How to Use LinkedIn to Recruit Passive Candidates - Part 2
This week we’ll predict the future of LinkedIn and suggest what we think is needed to ensure that it remains the primary sourcing tool for recruiting passive candidates.

Although we’re the exclusive and authorized provider of advanced training using the LinkedIn suite of corporate products and services, we have no inside knowledge of their future product releases. However, we do know that whenever we introduce a new sourcing or recruiting technique, the folks at LinkedIn somehow incorporate it into the next version of their product roadmap.

With this as a backdrop, here are some things we recommend you do if you want to maximize your investment in LinkedIn, especially if you’re using their corporate product, LinkedIn Recruiter. If you try it out and it works as promised, don’t be surprised if you find the automated version introduced into LinkedIn’s 2012 lineup.

How to Use LinkedIn to Optimize Your Passive Candidate Recruiting Efforts

1. Use LinkedIn to find clones during the intake meeting. As we’ve said too many times before, you can’t use skills and experience-infested job descriptions to attract top performers. One way to wean managers off these useless documents is to find some all-star candidates on LinkedIn who have strong, but different backgrounds. Ask the manager if he or she would be open to meet someone who is similar to your clone, despite the slight difference in background. If the manager is savvy, and the candidate is clearly top-notch, you’ll get an instant “Of course.” This technique in combination with a performance profile is all that’s necessary to put your job descriptions into the parking lot.

2. Get pre-qualified referrals from employees. Imagine if every passive candidate you contact calls you back right away and is perfect for your opening. There is no doubt that this would dramatically increase your productivity and quality of hire. You can do this using LinkedIn. Here’s how. First, take an open job and put together a 360° networking map (this is diagram showing the types of people this person works with on a normal basis. For example, procurement people work with engineers, operations, and vendors). Use this map to target your fellow employees, especially those you don’t know, and ask who the best people are that they’ve ever worked with in the past who would be strong for the job. This is PERPing (proactive employee referral program). Then only call the best referrals and mention the name of the employee who gave you the name to ensure you get a callback. Calling strong candidates who will call you back is the power of a PERP program. In our Recruiter Boot Camp courses we show you how to develop these programs and what you have to say to connect with and recruit these people. This is the #1 technique corporate recruiters should use for developing deep networks of top-notch passive candidates.

3. Implement real-time networking by connecting with candidates on LinkedIn during the pre-screening call. As you call your PERP’d referrals connect directly with them on LinkedIn during the call. If they’re not perfect for the job, search on their connections to see if anyone on the list better fits your job needs. Our passive candidate Recruiter Boot Camp program describes this technique in detail. We offer a monthly sneak peek of this course for those who would like to try it out before enrolling in the full program. Here’s the sign-up page including the list of all of our upcoming public events.

4. Use the Goldilock’s technique to get targeted referrals. You need to be diplomatic when telling someone they’re not qualified for your opening. You also need to make sure that a qualified person does not exclude him or herself without understanding the career merits of your opening. The Goldilocks method for positioning your opening can help in both situations. The key is to get the candidate to describe his or her background before you give too many details about the position. If you frame your opening question properly, you’ll be in a position to determine if you should either recruit the person or get referrals (too senior, too light, or just right). Staying in control of this important moment is an essential aspect of recruiting top performers, especially passive candidates. You’re wasting your time recruiting passive candidates if you don’t use this technique on every call.

5. Send targeted InMails to nodes to create an instant network. LinkedIn limits the number of InMails you can send out every month, so use them wisely. One way to leverage each InMail is to combine different jobs in your message and suggest that you’re in the process of developing a broad network of potential prospects. For example, “We are expanding our design efforts for a global thermal energy project and will have a number of senior-level openings for designers, project managers, and plant operations personnel. Contact me if you’d like to explore one of these opportunities. Don’t hesitate to send this to anyone you feel is ready to accelerate their career growth.” To maximize the impact of these InMails send them to nodes. Nodes are people who are well connected. That’s why it’s important to sort your searches by number of connections.

The power of LinkedIn is that it’s a network of connections, not a flat database of names. This is a huge difference, yet it seems that most recruiters still don’t fully grasp the power of this difference. In some ways, LinkedIn doesn’t fully recognize this power either; otherwise they’d be offering more capability on this front more quickly, before Facebook comes up to speed.

Consider this: On LinkedIn you’re only one degree of separation from every person you’re likely to hire. If you can prequalify these people and connect to them through one of your employees you’ll eliminate the need to ever post another job on some job board. Expect this feature as a major LinkedIn offering circa 2013-2014, but get ready today to take full advantage of this sourcing silver bullet. Early adopters and those with the biggest pre-qualified networks will be the big winners here.