PODCAST: Best Practices for Scouting Out Amazing Candidates, According to LinkedIn
In the latest episode of Outback Talks: The Employee Engagement Podcast, we sit down with LinkedIn’s Bobby Brenman to discuss best practices for recruiting great candidates. Listen to the podcast episode below and keep reading for our five key takeaways from the discussion.
With over 610 million members in over 200 countries, LinkedIn is the largest professional social network on the internet. Their mission is to connect the world’s professionals, to help make them more productive and successful – something that ties directly into recruiting top talent.
In the latest episode of Outback Talks: The Employee Engagement Podcast, we sit down with Bobby Brenman, the Group Product Marketing Manager looking after LinkedIn’s Talent Portfolio, to pick his brain about best practices for scouting out amazing candidates. Listen to the podcast below or keep reading for five key takeaways from our discussion.
1. Know What the Role Is and Who You Want to Fill It
“Start with really researching what you’re looking for,” Bobby says. Before commencing your search, you need to have a comprehensive understanding of both the role you’re looking to fill and the ideal candidate that you’re looking to fill it. These two insights are critical in forming the foundation of the recruitment process, because they will greatly dictate all of your next steps. You should know the ins and outs of basic things like:
- Role Requirements – What tasks is the hire expected to accomplish on a daily basis? What about in the long-term?
- Salary – Is the candidate’s salary competitive in comparison to other salaries in the same industry? If it’s a sales position, is it commission-based?
- “Must-Haves” – What kind of skills and personality qualities does the candidate need to have in order to be considered the right fit for the job?
- “Nice-to-Haves” – What kind of skills and personality qualities would be an asset or a bonus for the candidate to have, even though they aren’t necessary to fill the role?
2. Make Your Candidate Outreach Personalized
Did you know that almost 90% of prospecting emails are impersonal? Recent research with Hired shows that nearly all prospecting outreach is totally cold. If you’re using a tool like LinkedIn Recruiter to prospect potential candidates – that is, actively reaching out to recruit top talent – it’s important to make a connection that feels real. Bobby’s advice? Make your message personalized.
“Organizations that send a bulk email to a thousand people, like, ‘hi, I want talk to you about my company’ – the response rates, as you would imagine, are incredibly, incredibly low,” he says. “Get as personalized as possible. Make it an authentic connection. Ideally, your first touch point with the potential candidate is not an InMail [LinkedIn’s direct messaging platform] to them, or phone call, or an email reach out. Ideally, they are already aware of your company. Ideally, they are already aware of the types of roles you hire for. So, if you’ve really been doing that brand building over time with your target candidate pools, then the response rates go up astronomically.”
Sending generic outreaches simply doesn’t make your candidates valued. In fact, in another study by LinkedIn, research shows that a personalized message can increase response rates by 30%.
“Within the recruiting world, it’s about people, first and foremost,” Bobby continues. “You want to be able to be as efficient as possible – and I think efficiency sometimes translates into, ‘is that cold and machine-like?” and the answer is no. It just means that you’re then able to focus more on the people part of the conversation. So, you’re not spending all day sending out bulk emails, you’re sending out those few targeted outreaches. You can then make those personal connections and really get to know the person, to understand if they’d be a great culture add for your organization or be able to help your organization achieve the results that you are looking for.”
So, how can you make your outreach message more personalized?
- Mention How You Found Them – Was it through LinkedIn? Another social media channel? At a conference or networking event? Provide some background and context, so that your outreach doesn’t feel totally random.
- Highlight Mutual Connections – You can reference a colleague or friend you have in common, or even ask that connection to do an introduction over email on your behalf.
- Mention the Candidate’s Name More Than Once – Standard cold emails typically have the candidate’s name at the top of the message and that’s it. When you mention their name a couple more times, though, it feels more meaningful. It’s scientifically proven! Research from the US National Library of Medicine shows that hearing your own name generates brain activity.
3. Craft Your Job Posting with the Candidate in Mind
When you start thinking about putting your job posting together, consider the type of experience that you want to create for the candidate during the application process. What kind of elements and information need to be included to ensure that they have a positive experience as they apply for the job?
“We actually just ran a study of over 400 or so members and really tried to understand what aspects jump out to them from a job post,” Bobby says. “And as you can imagine, a lot of the things that candidates are really looking for are the details of what they are actually going to do on the job. Things around the actual functional requirements, the actual salary and benefits, definitely, is top of mind for candidates. Just getting to the point and understanding what’s important to the candidate, I’d say, is the biggest thing.”
According to the LinkedIn study, candidates are most interested in seeing these three points on a job posting:
- Performance Goals
And when you’re putting the posting together, be specific about requirements but, at the same time, don’t limit yourself too much by being too specific.
“This is something that we are talking a lot about with customers right now,” Bobby continues. “As you look at the requirements for a job or the preferred qualifications, you know, really challenge yourself as an organization to say, ‘are those necessary?’ Common examples that come up are the number of years of experience in a role, or having an MBA, or things like that, which I think a lot of organizations are finding may limit the candidate pool in ways that’s not necessarily reflective of what’s needed as an organization.”
The study by LinkedIn also demonstrates that after candidates find the specific details regarding the job, they are then moving on to other places, such as the company site or its career page, to learn more about the company. Bobby calls this a multi-channel approach.
“If you look at the candidate journey and the experience they’re building on, there are multiple touch points that they’re going to have as they engage with your company and get to know your company,” he explains. On your job posting, a good practice is to provide links to your other channels – be it your company website or social media – to help streamline that process for the potential candidate.
4. Be Totally Transparent
Recruiting is all about trust and credibility, and one of the best ways for your company to obtain that is by being as transparent as possible.
“What we’re seeing more and more is that transparency is increasing,” Bobby says. “So, individual candidates can go in and evaluate different companies. They can get to know companies before they work there from different review sites, getting to know the company brand. We see a lot of the organizations we work with starting to share a lot more of that detail in terms of salary and perks and company culture, and those elements that really differentiate company-to-company – because I think today the reality is there is a lot more information available. And companies that try to obfuscate that are operating in a disadvantage in many ways.”
What should you consider, then, when it comes to those company-to-company elements?
- Salary – Be honest about pay. If your salary is lower than average in comparison to other like-minded organizations, address that immediately – and how your company makes up for it.
- Benefits – How much vacation time does your company allot each employee? Is it accumulative or unlimited? What about medical and dental coverage?
- Company Culture – What kind of things can the candidate expect in terms of general atmosphere at the office and group activities outside of work? What about charitable initiatives your organization is involved with?
Being open with potential candidates helps to set proper expectations, avoid disappointments, and build a positive reputation for your organization. Not only will doing this make it easier to recruit top talent, but you will also probably have higher retention rates as a result because your expectations have been made clear from the beginning.
5. Validate Skills and Assess Behavior
It’s inevitable – sometimes people take creative liberties with their resumes, embellishing on their skills or even flat out lying about their experiences. How, then, can recruiters suss out in-authenticity and avoid bringing the wrong candidate onto their team? Bobby suggests looking at behavior in order to validate skillsets.
“We try and always triangulate beyond just what a member puts on their profile and says directly to help look at intent and the broader signals,” he says. “We’re seeing companies starting to think about assessments more and ways to really validate skillsets – be that technical skills, be that behavioral elements. Everything from looking at referrals or what other people say to direct assessments. And, of course it’s in the candidate’s best interest to be as authentic in the process, as well, but I think it’s on the company to make sure that they are validating and looking for those inconsistencies.”
The behavioral analysis tool D.I.S.C., for example, can be a great way to assess a candidate, particularly in terms of their strengths and weaknesses within a team dynamic. In fact, it’s one of the ways that we assess our candidates here at Outback to see if the person aligns with their profile. The D.I.S.C. model represents four main quadrants:
In order to determine where a candidate falls within the four quadrants, the candidate takes a self-assessment test in which they answer a series of questions as honestly as possible about their behaviors. The results from the assessment will then place them somewhere within the quadrants to showcase which trait most accurately represents them.
Another way you can assess and validate a candidate’s behavior? Simply get your team involved. Bobby recommends going through applications with your colleagues during the screening process. “We’re all human, right? Different people may spot things that stand out, so I’d say make it a team sport. That helps as well,” he says.
Ultimately, though, Bobby maintains that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to scouting out great candidates. And a part of that is because, perhaps for the first time, recruiters are seeing a truly multi-generational workforce – from older generations either still in or re-entering the workforce to the youthful Generation Z. It’s an incredible opportunity for companies to have such a range of talent working so closely together, but it can also be challenging because the needs of someone who is in the later stage of their career are much different than that of someone who just graduated university. A flexible and thoughtful approach that pays close attention to the particular needs of the candidates you want on your team can help you consider all the different aspects you need to in order attract amazing prospects – and, in turn, succeed as a business.
“The reality is, best practices are usually best for the situation that they were tailored for,” Bobby says. “It’s always important to understand what’s the context. What works for a Google or a LinkedIn may not work for a small mom and pop ice cream shop. And vice versa, right? There are very, very different needs. So, always look at the patterns, look at the context of why decisions were made or why they intend to become best practices, and then make it your own. And I think that’s super exciting, as we see talent professionals and talent organizations develop within companies and continue to build those winning teams.”
Tune into our interview with Bobby to hear more from him or download the episode by subscribing to our podcast, Outback Talks: The Employee Engagement Podcast, on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, SoundCloud, or Stitcher. See the full transcription of the episode below.
Learn More About Recruitment
Check out the free, downloadable, and printable guide, The HR Guide to Recruitment, for more expert advice on how to source top talent and find great candidates. For even further support, just reach out to one of our Employee Engagement Consultants.
Yasmine Shemesh (YS): Welcome back to Outback Talks: The Employee Engagement Podcast. This podcast is produced by Outback Team Building & Training, a leading team building, training and consulting provider for organizations across North America. I’m your host, Yasmine Shemesh, on today’s show we have a very special guest joining us from the professional social network LinkedIn. Bobby Brenman is the Group Product Marketing Manager looking after the Talent Portfolio at LinkedIn. He sat down with me to dive deep into the world of recruitment and talking, in particular, about the best practices for effectively scouting out great candidates.
YS: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me, again, Bobby. How’s your day going so far?
Bobby Brenman (BB): Excellent. Excited to chat with you today and get into some of these details.
YS: Awesome, awesome, yes, me too! Alright, well, first of all, I know that you work at the Talent Divisions department at LinkedIn. So, can you just tell me a little bit more about what that department does and what your role is?
BB: Yeah, of course. So, hopefully your listeners are familiar with LinkedIn. With over 590 million members in over 200 countries, LinkedIn is the largest professional network on the internet. And our aim always, as we think about what we do here in LinkedIn, is to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. As a part of that, in this area that I focus on within our business, is really focused on, “how do we help organizations develop winning teams?”
So, when we think about organizations, when we think about our talent solutions broadly, we’re really thinking about: how do we help organizations with their planning strategies, so how they can plan to build that team? How they hire the team effectively? And then how do they continue to develop that team? Which is, again one of the reasons I was excited to chat with you because I know you guys do a lot of work in this area. It’s obviously super important to us as we think about the hiring stage and then the post-hiring stage, as well.
And then my role within LinkedIn, I’m a Group Product Marketing Manager here looking after our Talent Portfolio. So, it gives me a great opportunity to spend a lot of time with our customers, understanding what their needs are, understanding what their best practices are, talking about our solutions, as well as working in partnership with our product teams in terms of what’s the latest and greatest from a technology perspective as we deliver those solutions to our customers and think about the road map going forward.
YS: Yeah and knowing that you have some experience in marketing is something that I want to dive in to a little bit as well, because I feel like HR and marketing have a very unique connection. But, let’s talk about recruitment. So, when you have a position that you want to fill, one of the first steps is putting together that job posting. So, to start us off, do you have any really good tips on how to create a compelling job posting that will attract ideal candidates for a certain position?
BB: For sure, yeah, and I think you hit the nail on the head. Marketing and recruiting share a lot of similar traits and characteristics. And the same way as I, throughout my career, have thought about different marketing campaigns and different things like that, recruiting people for your organization is very much the same thing. So, as I talk with customers, we always say, “start with really researching what you’re looking for.” So, I think that understanding of the role, understanding of the ideal candidate that you are looking for, and really just having those insights to start the conversation, becomes super important as the foundation.
And then really think about what is that experience that you want to create for the candidate. We’ve done a lot of research on this here at LinkedIn to really understand what the elements are of a job post. What are the elements that resonate with people? We actually just ran a study of, I think, over 400 or so members and really tried to understand what aspects jump out to them from a job post, what resonates most. And as you can imagine, a lot of the things that candidates are really looking for are the details of what they are actually going to do on the job. Things around the actual functional requirements, the actual salary and benefits, definitely, is top of mind for candidates. Really just getting to the point and understanding what’s important to the candidate, I’d say, is the biggest thing with job postings.
YS: It is sort of like you’re advertising, right? Because you’re trying to present what this thing is and, you know, entice people to want to buy into it.
BB: Exactly right. I think it’s one of the many steps within an organization thinking about their employer brand, or their talent brand. And while organizations may have a career page that highlights who they are – they may do direct outreach advertising to candidates to really make sure that candidates are aware of their company – the job posting is definitely something that candidates are looking at and are using to assess, you know, one, obviously, if they are fit for the role, but also to get to know the company.
We do see from the research, though, that while some job postings people put a ton of information about the company and company’s mission and all that, oftentimes candidates are really looking more for the detail of the job, of function and what it is, and then are going to other places, such as the career page or other sites, to be able then to learn more about the company. We talk about it as, you know, a multi-channel approach, right? Which is, again, language that comes from the marketing world, but really thinking about that way, where, you know, if you look at the candidate journey and the experience they’re building on, there are multiple touch points that they’re going to have as they engage with your company and get to know your company – but the job post is obviously a key part of that.
YS: So now, branching off on to what you were just saying about including a lot of information in the job posting, which a lot of companies tend to do, have you found it more effective in your experience to create something that’s very highly detailed to narrow down that exact criteria? Or could sometimes less detailed posts attract a higher volume of applicant?
BB: For sure, yeah. It’s something we spend a lot of time researching – obviously with our members and with the customers that we talk with – to see really what performs best around those job posts. And you know, a couple of things that jump out to me, again, from the research and from what we see from our customers: shorter and more specific does tend to perform better across the board. So, you know, a five-page job posting – would not recommend. It’s too much for candidates to look at. So, being more concise and really be, as I mentioned before, being specific about the role and the function is really what tends to perform best.
A few other best practices we see when we talk with customers and the leading organizations we work with share with us is: don’t limit yourself too much in terms of the requirements. This is something that, I think, we are talking a lot about with customers right now. As you look at the requirements for a job or the preferred qualifications, you know, really challenge yourself as an organization to say, “are those necessary?” Common examples that come up are the number of years of experience in a role or having an MBA or things like that which, you know, I think a lot of organizations are finding may limit the candidate pool in ways that’s not necessarily reflective of what’s needed as an organization. So, we definitely encourage companies to think about that in terms of getting down to the basics of what’s really required for somebody to be successful in the role.
And the other area that then helps is really thinking about diversity of the candidates, which is a topic that is top of mind for companies around the world. Really making sure that the language in the job post doesn’t, in some unconscious way or some unintended way, limit the candidates that would be interested or applying.
YS: Yeah, because the thing is, if you have something that’s so long winded and extensive, not only will potential applicants get bored very quickly just reading through it, but if there’s very specific things that aren’t necessarily relevant to the role or aren’t absolutely necessary to include, then that could turn a potential amazing candidate off and you might end up losing some really important talent or somebody that could bring significant value to your team.
BB: Yeah, that’s exactly right. I mean, from again, from this recent research report, when we look at the parts of the job description that are most important, as we look at heat maps of what candidates for jobs are looking at, compensation comes up to the top of the list, which I think is a bit controversial. Sometimes people have said, “you know, compensation shouldn’t be part of a job posting,” but we see that’s something that, you know, when companies share – not necessarily the specific compensation, but the ranges, at least, and get into the perks and the different things that come along with that – it’s what candidates are looking for, really, it’s one of the most important things. And then getting into qualifications and the job details and the performance goals really stacks high in terms of what our members tell us is important to them.
YS: It’s very true, you know, you see that quite often where a lot of companies are hesitant to share those details, the compensation and benefits. Why do you think that is?
BB: I think we’re entering an era, broadly, within talent, but really worldwide, of just more transparency. Historically, I think organizations, in many ways, had the upper hand with candidates or potential employees, of having all the information. Or, I’ll say there was an information asymmetry. Candidates and people looking for jobs had a certain set of information and companies had another set of information. And I think, you know, for a long time the standard was, well, everyone holds that information close to the chest and doesn’t necessarily share it. What we’re seeing more and more is that transparency is increasing. So, individual candidates can go in and evaluate different companies. They can get to know companies before they work there, from different review sites, getting to know the company brand, etcetera. And part of that is then having that transparency in salary. So, we see a lot of the organizations we work with starting to share a lot more of that detail in terms of salary and perks and company culture, and those elements that really differentiate company-to-company. Because I think just today the reality is there is a lot more information available and companies that try to obfuscate or not share that are operating in a disadvantage in many ways.
YS: Absolutely. Especially in this day and age where social media plays a big part in all the information that’s literally at our fingertips, as this generation now, we just want to know as much as we can.
BB: And I think, in our view at LinkedIn and what we hear from our customers, is the end result ends up being much better, right? I often equate talent conversations and talent people decisions around hiring – it’s often like dating or getting into a relationship. There’s the right person for everyone, but you know, no two people are going to necessarily be attracted to the same exact elements, right? So, you know, we often hear the question, “what’s the perfect company profile?” or “what’s the perfect way to stand out or establish yourself?” and there’s obviously some, you know, general recommendations of things, patterns that we see, but in so many ways, each company and, really, each team within a company ends up being very unique. And I think the more, especially today, that you can share that and help people understand what it is that makes your team special or your company special, it’s going to create a better match then and, ultimately, hopefully people that can contribute more to your organization deliver more value for your company and ideally stay with your company for a longer tenure because it’s a great fit for them.
YS: Definitely. I love that analogy, comparing it to dating, because it is similar in so many ways. I’ve read quite a bit about that, too, it’s very interesting. What information, then, do you suggest is critical to collect at the very early stages?
BB: I think this is really dependent company-to-company, and we see a lot of different things and different patterns, from companies we work with, as well as our own practices here at LinkedIn, when I’m hiring for my team or we’re hiring broadly at LinkedIn. I think the really important thing with this is making sure that the candidate has a great experience. Again, today in the world of social media, in the world of transparency, you know, everyone is an influencer. Everyone has that voice. In terms of the information you are collecting from a candidate, make sure that it’s information that is relevant. Make sure it’s information that’s needed, that’s going to help advance the decision, and not just, you know, “fill out these 400 forms fields to give us every piece of information that you have,” because that’s probably not going to create a good experience for that candidate. And if he or she then talks about that with their peers or with other people, it obviously doesn’t help your company. So, I think just really being tactical in terms of what’s needed and what’s going to help make that informed decision about the candidate – again, it’s dependent company-to-company – but, I would definitely encourage people to think about that.
Now, there’s definitely some countries that we operate in and some specific fields where there are just some requirements, right? If you say, you know, you need security clearance for this role, or you need a certain visa status for this role – those types of things, I think, it’s helpful to get out of the way as soon as possible, just so that you don’t end up with a pool of candidates that are going to be disqualified as some point in the process because they don’t have those basic mandatory requirements. So, I think those types of things, you know, we always encourage, even at the level of job posting. And with LinkedIn, when you post jobs, you can add some of those required fields that people, as they are applying, they basically have to indicate do they have whatever that eligible criteria is, and that just helps them, you know, reduce the pool of candidates that you’re going have to turn down at some point, unfortunately.
YS: So now, what’s your take on prospecting candidates for a job? Do you have any best practices that you could suggest for that?
BB: Absolutely, yeah. Another area again we spend a lot of time on, in terms of researching what works. The fascinating thing about this is that the majority of people are actually open to new opportunities. So, historically we have talked about this as kind of the idea of active and passive candidates. Active candidates are people that are actively seeking out a job. So, they’re going to a job listing site, a job board, they’re going through the application process. Whereas passive candidates are people that are in a role, they are not on job boards, not actively looking for new opportunities, but what we see is those people, overwhelmingly, for the right opportunity, are open to those conversations. So, you know, this is something that obviously LinkedIn pioneered and it really, I think in many ways, changed the industry on in terms of being able to connect with people, professionals, as they are going about with their career. Not just when they’re researching the company or when they are applying for a job, but as they just continue their professional development in terms of learning, in terms of engaging with content, in terms of connecting with other peers within their network, and then be able to find those people in a very targeted way. So, being able to understand the skills that you are looking for, the exact professional qualifications that you are looking for, and then to be able to reach out.
And the biggest thing that we see here, right, in terms of effectiveness with prospecting, and, again, the analogy is very similar to marketing, is really make it personalized. Organizations that use email or phone or InMail, or different outreach mechanisms, and they just send a bulk email to a thousand people, like, “hi, I want talk to you about my company” – the response rates, as you would imagine, are incredibly, incredibly low. So, as we talk to recruiters and talk to sources and hear what’s working and, as well as encourage them based on the best practices that we see, we always say, get as personalized as possible. Make it an authentic connection where there’s something that stood out about that great woman or man that you’re reaching out to that you want to engage on. Try and get to know the person through their profile, through the information you have available to them, and then try and make that connection because, if it is more personalized, the chances of people responding are significantly better than, again, if you are just doing kind of a bulk outreach to thousands of people at a single time.
YS: It’s interesting because it really goes back to the whole marketing thing. Even with marketing, when you feel like you’re being reached on a personal level and you’re being approached in a genuine way, it makes all the difference.
YS: Rather than feeling, like, “oh, I’m just a number” or “I’m just one in a million, they don’t really care what I think,” when it feels like somebody is actually making an effort to care and to connect with you, you know then that makes, you know, me want to care and connect with that person.
BB: Absolutely, and I think it’s a great point that you touched on and something else that we talk with people about often is, you know, ideally your first touch point with the potential candidate is not an InMail to them or phone call or an email reach out. Ideally, they are already aware of your company. Ideally, they are already aware of the types of roles you hire for. So, if you’ve really been doing that brand building over time with your target candidate pools, then the response rates go up astronomically. We see massive increases in terms of response rates, well, for what we refer to as, “warm candidates” versus “cold candidates.” Which, again, is very obvious to any marketers listening to this, which makes a ton of rational sense and sounds kind of obvious as I say it, but I think, too often in the recruiting industry, unfortunately, it was kind of the “spray and pray”-type model where, you know, people would just reach out in bulk to candidates and not really have that detailed information to make it personalized. And oftentimes this is the first time that a passive candidate has heard about a company, so, as you can imagine, response rates to those types that have outreach end up being incredibly low. And, for recruiters, that just leads to a lot of inefficiency.
Within the recruiting world, it’s about people, first and foremost. But, you know, something we talk about all the time and hear from our best customers is “you want to be able to be as efficient as possible,” and I think efficiency sometimes translates into, “oh, is that cold and machine-like?” and the answer is no. It just means that you’re then able to focus more on the people part of the conversation. You’re not spending all day just sending out bulk emails, you’re sending out those few targeted outreaches. So, you can then make those personal connections and really get to know the person, to understand if they’d be a great culture add for your organization or be able to help your organization achieve the results that you are looking for.
YS: And that’s sort of going about it in a more respectful way, as well.
YS: So, we’ve got a compelling job post, we have a ton of applicants, and we’ve prospected some really good ones. Now we have a big stack of job applications. Can you share some techniques for effectively weeding out the bad applicants and finding the right candidates to move through to the next phase?
BB: I’d say it’s a good problem to have, obviously. You want to see that pipeline of candidates coming in, but it’s also a major challenge, right? And especially for organizations that have very popular brands or very hot jobs that are being sought after. You want to make sure you can, again, quickly weed through those, quickly get to the candidates that are most likely to respond. And I think a lot of that, again, a lot of it starts from before you even get that application. Making sure that the people that are applying, they know about your company and they understand who you are as a company, they understand what you stand for, they understand your values. That helps a ton, just in terms of acting as a pre-screen for candidates. Ideally, in an organization, you want quality over quantity. You want people that know your organization, that are likely to respond, or likely to be a great value add for your organization, versus just a pile of resumes or just that collection of noise.
Once you have those resumes, then there’s a lot of different services and techniques to be able to go through and call those down. But one of the biggest things to be said is get the whole team involved. It’s something that I do when I’m hiring here at LinkedIn. I want to make sure that the cross functional partners that the team is working with are also involved in the process. And that could be even at the early stages of screening, because while we work with an amazing recruiting team here at LinkedIn who does a lot of pre-screening and a lot of validation, it’s super helpful just to partner with them closely and help to go through those great applications, because you also sometimes spot things that, you know – we’re all human, right? Different people may spot things that stand out, so I’d say make it a team sport. That helps as well.
YS: Absolutely. There’s so much value in asking for your coworkers’ opinions, for outside opinions. Having a second set of eyes or a third set of eyes or a fourth set of eyes, you know, people see different things and people may pick up on different things.
BB: Exactly. Exactly.
YS: So, one of the things that I was really looking forward to asking you about – it’s a loaded question, of course – is just the whole question of social media and how it’s changed the recruitment process. Can you speak a little bit to how social media has shifted and changed that whole recruitment landscape?
BB: Yeah, for sure. I think we touched on a little bit earlier, right? I think the major patterns that we’re seeing is there’s an increased level of transparency. So, people know more about each other, people know more about the companies that they are looking at. I think in many ways, social media has just helped it amplify some of that, in terms of the transparency, as well as really thinking about it from the candidate’s perspective. As a candidate, where if we go back 50 years, you may talk to a recruiter, you may look at a classified ad, see a job post. There are different ways, obviously, that people found jobs. Whereas today, people are empowered to get to know potential coworkers, and to look them up, and see who they’d be working with. They can see the company in action, through what that company shares through the different social media networks.
As a company hiring people, you know, I’d say obviously one of the unique elements that LinkedIn brings into the equation and helps organization, helps companies that use our services with, is the unique insights that we get from people in terms of, as they engage in the platform, as they like a piece of content, or join a certain group. We always say, we can know a lot more about the person behind the profile. So, when you think about the basic resume where you have job information and you have, you know, where you went to school, those are important signals, but, in many ways they’re often stale and kind of one dimensional. Whereas, if you look at a person throughout their entire career journey, you looked at the interests they have, and you look at the behaviors that they engage in, you can then understand a lot more about intent and understand if somebody has aspirations for leadership or somebody’s working in one field but really could be passionate about another field. Those types of signals help our customers feel then get matched with candidates that they may not otherwise discover, and also helps candidates match with organizations that they may not otherwise be aware of. Because we’re doing the same thing to help people understand organizations better, so it’s, again, trying to essentially create this ideal market place between job seekers and job providers that’s super-efficient. And the people can really get matched – and going back to the dating way – to the perfect match, where they really can connect with that opportunity and, you know, everyone wins in that situation.
YS: Would you ever look at other social media platforms, such as Instagram or Facebook or Twitter, to sort of gauge a potential candidate? Or would you suggest staying away from those other platforms because they’re not technically “professional”?
BB: You know, I think it’s really company-to-company, in terms of what policies are, what makes sense for that organization. I think that, something we talk about here at LinkedIn, is the idea of bringing your whole self to work and, you know, ideally sharing all those different aspects. But, at the same time, there’s obviously different regulations in place, there’s different things for specific company-to-company or industry-to-industry in terms of what information is being used.
YS: So now, you were saying in the beginning of our chat here that you often get the question of, “is there a perfect resume or profile,” and, of course, it varies from company-to-company depending on the right fit for candidate and company. And certainly, there are definitely a lot of people who take some creative liberties with their resumes, or even flat out lie about their experiences. Do you have any strategies to spot these kinds of embellishments early on before wasting your time going through the whole process?
BB: Yeah, for sure. I think that, I would say that there’s probably two angles to this.
I think one is how as an individual do you represent yourself the best? And that could be if you are looking for a job, it could also be if you are a hiring manager or just a person at a company, if you’re a great sales person. Today, people are often going to look you up and just get to know you via LinkedIn or other means.
I always say having that really professional personal brand established it is critical. Things that we often run at events and conferences, something we call Rock Your Profile. We have photo booths setup, and consultants that could help people establish their profile. If you just do a search for “Rock Your Profile LinkedIn,” you’ll also find a lot of the tips and recommendations there. But some of the things that, again, probably sound very obvious, but: make sure you have a professional photo. It’s the first thing that people see when they look into your profile and we know that just from the data that we have that you’re 14 times more likely to be viewed if you have a professional photo, versus no photo or something else.
The other thing is really making sure that your profile is as complete as possible. So, detail your past work experience, add a summary, and think about it in a way that a recruiter would find you. So, often I have this conversation with people, and I say, it’s not designed to be, you know, you’re not doing an SEO or search engine optimization exercise here. But in some ways, you have to think about that, right? You have to think about, while you may have a fanciful, fun title of “Chief Ninja” at the company, it’s going to be tough for a recruiter probably to find you if you’re actually just a great salesperson. So, think about those keywords, in terms of what people would actually search for if they were looking for you, if you want to be found in that way. It’s super helpful.
Now, to the other side of your question in terms of people that embellish their resume or flat out lie on their resume or profile. You know, those things always are going to happen. We do a lot of work behind the scenes on the LinkedIn platform to really triangulate around different signals as we make recommendations – we take skills, as an example. There are obviously the skills that you tell us, directly and explicitly, but then we also look at a lot of, you know, behaviors in terms of the skills that are relevant at your organization, the skills that are within peer groups. So, we try and always triangulate beyond just what a member puts on their profile and says directly to help look at, again, those intent and the broader signals.
And I think, more and more, we’re seeing – in the industry both services that LinkedIn is providing, as well as a lot of great other companies in the industry – are starting to think about assessments more and ways to really validate skill sets. Be that technical skills, be that behavioral elements; I think we’re seeing a great boom in terms of the assessment industry right now, and you know, I think it’s going to be fantastic for both companies, as well as candidates.
YS: Yeah, and you know, again, it sort of goes back to the whole transparency thing, too. I would imagine that, especially in today’s day and age with social media, if there is a skill that you’re questioning for a specific candidate, I would imagine it would be much easier in today’s day and age to just, you know, try to do a little background work to see if that’s the real deal or not.
BB: For sure. I mean, everything from looking at referrals or what other people say, to direct assessments – there are many ways to suss that out. And, of course it’s in the candidate’s best interest to be as authentic in the process, as well. Unfortunately, if people don’t represent themselves right, it usually ends up not working out in the end well for them, so, we obviously would encourage people to represent themselves right. But I think it’s on the company as well to make sure that they are validating and looking for those inconsistencies.
YS: For sure. So now, are there any big trends that you anticipate for 2019 in recruitment?
BB: Yasmine, there’s always so many trends. It’s tough to keep up with all the trends!
I think that the big trends, the big patterns that we’re seeing probably won’t come as a surprise to people here. The use of data and insights is becoming more and more prevalent and is really empowering organizations to make much more informed decisions. Everything from the strategy to their final decision makings. I think that’s a trend I’m super excited about and I think we’re going to see continuing to advance.
We talked about earlier this idea of building employer brand and building better candidate engagement. I think that’s a trend that we’ve seen develop over the past couple of years, and I think is only going to continue to accelerate as people are looking for more authenticity, more about great candidate experience. These are all really positive trends that we’re seeing.
And then, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about artificial intelligence and machine learning. I think everyone is talking about it these days. I think there is a lot of noise in the industry right now in terms of everyone is latching on to these terms as the “hot new terms,” but ultimately for companies that have great data to work with and can apply the right machine learning and the right artificial intelligence to that, what it’s going to ultimately do is help, you know, remove a lot of the mundane work. So, you know, basic scheduling tasks, basic filtering tasks. Things that, quite frankly, machines are designed to do, and computers are designed to do, probably much better than people are. I think it’s going to be a huge relief in many ways, where we can take some of that burden of those mundane tasks off the plates of, be it recruiters, be it learning development professionals, be it, really, anyone within the organization so you can spend more time on the human elements, right, and on the pieces of the pie that are differentiated. So, I continue to be excited to see that advance and continue to be a trend within the talent space.
YS: And the thing is, with technology advancing in such a way, especially with something like artificial intelligence, it’s sort of amazing to see how companies do have to adapt to work with a new generation and the growing audience.
BB: Totally. I think the first time we’re seeing a true multi-generational workforce. I think there’s often the conversation about millennials, or Gen-Z, but I think the piece that often gets left out of that equation is, you know, people are also living much longer, right? We’re seeing older generations still in the work force or re-entering the work force. It’s really, I think, in many ways an incredible opportunity for companies where they can really have so many generations working closely together. It’s also a big challenge, quite frankly, because the needs of somebody that’s late stage in their career or maybe re-entering the work force versus somebody that’s just exiting high-school or just exiting university, tend to be different, right? And I think that’s, again where, you know, we really encourage companies to think about that and not have a one-size-fits-all approach, because, truly, it can’t work. A one-size-fits-all approach does not work for all different audiences that have very different needs. It depends on – obviously, company size and what you’re doing – but, especially for larger organizations, being able to have a multi-segmented or multi-faceted approach can work out very well, as they think across those different dimensions.
YS: Absolutely. With every generation, technology changes. As our world grows, so must we.
BB: Not only, obviously, the different priorities for different people within different generations, and, of course, there’s wide bands of different preferences as well – but really thinking about the different aspects of what’s going to drive a company and what’s going to drive success. And I always say, with best practices – there’s a lot of best practice guides out there – but you know, the reality is, best practices are usually best for the situation that they were tailored for. So, I always encourage companies and it’s always important to understand what’s the context. What works for a Google or a LinkedIn may not work for a small mom and pop ice cream shop. And vice versa, right? There’s very, very different needs. So, I think, always look at the patterns, look at the context of why decisions were made or why they intend to become best practices, and then make it your own. And I think that’s super exciting, as we see talent professionals and talent organizations develop within companies and continue to build those winning teams.
YS: For our last question, I wanted to end on a bit of a light note. What was the worst interview you’ve ever conducted?
BB: Oh, wow! That’s a good one. As I mentor people and talk to people about interviewing and different roles, be that in LinkedIn or other organizations, I always say, “do your homework first.” I’d say, by far, the worst recent interviews I’ve ever conducted was where people come in and they don’t really know, they don’t know anything about the organization, they don’t know about the role. And that always shocks me, because they’ve taken time out of their day, they’re taking the time out of the people that they were interviewing with’s day, and if they haven’t done their background homework, it just, you know, it unfortunately seems like a waste, both for them as well the company that’s interviewing them. So, I’ve unfortunately had a couple of those in my career in terms of people coming in very, very, woefully unprepared. So, I would just say, if you’re interviewing, do your homework, get to know the company, get to know the people your interviewing with, get to know the role, and be able to have a conversation with that as informed as possible.
YS: Absolutely! You always gotta prepare. It’s an important first step, for sure. Well, this was great Bobby. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me and for sharing your amazing insight. We really appreciate it.
BB: Yeah, I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation. Looking forward to chatting more in the future.
YS: That’s it for this episode of Outback Talks. Thank you so much again to Bobby for taking the time to be on our show today and thank you for listening.
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