Recruiters: Are you negligent if you don’t have a large LinkedIn network?

I haven't been too contentious recently, (well, other than a recent conversation regarding a poor career site with a client), so I wanted to share a discussion that I have challenged several recruitment (agency) clients with recently. It usually provokes an interesting debate! Here goes.

First some LinkedIn recruitment 'facts':

1. It is 'accepted' that for most recruiters who recruit in the white collar industries , LinkedIn is THE professional social network to be using, right?  

2. As a recruiter (researchers and resourcers included here as well), LinkedIn should be an incredibly important tool to use e-v-e-r-y single day – in fact aside from your own database – it should be the go-to network for your research,sourcing, recruiting, referencing, targeting etc. [ yes, there are other networks, but the size of dataset and excellent search engine make it so easy to use]. 

3. LinkedIn not only has a large database of professional contacts, it is likely to be more up to date than people's CV's. 

4. The search functionality is excellent which means that you can find the exact people that you need relatively quickly. This only applies if you know how to use it properly, of course.

5. When posting content through status updates, the bigger your network, the more people will possibly see it, share it with their networks therefore exposing your content to a much wider audience.

6. The wider your network the more opportunities you have of grabbing those all important referrals and introduction links through to people you are trying to reach out to.

7.You join 50 groups in your niche/sector/vertical and add all the members to your network (for search and connection purposes) – further growing your base of relevant potential candidates for your clients, as well as sector insigjhts and knowledge.

8. The inbound bonus. The bigger your LinkedIn network, then the more chance you have of being found (in search results) by people looking for your skills. And if you are in their network it means they then can then contact you easily.

That's enough for the moment, you get my point – LinkedIn is the essential online tool for recruiters, researchers and resourcers (depending on industry of course). No argument there then I hope!.

Here comes the challenge………

Oh no

If you agree with all the above, wouldn't it be reasonable to expect recruiters to be power users with superb developed networks in their niche/sector/industry? And if they aren't, does that make them negligent in their in their role as recruiters, providing their service for their clients?

1. Clients expect the the best candidates available from the recruiters that work with them. Fact. [When was the last time a client asked you for a 2nd or 3rd choice candidate?]

2. Clients expect you to be a specialist in your niche/sector/industry – that is after all how you probably won the chance to supply candidates to them in the first place, isn't it? [Do you remember? Wasn't that how you justified your 15-20% fee in the sales process?]

3. Considering points 1 & 2 you HAVE TO find the best candidates you can and quickly. I would argue you are letting your client down if you don't. If LinkedIn is such an important network (as established above), then surely you have an obligation to your client to make sure you have found and spoken to the best candidates in your network? That network has to include LinkedIn.

Here we have a FREE tool will help you make more placements, keep more clients happy, develop your own expert/thoughtleader/top recruiter brand and connect and help develop your career AND STILL many recruiters out there are failing to grasp the power of LinkedIn for recruiters. That to me is professional negligence.

The responses I get…………

Corporates I talk to DO EXPECT recruiters to be all over LinkedIn. They are always surprised when they are not.

Some recruitment business owners/managers think I am mad, and tell me that that all their recruiters use LinkedIn well already. No they do not and it is easy to prove when I am with them. Then the answer turns around to 'fair point!'

Some recruitment business owners/managers (and recruiters) agree, recognising they are not using the platform the the best ability.

Some recruiters I challenge with this, immediately go on the defensive, as if I have questioned their whole existence on this planet!! 

Some recruiters agree that they completely under use LinkedIn because they don't know how to get the best out of it or have never been shown.

Some recruiters tell me they don't need LinkedIn, as they have superb little black books. Fools. 

What do you think? If you are a client and use agencies to supply you with talent or are a recruiter – what is your take on this?

Caveats: 1. I know for all the super sourcers out there who regularly use the power of the x-ray to open up LinkedIn, they would argue you don't need a big network because you can search for anyone. Agreed, I use it myself. What you don't get though, is some of the other benefits I mention above associated with a large network. 2. A LinkedIn recruiter licence does negate this as well – but it should not stop you building your own network – you will change jobs one day and will still need your own LinkedIn network for the future.



Contactus2We work with recruitment agencies and corporates to help them integrate social media into their rexisting ecruitment strategy and recruitment processes. If you require guidance, advice or social recruiting training, get in touch today.


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  • Tom Webb-Skinner

    I think one of the problems is that LinkedIn lacks the immediacy of a database or even a little black book. What recruiters want is emails and phone numbers – I’m not sure they always have faith that an InMail will deliver for them.

    I don’t disagree with you but I do think that essentially the barrier to getting buy in from recruiters is simply that they want to see straight away what any new tool WILL do for them, not just what it ‘could’ do.

  • Robmwright

    Not using Linkedin as proficently as possible is not only negligent it’s frankly also plain odd.

  • StephenTurnock

    Great Post Andy.. far too many recruiters are let loose on LI with no training – especially in the ‘engagement’ department and not being part of the conversation in specific niche [some exceptions however]. Yet how many recruitment companies let recruiters loose on their internal CRM systems without any training in how to get the best out of it nor have any rules and guides in place as to what is expected?

    Regarding immediacy, the dusty old database record may not be so immediate sometimes unless it is well maintained. Of course the CRM has benefits of historical relevance, tracking notes [previous history – interviews, placements, send outs etc]. But in any case Linkedin is not the replacement for that but is the ‘dynamic’ enabler in engagement, attraction and not least – feeding updates to the ‘static’.

    However, I think the more transactional recruiters who have been mostly working in recruitment during the post and pray era do tend to see LI as just a database to search only, but as we know, it’s no longer about just finding people but engagement of the niches in advance of them even looking for a job.

  • Jacob Sten Madsen

    Well written post Andy, straight in between the eyes as usual (compliment) Really quite simple get it, get onto it and with it or loose out big time. The level of ignorance in agencies is beyond words. Here we have the single most one stop tool/solution the world of TA/recruitment has seen for the last 20 years and still someone out there who does not get it and embrace it with hands and feet and everything in between. Those that do and understand LI’s opportunities are those reaping the rewards, those that do not will at their peril die, and this at a faster and faster rate. Agents that in this day and age do not add additional value and above service have no place and I know of no in-house recruitment/TA function that use agents that do not apply this attitude. Time is running out for agencies not on the ball and in this respect Linkedin the single most important one of them all, of that there can be no doubt.

  • Recruiter Training

    Great post.As a methodology Pure recruitment training blends the proactive nature of executive search in terms of mapping out companies and individuals, with the urgency and pace of contract recruiting for the contingency market.


    A great blog, I’m frankly staggered that this is even under discussion. Why wouldn’t you INVEST in your career to use a FREE resource that is completely pertinent to your making a living and building your reputation.

  • Andy Headworth


    Agreed. Immediate ‘return’ is always required by recruiters – even if it is only just to prove the power of the platform – in this case LinkedIn.

    Some have the vision to see it, many just want results…… now.


  • Andy Headworth

    It doesn’t matter whether it is a CRM or LinkedIn (or any other), giving the people the tools is one thing; expecting them to both understand them and actually use them is a whole new ballgame :)

    The all contain tremendous data but as always it is what you do with the data that is important- searching, communicating and listening – all different ways, but how many only use the search bit?

  • Andy Headworth

    Agreed Jacob.

    For me it is unbelievable to consider recruiters not being on LinkedIn – completely unfathomable!

    Even if they don’t have a marketplace on LinkedIn, they have clients that check you out on there all the time!

  • Andy Headworth


    I know I know! You would be so surprised if you sat in on some of my training I do with recruitment companies!!

    ……… then again, maybe not!

  • mike

    A great post …but yes surprised it’s under discussion