Should the Recruitment Industry Fear LinkedIn?

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Boy Peeking around a wall Sounds like a weird question, right? I mean, as the largest professional networking site, LinkedIn has proven to be a tool for recruiters, not competition. But will it remain this way?

I ask this because of an article on that posed the question: “Could LinkedIn Substitute A Recruitment Agency?” The article compares a recruitment agency to LinkedIn, and shows how the two are pretty darn close.


Applicant Databases

LinkedIn maintains a database of candidates; network with those candidates to assess career status and aspirations; connect those candidates to relevant third parties that are looking to hire.

The flagship Recruiter product incorporates advanced search functions, the ability to contact people, and additional functions to maintain watch lists and pipelines with specific activity flags.

“LinkedIn therefore has the potential to impact recruitment industry volumes if corporates in-source recruitment activity using LinkedIn as a tool,” UBS analyst William Vanderpump wrote in a note to clients.

With 225+ million users, LinkedIn has the potential for a huge applicant/candidate database. And the story explains how although most people on the social networking site are typically active candidates looking for opportunities, yet LinkedIn, like recruiters, also has the capability to capture passive candidates as well.

A recruitment agency database is implicitly mainly comprised of active candidates, although strong consultants have always built wider networks of passive candidates, allowing them to move quickly when opportunities arise.

So, the article is saying that, most often, recruiters focus on active candidates versus passive candidates, while LinkedIn has the ability to reach both at the same time.

Effective Screening Process

“The general view from the people that we spoke to was that the community element of LinkedIn means the main data is trustworthy (member went to X university or worked at Y company),” Vanderpump said.

Trust is an important factor for job seekers. They want to trust that a job ad is real and the description is accurate. They also want to be able to trust that, if using one, the recruiter has their best interests in mind when trying to place them.

People trust LinkedIn and the connections they make on the site. For example, if a job seeker is looking to reach out to the HR manager at a company, he or she may find this person on LinkedIn. Then, the job seeker trusts that the person’s information is accurate to the point of reaching out to him/her in hopes of making a connection for the role.

Likewise, when social recruiting, employers (and even recruiters) will have to trust that an applicant’s information on his/her LinkedIn profile is true. The article said, “The age-old risk of people inflating skills, rank or experience remains and was seen to be higher than at a job board, given the public and peer-facing nature of the forum.” So, employers may consider that candidates’ LinkedIn profiles are a little embellished, which could cause companies to opt for a recruitment agency over the social network.


“The most powerful element of LinkedIn is that it facilitates interaction and access between recruiters and candidates,” Vanderpump said.

In its most direct form, this can be the LinkedIn “InMails”. More powerfully, it is also a platform for discussion, content and the formation of sub-groups so relationships can be formed in advance of a job mandate.

Like a recruitment agency, LinkedIn has the ability to put candidates in direct contact with those in positions of authority in a company. Yet, unlike working with a recruitment agency, a job seeker will have to pay to use InMails.


I’ve heard countless horror stories about working with recruiters and how some job seekers end up being dissatisfied. Most feel like they can land a job on their own. And with sites like LinkedIn that make it so easy to connect with “higher ups” in a company, why wouldn’t they.

For example, a job seeker could send his/her resume to a “bad” recruiter and the recruiter could send the person’s resume to all types of positions he/she isn’t qualified for. Sometimes a recruiter can be more focused on making a placement (and receiving a paycheck) than actually making a quality placement and good company fit. This doesn’t benefit the job seeker.

Yet, with LinkedIn, even if a job seeker chooses to pay for the InMail feature, he or she could contact the right person at a company and land a job, essentially eliminating the middle man.

So, all of this takes me back to my first question: Recruiters, what do you think? Should the recruitment industry fear LinkedIn?

By Shala Marks