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Hiring? Up Your Game with LinkedIn

If you use it right, LinkedIn can be one of the most powerful tools in your HR toolbox.
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There are few decisions more important than hiring. A bad hire costs you time, money, training and lost opportunity. Worst case scenario, a bad hire can destroy your business. That’s why it is imperative (especially on senior hires) to do your homework.

That’s where LinkedIn comes in. With over 100 million users, LinkedIn has a trove of information on business people in over 200 countries.

Whether someone has already applied to you for a job or if you are looking to take the best talent from the competition, LinkedIn is one of the most effective tools you can use.

Active Applicants

So you’ve received a resume and cover letter from an applicant that seems well-suited for your company.

Here are just a few things you can learn about a candidate from LinkedIn that you won’t get from a just reading the resume and cover letter:

  • Resume verification: Does the information provided on the resume fully coincide with the information provided on LinkedIn?
  • Use LinkedIn’s search engine to find people who worked with the individual at their prior companies (using company name and years of employment). It’s always good to contact someone who would have worked closely with them but were not offered up as a reference.
  • See how many people have recommended the candidate’s work. While the candidate will obviously only post positive recommendations, it makes a difference if there is one recommendation as opposed to 20.
  • Check out the companies the candidate has worked for. Has he/she been a part of successful companies or does the poor performance of the companies raise a red flag?
  • How many connections does the candidate have? This gives a strong indication of how well the candidate networks and how many positive working relationships the candidate has developed.

Hiring Outreach

It often makes sense to recruit people who aren’t actively looking to change jobs or who haven’t applied for a position with your company. Be proactive. Go out and find the people with the exact experience, talents, and education you are looking for.

LinkedIn’s advanced people search lets you do an incredibly precise search. You’ll be surprised how many people out there have the credentials you are looking for. I did a search on my title, “Chief Content Officer,” (not the most common title out there) and wound up with 161 results.

Use LinkedIn’s messaging functionality to reach out to potential candidates. At the very least, they’ll be flattered by your interest. At best, you have found a perfect candidate without having to sift through hundreds of resumes. This is a great way to engage a potential candidate in conversation, see how they interact and see if they are a good fit for you both in skills and personality.

The “Groups” feature on LinkedIn is another powerful tool for finding potential hires. Join groups relating to your industry or to the specific skill sets you are looking for. Look for people who contribute intelligent advice or demonstrate the specific knowledge sets you may be looking for.

Create a Company Page

Your “Company” page on LinkedIn is another way to attract talent. Potential candidates are using the “company search” function of LinkedIn to find companies they might like to work for, so make sure that your company page has the specific keywords that you want attractive candidates to find. Use your company page to announce job openings, feature employees, and give a feel for your company culture.

Post a Job

Finally, LinkedIn’s job board, currently $295 for a single 30-day posting, gets your job description in front of a very sophisticated business-oriented audience. According to LinkedIn, of the 135 million members, 60 percent hold at least an undergraduate degree.

As every business owner and hiring manager knows, making the right hires is one of the most important things a business can do. While LinkedIn isn’t the only tool you should be using, it can be one of the most powerful weapons in your HR arsenal.

 

Last updated: Dec 26, 2011

JON GELBERG | Columnist | Editorial Director, PR News

Jon Gelberg is the editorial director of PR News.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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