A decade ago, many recruiters were in two minds about the introduction of the job board. Whilst excited by the benefits that this tool would bring, there was a sense of fear that the new technology would cut demand for real life recruitment services. Experience has taught us that there was no need for concern as the job board simply represented the next development in an evolving industry. Recruiters eventually welcomed this change and put the new tool to good use.
The same thing is now happening in the case of LinkedIn which, for better or worse, has been changing the industry since its introduction in 2003 – and the speed of change has increased in the last two years. As of yet the industry has experienced little negative effect, but its existence does pose a number of questions, such as who a recruiter’s LinkedIn contacts really belong to, and whether LinkedIn is hindering the activities of existing recruitment agencies.
While it’s true that LinkedIn may be a cause for concern amongst larger recruitment agencies where it has the potential to affect networking dynamics and raise the question of contact ownership, for entrepreneurial recruiters the live database of over 160 million has opened the door to business ownership. Gone are the days when a recruiter had to leave his or her contact book with their ex-employer. Now with personal recruitment networks stored on LinkedIn, and the professional support of companies like Sonovate, entrepreneurial recruiters are able to exploit the unprecedented opportunity to set up their own companies.
Of course, traditional recruitment methods cannot be forgotten in the scramble to go social. LinkedIn is a vast resource wielding an enormous amount of information, and it is making it easier to identify candidates, but it will always be the personal element that drives the selection process, and it is only humans that can apply this. The management of candidate selection is a subtle, time-consuming task; there will always be demand for people with expertise in matching applicants’ skills to the needs of the roles.
To approach LinkedIn with the blunt question of ‘asset or adversary?’ is to miss the point of the service. Recruiters should make sure they really understand LinkedIn’s pros and cons, consider how to put it to the best use, and remember that it is just one tool among many. It’s one of the freshest, most exciting developments in the industry to date, but there are likely to be more of those in the future.