My column from this month’s Business People magazine

I wrote this for the July 2011 issue of Business People magazine. I’d love to hear from some HR pros: how are you using LinkedIn?

Three ways to leverage LinkedIn for recruiting
Top talent may be just a click away

In today’s employment environment, recruiters need innovative solutions. There are no silver bullets and no shortcuts, of course, but there is one tool that provides you with tremendous opportunities to save money, thin the prospect pool, and ultimately find the best talent—and many of its most powerful features are available at no cost. That tool is the professional networking site, LinkedIn.

Earlier this year, LinkedIn reached the 100 million member mark, and it’s growing fast. More importantly, LinkedIn members are focused. Unlike other social networks that can be a challenge to even the strongest attention span, LinkedIn members tend to go to the site for very specific reasons—generally to connect with those who can help them grow professionally, or help their business grow. That’s what makes LinkedIn such an effective tool for recruiters: the audience is primed for your message.

So, how can you use LinkedIn to improve hour recruiting efforts? Here are three examples:

1. Use your status update as an employment ad. LinkedIn status updates can help you stay connected to your professional contacts—including when you have job opportunities to share. One of the reasons this is so effective is that your status update will automatically appear in the news feed on the first page your contacts see when they go to LinkedIn. They don’t have to seek it out. In addition, if your contacts see a job that might be worth sharing with their network, they can easily share it, repost it, or comment on it. It’s a great way to start conversations with prospects or those you trust who can refer good prospects your way.

 2.    Post to a Group. LinkedIn Groups allow you to reach beyond your first degree connections to interact with those who share a profession or interest. When your company posts a job on LinkedIn (more about that later), those jobs are automatically populated to the groups you’re in. But that’s not the only opportunity to start a conversation about the vacant positions at your company. The “career discussions” feature is another place where you can feature employment opportunities—at no cost to your company. Best of all, if you’re using Groups strategically, it may allow you to reach those with an interest in a specific field or who are well connected in that field.

3. Leverage your connections. LinkedIn’s greatest strength is its ability to grow your relationships with those you already know. These professional connections are perhaps your best source of great candidates, because they’re people with whom you likely—by virtue of having accepted or initiated a connection request—have mutual trust. That means they may be somewhat motivated to help you. One possibility is to use advanced search to find candidates among your existing connections. In addition, these connections may know people in the same field qualified for your open positions. And LinkedIn allows you to discover what connections you and a candidate have in common, and then reach out to those shared connections to find out more about the candidate from a source who hasn’t been hand-selected by the candidate.

What’s ultimately right for your company is contingent, of course, on your specific needs. But regardless of your size or your industry, LinkedIn is likely worth your attention when you’re looking to find the best employment candidates.

To see screenshots demonstrating how to use some of the features discussed in this column, visit http://www.slideshare.net/ajuliano/linkedin-for-hr-professionals.

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