There’s no denying the power of LinkedIn. With 414 million users across 200 countries and territories, the career-oriented social network is a valuable tool in every recruiter’s arsenal. But it can also be a minefield filled with faux pas waiting to be made. With a few wrong moves, you can easily turn off talent. We spoke with talent acquisition professionals about some of the most common LinkedIn mistakes to avoid.
1. Not Taking the Time to Send Personalized Messages
Among a certain subset of recruiters, LinkedIn has become a place to reach 100 prospective candidates at a time in an instant with a single, canned message. Sure, you can reach a lot of people quickly, but what you gain in speed you lose in effectiveness. “Bulk, templated messages show recruiters have done absolutely no research or made any effort to connect with the individual,” says John Fleischauer, global talent acquisition manager at Halogen Software.
By the same token, a personalized message can go a long way. “Considering the volume of spam that most recruiters send out via LinkedIn, personalized messages work almost all the time,” says Fleischauer. “My rule of thumb is, the best way to get anyone’s attention is to personalize your approach. For example, mention what you found online or through social media in the subject line of your message such as “You’re a big fan of Superman,” “You like wine,” or “How was your recent trip to Australia?” The point is that you, as a recruiter, are showing the candidate that you know something about them other than what might match in a keyword search for a job description.”
2. Connecting for the Sake of Adding Connections
Some recruiters (and non-recruiters) seem to be in fast and furious race to get to the ‘500+’ connection mark, without considering how valuable and legitimate those connections really are. In this case, quality trumps quantity. “Many people have taken the ‘personal referral-ability’ – the willingness to refer someone because you have first or second-hand knowledge of their work ethic and performance – out of LinkedIn,” says Juanita Hines, founder of Regional Consulting. “Most people no longer ask for referrals or introductions. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve operated under these theories previously, thinking that the more people I had in my network, the better connected I was. But I came to realize that the more people I don’t know in my network, the more people I have to scroll through to see how I’m really connected to someone.”
3. Ignoring Your Network’s Activity
More than any other social network, LinkedIn is all ‘network’ and no ‘social’ for many users. Don’t just use it when you’re actively recruiting talent; use it during off-peak times, too, and engage with your connections’ activity. Over time, it will build goodwill. “Employers shouldn’t become so involved in their world that they forget to connect with other,” says Hines. “I’ll be a lot more willing to refer or send someone that I know for an opening that I saw you list if I have seen you interact and engage with my activity or the activity of those in my network. It takes a few seconds to ‘like’ or congratulate someone on their work anniversary, promotions or other occurrences that are posted. These interactions can be invaluable when recruiting for opportunities, because people connect better with those that they know or to whom they have a connection.”
4. Reaching Out to Long-Shot Candidates
Applying for jobs is time-consuming. Between writing a cover letter, customizing a resume, filling in forms and compiling supporting documentation, it’s a process that can easily take a few hours. If an applicant knew their chances at receiving an offer were as good as winning the Powerball jackpot, “Many recruiters these days are using LinkedIn as a ‘spray and pray’ tool,” says Bill Fish, president at Online Reputation Management. “While I understand that reaching out to candidate after candidate could help you find that diamond in the rough, it creates an unnecessary amount of work for many applicants who have no chance landing a job.”
5. Allowing Contacts to See Your Connections List
A recruiter’s connections list can be very revealing. A recruiter revealing their contacts is akin to Coca-Cola revealing their secret formula. There’s a lot of proprietary information that you don’t want your competitors to get ahold of. “If a recruiter doesn’t hide their connections, those connections can be viewed and searched by all of the recruiter’s 1st-degree connections,” says Chaim Shapiro, assistant director of career services at Touro College. “I know of a situation where an employer conducted an advanced search of a recruiter’s connections; the employer sorted by his company to figure out which of his employees were looking for other opportunities.”
6. Not Viewing Profiles in Private Mode
As a recruiter, you may be scoping out dozens or even hundreds of LinkedIn profiles each day. You probably don’t want all of these would-be candidates to know you’ve been checking them out – no one likes to come off as a creeper or build false hope. There are two privacy levels for profile view notifications: private mode and semi-private mode. Private is the way to go, as with semi-private, users can still certain characteristics of your profile, such company, job title and industry. “Semi-private is especially bad when a recruiter works for a smaller company,” says Shapiro. “I advise recruiters to always check what the semi-private mode would reveal.”
7. Cross-Posting on Multiple Social Channels
“The medium is the message” was coined by media theorist Marshall McLuhan in 1964. More than 50 years later, the phrase is truer than ever. There are SO many ways of delivering your message now, from LinkedIn to Facebook to Twitter to YouTube to Medium to your personal blog – the list goes on and on. The medium you choose to distribute your message will directly affect the way your message is perceived. What works well on one channel won’t necessarily fly on another. With the advent of Facebook videos, posting a YouTube video to FaceBook may not be as effective as posting a YouTube video to LinkedIn. Documenting an event in real-time on LinkedIn will never be as effective as doing so on Twitter.
“A lot of recruiters use programs like Hootsuite or Buffer to cross-post to multiple social media channels,” says Shapiro. “LinkedIn no longer allows the use of hashtags in status updates, and I have seen numerous LinkedIn posts with hashtags that were obviously cross-posted with Facebook and Twitter.” Take the time to tailor your message to each of your social channels, just as you’d personalize your message to each prospective candidate.
Photo courtesy Link Humans.