Online searches miss ‘invisible’ candidates

Bobbi Ryan

Businesses that rely solely on online recruitment could be significantly shrinking their candidate pool.

The growing use of job websites such as Seek and Trade Me Jobs, and social media such as LinkedIn is putting pressure on mainstream recruiters, with many companies using these tools to do their own candidate searches.

But there are a large number of “invisible candidates” who are not picked up by online-only searches.

Online job boards can work quite well for some positions, but the problem is the best candidates are most likely to be those who are not actively looking for new jobs. Businesses recognise the need to keep their top talent happy. To get around this problem, businesses are using social media such as LinkedIn to find potential candidates and contact them directly. But this approach also has its pitfalls.

Up to 90% of workers in areas like sales and marketing are on LinkedIn, but this number drops considerably for some other function. In fields such as accounting and finance and supply chain and operations, when we complete full research methods, we generally find that 30-35% of the names we uncover are not on LinkedIn.

By in-house recruitment teams and recruiters relying on sites like LinkedIn, they are missing as much as a third of the market.

A significant percentage of LinkedIn profiles are incomplete and don’t show up in searches, adding to the number of “invisible” candidates.

Approaching candidates via social media sites like LinkedIn may not always get the desired response. When employers and recruiters rely on LinkedIn, the pool of people can be approached multiple times and can become disinterested and indifferent, making them less responsive.

Another issue for businesses to be wary of is recruitment firms who claim to do candidate searches but actually just look at LinkedIn. A genuine candidate search is much more extensive and requires a broader range of methods to unearth a wide pool of quality candidates.

Any employer can look at LinkedIn, so it is questionable what value these firms add for the fees they charge. Employers need to make sure the search process is transparent and well-documented so they know exactly what they are paying for.


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