.

    Outside recruiters can be more objective.

  25. Ok lets review that position.

    Lets say you get called up by YXZ company internal recruiter for retail.

    Nice recruiter calls you.


    You are a Store Manager with XYZ company
    Would you like to discuss being a “store manager” for us?

    Whats in it for me? thinks the candidate

    Ok he says:

    What do you have to offer that’s “better” than what I have now……

    Pay? Nope its going to be very very similar or in some cases less: because with the new firm he has no seniority and goes back to a 3 month “conditional” employment: he could be let go at any time for taking this risk.

    Opportunity? Well the recruiter says: “if you prove yourself” we do promote from within. When? when opportunities come next and we deem you the best choice.

    Benefits? most industries are pretty standard in what they offer

    So really: Why should a candidate take this risk?

    No internal recruiter is going to call an Assistant Manager to review a Managers role…….the app. would be tossed as “too junior”

    No internal is going to call a Regional level manager to take a step down: they would be laughed at.

    So who is the audience for the internal recruiter? People already in the same identical job.

    What do they really have to sell that’s so special? Unless you are a superstar brand: say Apple with all that cache to go with it……odds are: you will be rejected.

    Don’t know what the stats are in other industries: but in general: in retail: you need to contact 40 candidates on average to get even one to go forward in the process for a lateral move.

    Because internal recruiting works under HR…..they are simply an extension of the same policies that HR uses.

    They recruit using the job description and pay scale grade papers and cant say anything much more than that to make their case.

    To candidates: who are growing very very weary of having internal recruiters call them all the time with offers of little interest to them,if you don’t have a “Porsche” to offer them, they aren’t going to waste their time.

    What the statistics show: is that having a team of internal recruiters “increases” the time to fill roles not decreases them. Adding a new layer of HR hasn’t produced the hoped for cost savings at all because the process is now even slower.

    In retail at least: the longer that role is open: the more money is being lost.

    Its all peachy when only a few roles are vacant: but slow the process down and you quickly ramp up to the level of one of my new clients with 800 vacancies.

    In retail at least: people are sales: 800 empty spots is a vast amount of money to lose.

    Its at that point the panic sets in when the Hiring managers start screaming for people for the roles……and the inevitable call comes in from the Director of Talent to the 3rd party recruiter to bail them out.

    3rd party recruiters aren’t going anywhere anytime soon: at least not in retail.

  26. Re: Internal Referrals: Don’t know about other industries: but internal referral programs in retail are a spectacular failure…lucky to get even 10% usage. Perhaps its the nature of such a competitive industry and that “widget production” might not be so.

  27. @Suzanne. Good story and example and much truth there, leaving the question open, if no differentiator and unless a candidate so upset/annoyed peeved off or other dying to move, why should he/she?
    Experienced myself in eBay that getting candidates fast was of greater importance than whether directly sourced equalling less cost, as no candidates in role = loss of revenue. In those cases agencies God sent, and used extensively. That said had to spend 60% of time (as in-house TA responsible) just managing them and the message they conveyed to candidates.

  28. Internal referral recruitment is a subject all to itself, requiring substantial work and ability to find ‘brand ambassadors’ ‘story tellers’ and other that can help being the ‘publishers’ of a message and/or a vacancy in short content.

  29. Re: Internal Recruiters: There are other factors at play too: I had a client wish to replace their entire management team…….clearly they weren’t going to share that with their internal staff.

    Bottom line: is HR uses their internal recruiters as “minions” to do basic leg work…to plow through resumes. Never are they given any “inspiration” to do “real” professional level recruiting/relationship building.

    At least they haven’t been any threat to my business whatsoever: if anything: they make me look good!

  30. Re: Internals: yes very true: but its a rare day to find 9-5 Brand Ambassadors with the passion to drive their firms bottom line at the pay and scope of roles they get……HR may wish they did executive level recruiting for 50k……..but its not realistic.

    As with anything: you get what you pay for. Nearly all internal roles are not filled with senior search agents making 100k+….but junior HR admin people right out of school making entry level money.

    After all: if they have to pay internals executive money: then they may as well use outside recruiters: and that’s my point entirely.

    That’s its a false economy when in the end they have to go outside anyway but are now stuck with layers and layers of new HR staffers: say at least 5…so their cost is at least 250k anyway

    I say: keep on hiring internals: keep on driving up the head count and benefits costs……because sooner or later it will implode…….and 3rd party will look like a bargain again.

  31. @Suzanne A bit of generalisation re the function and level that in-housers work at.
    Good seasoned and mature in-housers can do a 100 times better job at ‘selling a company’ they have the inside knowledge and can ‘story tell’ external providers have significant limits in that respect.
    Myself seen and been involved in strategic and high level stuff and able to put my stamp on whole thing.
    I understand that reality in retail likely quite different, however know that in in fast turn-over industries that referral rate can be pushed significantly.
    That said no brand and no EVP then not much point really as that is the selling point.

  32. All depends upon the relationship the external has with the Talent Director…..as to their knowledge of the inside workings of the firm.

    The best 3rd party people I know are very very close to their Talent leaders…..speak to them daily or weekly…

    …although I do know many firms that simply fax over job orders to recruiters with little or no engagement: and in that case you would be right.

    Again: hiring firms will get what they pay for: the more effort they put into their vendor relationships: the better value they will get.

    In general though: the biggest advantage for 3rd parties is that they hear both sides of the story:

    a) people who work for the firm……what they think of it
    b) people who have left the firm……why they left and the overall street reputation.

    I know internals are forced to defend their firms position: such as pay grades and high turnover rates: things like that…….so basically they are speaking “the party line” at all times.

    This is the primary communication barrier they have with the outside workforce.

    Anyway; at the end of the day its all about fill rates and time to fill rates along with turnover rates.

    If a firm is working at peak fill rates with their internal recruiters and job boards: which is an ideal 6-8 weeks…..then clearly they don’t need contractors.

    What is becoming common though: is 12 to 24 week fill rates with increasing turnover rates.

    These are the firms that need outside help.

    We 3rd party people exist only because HR has problems. If they knew how to do it and do it well: we would be gone.

    My colleagues and I are finding the opposite to be true: our business is exploding year over year because HR rarely “works” at maximum potential anymore: at least they aren’t satisfying the hiring managers.

    LinkedIn and JobBoards and ATS systems have zero bearing on this issue.

    At the end of the day: they are simply data sources. Data alone doesn’t solve HR problems.

  33. Interesting comments on this one. Some points I’ve noticed:

    LinkedIn doesn’t have ‘everyone’ in it, and it doesn’t have to. The point of LinkedIn as a replacement for what were once proprietery in-house databases at agencies is it gives a massive and easily mastered starting point for networking into companies. 10% of any particular company’s workforce, per Maureen’s post, is pure gold in the hands of the right recruiter.

    LinkedIn will NOT kill off the recruiting industry, it will just force it to change. More specifically it will simply kill off the low hanging fruit type of agencies who do little but post and pray and then expect to get paid 25-30%. In the past recruiting has been a goldmine for every putz who can BS a little and find competent people to present. As companies get squeezed for cash they’re going to question why they should pay that much for a service which can easily be internalized. Similarly they’re going to wonder why the have to pay so much for job ad space when they can easily have their own boards, use their own means to publicize them, and own all the submitted resumes free and clear as a potential resource.

    Having worked on both the agency and corporate side, being internal does give an advantage when dealing with hiring managers and knowing the business. Rightly or wrongly, people both in their professional and personal lives try to hide their perceived defects. Being inside a working business lets you know them all for the business and the people working in it. That kind of intimacy with the culture of the business is where internal recruiters can and do shine.

    And, specifically to Carol’s point, I work internally because I hate sales, first and foremost. I’m good at solving problems, I’m good at matching people to jobs and to a company’s culture. I absolutely can’t stand hustling like a schmuck day and night for positions to fill, nor can I stand working with or for such people because they almost always over sell and, when they function as gate keepers to the client, never follow up. Internally if an HM is making a stupid decision, since they’re my partner and not my customer, I can call them on it much more easily. That is especially helpful in many types of corporate culture. As for the value, I get good value for my time in terms of salary and bonus, and quite frankly I think most recruiters are way over valued and one of the reasons the industry is changing is because people are realizing that, and technology is making the relevance of agencies change in a big way. As I’ve mentioned on previous comments, of all the agencies I’ve ever worked with over the last five years in my current position alone, only one EVER produced candidates I didn’t already produce on my own. Despite all their bluster about networking and passive sourcing, most agencies delivered the same sad set of people who initially applied for the ads I put out over two months earlier. And none of them, no matter how hard I hammered it home to them over multiple meetings and phone calls, could grasp the internal culture of this company well enough to present people who could even survive more than a month here, much less work successfully for a few years.

    I also have to disagree with Susan Sears on more than a few points. Specifically with regard to 3rd party recruiters:

    -they share the culture of the firm
    This is in fact the one thing every agency I have every worked with in any company and capacity has failed at.

    -they share the personalities of the key report
    -they share things such as; structural moves in the works
    -they know the pay grade advancement rates
    -they know what opportunities lay right around the corner
    Same for these four, for they are all derivative of the above point of culture. What’s more, I have no issues, and in fact support, from upper management to be honest and upfront about all these things.

    I also have no idea why there’s this assumption that internal recruiters can only offer lateral moves. For some reason if I have position X open I can ONLY speak to people who are already at that level, but 3rd party recruiters can speak to the up and comers? Someone has to inform me what this mystical force is which stops internal recruiters from placing people looking for career moves, because I’ve yet to encounter it myself. Susan writes:

    “No internal recruiter is going to call an Assistant Manager to review a Managers role…….the app. would be tossed as “too junior””

    Whereas an agency recruiter does.., what? Calls Harry Potter and gets him to cast an imperius charm on the HM? ANY recruiter has to earn the trust of their HMs so they can make recommendations. You can do this internally or externally. ANY recruiter can likewise call ANY candidate. Third party recruiters have no magical hold on career moves.

    To David’s follow up and response, 3rd party recruiters have a clear advantage in at least one area: they can specialize and focus on a field rather than a company. This gives them a lower opportunity cost with regard to pipelining candidates. For example if I’m at an agency specializing in construction it’s to my advantage to speak to as many PMs, Engineers, Estimators, etc., as possible, because I or someone else can manufacture positions for them to be placed in to. When you’re working internally and you only have one PM position open during the year, that pipeline and its maintenance becomes more of a time and cost concern. As a result internally you WILL tend to be more reactionary in your searches for positions whose frequency is so low as to not be able to justify the constant tending of a network of people who can fill it.

    Agency recruiters can specialize in a field or position, internal recruiters can specialize in a company and its culture. They both have advantages and drawbacks and neither one is going away any time soon. However, agency recruiters no longer have a stranglehold on the networking tools that made their specialty a necessity. As such, those that were simply outsourced post and pray operations getting by on charging a market price no longer hold value for many clients, so they’re going to get squeezed. The ones who can perform will remain and be able to sell value, perhaps even at the same price as before. But the technology is democratizing the process and that’s the bottleneck the agencies once controlled, but no longer do.

  34. Three points:

    David Palmer, time will tell. I have been inside for endless years. The lack of change is stunning. HR folks still do summer picnics in a high tech company with which I worked.

    Richard Araujo, I sense you have some strong feelings about this conversation. You should just cut loose and tell us what is on your mind. No sense beating around the bush as we are all friends here.

    Lastly, few things get folks in a fit faster then the agency vs internal recruiter piece of things. As stated before, nothing ever changes.

    Lets see what the future brings. My prediction?

    I expect a few better corporate recruiters to do some good things (Hard to quantify…) and I expect agency revenue to climb consistently over the next 10 years. Easy to quantify…) Mark my words on this.

  35. Excellent comments by all. A few additional thoughts:

    Everyone is using Linkedin. From the researchers at the “Big Five” overpaid glamourous executive search firms, to the admin assistants generating profiles for their boss at the small companies who have no internal recruiting support and cant afford a search firm.

    Adrian – I disagree with this statement of yours – “This has had the positive effect of preventing the proliferation of more generalist and average recruiters and enhancing the reputation of the credible specialist and niche recruiter.” I’ve seen average to below average recruiters portray themselves as experts when n fact, they are lazily using Linkedin to recruit. They’ve advanced from being a ‘Monster and Career Builder expert’ to a Linkedin expert. If anything, technology and tools like Linkedin are killing the art of real recruiting. Or, maybe it is the people who call themselves recruiters who are killing recruiting.

    Internal FTE recruiters can add value, and there are some good one out there, but too many of them are overwhelmed with a high volume of reqs and administrative tasks, which may be why their role becomes one of post, post, post, check ATS, check ATS, check ATS, sit in meeting, sit in meetings, sit in meetings……..

    I have found 3rd party contingent recruiters best value that they can focus 100% on a role, and generally have some good relationships with some cadre candidates, and are not burdened by all the corporate BS an internal fte recruiter has to deal with i.e, see above as well as 10-20-30 minutes to move a candidate thru the Taleo steps. YIKES.

    I have found the “Big Five” executive search firms impacted by Linkedin primarily because they have lost some, but not all, of their exclusiveness of their proprietary databases. However, the “Big Five” senior search consultants have not been impacted per se, because they spend 90% of their time selling and schmoozing, and when given a search, they just hand it off to a researcher to use Linkedin along with the firm’s database, and then they go back out and try to sell more searches, although they’ll show up for interviews and participate on conference calls.

    As for being an internal recruiter versus a 3rd party recruiter, somewhat of a toss-up. Both get treated pretty bad more often then not by their ‘transformed’ HR Business Partner colleagues who really don’t understand recruiting but think they do, and are still trying to earn a seat at the table.

  36. From Ty Chartwell:

    “Both get treated pretty bad more often then not by their ‘transformed’ HR Business Partner colleagues who really don’t understand recruiting but think they do,”

    Simply brilliant and spot on every time…

  37. @ Richard. Well said.

    Folks, as I said a few weeks ago:
    “Does anybody have figures on what percentage of the total American workforce has been hired through a TPR or internal recruiter reaching out to a candidate who has not openly indicated interest in a new job (through posting or initiating an application/sending a resume). I would expect it to be less than the 2.8% of 3PR hires that Gerry Crispin listed as source of hire in 2011.

    So, why do we devote so much time and discussion to recruiting methods and practices which are of very limited applicability and/or feasibility to the overwhelming majority of us here? It’s as if the Cooking Channel only had cooking shows which involved really complex recipes using truffles, caviar, Kobe beef, or other ultra-premium ingredients which hardly anybody could do or perform, or if you had a car repair show which only dealt with working on Rolls, Bentleys, Lambos, and Maseratis. How about more content related to “the real world of recruiting”?”

    How about these five statements:
    1) “We will continue to need sophisticated, high-quality 3PRs for the foreseeable future.”

    2) “We will continue to have unsophisticated, low-quality 3PRs for the foreseeable future.”

    3) “In most corporate environments, recruiting will continue to be perceived to have transactional rather than strategic value.”

    4) “Articulate and interesting ‘recruiting thought leaders’ (and those who aspire to be them) will continue to propose simple, quick, and easy solutions to difficult recruiting problems which aren’t any of these things, or to trivial recruiting problems which are.”

    5) “Little will change in how recruiting is done until the fundamental premises, prejudices, and biases of candidates, hiring managers, recruiters and their superiors are examined and dealt with in an empirical, fact-based way.” (Don’t hold your breath.)



  38. “Little will change in how recruiting is done until the fundamental premises, prejudices, and biases of candidates, hiring managers, recruiters and their superiors are examined and dealt with in an empirical, fact-based way.”

    Yup. The only thing that LinkedIn will change in the near to medium future is that the low performers in the third party world are at risk now, because they charge premium prices for performance that is easily internalized for a fraction of the cost with the same or better performance.

    To point #3, it is the good recruiter – internal OR external – who changes this attitude.

  39. This has been a wonderful conversation.

    David: It’s no use talking to you. I see your mind is made up.

    Richard Araujo: I second Howard’s remark about his spidey sense. Tell us what you really think. You correctly said, “10% of any particular company’s workforce, per Maureen’s post, is pure gold in the hands of the right recruiter.”

    Few know how to spin that gold.

    I have a feeling you do, though so spin some of it for us.

    Adrian, there’s some truth in this:
    “@Maureen – It may well be that less than 10% of a company’s workforce is on LinkedIn – but in most cases it is the 10% that hirers are interested in!”

    However, when you consider that a specific group of twenty electrical engineers inside a desirable target company MIGHT have two listed on LI (or, I say again anywhere on the Internet that allows you to match them to an opportunity) that leaves EIGHTEEN that nobody knows about.

    These are the numbers everyone is so willing to ignore because it takes some blood, sweat and tears to find them.

    Blood, sweat and tears are too high a price to pay for most.

    Whoever said that nonsense about everyone will be on the Internet by 2025 – inferring that everyone will become some source of a candidate- hasn’t lived too long. Thirteen years is a long time for this world to transform itself at the pace of technology today and there is no way of telling what 2025 is going to look like but at the risk of making forecasts soon there will be an app where we can remove ourselves from the madding crowd.

    That one will sell like hotcakes.

    Privacy is the new luxury AND the new guardian of value.

    Mark my words (and Howard’s.)

    To the person who said everyone is using LinkedIn:
    That may be (though I don’t believe it) but I’m here to testify that we had one of our best years (in ten) and that’s saying something!

  40. ISTM that it will become easier and easier to find the people who don’t want to hide, and harder and harder for them to do so if they do. The key will not be in finding the right people, but convincing them to listen to you talk about something you think is worth their while. (Of course, this neglects the fact that the vast majority of all hires don’t require either a hard search or a hard sell, but we hardly ever talk about those here….)



  41. Gosh I want your market then: because unless I have lots of extra salary, benefits, vacation or titles to toss in: like I said: only 1 in 40 contacts will actually go through the entire process in retail……..9x out of 10x there is no such magic dust to offer the candidates…just more of the same: different brand.

    Getting them to the table is the hardest thing I do…..one has to overcome things like: Well what happened to John Smith? why did he leave? or I heard they are shutting stores down?…..on and on.

    I do admire recruiters who say they can have a full slate of qualified candidates to the table within a week. Don’t know how they do it because my experience is that finding one star can take a very long time.

    But then, my clients will only pay for “stars” not regular old hires they could get themselves on Craigslist.

    In fact I am usually only brought in after they have failed in the search themselves around the 30-60 days mark.

    Unemployment is no direct relative of talent….one doesn’t equal surplus in the other.

    Any search I get I know I have mostly 40 hours work ahead at minimum just to start the candidate process with a few suitables.

    And many many more hours to actually get to a closed deal: pray for a closed deal I mean.

    I get that some HR thinks recruiting is like dipping your net in the ocean for fish: they all jump into the net.

    I can assure you in my world: its more like unicorn hunting.

    The words “No Thanks” from first approach to the middle to the end are a staple of my daily diet.

    Don’t know many recruiters who have a different tale: unless they recruit for the Apprentice…lol

  42. @Adrian: Thanks for the follow up to my original article.

    Despite the (diametrically) different viewpoint in the title, after reading your logic it seems we’re in violent agreement. You suggest that LinkedIn will never ‘kill’ the professional recruitment industry, but then acknowledge that:

    – “Where LinkedIn has had an impact on recruitment consultancies is that it has decreased the value and uniqueness of proprietary databases.” Now internal and external recruiters have access to the SAME information.

    – As a result, “This has had the positive effect of preventing the proliferation of more generalist and average recruiters and enhancing the reputation of the credible specialist and niche recruiter.”

    – If you are a recruiter in the “volume” end, “your days are numbered”.

    You’ve just argued in support of my original thesis 🙂

    One area we differ, is the extent to which external recruiters (of all types) could be impacted in future, as more and more corporate recruiters adopt LinkedIn’s Recruiter product. We’re only starting to see the impact of this adoption, and it’s a product LinkedIn is selling aggressively (and very successfully, from the numbers).

    There’s been some astute (and less astute) comments about this effect so far.

    However, when debating industry-wide trends, we need to rely on data rather than individual observations.

    From a Bersin survey:
    In 2011 half of US companies DECREASED spending on agency recruiters,
    while nearly half INCREASED spend on contract/internal recruiters.

    Tools like LinkedIn (and others) are supporting this shift.

    (link here: http://www.bersin.com/News/Content.aspx?id=14998)

    That’s not (yet) a trend, but does add some facts to the discussion. I’ll rely on data over a thousand ‘mark my word’ predictions, any day.

  43. Personally, I do not see Linked In as major threat. Nor do I see it as a major threat to recruiters. It will have some impact for sure, but not to the level the doom sayers believe.

    First point is cost. To advertise on seek, worked out considerably cheaper than on LinkedIn, and when we have advertised on Linked In job boards, the response has been minimal and also not able to clearly target a particular audiences, so the interest you do get is not always relevant.

    With regards to the death of recruiters, most companies see that recruitment is a skill, just like any other occupation. It cannot be taught form a text book, it comes from experience. The analogy I use is that I may tinker with my car, but if something major needs doing, I will take it to a mechanic. Consequently, when smart companies need to recruit they will seek assistance from experts, as more often than not, internal staff do not have the experience or skill in recruiting.

    My belief is that generally, and I stress generally, companies that do their own recruitment tend to have a higher staff turnover than those who use experienced external recruiters. This is only based on the clients I have worked with, or have spoken to in the past, so again, I stress is a generalisation.

    The theory that LinkedIn will make recruitment cheaper than using external agencies, does not include the hidden cost of high staff turnover, or the cost of time spent in recruiting. To recruit costs far more than simply placing an ad. Indeed, of staff we have placed over last 5 years, 76% still rein in employment after 12 months with a company.

    The other issue with LinkedIn, if you post a job on your own time line, only those who are in your network will see that job ad, so the number of people who can view the job ad is far less than who will see a job on Seek, or indeed, will be seen by our won database and network

    LinkedIn is simply another tool for employers and recruiters, but will never, I believe, replace the job boards such as seek and the use of external recruiters

  44. Not to go on and on here as it relates to this point but I must say one thing concerning Mr. Overell’s comments and then remain silent on the issue. (Besides, I must stack wood and need to stop doing this…)

    Perhaps it is a diametrically opposed viewpoint or a bit of purview that comes from hearing the same tired arguments but I just have little faith in the numbers that you present. (Nothing personal of course; I am sure they are correct and they seem to be charming and official sounding numbers but…

    For openers, I simply do not know where they originated. I do not know who paid for the work to determine the numbers nor the validity of said numbers nor the specific nature of the sample or the data involved or the methods for extrapolation.

    I suspect that in life, we differ Mr Overell and that is perfectly fine. I do tend to place a good deal of faith on individual observations as it is that very perception that allows us, as thinkers and as humans to determine a course of action and a mechanism for survival. Numbers frighten me as I believe that those who have the tools and the bucks to compile them also have the resources to manipulate them. I am tempted to quote the adage that figures lie and liars figure but that would be not only facile but redundant.

    Sadly, I do not trust numbers at all. Interesting to look at and amusing to discuss but in terms of demarcation and acceptance for purposes of reality? I think not or as we say in Brooklyn, no way Jose.

    Prima fascia, I see this argument as specious on a good day and hype on a bad one but please allow me to present a cogent example.

    if you look at the numbers, it appears that unemployment and the economy is getting better yet one only need live through one day in this country, visit Detroit or see the news to know that the numbers are insulting to both intellect as well as sensibility. Quiet frankly, it might might be the best spin in the history of all spin and that my friend, is damn good spin.

    Please be advised that it is not my intention to be political here as that is not my style. I use this example because it is something for which we can all relate.

    As stated previously, we would all be best advised to simply wait and to see what the future brings. As far as agency biz decreasing significantly as a result of trends and studies? As a result of what a few enlightened organizations are doing? I think not.

  45. Howard’s words in his last remark first struck me as funny and then I began to look at them as something deadly serious:

    “Besides, I must stack wood and need to stop doing this…”

    Ha-ha. Oh dear.

    It struck me, living on twelve acres – half woods/half open pasture why I myself stack wood.

    I do it to fuel our wood burning fireplaces.

    Equal to that incentive, and the reason my husband cuts it in the first place, is to save money on fuel costs (we do have a wood-burning stove for those of you who recognize burning wood in a fireplace looses more heat up the chimney than it throws off.)

    Wood was mankind’s original source of energy and is still providing warmth and light along with transformative energy.

    It is a low-cost (for those who have it readily available) alternative to more expensive fossil fuels.

    I realized (in my “Uh-oh” moment over Howard’s words) the economics of the situation we’re discussing.

    “If corn be dear, and butcher’s meat cheap, the farmers all apply themselves to the raising of corn, till it becomes plentiful and cheap, and then butchers’ meat becomes dear…” ~Samuel Johnson, 1809 – 1784

    Today, oil and gas are “dear” and we look for ways to minimize or reduce their costs and wood is one alternative.

    When wood became (becomes scarce) or the “cost” of obtaining it becomes too high the price goes up and lower cost alternatives are (usually) sought out.

    We did this when we turned to the finite source of fossil fuels.

    There was a time not so long ago when oil and gas were inexpensive.

    We burned them with wanton abandonment.

    They are running out (or supply is decreasing while demand is increasing for those of you who believe fossil fuels will go on forever and the rise in fuel prices is all a big conspiracy – entirely a possibility I’ll grant you.)

    Conversely, when supply increases while demand decreases (or remains the same) price (usually) drops.

    Demand would have to increase and that’s a possibility but as Howard so wisely points out who knows what the future may hold?

    We may all be huddled around stone fire pits trying to stay warm by the year 2025 with animal skins barely covering our arses.

    So it is with what we’re discussing here.

    Lots of people are putting lots of eggs into the online basket.

    Samuel Johnson’s words could be rephrased:

    If the labor market be dear, and finding it be cheap, entrepreneurs will all apply themselves to the finding of the labor market till it becomes plentiful and cheap, and then finding them will once again become dear…

    Here’s how it will happen:

    When people (the commodity) realize that becoming part of the madding crowd (as I call it) increases supply and actually reduces their own intrinsic economic value they will pull back like that hot, wood burning stove in our family room had burned them.

    When (and if) everyone rushes (as some have said here they will) to get “online” – wherever and whatever that “online” terminology may mean in the future – what is (and has been) scarce becomes plentiful.

    My argument is simple and is based on the economics of supply and demand.

    When something becomes plentiful it becomes cheap.

    People aren’t stupid – they tend to do what’s best for them. (I take that back – some people are stupid. Let me rephrase that: Most people aren’t stupid…)

    What may be best for them in the future might be returning to the safe haven of anonymity; to the path less trodden and the horn less blown.

    LinkedIn (and the hosts of online “hosts” everywhere) may just be burning themselves out.

    Familiarity breeds contempt (among other things.)

    Time will tell.

    “Familiarity breeds contempt. How accurate that is. The reason we hold truth in such respect is because we have so little opportunity to get familiar with it. “
    ~ Mark Twain, 1835 – 1910

  46. “…neither the recruitment process nor the ability of clients or candidates to make decisions has improved dramatically due to social networking.”

    Agreed, and such a great point! Linkedin cannot make or influence hiring decisions, and so professional recruitment lives on. Linkedin is a great resource for sourcing candidates, and I have found great success as an agency and internal recruiter in placing candidates using Linkedin. It is a powerful resource (notice I didn’t mention *only* resource!) to find and place candidates.

    @Maureen – Agree! Any recruiter that currently engages in phone sourcing and uses Linkedin will heartily agree that a very small percentage of an orgs total workforce is on Linkedin. It’s great to hear that you have had the same experience, and proves that picking up the phone has not gone out of fashion.

  47. Suzzane Sears – you are my idol !! Everything you said is exactly how I feel and my 25 plus years experience constantly prove this out. Great delivery …..
    I recruit enterprise software sales people in a specific geo : Chicago Il . I can vouch for everything you said!
    I plan on NEVER going away ! lol….

  48. Hmmm. ISTM that any given recruiting technique, product, or service that’s easily replicable or purchasable will lose its competitive advantage the more people find out and use it. It’s sort of like a stock tip, or getting in on a bubble- by the time you hear about it, it’s probably too late….So, if you want to stymy the competition, *tell EVERYONE about a great new (hopefully very expensive) recruiting technique, product, or service. They’ll spend their money, jamming/choking the system (having it lose it’s effectiveness through overuse) while you use what works well for you, like “Mighty Mo”‘s direct phone sourcing.



    *I suspect that the more that respected and influential people talk about the value something like this, the less value there is in it. On the other hand, when someone like me (neither respected nor influential) says something: PAY ATTENTION! 😉

  49. Keith, you are both influential as well as respected. I never read an article without reading your comments. Never.



  50. “Few know how to spin that gold.

    I have a feeling you do, though so spin some of it for us.”
    – Maureen

    Call their former and possibly current co workers, call them directly. Email them, get them on the line and start talking, plain and simple. There’s no magic to the basics, there’s magic to the ‘selling’ aspect of things, getting them to sell you, etc. But in the end you just have to get off your rear end, find a point of contact, and talk to them.

    As per some of the comments, my feelings were adequately expressed in my first comment. LinkedIn is a tempest in a teapot subject. It’s a good tool, it’s getting over hyped by some, under valued by others. In the end it’s just a well designed and accessible database of people to start contacting. They had that years ago, it was called a phone book. It had companies in it too. They even categorized and alphabetized them for you.

  51. LinkedIn is a great tool to have and use and I think its worth the cost…but its just one tool on the recruiter’s tool belt.

    For example, I used to run lists of people I had against Linkedin to see who was on it. I’d get between 50% to 60% of people that I tested were on Linkedin. Those are great numbers for a single database, but clearly not the end all.

    Now, take this 50% of the talent market space number against your response rates that you get on Linkedin. You find these in your reporting section.

    I would typically see between 20% to 30% response rates. Of course, everyone’s results varies and different skill sets vary but this is typically what I would see.

    So lets do some math. If you are getting 25% response rates of 50% of the talent market space, you are only engaging with 12.5% of the total talent market space.

    Its a great start, but that’s what it is…a start.

    Oh, jeez…back to the telephone.

    ~ Sean Rehder

  52. LinkedIn (or whoever is the then leading – flavour of the moment- technology solution) will surely replace the recruiter. But that will happen only on the day all other human jobs are replaced by automation. The recruiter will be the last to turn off the lights….. till then keep recruiting.

  53. Feeling a need to chime in here. Yes, SOME business has been taken away from us because of social networks. (Like many of you, I’ve been around long enough to remember when we all said Monster was going to kill our industry, then HR and internal recruiters, (many of whom were trained in the staffing industry but did not like the “salesy” part of the job.)

    I’m concerned and wary but not giving up because, either I’m just plain stupid or:

    I belive that we’ll always have opportunities to find and place “purple squirrels” at all levels and industries where our competitors and our clients have failed.

    Temporary, contract and temp-to-hire are still alive and improving slowly (faster in the IT market.)

    Many of our clients including internal recruiters do NOT want to get on the phone and proactively recruit. When I speak with clients I often remind them that “just because you CAN do it yourself, does not mean you SHOULD in every case” citing examples of where using internal recruiting only has failed and providing references to let my clients speak for me.

    As many of you have already mentioned, there is still a lot of hidden talent AND still plenty of corporate recruiters who are not able, nor willing, to make hundreds of out-reach calls, follow-up on thousands of emails, and work evenings and weekends to develop relationships with top talent who are working for their companie’s competitors.

    Also, there are still many opportunities to assist small business owner and managers, (and I believe there always will be if we are willing to be creative and flexible with our pricing and guarantee models) who do not have HR and recruiting staff, but I’m not giving away any of my secrets with those gems who are the core of our business right now.;)

    Here’s to making lemonade out the economic lemon! (our new internal slogan for Q1 2013.)

  54. LinkedIn is undoubtedly an excellent tool to search for potential hires. Recruitment consultants and in-house talent teams amongst others use it extensively.

    Stats vary but anything from 5% to 8% of profiles on LinkedIn are recruiters or similar. The rest are generally passive and active candidates from every imaginable sector and location.

    A Few Facts;

    · There are c200m registered users on LinkedIn … according to LinkedIn, but remember they do have a vested interest!

    · 40-50% are based in the US

    · Profiles expand across 200 countries (again, according to LinkedIn)

    · Over 40% of users in Europe work for companies with 10,000+ employees

    · 8-10m of those registered users are based in the UK

    · The UK working population is c30m

    There are many arguments put forward about the type of workers registered on LinkedIn (professional vs blue collar etc). However, whichever argument is most accurate there are millions of workers in any given industry who are not registered on LinkedIn, gasp!

    There is also a massive open question about what constitutes an active user. It is certainly not the same as a registered user. I have seen reports quoting anything from 20% to 80% quoted as ‘active’ users of the total registered population.

    Then there is the question of accuracy and duplication. The most quoted recent report on accuracy of information (CV’s) on LinkedIn trialed 119 people in a between-subjects experiment, meaning they tested the same participants in 3 different scenarios. Hardly conclusive evidence. Indeed, an ex employer of mine who shall remain nameless (but needless to say I had left by then), encouraged it’s staff to lie on their profiles to greatly exaggerate their experience, gasp again!

    LinkedIn has become such a quoted and used source of candidate profiles that it is often the first port of call for anyone recruiting staff. The use of LinkedIn by in-house recruitment teams has massively increased during the economic downturn. Agencies must differentiate themselves from their competition to prosper. To only be searching in the same talent pool as in-house recruiters does not do that.

    30% of the UK’s workforce are registered users of LinkedIn, 20%-80% are active and the accuracy of some CV’s are questionable. I urge you to use your critical thinking skills when reading reports and hearing quotes. As an agency it makes sense to differentiate your ability to find the best candidates in the market by utilising alternative skills and resources to provide the best possible person for the client or role in question.

    Don’t fall in to the trap of swapping one database (your own) for another (LinkedIn) and don’t let in-house teams kid themselves or you that searching LinkedIn necessarily provides the best person for their company.

    LinkedIn is here to stay (for now) but it’s not the panacea. Arguably, for recruitment agencies, it is becoming less useful, more saturated and less discerning than other sources.

  55. I would love to see what would happen if Linkedin allowed members to have a checkbox(s) that decided who or what type of people could see their profiles and/or reach out to them.

    For example, someone does not want 3rd party recruiting agencies to see them, only corporate/employer recruiters. This could easily be determined by Linkedin with the recruiting account types.

    The #1 issue that Linkedin should look to improve is response rates. The more “quality” in the requests, the more talent will respond. And that’s what I’m looking for in my use of Linkedin…responses to my inquires/requests.

    Linkedin is great for that first introduction/handshake and its a must have for recruiters…but then you have to manage that relationship going forward on your own terms/own process/own tools.

  56. On the flip side of that argument is this: Why bother paying LinkedIn as a recruiter: if you cant contact people you don’t know? Its rather the point of the fees.

    I already find LinkedIn too restrictive: that it runs too much like Facebook: as a place for “friends”

    The purpose of LinkedIn is business networking: if you don’t want to be contacted: don’t post your profile. Use Facebook to stay in touch with your friends and colleagues instead.

    Really: if that’s the worst thing that will ever happen to you using LinkedIn: is that recruiters will contact you for jobs: how bad is that? Do you really want to lock out recruiters from letting you know what openings are out there? Including possibly your dream job?

    Or is you are HR: letting you know what talent wants to join your org?

    Beats the heck of the trolls using other social media sites for less honourable purposes.

  57. @Suzanne,

    You’re looking at it from a agency recruiter perspective. You need to look at it from the talent’s perspective because they will decide the effectiveness of Linkedin in the end.

    “if you don’t want to be contacted: don’t post your profile”… That attitude among recruiters is part of the problem.

    Simply put, “bad” recruiters make it tough for “good” recruiters to the point that Linkedin messages go to recipient’s spam folder or talent stops checking their Linkedin account because it is simply is a waste of their time because its filled with items of no interest to them. The noise drowns out everything else.

    I totally understand Linkedin makes its money by selling to recruiters, but Linkedin needs to focus on keeping the talent engaged and not giving recruiters a free reign. We’ll be our own worst enemy if the do.

  58. I don’t know if it falls into a category of “good” or “bad” recruiters. Most that I know of don’t have the time to send redundant messages to people they aren’t really trying to recruit.

    As I pointed out: If LinkedIn wants my money: they have to open things up more not less. Otherwise the value of the information is little less that what I could achieve by simply Googling the company along with the word: say: Marketing.

    Same end result.

    Again: it defies logic that one posts their profile on a business networking site if they have no interest in hearing from anyone besides “friends”.

    Rather instead: why not simply post on their profile: Not currently seeking employment opportunities. Simple. I wont knock on their door. I don’t have the time to waste.

  59. Great article. We are all well aware of the impact this has had on recruitment and how it will allegedly ultimately spell the death knell of recruitment agencies. However recent research by ICM suggests that two-thirds of LinkedIn users do not update their details and employment information. I have also heard that some people have been known to be rather “creative” with their LinkedIn profiles! LinkedIn hasn’t met the candidate, hasn’t discussed their strengths, weaknesses and aspirations. It hasn’t assessed their culture fit and it doesn’t know how well they will interview! Direct sourcing also has only one firm to represent and only one goal in mind. I suspect most quality recruiters will be playing a longer game.

    Maurice Fyles, Research Director at ICM, concludes his research with: “It also seems that they [recruiters] are aware of some of the ways it is being used and misused and approach the information on LinkedIn with a healthy amount of scepticism. Our research confirms they are right to be cautious.”

  60. @ Richard
    The ICM findings should not come as a big surprise. Anyone with more than 12 months in recruitment will know that Resume’s and Linkedin profiles being in effect ‘personal advertising posters why anything anyone says or portray having done/doing must at all times be verified and substantiated.

  61. Adrian on what basis do you make this statement?

    “Despite views to the contrary, recruitment companies still contribute the lion’s share of its revenue.”

    According to LI’s financial statements, “Talent Solutions” represents the majority of revenue, consisting of corporate recruiter licenses, job postings, career pages, etc. What data do you have that further breaks down that number by service sector or company type?

  62. Ok.

    Read all the comments.

    I get the high end/specialist angle, also get the lower end market
    Being unskilled.

    One thing i don’t get: in their terms linkedin state they
    can duplicate/use/edit etc any and all info etc posted.

    Anyone see the problem?

    Ever seen the film “Rock n Rolla”?

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