LinkedIn is standard for most recruiters when it comes to talent sourcing. For a significant number of companies it might be the main source of candidates. Currently there are over 460 million people with LinkedIn profiles and this professional network has recently been acquired by Microsoft for an unbelievable $26 billion. It was the largest acquisition ever by Microsoft (see the interview with Jan Mühlfeit, former Chairman and Head of Microsoft Europe).
LinkedIn has launched the process of new changes, which will have a tremendous impact on how we use it for everyday recruitment. The changes include many restrictions such as the disappearance of tags, Saved Search alerts, and the all-important Advanced People Search from both non-paid and paid profiles. This means you will not be able to search based on titles, companies or postal codes. Everything will be a simple keyword-based search. There will be zero or limited support of Boolean operators AND, OR and NOT in the long term as well.
Personal LinkedIn profiles will undergo a substantial facelift as well. There will be no rich media objects such as pictures, videos and presentations. You will not be able to change the order of profile sections or the order of your particular jobs. We are probably going to lose the possibility to see the e-mail address of our 1st degree connections as well.
This is bringing a lot of heat from regular LinkedIn users trying to benefit from LinkedIn as a business tool.
Why these negative changes might be actually a good thing for recruiters? And how to prepare for it?
1) Don‘t be 100% dependent on one source only
Diversify! We hear it from everywhere, but it is pretty natural that one source takes a major stake amongst other sourcing channels. Even if LinkedIn is a crucial part of your candidate pipeline (for our company, GoodCall, it is actually 57,76% - see the case-study), you should be prepared to supplement it partially by other channels.
We know Facebook, Twitter, Vkontakte, Stack Overflow, GitHub, Dribbble, Behance but have you tried to search for Java Developers on Airbnb?
And how about Slideshare?
Slideshare.net belongs to LinkedIn and it provides you with the chance to put a presentation on your LinkedIn profile (which is one of the options LinkedIn is going to shut down soon). A lot of people create their LinkedIn profiles in a way that they just enclose their resume as .DOC or PDF to their LinkedIn profile using Slideshare. The content of these files is not searchable by standard LinkedIn keyword search and thus LinkedIn cannot get into those documents.
You can still scan those documents using the so-called Xray search using Google:
site:slideshare.net (CV OR Vitae OR resume OR zivotopis) (Prague OR praha) (java OR j2ee)
Professional data are more and more distributed across the internet and you have to establish an effective system to obtain them.
2) Advanced people search will not be for everybody and it is a good thing
I have always said that the most luxurious feature on LinkedIn is its search functions. In particular, the ability to search based on job title and company as well as defining each as either current, past not current etc.
As you‘ll notice, this field supports so-called Boolean logic. If you are looking for software testers, using the phrase Software Tester is just not enough. LinkedIn is powerful but quite dumb without your intelligent input. When I am target software testers, I use at least the following search query:
tester OR test OR testing OR QA OR quality assurance OR verification OR validation
Using this you can be sure that you are covering all profiles of people with titles such as:
Quality Assurance Engineer
If I want to expand this search further, I would also add the term quality. You have to take into account that there might be a decent amount of false positive profiles - e.g. quality engineers in manufacturing.
If we want to get rid of managerial staff in testing, we can benefit from the Boolean logic and adjust the search query to:
tester OR test OR testing OR QA OR quality assurance OR verification OR validation -manager -manazer -leader -lidr -director -reditel
Eventually you can use:
tester OR test OR testing OR QA OR quality assurance OR verification OR validation NOT manager NOT manazer NOT leader NOT lidr NOT director NOT reditel
Or this way:
tester OR test OR testing OR QA OR quality assurance OR verification OR validation -(manager OR manazer OR leader OR lidr OR director OR reditel)
And this is equivalent:
tester OR test OR testing OR QA OR quality assurance OR verification OR validation NOT (manager OR manazer OR leader OR lidr OR director OR reditel)
Note: If you exclude something in the field Title or Company, insert the excluded terms at the end of the query and choose from the options Current or Past not current. The option Current or Past does not work as you would expect in this case.
Having false positives in your search results is not bad especially when we count the ratio of managers to test engineers as something like 1:10. One irrelevant profile out of 10 in the search results is just fine.
Pretty cool, right? And we‘ve just scratched the surface. This is providing you with many more possibilities including different searching models such as implicit searching, iterative searching, exhaustive searching, natural language search, Onion Search, manual semantic search, etc. Glen Cathey is the real originator of these methods for me.
Unfortunately none of this will be possible in the new version of the basic (free) LinkedIn profile and some premium ones as well.
Searching with the basic LinkedIn will be transformed into search just based on keywords. In the future Boolean search or other sophisticated algorithms such as Graph Search in Facebook will be removed. You can count on only having a limited number of post-search filters – relationship, locations, 5 current companies, 5 past companies, profile language, non-profit interest and 5 schools.
If you want to expand the list of companies from top 5 to 15, it will not be possible if you don’t have Boolean operators and the search field Company.
The locations will not be able to specify postal code or specific radius, which makes it quite intensive to include surrounding cities within some range. If you want to filter people from Berlin with a commutable distance from the city, you have to list all of the cities manually.
All these features will be available in the high-end premium LinkedIn accounts called LinkedIn Recruiter (for any companies) and LinkedIn RPS (for recruitment agencies only).
With regard to the more affordable premium profiles LinkedIn Recruiter Lite and LinkedIn Sales Navigator, there are still some question marks. Some users received an announcement that Boolean logic will not be available soon, so these accounts might not be the proper solution for talent sourcing.
The more affordable business premium profiles may be completely out of question as they use the interface of the basic non-paid profiles.
In 2014 I said that you don’t need a paid LinkedIn account for thorough talent sourcing if you have proper knowledge. I had to change my stance in 2015, saying that you may need some paid account(s) due to the application of so called Commercial Use Limit. Even if you have 100+ employees where each of your people need to use LinkedIn searching on an everyday basis, it is still quite reasonable to use a few LinkedIn RPS and/or LinkedIn Recruiter accounts where you can allocate 20 Hiring Managers per license. Hiring Managers will not have access to the searching interface of the premium version, but the Commercial Use Limit will not be applied to their basic accounts (plus they will see who‘s viewed their profiles with the last 90 days).
In 2017 we will need some paid accounts, most likely the more expensive ones in order to source candidates properly on an everyday basis.
Might this be a good thing?
It will definitely create some barriers to the industry so we can expect lower competition amongst other recruiting subjects.
What’s the buy-in?
LinkedIn Recruiter – approx $750-900* per month for 1 license.
LinkedIn RPS – approx $550-700* per month for 1 license.
The following premium accounts may not offer the full capabilities for a comprehensive everyday search, but I mention them as a comparison.
LinkedIn Recruiter Lite - approx $94-115* per month for 1 license.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator Professional - approx $50-65* per month for 1 license.
* Based on annual or monthly plans.
This pricing was set before Microsoft acquired LinkedIn and it might change in the future. This could turn a lot of people away from using LinkedIn. Especially when they haven’t yet discovered its power or if LinkedIn is not the primary source of hire for them.
On the other side, LinkedIn made some improvements to the high-end premium licenses. For example, after 14 years, they finally added a Language search field. So you can filter people living in Prague with a good level of Spanish. It could still use improvements, however. Now you can only select one of the five fluency levels. This means that if you want people with a good level of Spanish, you need to do at least 3 searches because you need to switch between Working proficiency, Full proficiencyand Native or bilingual.
This is still an improvement over the current search function through Keywords, which would include in the search results anyone mentioning Spanish, Espanol and other local terms on their profiles. Additionally, it may include people without the required language proficiency. Xraying this using Google stopped working recently because Google was not indexing this part of the profile.
There is also a new feature which allows you to hide profiles you have visited within the last 3 or 6 months. What’s more, when you need to quickly distinguish between profiles you have already visited and those you haven’t, you can use this Chrome plugin Advanced LinkedIn Sourcer which only works for non-paid accounts.. It will nicely mark the all profiles you have ever visited, make a note when you visited them, and allows you to put a note on any LinkedIn profile which is visible within the search results as well.
The Czech Republic is the most overheated country with the lowest unemployment rate and the highest number of recruiter approaches in all of Europe. This change might clean up the market a bit.
3) Harvest LinkedIn on steroids till it is possible
There are more changes to come. There will be no more so called rich media, so if you have any videos, pictures or presentations on your profile, they will be removed. Company LinkedIn profiles are being redesigned as well. Check the actual the company profile of the LinkedIn corporation for a review of the changes.
Currently, you are only able to see the proper analytics of your personal posts in the mobile version. Soon, this will be possible on the desktop version as well.
What will disappear is the possibility to see the e-mail addresses of your 1st degree connections. You will, however, be able to send them a message via the LinkedIn messaging function, similar to Facebook.
Did you know that you can export all of your 1st degree connections into excel or CSV? There will be first name, surname, e-mail address, current title and company included.
My Network -> Connections -> Settings -> Export LinkedIn Connections
If I take my account with 30 000 connections, it creates a solid base for e.g. Facebook retargeting or any other cross referencing. I don’t recommend using it for direct mailing. First, you cannot guarantee the integrity of your connections (different countries, industries, roles, etc.) and you would be spamming irrelevant recipients. Second, you may not be legally allowed to do that.
The next change pertains to profiles out of your network (you are able to see just LinkedIn Member instead of the full name). These will no longer be visible with the non-paid accounts. You will not be able to uncover them even if you know how in the current version.
Sometimes the only action you need is to Xray it to get to the full view of the profile through an internet search engine:
site:linkedin.com/in OR site:linkedin.com/pub -inurl:pub/dir "Sr SAP SD Consultant" new york melville
This does not work every time. The user might have his/her privacy set to private, which means it is not indexed in the search engines. Or the headline of the profile is so generic that it will lead you to hundreds or thousands of profiles.
In that case you can utilize the following software bug. First, you need to find out the ID of the non-visible profile. The URL contains the ID, but it is hashed so it is not possible to use. If you open the source code of the non-visible LinkedIn profile, find the string MemberID. There you will find the non-hashed ID.
Then, you put the ID into the following URL and hit enter:
Now you should see the full name of the desired profile. If you know anybody’s full name, LinkedIn will show you his/her profile even if the profile is out of your network. So now you can use the LinkedIn search field and look for that person. Eventually you can use the search fields First Name and Last Name in the Advanced People Search for common and frequent names.
Now you can see the full profile view as if it were a 2nd or 3rd degree connection profile. You can also send him/her an invitation.
What to take from this?
If you are an IT professional who complains about daily spamming from recruiters, it will probably be good news for you. If you don’t receive any or just a few, then improve your LinkedIn profile by using more keywords and improve your profile strength.
On the other side, for those who use LinkedIn to search for people it may also bring you some advantages.
Firstly, I think that the integration of LinkedIn into Microsoft products such as Skype (we can already see some integration there) and Microsoft Office might increase the user acquisition. LinkedIn can expand to groups of people who are not as present on LinkedIn yet. This is a benefit for recruiters because there will be more people on LinkedIn for you to find.
Second, it might significantly clean up the recruitment market and remove those who are not serious about it. Sorry to say, but it is the first time in LinkedIn history that I can claim that the LinkedIn premium profile is a competitive edge for recruiters of any sort. It does not mean that LinkedIn will compose the search queries for you. This is still one of the variables which will differentiate between winners and losers.
The costs will affect recruitment companies and individuals in different ways and we can’t say the bigger the company, the better. If you are recreational recruiter, it is just a simple question of whether it makes economic sense. If you are a high-margin boutique recruitment agency, it is a no-brainer for you to purchase the licenses.
If you are a big agency though, it is a question of your business model. Do you have 100+ full cycle recruiters or 30 recruiters with 90 sourcers from which not all of them are full-time? There is a higher retention naturally. The price per license is lower with the volume, but you might consider purchasing licenses for talent sourcers only (not for the recruiters) if you are really a sourcing-based recruitment agency.
To conclude, I think that LinkedIn is finally entering a mature phase of its business and software development which now might be perceived as a big negative change for recruiters due to many new restrictions and limitations that we’ve discussed above. But it’s important to realize that this is the standard you are used to seeing at Facebook, Twitter and other platforms (e.g. no email addresses are visible on Twitter).
I’ve always liked LinkedIn for this punk style but maybe it is time to adjust to these changes and move on. The bright side for recruiters might be in the form of potentially lower competition willing to pay and also faster candidate acquisition because of the integration into Microsoft products.
It is necessary to take into account that searching on LinkedIn is very much influenced by the quality of data. You are creating the search queries and you have to be able to overcome limitations. For example, the maximum number of results per one search is set to 1000 regardless of your LinkedIn account type.
Got 1300 results and don’t want to abandon those 300?
What if the desired profile is right there?!
Happy hunting!: )
The author of this article is not an employee of LinkedIn or Microsoft corporation.