The increased number of complaints from candidates who’re frustrated by the approaches made to them on LinkedIn has got me thinking. Has LinkedIn become just another job board?

Originally set up as a business networking platform, LinkedIn spotted the opportunity – and capitalised on it – to monetize its recruitment functionality. Good on them. It’s fair to say that both agency recruiters and their internal TA counterparts have come to rely on LinkedIn for sourcing, but are they doing this in the manner originally intended, or have things slipped to be no different from your stock standard job board?


The name “connections” implies some form of relationship being built but my experience has been that for many recruiters, the addition of connections is more about building a database and less about really connecting with those in the network. Average recruiters tend to look to LinkedIn with someone at the beginning of their sourcing process, when a search has intimated that the person might be a match, but very few follow up or convert the lead into a real connection.

I suspect that most of them “connect & hope”, much like the advertising strategy “post & pray”, in the belief that some of these individuals will become candidates without much more investment. Successful recruiters understand that LinkedIn, just like in real life, requires an investment of time to establish rapport, build credibility and nurture a relationship. This relationship should also progress from the realms of social media into a real-life engagement over the phone, Skype or in-person.

Candidate Experience

Candidates repeatedly tell me of their experiences in applying for roles via LinkedIn’s job advert system only to fall into the black hole with few receiving any form of acknowledgement or feedback from the recruiters – both agency and internal. For mid-tier candidates, it seems that LinkedIn is just as frustrating as using the traditional job boards, with little to no improvement on their candidate experience.

And this begs the question, are the significantly high fees associated with LinkedIn recruitment licenses generating the type of return on investment expected?

Technology still comes down to people

It seems that despite the large budget expended on the licenses, many corporates are handing these tools over to less experienced, unsophisticated staff members. And because these juniors are now entrusted to work the data and manage the recruitment process, there is a real risk that the candidates who are approached, or who apply, are being “administered” rather than engaged.

Whilst the approach of simply matching keywords relative to technical skills might work to gather a shortlist of LinkedIn candidates for some roles, the more senior or complex the role being recruited, the less likely that LinkedIn disguised as a job board is going to deliver the goods.

The more complex the role becomes, particularly at mid to senior level, the more important lateral thinking becomes essential to source and shortlist for a role. This is where the insights of the specialist recruiter become key. Yes, LinkedIn is a useful tool and one that I, like many other specialist recruiters, use daily. But, it’s merely a conduit to sourcing and possibly establishing interest. The real recruitment magic happens offline.

It’s all about IRL relationships

The current status quo for recruitment on LinkedIn seems to be that a “digital relationship” is the total sum of the interaction between recruiter and candidate. The increasing numbers of fall-offs and counter-offers that I hear happening in the industry is for me, a testament to the failure of recruiters to progress beyond this online environment.

At TSR, we believe strongly in building value-driven relationships. These long-term relationships are always developed over time, in person and ensure that we’re able to assess and represent individual talent whose skills, experience and expectations are not necessarily quantifiable by keywords and who are likely missed in the digitization of recruitment that seems to be the norm today.

We might seem old-fashioned in that sense, but we still believe that whilst technology should enable our process it cannot replace the personal contact, experience and insights that stem from two people truly engaging with one another. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you to leverage your online connections by creating an engaged talent community, rather than just another database, please give us a call.