LinkedIn Owns the Market on Jobs. Are Recruiters Still Needed?

Increasingly, people searching for jobs go to the social media site LinkedIn. As a site to post job qualifications, search for openings and network, it’s replaced older channels. It’s also provided opportunities for job seekers to connect with specific potential hiring managers in an unprecedented way.

But has LinkedIn replaced recruiters? An estimated 94% of all recruiters use LinkedIn to find people for open jobs, but has a digital platform made them anachronistic middlemen?

A recent Harvard Business Review article argues that LinkedIn and similar technology news provide opportunities for recruiters to offer more value-added services. It outlines five potential areas in which recruiters can help companies both with business strategy and results.

One. Help hiring managers pinpoint what they want

As the HBR points out, the historical relationship between hiring managers and recruiters was transactional. Hiring managers placed an order, in a sense, and recruiters filled it, both functions that may be outmoded in a digital platform world.

But hiring managers can certainly be helped by proactive strategies that pinpoint what they want. Recruiters can help coach and guide hiring managers to ask the truly significant questions that will help them develop a profile of what they want in new members of the team.

Case in point? One recruiter was asked to find a vice president to head a large number of new stores planned. The hiring manager identified Starbucks as a potential recruitment ground for what he had in mind, because Starbucks had the kind of foot traffic and reach he hoped to build. But after a series of questions from the recruitment firm, the manager realized that his company’s brand was little-known. Foot traffic was likely to be weak until the brand was more widely disseminated. Because Starbucks already has strong brand recognition, its upper management may be unlikely to have taken on roles that involved building it. Starbucks management was therefore unlikely to give the hiring manager what he was looking for.

Two. Cultivate the best applicants

Top performers need to be cultivated to apply for jobs, as they tend to be happy – and appreciated – where they are. Yet few companies have a cultivation method in place. Roughly 42% of new hires come from job postings on company websites and job boards, a method the HBR calls “post and pray.”

Recruiters, on the other hand, are only responsible for 10% of new hires. But they are ideally positioned to cultivate employees, particularly in a given industry and sector. They can stay in touch on a steady basis with both active and passive potential applicants.

Ongoing cultivation methods can be particularly important in times when the employment rate is particularly robust and the applicant pool dwindles accordingly.

Three. Strategize which methods forecast job performance

Recruiters can also play a significant role in helping managers better understand which methods can forecast a hire’s actual job performance. Google provides the best example of this, as its former head of People Operations has written a book on how the department helped Google’s management team hire people. The department provides structured interview questions and tests on job knowledge, among other criteria.

Four. Organize and manage the recruitment process

Recruiters can help hiring companies by organizing and managing the recruitment process. Hiring managers often find the hiring process a drain on productive time, and the process can be particularly protracted if committees are involved in interviewing and vetting candidates. Recruiters can take a considerable time and management burden off in-house managers.

Five. Evaluate their own methods

Because recruiters specialize in hiring, they can take the time to evaluate their own methods periodically – which is a luxury hiring managers may not have. Case in point: the HBR notes that utilizing first names in e-mails, an often-used method of staying in touch with top performances, achieved a much higher engagement rate two years ago. Now, the same method doesn’t enhance engagement.

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