When LinkedIn first launched, it was intended to be a networking platform where professionals could network with others in similar industries, make contacts, and perhaps even find desirable jobs.
But since then, LinkedIn has morphed into a massive professional social-media platform with more than 500 million users in 200 different countries and 10 million active job listings.
LinkedIn also has an estimated 5 million users who have paid Premium Accounts.
It’s difficult to know how many of those users have paid Premium Accounts – which offer a higher level of lead generation and recruiting opportunities – because LinkedIn doesn’t report those numbers.
But with data on about nine million businesses, LinkedIn is by far the world’s largest business social networking, which is why few were surprised when Microsoft purchased the company in 2016 for a staggering $26.2 billion.
So as LinkedIn settles into its golden age, there are some questions worth answering such as:
What are the benefits of using LinkedIn for recruitment? What are the disadvantages of LinkedIn for business? Is using LinkedIn to recruit employees still profitable?
Let’s take a deeper dive into the pros and cons of LinkedIn as a recruiting and marketing tool, and see how well (or not) this platform is handling the difficult task of finding high-end candidates to fill open positions.
Pros of LinkedIn as a recruiting tool
1. Pro – Easy To Communicate and Make Connections With Candidates
So why use LinkedIn for recruiting?
Because at its most basic function, the platform is a massive job board with a reach of millions in a variety of industries.
LinkedIn remains a popular destination for Fortune 500 companies. And that’s borne out by the fact that there are more than 130 different types of industries listed on LinkedIn, with more than 100,000 recruiters.
And though the site still retains its title as the largest professional-based social media platform in the world, in the last few months, it has reached levels of engagement that were previously reserved only for platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.
That was made clear when a post by Jasmine Pak about her feeling of rejection after losing out on a dream job at NBC Universal went viral. In the post, Pak wrote about the dent the rejection made on her ego, but also encouraged other job seekers to never give up.
After reading the post, LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner sent Pak a personal message of condolence and thanked her for encouraging others despite her own disappointment. The exchange went viral, and Pak’s InMail was flooded with more than 4,000 messages, including job opportunities, though she has yet to find exactly what she wants.
This points to LinkedIn’s gradual shift toward a more community-based, social platform that is becoming more engaging for users.
But LinkedIn still maintains its professional status as a premium source for recruiting.
If you’re a recruiter, you can send an InMail to a qualified candidate to discuss the job opportunity in greater detail.
But in addition to sourcing candidates through LinkedIn, you can also add qualified candidates to your list of connections even if they don’t quite match the job opening.
This can act as a recruiting multiplier for you, because it’s likely that qualified candidates you’ve selected (but not hired) have friends, colleagues and business contacts that could possess the exact set of skills and experience to fill your job opening.
The key to obtaining quality referrals, however, is to make sure that you take the time to build a genuine relationship with candidates who didn’t ultimately fit the bill for a position.
Whether that relationship is built through in-person contact, or by follow-up emails, the point is that your professional connections won’t provide you with referrals if you haven’t done anything to personalize that relationship and build trust.
2. Pro – Offers Keyword Targeted Candidate Searches
Despite being a professional social media network, LinkedIn still operates by some tried-and-true content marketing rules, including the primacy of keywords.
Keywords are an important aspect of sourcing candidates on LinkedIn and are fast becoming one of the most preferred LinkedIn sourcing techniques.
For recruiters, there are certain keywords that can help refine their candidate search, depending on the industry for which they are seeking qualified prospects.
LinkedIn lets recruiters create a special recruiting profile that allows them to conduct very targeted keyword searches for prospect.
Once recruiters enter the keywords that best match their need, the platform will generate a list of profiles that most closely match the keywords entered.
And that’s why it’s also important for job seekers to create comprehensive profiles that take into account keywords that recruiters will target when looking for candidates.
4. Pro – Offers Participation In Professional Groups and Organizations
As a recruiter, you want to build your presence on LinkedIn as quickly as possible, not only to establish credibility on the platform, but also to attract top candidates.
This brings us to another advantage of using LinkedIn, namely the opportunity to join one of the thousands of professional groups on the platform.
You can find an appropriate group by using LinkedIn’s search feature as well as by browsing through suggested groups based on your profile. You also have the choice of creating your own group, which helps you drive the conversation from a position of leadership.
The benefit of joining or creating a LinkedIn group is that it helps your network with similar professionals, and provides you with a forum to share information, create content and brand your company.
Joining a group can also be highly beneficial for recruiters who are trying to fill high-end positions that lack a strong level of candidates.
Because these positions tend to be very specialized, and you’ll often find candidates that fill these positions have joined specific groups related to that job.
These candidates may already have a job, which is why joining a group where they are members can be one of the more effective passive candidate sourcing techniques.
In that instance, your goal isn’t to lure them away from their existing job, it’s to connect and engage with them in similar interests, building a relationship that may not pay off for several months or several years.
Now that we’ve looked at three major benefits of LinkedIn for recruiters, it’s time to shift to the ‘con’ section of the pros and cons of LinkedIn as a recruiting tool.
Cons of LinkedIn as a recruiting tool
1. Con – Incomplete Profiles Get Overlooked
One of the biggest drawbacks for both recruiters and job seekers is that there are millions of incomplete profiles on LinkedIn that only feature one job description, and lack a job title.
And while it’s true that job seekers should complete as much of their profiles as possible, recruiters may pass over a gem of a candidate because a job title is missing, or because the job description isn’t brimming with desirable keywords.
For example, let’s say that a candidate does not include the word ‘Java’ under skills, even though that person knows Java.
Instead, they may write ‘Jsp’ or ‘Js,’ which are accepted abbreviations for Java, but if a recruiter uses the keyword ‘Java,’ guess what?
That recruiter’s search results will overlook this candidate, which means that a professional connection is missed that could have benefited both parties.
Recruiters don’t have the time to look through every profile, but they also may be missing qualified candidates who simply didn’t complete a profile enough to rank high on LinkedIn’s search algorithm.
2. Con – Fake Profiles
The immensity of LinkedIn can be a major plus, but it can also be a major negative, especially when it comes to determining the validity of some of the profiles recruiters come across on the platform.
For recruiters, time is at a premium, and you probably don’t have the time or the resources to vet every single candidate that appears qualified based on their profile.
Unfortunately LinkedIn has no procedure to ensure that profiles are accurate and real, so you can spend a lot of time engaging with a candidate who has posted a fake profile, and you won’t know that the prospect lacks the requisite skills and experience until it’s too late.
In fact, hackers often use fake LinkedIn accounts to pose as recruiters and gain access to the personal contact information of job seekers or passive candidates in preparation to launch schemes to steal sensitive information such as bank account and credit card numbers. One source estimated that 10 percent of all LinkedIn profiles are fake.
Fake profiles have all the hallmarks of a authentic profiles, and that’s because many of them steal text from real professional profiles. Furthermore, the creators of fake profiles often use images of attractive women, culled from other websites, or taken from actual LinkedIn users.
Hackers also use fake profiles to create an email relationship so that they can send malware into a target’s computer and demand a ransom to resolve the problem.
3. Con – Too Many Passive Candidates
Earlier we discussed how joining a LinkedIn group could help you target passive candidates, and now we’re adding this group of professionals to the list of drawbacks to the platform.
And while including passive candidates in a piece on the pros and cons of LinkedIn may seem strange, here’s why it’s a negative.
Many recruiters find that the most qualified prospects for open positions are people who are ‘actively employed’ instead of ‘actively seeking employment.’
That means that you’ll have to spend a lot of time and effort trying to convince these candidates to leave safe, secure jobs for the unknown.
And while it’s not impossible for recruiters to make this pitch successfully, it will require a lot of InMail deliveries that could be spent on recruits who are motivated to say ‘yes.’
Think about it this way.
If you have two candidates, one whom is a better fit but already employed, and the second who is not quite as qualified but is seeking work, is the time you’ll need to spend trying to persuade candidate number one worth it?
Or is it better to just engage the second candidate who may not be perfect (few prospects are), but is highly motivated and very likely to cost you little to no work time in sealing the deal?
LinkedIn could help alleviate this recruiting obstacle by creating one platform for passive candidates, and a second platform for job seekers who are not employed.
That would help recruiters better focus their targeting and help them avoid candidates who are never going to leave their positions, or whom will take weeks and months of cajoling before they would make a move.
4. Con – High Cost of Recruiter Plan
You can’t discuss the pros and cons of LinkedIn without mentioning the cost of using the platform’s corporate recruit plan, which costs about $8,500 per year.
Now depending on your budget and expenses, it may be too high a price to pay to receive the options that the plan offers such as targeted searched based on specific keywords.
The problem is that if you don’t opt in to LinkedIn’s recruiter product, you’re simply not going to be able to find the best prospects in the shortest period of time, and that will end up costing you even more money.
But some recruiters will have to weigh the cost of this yearly plan against the gain of hiring enough candidate to justify that expense. And for most, that may be too high a price.
LinkedIn Is a Tool You Can Use For Your Specific Recruiting Needs
The pros and cons of LinkedIn are not meant to persuade or dissuade anyone from utilizing this powerful professional social media platform. In fact, weighing the pros and cons of LinkedIn should lead you to one solid conclusion: It’s a tool that can be shaped for many uses, despite recruitment sources advantages and disadvantages.
For recruiters, LinkedIn offers many opportunities to identify and target qualified prospects in a diverse number of industries. The platform’s sophisticated Recruiter option lets users find candidates based on a number of criteria.
And even when the perfect candidate isn’t available, recruiters can utilize their list of connections to obtain referrals that they could not have accessed any other way.
Yes, LinkedIn does have its drawbacks, including the fact that the sheer number of users can make a job search daunting, and the growing number of fake profiles that are set-up to initiate hacking schemes that can damage a recruiter’s brand, and harm candidates.
Furthermore, LinkedIn needs to find a way to separate its platform so that passive candidates are clearly delineated, which would make it easier for recruits to target motivated job seekers who are much more likely to respond to recruiter InMails.
But the proof is in the pudding as they say, and LinkedIn remains the premier business social media platform in the world, with no signs of slowing down.
It’s a forum where professionals of all stripes can network, share content, make referrals and push their brands in a community that values the steak over the sizzle.