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Alternative LinkedIn Recruiter tool boosts response rates

The LinkedIn Recruiter tool improvements to matching engines and InMail have improved response rates, but some HR managers say recruiting challenges require more tools.

Matthew Liptak, head of Global Talent Acquisition at NetBrain Technologies Inc., hires niche technology positions in high demand. He has relied on LinkedIn Recruiter to find potential employees for the networking automation software company, but said recruiting through that tool alone is increasingly difficult.

Too many recruiters are going after the same candidates, and many LinkedIn InMail messages are now ignored, Liptak said.

"A lot of technology professionals were not paying attention to responses on LinkedIn," Liptak said. He claims the response rates from LinkedIn users have been declining.

LinkedIn said that's not the case and that the platform is more effective today than in the past -- despite the hiring demands caused by low unemployment. Moreover, LinkedIn said response rates to InMail messages are rising, thanks to some technology changes it has made.

Jared Goralnick, the product lead for LinkedIn Recruiter, said improvements in its matching and recommendation engines has made the platform more effective. This includes making InMail easier to use, he said.

 Goralnick explained that LinkedIn Recruiter used to focus on matching search results to people in the database. It now makes it more of a mutual match -- not just who is qualified, but who is interested, he said.

LinkedIn's tech tries to understand its users, such as what communities they are involved in, and what they read. Improvements to InMail were designed to make it easier for people to sort through and respond to messages, Goralnick said.

LinkedIn also identifies people who may have specific skills that might not be stated on their profiles but can be inferred from their experience. This type of information helps to shape the order in which candidates are returned to recruiters.

LinkedIn won't release specific information about response rates, but Goralnick said people are more likely to get a response using InMail than email. A response can be a follow up or a "not interested" message. "The response rates have more than doubled" over a two-year period, he said.

Recruiting challenges prompt alternative

But LinkedIn Recruiter tool improvements did not work for Liptak.

Earlier this year, Liptak started looking at recruiting tools that could help find candidates. They weren't planning to replace LinkedIn, which he says remains critical to their recruiting efforts. But he wanted to improve their odds of filling tech roles, he said.

After investigating five recruiting platforms, Liptak picked Engage Talent in March. One of the things the Talent market intelligence platform does is identify changes at firms that employ people with the skills NetBrain wants. Firms undergoing acquisitions, layoffs or financial difficulties can prompt employees to seek new opportunities, he said. It also helps identify other ways, outside of LinkedIn's InMail, to contact candidates.

Some of the Engage data is scraped from the internet and wasn't always clean data, but it offers more than what is available from LinkedIn alone, Liptak said.

"It showed not only the LinkedIn profiles of that candidate, but other social media portals that that candidate was a part of," he said.

"We had various means of getting a hold of that candidate at our disposal, and that's one thing that was attractive to us," Liptak said.

The Engage tool is helping with hiring. Of the 134 hires NetBrain made this year, Liptak said they would not have known about 30% of those candidates if not for the platform.

Recruiters face considerable recruiting challenges today. Unemployment remains low and employee retention may be a struggle. The U.S. Dept. of Labor said the number of people who quit their jobs in May was at 3.4 million, the highest rate in more than 15 years.

Tight labor market is the core problem

The overarching problem, said Trevor White, an analyst at Nucleus Research, is a tight labor market.

You're competing for people who are just getting spammed at this point because there aren't enough workers to fill jobs that need to be filled.
Trevor WhiteAnalyst, Nucleus Research

"You're competing for people who are just getting spammed at this point because there aren't enough workers to fill jobs that need to be filled," White said.

Linda Brenner, the managing director and founder of Talent Growth Advisors, an Atlanta-based consultancy, offered a different view of how to succeed in recruiting.

In this labor market, Brenner said the solution isn't email vs. InMail or other tech-driven automated talent identification tool. People with scarce skills have many options, she said.

Brenner advises building a "bona fide relationship with prospects with information and tactics that are of interest to and compelling to them." This takes an investment of time.

She recommends researching who potential employees are, whether critical care nurses or developers, and creating a nine- to 12-month plan to reach out them.

"Perhaps it's first an invite to a lunch lecture or a cocktail hour or a continuing ed program -- nothing about an open job -- all about building a relationship," she said.

The goal isn't to make a hard sell, said Brenner. Tracking a person's motivations and interest, as well as staying in touch, can be done through a CRM platform, she said.

This "can be done for only the most critical roles -- and those with the scarcest talent available -- because it requires so much investment," Brenner said.

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