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A Relationship First Approach to Hiring on LinkedIn

Guest Author | 9/24/2019 | Recruiting

Most recruiters fail in their LinkedIn outreach to candidates because they focus on sending personalized messages en masse. Instead, they should apply relationship first approach and build reliable, genuine relationships with their prospects for their mutual benefit. 

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LinkedIn - a go to hiring tool 

LinkedIn has become the go-to tool for recruiters around the world. For good reason too, because there is no employee database that comes anywhere close to what LinkedIn is able to provide.
LinkedIn is one of the best places to find talent.

➡️ Download free eBook: The Ultimate Guide for Finding Qualified Candidates in 2019!

Here are a few stats that show just how important the platform has become among recruiters:

The problem with recruiting via LinkedIn

Despite the success and ease-of-use that LinkedIn brings to the table, many recruiters are using the platform wrong and in the process are spoiling their long-term potential with many suitable candidates.

We’ve all been there. You get that unsolicited message on LinkedIn from a recruiter. Sometimes the position isn’t even a good fit for your current skill set, drawing from experience that you had years ago and have long since moved on from. Those messages are worthy of being ignored at best, and annoying at worst.

How to successfully approach candidates on LinkedIn?

In this article, we’ll cover some of the best practices that recruiters should follow on LinkedIn to develop a quality-over-quantity, relationship-first approach to connecting with and finding appropriate roles for high-value candidates.

The importance of personalization in automation

The first and biggest mistake that many recruiters make is not making their messages personalized enough for each candidate.
Nothing feels worse than receiving an automated message through LinkedIn (or even a scraped email) and realizing that the reason you received the message was not because the recruiter took a personal interest in you, but because you were part of a larger automated campaign. You just happened to have the right data on your profile.

No one likes receiving unpersonalized, unsolicited messages. From anyone. Recruiters need to go the extra mile to speak directly to candidates. If you must automate messages that go out en masse, ensure that you are taking the time to inject relevant data into those messages. Make sure that you are taking your time to sift through your listings and remove those that would genuinely not be a good fit for the position.

A recent study found that 78% of customers will only engage with an offer that has been personalized to their previous interactions with a brand. That same concept can be applied to recruiting. Your candidates expect you to have a single customer view and speak directly to their individual needs, understanding what they bring to the table as professionals.

LinkedIn recruiting tools

Crawling through LinkedIn by hand to identify and attract candidates is nearly impossible. There are too many candidates and too much data to sift through without the help of some tools. 

Here are some tools that LinkedIn recruiters can use to free up their time and become more effective on the platform:

These are just a couple of the many tools that recruiters can use with LinkedIn to source more talent, develop more connections, and hire better talent.

Genuine conversations, genuine needs

The first message that a candidate receives from you shouldn’t be notifying them about a job listing. Of course, that’s how most LinkedIn recruiters conduct themselves.
However, you’ll enjoy better results if you make an attempt to reach out to candidates and build genuine relationships with them before alerting them to any job opportunities.

Take the time to learn about them. What are their skills? What kind of experience do they have? Often, you’ll find that a person’s LinkedIn profile undersells their true skills. Maybe they haven’t updated their profile in a long time. Maybe they have just highlighted the wrong experience.

Then, you can work to understand what kind of opportunities would genuinely interest them. What do they value in a job? Work-life balance? Compensation? Benefits? Commute?
Every candidate is different and it's your job as a recruiter to find out what aspects of your position will appeal directly to each candidate.

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Build relationships before a need arises

You can build relationships with candidates before the position officially comes open. That could potentially give you a head start, compiling a small list of highly-qualified candidates that can be the first to be notified when a matching position becomes available.

Let’s say you work at a software development company. You know that the increase in PYTHON coding demand is going to lead to your company hiring more PYTHON coders, but those positions may not become officially open for several months.
By working in the months leading up to that to generate a small list of very qualified and experienced PYTHON coders, you put yourself in position to deliver a rush of highly qualified applicants as soon as the position arises.
Even better, you have a number of real relationships with professionals in that space that will position you to deliver qualified candidates in the long-term as well.

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Deliver industry-relevant content

Thought leadership is important, although it is something that many recruiters overlook. Delivering high-value, industry-related content to your candidates in those industries can be extremely powerful.

Using our previous example, let’s say you put together a report that detailed the average salaries of PYTHON coders in a variety of different industries. By distributing that content to the potential candidates that you have already built a relationship with, you may help several of them to realize that they are being severely undervalued at their current company.

Make in-roads with influencers

Like any social media marketing, you can only go as far as your audience can take you. Whether you are sharing positions, content, or simply trying to engage with your audience - bigger audiences mean more opportunities.
One often overlooked avenue for recruiters on LinkedIn and other social media platforms comes from leveraging influencers, or people with large industry-relevant followings, to help spread your message. Develop relationships with them.

Find ways to add value to their audience. An influencer that runs a PYTHON coding school may find your PYTHON positions to be of benefit to their audience and share it with them. But you would never be able to secure that kind of cross-promotional opportunity without spending the time to build a genuine relationship with them first.

Alignment between sales and HR

LinkedIn recruiting provides a rare opportunity for collaboration between your sales and HR teams in B2B companies. There is a good chance that your sales department is also leveraging LinkedIn to generate new sales, and may be able to provide valuable insights that your recruiters can use to inform their own campaigns.

“Social selling” has become a hot tactic in sales circles and the practice has a lot of overlap with recruiting. Using your company org chart to identify sales associates that might be able to help you improve can be a great way to develop new relationships and bridge alignment-gaps internally.

Don’t promote jobs, sell opportunities

Ultimately, developing personal relationships with candidates allows you to change the way that you position yourself, your company, and the job opportunities that you are trying to fill.

 In learning what your candidates bring to the table and want from their next opportunity, you can position the aspects of your offer to speak directly to their needs and wants. 

You shouldn’t look at it as “promoting a job offer” so much as selling an opportunity to a uniquely qualified person.

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About the author

Eric Apps is a cereal entrepreneur. He has most of his best ideas while eating breakfast. He is the founder of Organimi - an easy to use org chart tool that helps any organization map out their employees, teams, projects, and more. 

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