How to Use LinkedIn Search to Find the Best Job Candidates

In his book Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn for Business, search engine optimization and online marketing expert consultant Ted Prodromou explains how you can use LinkedIn to quickly engage with ideal customers, partners, and employees, showcase your company and attract new opportunities. In this edited excerpt, the author offers tips to help you find job candidates on LinkedIn for any open positions at your company.

LinkedIn is a gold mine if you're recruiting. Nowhere else can you find more than 330 million business professionals in one place prominently displaying their job experience, skills, education, recommendations, and expertise. And recruiting new employees isn’t  limited to searching for unemployed professionals or recent graduates entering the workforce. According to a 2011 survey from The Adler Group, 15 percent of employed professionals are active candidates pursuing a new opportunity; another 68 percent are open to listening to new opportunities. That means 83 percent of all employed professionals are willing to listen to you if you have an interesting opportunity for them.

Knowing that up to 83 percent of all employed professionals are willing to listen to your job opportunity, how can you find these candidates? And when you do find them, how can you narrow your search to approach the very best candidates?

Let’s use an example to explain how the process works. Let's say you own a biotech firm and are looking for a director of quality to create, implement, and oversee quality systems in your company. Your job requirements are:

1. Minimum eight years of experience in quality assurance for a human or animal drug company

2. Substantial knowledge of cGMP requirements for multiple dosage forms along with prior experience in supplier qualification

3. Additional experience in GDPs and/or GLPs (preferred)

4. Excellent communicator and team player with the ability to proactively address and lead resolution of compliance issues internally and with external partners and contractors

With these qualifications, you can go to LinkedIn Advanced Search and find some candidates. Here's how: On the right side of your LinkedIn toolbar or menu, make sure you're set to People Search. Click on the Advanced link, which is next to the magnifying glass to the right of the search box. For this search, we want to modify the parameters as follows:

1. In the Title field, enter “director of quality” if you're looking for someone who currently holds that position or held that position in the past. You can change the dropdown to choose Current or Past.

2. Change the Industries from All Industries to just Biotechnology.

3. Change Seniority Level to Director. This option is available only to LinkedIn Premium members, so I highly recommend upgrading your account if you're going to use LinkedIn for recruiting.

4. Leave all the other options at their default settings.

If you take a look at the preliminary search results, you'll most likely see hundreds of directors in the biotech field. Not all these people are looking for a job, but I bet at least a few of them would be open to listening to a new opportunity if the situation sounded interesting.

Before you start reaching out to some of the candidates you find with your first search, narrow your search a bit to see if you can find better-qualified candidates. In this example, your qualifications included eight-plus years of experience and substantial knowledge of cGMP requirements for multiple dosage forms, so if you add “cGMP” to your search criteria in the Keywords field, you'll get a much smaller pool of qualified candidates.

The next step is to start looking at the profiles of these prospects to see if they're actively looking for work, which could be displayed in the profile headline. You can also look near the bottom of their profile where it says “Contact name for:”; one of the options is Career Opportunities. You can add or remove the reasons for people to contact you in your Profile Settings. Select Edit Profile under the Profile tab on the LinkedIn menu, and scroll down the page until you come to the “Contact name for:” section and Edit to change your preferences.

If your search returns some LinkedIn members who are interested in Career Opportunities, you have a few options:

Don’t start out by asking them if they're looking for a new position or you may scare them away—even though their profiles say they’re interested in Career Opportunities. Tell them you came across their profile on LinkedIn and saw something that caught your attention. Find something unique, like an award they won, interesting certifications, schools they attended, etc. You can ask them about these things or congratulate them. Try to establish a relationship so you can get to know them and see if they're a fit for your business. If you mention things you have in common, they'll be more apt to respond to you.

At the beginning of your message, state that you both belong to the same group and you thought they may be interested in an opportunity at your company. I highly recommend joining groups related to your industry and participating frequently so people become familiar with your name. If they see your name regularly in the forum, they're more likely to respond to your messages even if they’ve never corresponded with you in the past. This is a very effective and inexpensive way for small businesses to recruit new employees.

You can also ask your first-degree connection what they think of that person to help determine if they would be a good fit for your company.

People who are members of the OpenLink Network are open to people reaching out to them with job opportunities. As I’ve said many times before, you joined LinkedIn to be found, so take full advantage of all the tools available to gain more visibility. Most people join LinkedIn to be found so they can grow their professional network.

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Ted Prodromou

Ted Prodromou is a speaker, author and online advertising consultant, generating leads for his clients using Google AdWords, Facebook ads, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media platforms. He also teaches online and in-person classes on...

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