One of the most interesting tracks I have been involved in this year was hosted by a Google sourcer, Wojciech Smailinski at #TruDublin, and he made a really interesting point that really made me sit up and take notice of what he was saying. The point he was making was that the type of engineers he is recruiting for probably won’t have a LinkedIn profile, or at best a sketchy one. He needs to look elsewhere to identify the people he is looking for. You can find the full blog post HERE.

When Wocjech made this point, I asked him why this was the case. His answer was that the people he was looking for on the most part weren’t looking for a job. They were usually working for themselves or on contract, and had chosen to hide their details because they were fed up of being hit by messages from recruiters and sourcers, usually with irrelevant opportunities. The example Wocjech gave was of an engineer at Google who past a difficult qualification that was in demand. he updated his LinkedIn profile, and thanks to alerts, was contacted by phone, mobile and e-mail by 90 recruiters within 30 minutes, the result, he quickly took the qualifications off his profile.

Since hearing this I have been exploring this point further. It seems that quite a few people are thinking the same thing in all kinds of fields, and only update their profiles when they are serious about looking for a job. This is great as an early advisory system of intent (think Radar on Bullhorn Reach), but results in the rest of the possible candidates hidden from view, and this is not a good thing in terms of what LinkedIn can offer recruiters.

LinkedIn has the best structured professional data, which makes it easier to identify what people do, or have done. Most recruiters use LinkedIn as one of their main sources for identifying potential candidates. This has seen many recruiters move from a post and pray strategy in the job board age, through to a tactic of source and spray. Use LinkedIn data to find everyone that fits a job title or skill and spray out the same cut and paste messaging to everyone in the hope that some of the messages will land in the right place.  The problem with this approach is that most of the messages are landing in the wrong place, and each misplaced irrelevant message does damage to brand recruiter, and to the network as a whole. There are many more losses than wins, and any short-term gain is leading to long term pain.

When I first looked at the paid for Recruiter product on LinkedIn, the volume of results and messages available for agency recruiters was about half that of their corporate counter parts because agency recruiters were considered to be the worst offenders of this practice. From what I understand, this is now changing with the same volumes open to anyone who is willing to pay. I don’t think this is a bad thing, all recruiters should be equal. I’m calling on all recruiters on all sides of the fence to recognise this and exercise some caution and best practice to avoid the channel losing its relevance, as people look to hide or omit details.

Best practice for me is about treating each match and each message as an individual communication rather than a mass spam out. That means actually looking at profiles of people you want to message beyond a key-word search to make sure there is real relevance between the profile and the opportunity. Your message should give reference to the relevance of the opportunity and be tailored to where the two match up. Each message should be tailored to the individual. Cut out the BS statements that seem to prevail, things like “I have a perfect job for you” when you know nothing about the target. This will not only enhance your chances of making a successful connection, but also your reputation. Use the 3 R’s as a rule to your LinkedIn messaging:

> Research

Do some real matching before identifying who you want to message.

> Relevance

Only short list people for a message where there is genuine fit on both sides.

> Reference

Include the reasons for the match in your message. Be clear this is not a random message.

Taking the sniper approach to sourcing and messaging changes everything. LinkedIn is the primary sourcing channel for recruiters. The channel has the potential to move in to being the primary people reference point for all things on-line. Recruiters have the opportunity to build it or break it according to how we conduct ourselves in this channel. Lets play the long game and move away from the quick buck. You know it makes sense.