You Can’t “Recruit Socially” Using LinkedIn? Who Cares?

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Apr 5, 2012
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

Very few things ruffle my feathers. I’m easy like Sunday morning. But the debate over whether or not LinkedIn is a social network (or that if someone recruits using it, whether or not they are social recruiting) is one that makes me want to stand in the corner of my room, put my fingers in my ears and quietly bang my head against the wall until the bad words stop.

Exaggeration? Barely.

I’ll always hang my hat on one principle: nobody is paying for sourcing for novelty’s sake. There are literally thousands of potential sources out there to find great candidates. LinkedIn is just one of those sources. But disregarding it because it is or isn’t social is a mistake.

You can’t find cool people on LinkedIn

Over at tech publication ZDNet, they had a piece yesterday that caught my attention by Alex Churchill. The headline: 5 ways to recruit socially – Hint: LinkedIn is NOT one of them. Oh really? He says,

The average placement for the digital entertainment industry is a 27-year-old, social networking guru. He’s picked up and dropped technology before most people have even heard about it. Finding talent like that through LinkedIn is a bit like placing a want ad in the Penny Saver – antiquated.

I’ll be the first to tell you that LinkedIn isn’t ideal for finding all candidates. Neither is nearly any other possible source. I would hope that a “social networking guru” is on LinkedIn but maybe that’s just me.

The broader implication here is that you won’t find people in cutting edge industries on LinkedIn. I don’t know if that is true but even if it is, that doesn’t determine whether you’re recruiting socially or not. There are a lot of pure social platforms that don’t have people in cutting edge industries.

33% of all jobs found on Facebook?

What’s the alternative? Churchill recommends using Quora, Twitter and Facebook to find and interact with candidates, seeking out newer networks like Google+ and even hiring a community manager (because that’s “more exciting than LinkedIn”). He recommends playing in the same online sandbox that your potential employees are playing in.

That’s great advice. I still can’t reconcile two things from that.

For one, he cites a unsourced statistic that a third of all jobs were found on Facebook last year. That simply doesn’t jive with every other reliable study about where people are finding jobs. Can Facebook be a great place to find potential candidates? Sure. But it suffers the same problems as LinkedIn: it isn’t a one stop shop. I know plenty of VP’s and top execs who don’t have any Facebook presence whatsoever.

And, if the potential employees in your sandbox are on LinkedIn, tell me again why a sourcer shouldn’t absolutely be hitting that as a resource time and time again? And what does social have to do with whether an online destination is a good place to source from.

Social argument fallacy

The argument about whether or not LinkedIn is a social network or if you can socially recruit from there is a distraction. A tired one at that.

The choice of a potential source for doing a search should be a fairly straightforward process. Does it hit the target demographics you’re looking for? Is it cost and time effective? Do you get the candidates to properly meet your business partner’s needs? How has this source performed and does it make sense to keep using it?

Asking whether LinkedIn is social is the wrong question. Churchill found that LinkedIn was not a great place to find people in the digital entertainment industry. It has nothing to do with the social aspect. The right question is whether LinkedIn is an effective source for you? Hopefully that’s a question everyone asks as they look to create the right slate of candidates for a particular position.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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