LinkedIn as a Candidate Search Tool and Relationship Builder
I had the opportunity to chat recently with a senior marketing colleague who completed a highly successful job search, resulting in two attractive senior marketing offers. What stood out from our conversation was the importance of LinkedIn. According to the Pew Research Center, 20% of online U.S. adults used LinkedIn. And my friend made a startling claim:
“One thing that really surprised me from this search is that LinkedIn is the primary place where senior level jobs are posted, and it’s the best reverse networking device. I never would have known this before—the last time I looked was six years ago.”
He went on to comment that of the three key strategies that he used in his search, LinkedIn was valuable for all three search strategies, as shown in the table below:
|Candidate Search Strategy||Judged LinkedIn Value for this Strategy|
|Strategy #1: Reverse Networking
Contact people at target organizations for research and intelligence on openings. Ideally, start with people you know personally, then reverse network to reach others who can provide valuable insights into the organization.
76% of LinkedIn users use it to “research people and companies,” 71% use it to “reconnect with past business associates and colleagues” and 36% use it to “uncover potential job opportunities”
|Strategy #2: In Person Meetings
Meet with retained recruiters in person to create top-of-mind impression.
While it is always important to meet in person, LinkedIn’s role in this method is modest.
|Strategy #3: Direct Outreach
“Lob One in There” by directly contacting hiring executives at target organizations where your experience is relevant and suggesting a meeting around issues that you know through research.
LinkedIn is very helpful in identifying the hiring executives and understanding their backgrounds, along with identifying others in the organization who may help with informational interviews
LinkedIn’s Gender Gap
With this kind of impact, working women who don’t use LinkedIn might be missing out. Several studies report that men outnumber women on LinkedIn, by some estimates at a 65% male to 35% female ratio. This LinkedIn gender gap is concerning, given the importance of the site for job search. The lack of female participation is in stark contrast to the many other social networks that women are highly active in.
Working moms appear even less likely to recognize the value of LinkedIn. A recent study by the Marketing to Moms Coalition found working dads in the U.S. significantly outnumbered working moms as regular LinkedIn users. Notably, 21% of primary-earner dads are regularly on LinkedIn, as compared with just 13% of primary-earner moms. (For purposes of this study, primary earners were defined as those who made the greatest contribution to the household income in two-parent households.)
These statistics make me wonder if women, especially working moms, are short-changing their career potential by not investing in building relationships with work colleagues outside of the work setting, and building relationships with others in their industry. Beyond LinkedIn participation, other relationship-building activities like spending time at industry conferences and socializing with colleagues might be de-emphasized by these busy women who do not perceive them as critical in the short term.
On a smaller scale, in a senior women’s not-for-profit group that I am familiar with, only 10-20% of the women regularly use LinkedIn. After concerted outreach, we were able to boost enrollment to approximately 50% of the group, but most remain unengaged. Many of these women do not see LinkedIn as a valuable tool for their careers or relationship building.
Tierney Remick, Global Managing Director at Korn Ferry International, gives advice on the importance of building the right connections:
“Working professionals need to view their career as a long-run investment. Spending time developing business relationships at work and outside of work is important. The most valuable process is the in-person meeting. LinkedIn is a tool that can help people to connect and reconnect. Since a career is a marathon, not a sprint, women need to be present and build connections. While the right focus will vary for each person, it’s just good business to be present. The Network of Executive Women is an example of an organization that can be helpful for professional women.”
LinkedIn plays a role for executive recruiters, albeit a secondary one. If women are not present on the network, they can’t build the connections that would grow their careers. This can be compared to one of the points Sheryl Sandberg made in Lean In: men are much more likely to ask for promotion than women. Women may strive to master 100% of a position before moving on, while men will seek to move on much earlier. Men might “lob one in there,” while women hang back.
In January 2014, as many working professionals take the time to update their LinkedIn profile, my hope is that more working women and working moms will use LinkedIn, along with industry conferences, and other approaches to be present and build valuable relationships. Don’t miss out!