I was encouraged to write this piece after three separate incidences in the past week or so where the effectiveness of LinkedIn was called into question. Is LinkedIn being utilised as it was intended? Or, has it simply become the go-to “job board” for SA corporate recruiters to source candidates, under the incorrect assumption that every skilled professional is on the site?

Judging by the comments from many skilled individuals we talk to, it’s becoming a highly frustrating platform with those considered to be “good” or “scarce” candidates being harassed daily with floods of INmails and messages from recruiters. The stories you hear of the lengths some candidates go to avoiding this, speaks volumes about their largely negative experiences. A recent article posted by an IT programmer in which he shares his solution to being hounded by recruiters – the development of a chat bot that ‘engages’ with recruiters to weed out the rubbish and only sends him the details of those opportunities that really interest him for further “real” discussion – brought a smile to my face.

Recruiters (agency and corporate) spend an inordinate amount of time on LinkedIn. And with the escalating costs of recruiter access, the question is, are we getting real return on investment?

Sitting with a client last week discussing one of their “Chief of” roles, I asked what had been done to fill the role thus far and was told that it had been advertised on LinkedIn, only to result in hundreds of incorrect applications. And the single potential candidate who surfaced was in fact known to the business in any event.

The same day I was qualifying a role for my consultants, a Procurement Lead within the insurance sector, and heard a very similar story. Client has advertised the role on LinkedIn but has been frustrated by loads of incorrect profiles.

This got me to thinking, perhaps the ineffectiveness of LinkedIn is a blessing to professional recruiters like us; those who establish long-term relationships with skilled individuals in our niche sectors, and who don’t rely on typical “job board” processing to fill jobs?

Our recent placement of a Chief Data Officer within an insurance entity confirms this. This individual isn’t even on LinkedIn! Score for TSR and confirmation that our investment in developing in-depth knowledge and networks within our chosen niche sectors pays off. Of course, building a database alone is insufficient, the difference comes in nurturing relationships and facilitating mutually beneficial matches between individuals and organisations.

To use Seinfeld terminology, LinkedIn feels a little like the Bizarro Facebook, where instead of births and engagements people publicise their ‘micro-actions’ and ‘thought leadership’.  Is LinkedIn becoming a wasteland of endless amounts of professionals congratulating / endorsing one another? Simply another job board with masses of “just job-seeking candidates”?

Despite the fact that most of our clients are pretty keen on LinkedIn, and the platform appears to be gearing up its “recruitment functionality”, candidates use the easy apply function for positions advertised, only to never hear back. Surely this renders LinkedIn no different to any other job board?

Whilst we can argue about the effectiveness of the platform, and if it generates the desired recruitment results, the fact remains that many recruiters utilise LinkedIn and so professionals should, at the very least, have a profile with a recent picture and up-to-date career profile.

LinkedIn remains a tool in our recruitment arsenal but its certainly not, in our opinion at least, the panacea. We remain committed to developing real (offline) relationships with both our clients and candidates to understand their unique requirements and to facilitate matches that add value to both parties.