LinkedIn, the professional networking giant for the new millennium, has rendered the once ubiquitous Rolodex obsolete. And the burgeoning professional site, now boasting about 135 million members in more than 200 countries, has become a disruptive force in the recruiting world. Corporate and agency recruiters alike, spend their days searching through thousands of member profiles, connecting and interacting with prospective candidates. LinkedIn is a virtual goldmine for recruiters searching for coveted passive candidates. The site boasts “LinkedIn combines job listings, candidate search, trusted referrals and the power of networks to give you results.” And folks actively seeking jobs have flocked to LinkedIn. A recent Jobvite survey found that 10.2 million Americans found their jobs on LinkedIn.
Blurred Line Between Social and Professional Networking
With more opportunities to interact socially with LinkedIn Groups, it’s starting to encroach on Facebook’s territory. The line between private social networking and professional activities conducted on LinkedIn is becoming blurred. The personal profiles and networks of individual recruiters are utilized to source candidates, advertise career opportunities, network with people in various industry groups, share professional tips and socialize. Because networking is all about engaging with people on a personal level, the individual LinkedIn networks of recruiters have become a essential tool in the recruiting arsenal of companies and recruiting agencies. Personality and engagement sells!
How Should Companies Leverage the Distribution of Recruiters’ Personal Networks?
This inherent tension between professional marketing and social networking has resulted in risk-averse companies developing social media policies and guidelines specifically covering LinkedIn accounts. Many companies warn employees not to share confidential information and trade secrets, while others require company approval for static content, but not for interactive content. Whatever the nature of the social media policies, the individual networks of recruiters have become more critical than ever before to the success of a company’s overall recruiting efforts. So, how should third-party agencies and companies effectively leverage the distributive power of the individual networks of their recruiters? The key is to implement a consistent plan of action and a set of guidelines for recruiters’ activities on LinkedIn.
Whatever you decide is the best strategy for your company or agency with respect to posting job opportunities, contacting LinkedIn members directly, or seeking referrals, make sure it’s followed consistently by your recruiters. Some suggestions:
- Make sure your recruiters’ profiles are engaging and complete. Fully optimized profiles rank higher in Google searches and enhance company pages.
- Encourage recruiters to add character and visual appeal to their profiles with LinkedIn applications, such as Google Presentation, My Travel and the Reading List by Amazon App.
- Share job opportunities in targeted industry groups. Make sure recruiters have established a presence within the group before posting a job, to avoid being viewed as a spammer.
- Encourage recruiters to regularly update their profiles to keep their networks dynamic and fresh.
- Encourage recruiters to share job opportunities on their LinkedIn profiles and summaries as status updates. Why not cast a wide net? It may lead you to that shiny needle in the haystack.
Who Owns Recruiters’ Individual LinkedIn Accounts?
With more companies and agencies leveraging employee LinkedIn accounts for professional branding and recruiting activities, the ownership of the profile and the contacts has come into question when an employee leaves the company. LinkedIn considers personal profiles to be the property of the individual. But what about the valuable network of professional contacts obtained during the period of employment? This issue is likely to become a hot button legal issue. The law on this issue is unsettled in the United States, but across the pond, a judge recently ordered an employee to hand over his LinkedIn contacts to his former employee, after jumping ship to start a consulting venture.
But a case involving a New York recruiter found that the LinkedIn contacts were not the intellectual property of the agency. In Sasqua Group, Inc. v. Courtney, the court ruled that since the recruiter’s contacts were easily obtainable on LinkedIn and other social networks, they were not protected trade secrets. There were no non-solicitation, non-compete or non-disclosure agreements in place. You can expect that many companies will soon be addressing this issue with their legal departments, as social media technology races ahead of employment law. To prevent any surprises when an employee leaves, companies should have clear guidelines in place.
But the bottom line is: recruiters must be afforded the freedom to enthusiastically promote their job opportunities, act as brand ambassadors, build a network and engage with their audience on LinkedIn, by leveraging their unique people skills and personalities. Otherwise, what’s the point?