Use LinkedIn for Small Business Hiring

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With 200 million members, 60% of whom hold at least an undergraduate degree (LinkedIn.com/about), LinkedIn is one of the most valuable tool for hiring today.  Particularly for small businesses that are hiring for jobs that did not exist 10 years ago, Social Community Manager, App Developer, Market Research Data Miner and others.

The First Step to using LinkedIn for effective hiring is to update your own profile. As a small business owner, you are the primary representative of your company.  Here, Melonie Dodaro highlights 19 Steps to Optimizing your LinkedIn Profile.

Step Two – Create a Company Page

Remember, LinkedIn is a not only a job search tool, it is a highly interactive network of working professionals. Some are individuals actively seeking a job and others, perhaps including your ideal candidate, who just happen to be working for another company right now.  Maintaining an updated, informative company profile is a way to share your company culture, highlight accomplishments and attract talent.  Potential candidates are using the “company search” function of LinkedIn right now to find companies they might like to work for, so make sure to update your company page with the specific keywords that will attract talented applicants.

Step Three – Connect with Employees

Ask your current employees to not only link to your company page, but to endorse your company.  Return the favor by featuring employee accomplishments and post company updates regularly.

When using LinkedIn to search for qualified candidates:

Work Your Network

Before signing on for LinkedIn’s paid features, start with the network you already have.  If you are looking for a database administrator, reach out and ask your current connections to see if they can recommend anyone or join a database focused group.  When interacting with group members, keep an eye out for responses that indicate industry knowledge or specific topic familiarity, to help screen who you reach out to.

Use LinkedIn’s Advanced Search Feature

To the right of the search box at the top of the page, click on ‘Advanced’.  You can then choose to search only your contacts, your contacts and second connections, or the entire LinkedIn database for candidates.

Using LinkedIn Advanced Search Page

If you are using the basic (read ‘free’) version of LinkedIn, you will only be able to view the first 100 results, so it’s a good idea to narrow down your search as much as possible.  Also if you are not a first or second connection, you’ll need to work your network in order to reach out to third tier connections. But the beauty of LinkedIn is that you can see who these connections are by simply clicking the dropdown and choosing ‘Get Introduced’.

Screen Applicants – use LinkedIn to learn about the candidate beyond their resume and cover letter.

  • Find Alternate References – Look up previous companies the applicant has worked. (hint: use company name and years of employment) Contact someone who may have worked with the applicant but was not offered as a reference.
  • Review Recommendations – Of course the candidate will only post positive recommendations, however the number of recommendations as well as the level of detail can offer valuable information as to the candidate’s qualifications.
  • See the Strength of Applicant’s Network – The number of connections can give a strong indication of their  networking ability as well as the number of positive working relationships the candidate has developed.
  • Review Projects and Accomplishments – A well cultivated LinkedIn profile frequently shows projects that the candidate worked on as well as awards and accomplishments.

Proactively Search for Candidates

Just because your ideal candidate is not currently looking doesn’t mean they can’t be recruited.  Find prospects with the specific experience and education you are looking for. Remember to narrow your search.  “Marketing” will deliver over 13 million results, “social media marketing”  – over 2 million, “social media marketing”, blogger, “fort worth, texas” – narrows the search to 106.

Tip to Using LinkedIn Advanced Search – save an unlimited number of search results to use with your free version of LI – capture the search operators in a notepad file and reuse them whenever you need them.

Join a LinkedIn Group

There are over a million groups on topics from Certified Professional Trainers to Open Source Programmers.  This another tool for finding potential hires. Join groups relating to your industry or to the specific skill sets you are looking for. Look for people who contribute intelligent advice or demonstrate the specific knowledge sets you may be looking for.

Post Your Job

LinkedIn’s job board, currently $295 for a single 30-day posting, gets your job description in front of a very sophisticated business-oriented audience.  As every small business owner knows, hiring the employees with the right experience and who are a good fit with the company is crucial to the success of your business.  LinkedIn is a valuable tool.  Learn to use it to your advantage.

Two alternatives to paying for postings

  1. Some groups will allow job postings
  2. Post an update to your LinkedIn profile with a link to the open job posting on your website

Additional Resources

Learn to Use LinkedIn
Use SEO to Increase Visibility of your LinkedIn Business Profile
Hiring for Digital Roles
Lead Generation and other Benefits of LinkedIn