A recent RBC article shined a light on the concern many recruiters have about connecting with other recruiters on LinkedIn. I was perplexed as I’ve always considered public profiles (on LinkedIn or elsewhere) to be, well, public and therefore easy to find. The article said “I consider the people who I recruit via LinkedIn to be my candidates” and expressed concern about other recruiters finding these stellar prospects. What if another recruiter “invites that person to connect with them" and consequently claims the candidate as their own?

So what if they do?

No seriously, so what? Am I missing something here? If I’m up against other recruiters searching for Data Scientists (and I am… Oh God help me I am) odds are these other recruiters are going to find the same LinkedIn profiles… no matter how I feel about it. They certainly aren’t relying on me and my connections to find these people. In fact, I can’t remember the last hire I made who didn’t have other recruiters calling them or other opportunities on the table. Even the most “passive” (vomit worthy adjective right there) candidate is usually getting hit on by my industry brethren on the regular.

I can get behind tagging and sharing rules within a corporation. I work for a really big company with a lot of recruiters. We run into each other all the time in scoping out talent and have some guidelines on how to play nice. I’ve shared many a candidate, lost some and won some but the focus is on winning the talent for the company. There’s none of this “my” candidate stuff, at least in terms of limiting opportunities for the potential employee. I’ve never won a deal based on some perceived ownership. Last I knew people still had free will and could think for themselves. I’m willing to bet if they thought accepting my connection request meant they were MY candidate, many would think twice. Aren’t we really doing candidates a disservice with this mindset? It’s not just about LinkedIn the “connect or don’t connect” conundrum. A recent question posed to a recruiter group on Facebook suggested shopping candidates around to the highest bidder if a client wanted to haggle fees! That right there is the bigger issue – we’re treating people like commodities. You’re MY LinkedIn connection, MY candidate, and I can’t put myself in a position to inadvertently let my competition get their eyes on you. I’ve been a candidate before, I’ll likely be one again before I retire and I’d be pissed if I was talked about in such a cavalier fashion.

Maybe I’m just not “niche-y” enough. I may see things differently if I was working with a very specialized skill set that… oh wait never mind. I DO. How about we win by wooing? By understanding what makes a prospect tick, and delivering on that? If you're the recruiter with the opportunity that can make shit happen, they're going to want to work with you regardless of who else they're connected to. My final thought on the subject – if recruiting is running a marathon, connecting with a prospect on LinkedIn is tying your shoes. Anyone over the age of 6 can do that - you have to actually slog through those 26.2 miles before you get the medal.

Views: 725

Comment by Linda Ferrante on May 24, 2014 at 10:29am

Great post, Amy.  I have an issue with recruiters saying, 'MY' as well.  I will put out there that a great recruiter will recognize that finding the right fit for the client is the number one priority.  If you are calling dibs on candidates, you aren't putting your client first.  If you have communicated effectively (dare I say, 'sold'?) your candidate on your position and they pass to take an offer elsewhere, then it's OK.  It's completely OK.  A great recruiter will recognize that.

Comment by Derdiver on May 25, 2014 at 7:32pm
Nice. You want to reach out to my connections? Go for it. The people I know will ask about you. Not the "I thought it would be cool to connect" people that's sought me out but the ones I may want to work with. I am fully secure in my ability to close the right person when needed. You will not win. I am not arrogant. Just confidant in what I do. Now getting a date well, totally different story...
Comment by Amy Ala Miller on May 27, 2014 at 12:36pm

thanks both of you :) I worry that some of us, in our desire to "win" forget that we are dealing with REAL PEOPLE... no matter how difficult a candidate can get (especially those in demand ones!) they still have a say, ya know?

Comment by Adam Krueger on May 28, 2014 at 10:05am

You're referring to my post and admittedly, I was unclear what meant by "my candidates", but hey, you were able to turn it into another blogpost so I'm happy about that. I should have put a little more time into crafting my words. Obviously LinkedIn people are there for the public to see - my point was more that I don't want to be the one that connects with a potential candidate and then that action tips off a competing recruiter to the fact that this candidate is looking. Does that make sense? It's hard to explain, I'm trying to be as clear as I can, but that is my concern.

Comment by Adam Krueger on May 28, 2014 at 10:07am

Oh, I should probably mention too that over half of my business is split business with other recruiters. So sharing is not the issue, I'm more than happy to share the candidates I generate with other recruiters and try to get that candidate as many options as possible...but the bottom-line is that this is a business and the more activity that I'm a part of with a given candidate, the better my chances are of making money.

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on May 28, 2014 at 12:24pm

thanks for weighing in Adam - it's true I was at first inspired by your post. Let me also add that I thought your post was well written and thoughtful - even though we see the situation differently :)

There is though, aside from linkedin connections, this unfortunate mentality among many recruiters that we "own" a candidate and can go off and sell to the highest bidder or something. Candidates can (and should) decide who they want to work with. Recruiters who can actually deliver opportunities and treat candidates with respect will be the winners.

Comment by Ashley Zito Rowe on May 29, 2014 at 10:09am

Amy, I like how you bring it back to the candidate. Many articles in the recruiting universe discuss the candidate experience. When people talk about "MY" candidate, they're forgetting about creating a positive candidate experience. I once worked in a sales environment where we emphasized focusing on the clients needs to close sales. Similarly, and like you point out, Recruiters can "win" by focusing on the candidates' needs. Thanks for an interesting discussion.

Comment by Dave Nerz on May 29, 2014 at 12:16pm

Whatever happened to candidate relationships.  I mean a real relationship...maybe I'm out of the Ozzie and Harriett generation and not progressive enough to be commenting on this? 

Just because I have a LinkedIn connection does not auto translate to relationship and ownership. Glad to see some folks talking and thinking in real terms about how a recruiter might get to the position of have a candidate relationship.  Add value, understand, gain agreement, have a win-win mindset, etc.  Unless the candidate says I am working with _________(your name) when you are not around, I would say it is not YOUR candidate.

My guess is that about 5% of all those candidates out there could ever allow themselves to get to that spot.  Maybe you have been a candidate yourself at some point.  I would need lots of attention to say I am exclusive with one recruiter.  What about you?  That recruiter would have to demonstrate that they were delivering results for me and be doing so with consistency.  It seems that a relationship like that is rare stuff.  The purple unicorn squirrel is not often sighted?


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