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What's Wrong With Using Resumes For Hiring? Pretty Much Everything by Dr. John Sullivan
If you're getting low quality hires, it's time to realize that the blind and uneducated use of resumes may be a main contributing factor (Note that earlier this year I completed a similar analysis on interviews, the second major contributor to low quality hires). Resumes are the currency of recruiting. Job sites, recruiters, and hiring managers all require them and use them to screen both prospects and candidates in or out. Because at least early on, resumes are the sole determinant as to whether a candidate moves forward or not in the hiring process, it's important to understand their strengths and weaknesses. Many authors, (including myself and recruiting thought leader Kevin Wheeler) have been forecasting the demise of the resume for years. But despite their many faults, resumes have remained an essential part of the candidate assessment process. The premise of this article is that if you are going to continue to rely so heavily on resumes, everyone involved needs to be aware of each and every one of the many weaknesses and problems associated with using them.
The Top 30 Problems Related to Using Resumes for Hiring
The flaws, the weaknesses, and problems associated with resumes are many. I have listed the top 30 problems, divided into five distinct categories.
The top five factors that most negatively impact the quality of hire:
Of all of the flaws, these five have the highest impact on new-hire quality.
1. Resumes are at best, self-reported descriptions of historical events – the very definition of a resume highlights its fundamental weakness. Rather than providing information that you really need to hire someone (examples of a candidate's actual work or a description of what they could do in your job), resumes are merely self-reported narrative descriptions of the candidates' past work. The bias and selective memory of the candidate frequently results in a less-than-accurate description of what actually occurred. Obviously because resumes are essentially job histories, they don't tell you anything about the person's character, how they would act in your job, and their potential.
2. Resumes frequently contain untruths and half-truths – the next-most-serious problem with resumes is that if you rely on them, you are likely making decisions based on falsehoods. Everyone that has researched them agrees, in fact, that as many as 80% of resumes contain misleading statements. And on average, 53% contain actual lies (The biggest offenders are college students, where 92% of them admit to lying on their resume). Even CEOs lie on their resumes (e.g. at Yahoo). And because references are not usually checked until the end of the hiring process, many candidates will likely move forward based on this false information. Those who are 100% honest may actually be penalized (or even screened out) because recruiters and hiring managers often "discount" what they find on resumes by as much as 30%, to take into account the expected "half-truth" percentage. Individuals in science, the law, or finance would simply laugh at any process that consciously makes decisions based on reports that are known to be so exaggerated.
3. Negative information is omitted - in addition to inaccuracies, resumes have many omissions. The most significant omission is that resumes almost universally contain no negative or non-positive information. Even though everyone has made errors and bad decisions in almost every job, they will certainly not be prominently found in any resume. If someone has been convicted, flunked out of school, had a bad performance appraisal, gotten fired, or failed on a project, it will almost never be found in the resume. Even though this information may be found out later, many early-stage recruiting decisions will have already been made based on this incomplete information.
4. Resumes do not cover the future or your firm – resumes are 100% historical, so at their very best they only cover what you have done in the past at other firms. However, those making the hiring decision need to project into the future. They need to know how you will act in this job and at this company when you are faced with this firm's current and future problems. But unfortunately, resumes don't include forecasts or projections on how you would act differently in this job and working environment.
5. Requiring an updated resume will restrict applications - most companies absolutely require an updated resume in order to apply for a position or become an employee referral. But most employed individuals (the so-called passives) do not have an updated resume readily available. So, requiring one in order be considered for a position will eliminate many top potential candidates who simply can't find the time in their busy schedule to update their resume. To further compound the problem, some individuals feel that updating their resume is an act of disloyalty, so they won't take that action until they have made the final determination to leave (meaning they won't apply for your job until they have updated their resume). And even those who have decided to leave may be leery that providing a resume may put their current job unnecessarily at risk if their boss were to find out (Note: an alternative approach is to let the recruiter use a LinkedIn profile).
Content-related resume problems.
What you include or don't include in your resume will dramatically impact your score.
1. Resumes contain no statement of accuracy – resumes are not an official document. In fact, resumes are not signed and they contain no statement from the candidate attesting to their accuracy and completeness.
2. The information is not verified by the firm where they worked – as an employee leaves a firm, their manager or HR department will not likely ever see their resume, no less approve the content that is provided by the exiting employee. This means that an employee can say almost whatever they want without fear of contradiction. And because it's common practice to limit job references to dates of employment, the flawed reference process will, in many cases, make it impossible to verify the actual content for a particular job. And unlike job application forms, resumes do not even contain a statement authorizing a firm to check an individual's references.
3. Applicants are not told what information to include – even if an applicant wanted to include all of the needed information, unlike an application form, hiring firms do not provide direction to them as to what information they need included in a resume in order to make a hiring decision. As a result, resumes are written 100% from the candidate's perspective and candidates are forced to guess what information to include and exclude for each job.
4. Resumes do not include information on all of the key assessment criteria - candidates are generally assessed on four criteria:
1) are they qualified?
2) are they available?
3) are they interested? and
4) do they fit?

Because most resumes are really simply job histories, they thus only address the first criterion … are they qualified? But resumes do not contain information relative to the candidate's current interest in this job, their relative availability for a new job, or their fit. To make matters worse, resumes generally do not cover other important differentiating criteria, including the candidate's expectations, goals, motivators, energy, or innovativeness. Although this information might be in the cover letter, many recruiters never bother to read them. If you ask candidates a simple question — Does your resume accurately reflects what you are capable of doing? - the answer is almost always no.
5. Many candidates are unaware of the powerful impact of keywords – some applicants have become key word experts. As a result, their resumes score higher when assessed by the ATS system, even though their skills and experience are identical to other applicants. If the applicant doesn't fully understand the importance of using keywords in their resume and as result they take a casual approach toward including them, their resume will automatically be ranked lower. The key word problem can be further compounded if the individual applying comes from another industry, where completely different words are used (even though their words might mean the same thing, the ATS or the recruiter might miss them). Individuals who submit shorter resumes because of bad career advice may also suffer a keyword deficit.
6. The candidate's job results may be impossible to verify — many candidates fail to include the results and quantify their accomplishments, making the quality of their work difficult to assess. Others include results and numbers that may be exaggerated. Unfortunately, in most cases it is simply impossible for the resume reader to verify the accuracy of these numbers. To further compound the problem, with so many firms merging and going out of business, verification of any resume facts may not be possible because the firm no longer exists.
7. The candidate's contribution may also be exaggerated – from the writer's perspective, a resume is essentially a "brag sheet," so in addition to including business results, resume writers routinely try to expand their role or contribution to the results of a project or task. Even though the individual may have been part of the team, it's impossible using the resume alone to accurately ascertain the actual role that this individual played in the task or accomplishment.
8. Illegal and inappropriate information may be included – not every applicant is an HR expert, so some will inadvertently include illegal or inappropriate information (i.e. their picture, their age, hobbies, personal information, etc.). Using this information will cause legal difficulties but expunging it may be difficult and time-consuming.
Non-job related factors may impact the quality of the submitted resume
Regardless of your actual capabilities, there are many additional factors that will affect the assessment of your resume.
1. Writing skills impact their content and their assessment score - even though a particular job may not require much or any writing, the writing skills of the applicant will dramatically affect the content and the impact of their resume. Even if you were a top performer, you likely won't get full credit for it unless your writing skills are powerful.
2. Help, resources, and repetition impacts their content — individuals who spend a great deal of time learning the elements of a great resume through coaching, books, or the Internet may become "resume experts." As a result, they are much more likely to produce a resume that gets "high scores." In addition, the resume of someone who has been rejected numerous times may eventually become significantly more polished than the resume of an individual with superior job skills, but rusty resume skills. In the case of resumes, practice does make perfect.
3. Most candidates only have a single resume - because writing resumes is time consuming, most applicants only have a single resume to present. Unfortunately, the information provided in the standard "one-size-fits-all" resume may not match the specific information that is needed for an individual job. Individuals with the time to tailor their resume and keywords to a job and a company will often score higher than others with the same job skills.
4. Employed individuals may be at a disadvantage - currently employed individuals are forced to limit the details that they provide in the resume about their current job (because of trade secrets and in case their current boss sees their resume). It's also harder for them to polish the resume because they can't freely post it or send it to many firms to get feedback.
5. International applicants may be at a disadvantage - international applicants are more likely to include illegal or inappropriate information that may cause them to be rejected. There are also more likely to use unique or different keywords that might confuse recruiters or the ATS system. Language difficulties may result in bad grammar or misspellings, which is often the No. 1 cause of immediate resume rejection.
Format-related resume problems
The format used by the candidate may by itself cause difficulties.
1. Accomplishments and skills may be omitted in some formats - many resume writers view resumes as merely summaries of their previous job responsibilities. As a result, they exclusively include only the duties and responsibilities from their job descriptions. However, this format will cause them to omit information on key assessment factors like skills, tools, and accomplishments (According to Careerbuilder, 30% of recruiters will reject a resume that doesn't include a list of skills).
2. There may be a bias against the functional resume format - in many organizations, there is a bias toward the chronological resume and against the functional format. Because under the functional format it's often more difficult to find job experience at a particular company and work dates, some recruiters and hiring managers may give up prematurely when they can’t immediately find the information that they require. Others may make the assumption that functional resumes are used to "hide" job gaps and negative work experience, so they may also quickly reject candidates that use this format.
3. The CV format may hurt some candidates – individuals who follow a CV format (curriculum vitae or curriculum life) may overly focus on their education, rather than the broader range of factors that will be assessed. As a result, using the format may mean a lower score for their resume.
4. Paper resumes cause problems - at most corporations, individuals who submit paper resumes by mail or at career fairs cause problems because they must be scanned into the system. This adds costs and time to the recruiting process and the scanning process may result in scanning errors or the misreading of keywords.
Problems with the typical resume assessment process
In addition to the resume itself, the resume screening process also has many serious flaws in most organizations.
1. Resumes cannot be thoroughly read in six seconds - the average time that a recruiter spends reading a resume is a mere six seconds. Given the limited time spent on them, many key content elements will simply be missed. And to make matters worse, individual recruiters are not measured or ranked on the accuracy of their resume screening. Many firms use ATS software to analyze and rank resumes, so if the system is not programmed correctly and with the right keywords, a large number of errors can occur.
2. There is no scoring sheet or documentation – because there is normally no standardized process for reviewing resumes across a corporation, individual recruiters and hiring managers may assess resumes in any manner they like. Even though reading and assessing a person based on their resume is a "test" in the legal sense, resume readers are seldom required to assess them based on a weighted job requirement scoring sheet, which would provide a higher level of consistency. Without a consistent process, a resume for the same job may be rejected one day but accepted the next! And in most cases, no documentation is retained as to why the individual was screened out or moved on in the process.
3. Inappropriate knockout factors can be used - resume assessment is often done in private and without formal resume assessment training. As a result, it's possible for individual recruiters or hiring managers to use non-job-related or even illegal factors to "knock out" the resumes of qualified individuals (i.e. estimated age, or sex, or race, the school that they attended, their zip code, etc.).
4. The information is not in a standardized order for easy comparison – unlike application forms, the information provided in one resume will not be in the same order or format as the other resumes. This makes easy side-by-side comparisons of resumes for the same position extremely difficult.
5. Multiple languages may make assessment difficult – if you're conducting global hiring, you will receive resumes that are written in many different languages. Unless you specify a particular language, it will be extremely difficult to compare resumes written in different languages, even if you use a computer scanning or translation system.
6. No feedback hurts your brand image – no firm that I have encountered provides candid feedback if they are rejected at the resume stage. This lack of feedback frustrates candidates and makes it difficult for them to improve. This lack of feedback degrades the candidate experience and your firm's employer brand image.
7. No resume screening metrics – no organization that I have been able to find uses formal metrics to assess the efficiency, validity, and reliability of their resume assessment process. And literally no one in HR checks to see if those with the highest-rated resumes (or interview scores) turn out to be the top performers on the job. Obviously it is also expensive to maintain a resume data base that meets legal requirements.
8. No formal training – only a small number of firms actually take the time to train or educate all recruiters and hiring managers on how to accurately assess a candidate's resume. This lack of training may have a major impact on the quality hires.
Possible alternatives to resumes
You might be curious about alternative or supplemental approaches that some firms use. These alternatives include:
1. An application form – formal application forms that everyone must fill out are superior because they specify the needed information. And because the information is in the same order and format, applications can be easily compared side-by-side.
2. A LinkedIn profile — LinkedIn profiles are available for most professionals and they do provide enough information for early assessment. Using this profile means that the individual doesn’t have to find the time to update their resume and because LinkedIn profiles can be viewed by so many, it's also much more difficult to include inaccurate information in them.
3. A portfolio – a portfolio is either an electronic or a paper compilation of samples of the individual's actual work. They are superior because "actual work samples" are almost always a better assessment device than the short "narrative description" of the work that appears in a resume.
4. Find their actual work on the Internet – in many cases it is possible to find and assess a candidate’s actual work on social media sites, on YouTube, or on the Internet.
5. Give them an actual work problem — asking them to solve a real-world work problem that they will encounter on the job (either in person or remotely) is perhaps the best assessment tool.
6. Contests – use online contests to identify and assess prospects by having them work on a real problem (example: IGN banned the submission of resumes and instead used it's Code-Foo Challenge to assess and hire).
7. Technical tests – one underutilized tool that is beginning to see more use in organizations is technical skills or knowledge testing.
8. Interest and skills questionnaire – a candidate's self-assessment of their own skills and interests can tell you if they are a good fit for your job and company.
Final Thoughts
In my experience, the often reported demise of the resume is once again premature because their use is simply too deeply entrenched. However, the way that most hiring professionals currently use resumes does deserve criticism and a reassessment. To start out, if your organization don't have a formal process for avoiding the numerous resume weaknesses outlined above, at the very least an audit should be undertaken of your resume assessment process (for example — one large firm put the disguised resumes of their top five engineers through their own ATS screening process and two of the five were screened out).

Another step to take is to educate your recruiters and hiring managers so they know and fully understand each of their potential problems listed here. And finally, you should consider supplementing the use of resumes and interviews by giving top applicants actual work problems to solve. This is because actual solutions tailored to your environment are almost always superior predictors of on-the-job success to written or verbal narrative descriptions of the past
Leading-edge Candidate Screening, Interviewing, and Assessment Practices
Leading-edge Candidate Screening, Interviewing, and Assessment Practices by Dr. John Sullivan
Candidate selection and assessment is one of the most conservative processes in all of talent management. Many think the topic is not worth a detailed examination, but a weak assessment or interview process can be the primary cause for not hiring top candidates. For decades, the majority of firms have relied heavily on the basic trio of resume screening, interviewing, and reference checks to choose the best candidates. Fortunately, the growth of metrics, the Internet, and technology in HR is now challenging these traditional approaches.
Over the last couple of years, a significant number of new approaches have evolved, and as a result, recruiters and hiring managers now have a wide range of alternative approaches to consider. This article is designed to make you aware of some of these alternative leading-edge candidate assessment approaches that firms have tried. If you are bored with interviews, you should enjoy reading about these new approaches.
A Long list of Alternative Candidate Assessment Approaches to Consider
The most dominant approach, as well as alternative approaches, is listed under each phase of assessment. Firms that you can learn from are also listed. Remember that even though some of these approaches might seem outrageous to you, they have all been tried at one or more firms.
Phase 1 — Pre-screening before they apply
1. Dominant approach – External contests – Identify and assess prospects using external contests — Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Harrah’s, and Nationwide.
2. Referral screening — Have employees pre-assess and screen out weak prospects as part of the referral process (skills and cultural fit) — Many firms.
3. Problems presented on the corporate Website — Self-assessment using a real problem that is provided on the corporate website or a later assessment by a recruiter — Marriott, VHA.
4. Gamification — Assessment or self-assessment using games on the corporate website — USAF.
5. Professional talent communities — Use talent communities based on learning to build relationships and to assess over a period of time — Microsoft.
Phase 2 — the initial screening of their resume or CV
1. Dominant approach — Recruiters' screening resumes – Most have a recruiter read and assess a candidate’s cover letter and resume — Most firms.
2. ATS scan – Scan resumes using your ATS software — Larger corporations.
3. Video cover letter — Encourage a video in lieu of a written cover letter and use it for assessment. Being given the option of providing a video can excite candidates and provide more detailed information than a cover letter — Zappos.
4. Use a LinkedIn profile — Have a recruiter read and assess their LinkedIn profile in lieu of their resume — A growing practice.
5. Review their work portfolio – Ask candidates to provide a portfolio containing samples of their work — Advertising and media firms.
Phase 3 — Assessment prior to the interview
1. Anonymous employee assessment — employees that come in contact with the candidate assess their behavior prior to the interview — Zappos, Southwest Airlines.
2. Job assignment — Give them an actual job assignment before the interview (example: recruiters bring in qualified resumes for an open job) – FirstMerit.
3. Identify their preferences — Provide candidates with a questionnaire that is designed to identify their preferences, interests, and motivators to assess fit for the manager, job or firm — A few firms.
4. Job acceptance criteria – Provide a questionnaire for identifying their decision criteria for accepting a job, so that you know if they are a fit and what you need to sell them on — A few firms.
Phase 4 – In-person interviews
1. Dominant approach – Traditional interviews — an initial phone screen and one or more in-person behavioral interviews by recruiters and managers — Most firms.
2.Speed dating — Quick initial interviews modeled after speed-dating interviews that are designed to minimize a hiring manager’s time by quickly screening out the unqualified — Nokia, Travelodge.
3. Peer or group interviews – Using peers (individuals in the same job) to provide accurate assessment, authentic answers, and to help sell the candidate — HealthEast.
4. Develop a statistical algorithm – used past hiring successes and failures to statistically predict which candidates will succeed on the job — Google.
5. "Screening in" innovators – Modifying interview/selection processes and educating recruiters and managers to capture innovators that are often lost during traditional screening processes — Google, Facebook.
6.Stress interviews — Putting candidates in a stressful position during the interview to assess a candidate’s ability to handle pressure — Law enforcement.
7. Interview for competitive intelligence — Purposely including candidates from key competitors for gathering CI — A few firms.
8. Hire with absolutely no assessment — Hiring candidates without any assessment due to time constraints, low candidate flow, or because it actually improves the quality of hire – C-cube, FirstMerit.
Phase 5 — Remote interviews
1. Dominant approach - Live remote video interviewing – Using video interview vendors or Skype to assess candidates over the Internet in order to ease scheduling issues, to save travel costs and to show that the firm uses technology — Zappos, Pepsi, Google.
2.Videotaped Interviews — Pre-taped interviews that are sent to the recruiter, where the candidate either responds to pre-set questions or the candidate decides on their own what to present — Occasionally used in college hiring.
3. Internet questionnaire — Putting the interview in a questionnaire format and scoring it with software — Nike.
4. IVR interviews – Using IVR technology or touch-tone automated telephone interviews for preliminary interviews — An older approach.
Phase 6 – Problem-solving and interest approaches during and outside of interviews
1. Dominant approach — Verbal problems during interviews – Ask candidates to solve a verbally presented real or brain-teasing problem — Google, Microsoft, Pivotal Labs.
2. Virtual reality simulation — Use a job-simulation tool to assess either college students or professionals — KPMG.
3. Bring work samples – Have candidates bring in work samples for review during the interview — Advertising and media firms.
4. Work with the team – Have candidates actually work with the team the rest of the day to assess their fit and teamwork — Toyota.
5. Shadow employees — Have top applicants shadow employees for the rest of the day after their interview for assessment and job preview purposes — Reliant Services.
6.Project the future — Ask candidates to forecast the future in their functional area during the interview in order to assess whether they are "forward-looking" — Agilent.
7. Assess their laptop – Assess them based on the organization of their desktop and how they use their own laptop immediately after the interview — An entrepreneur.
Phase 7 – Tests as supplements to interviews
1. Dominant approach – Commercial tests — Use commercially available skills and job fit assessment tests — Many firms.
2. On-line tests -- Use online technical skill assessment tests to supplement interviews — T-Mobile.
3. In-basket — Give candidates a paper-based in-basket exercise to assess their work and prioritization skills — Many firms.
4. Psychological tests – Use commercially available psychological or personality tests to assess job fit — Many firms.
Phase 8 – Visibility scores as supplements to interviews
1. Dominant approach – Google score — Use a Google score to assess their Internet visibility or to find examples of their work (26% of hiring managers have used) — Many firms.
2. Social media scores — Use a Klout and PeerIndex score to assess a candidate’s social media visibility or impact — Growing in popularity, especially in communications and social media jobs.
3. Network size – Using LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter to assess the breath of thier contacts and connections — A few firms.
Phase 9 — Assessing their references or background
1. Dominant approach – recruiter phone calls — Using recruiter phone calls or vendor-supplied database reference checks to assess work, educational, and credit history — Most firms.
2. Assess them on their social media site – Visit their personal social media sites for assessment and to identify potential problem areas (12% of hiring managers have used) — Many firms.
3. Crowdsourced references — Use a candidate’s network to assess their background using 360° type reference surveys (i.e. Checkster) — Growing usage.
Phase 10 — Assess them on the job after hire
1. Assessments during onboarding — Follow-up assessment during extended onboarding and then drop the failures — Facebook, Zappos.
2. Pay mishires to leave — Allow new hires to self-select out during training for a payment — Zappos, Cisco.
3. Internships for assessment — Hiring interns and assessing them during their internship can be an excellent way to assess potential college hires — Many firms.
4. Overhire – Purposely hire two or more for a single opening, and after a lengthy period of assessment, release the weak performers — Many academic institutions.
5. Train them and then assess – Bring in people with a core aptitude for technical work and then spend six weeks "teaching them." Then release the underperformers — IGN.
6. Train promising high school grads – Identify promising high-school students whose families can’t afford to send them to college and train them. Then release the under-performers — Zoho.
Phase 11 — Temp-to-perm assessment
1. Dominant approach — Convert temps to permanent – Hire prospects as a contractor/temp and later convert the best — Google, Microsoft.
2. Use an internal temp service to assess – Create an internal temp service and use placements to assess — HealthEast.
Phase 12 — Strategic assessment approaches
1. Corporate fit interview — Require a second interview by HR for ensuring all hires are a corporate values fit — Zappos.
2. Use a hiring team – When hiring for “this and the next job,” use a hiring team in lieu of an individual manager — Google.
Phase 13 — Internal assessment for promotions and succession
1. Use projects — Assign or let employee self-select virtual part-time projects for development and assessment — Google, Whirlpool.
2. Contests for promotion — Use anonymous Iron-chef type internal contests for promotions and to excite and improve selection — MGM Grand
Final Thoughts
As more and more firms begin to measure their quality of hire it will become increasingly obvious that many hiring processes don't produce great results. Management guru Peter Drucker stated years ago that only one third of our hiring decisions were good ones. Another research study by Leadership IQ found that over three years, 46% of newly hired employees will fail within 18 months, while only 19% will achieve certain success.

Part of the reason for this high failure rate is based on the fact that under most selection processes, there is no way to know if top-quality candidates are being screened out early on in the process. One firm for example put the disguised resumes of their own top five engineers through their corporate resume screening process and surprisingly they found that only two would have been called in for an interview. If you don’t have hard data to back up the accuracy of your screening, now might be the opportune time (before hiring ramps up) to reassess your candidate screening process.
20 Reasons Why LinkedIn Will Be the #1 Recruiting Portal of the Future by Dr. John Sullivan
I'm the first to admit that LinkedIn still has many flaws, but even with them, the power of the portal in the recruiting field is unmistakable. If you are a corporate recruiter and you are looking for a database or source that includes a large percentage of passive prospects, LinkedIn is simply alone at the top. It is superior for many additional reasons, including that its profiles are accurate and consistent, it allows your employees to find quality potential referrals, and it enables a firm to conduct phenomenal talent management research. In this article, I will highlight what I have found to be the top strengths of LinkedIn.
The Top 20 Reasons to Use LinkedIn
The 20 reasons are broken into two distinct categories.
Strictly sourcing related reasons to use LinkedIn
1. It has a high passive to active member ratio – One of the primary differences between a good and a great recruiting source is the ratio of passive over active prospects that populate it. Although both types of prospects are desirable, those who are not actively looking for a job (the so-called passives) are much harder to find and communicate with. If your target is active job seekers, you must realize that in a tight labor market, they don't require advanced direct sourcing techniques to identify and sell them on applying. With little more than a job posting, they will find you on job boards or your career site. But if you're seeking the roughly 80% of prospects who are not actively looking for a job, you have fewer sourcing choices because they will not look at job announcements or visit career sites. But fortunately, these employed and not-looking individuals comprise the majority of LinkedIn members. There are other communities dominated by non-lookers (i.e. Facebook and Twitter) but LinkedIn is superior because its content focuses exclusively on professional contacts, sharing, and communication. Without the high percentage of "information clutter" from pictures, small talk, and family matters found on other sites, recruiters on LinkedIn have less information sorting to do. Obviously finding top employed prospects alone is only the first step in sourcing; you will also have to contact, build a relationship, and work hard to convince these non-lookers to even consider a job opportunity. After the connection is made, LinkedIn is not the best relationship-building or communications tool, so supplemental prospect research may be required including creating "Google alerts" on individuals and of course, direct communications and relationship building through e-mail, text, voice, Facebook, or Twitter.
2. The number of members continues to increase – Because of its professional focus and its many uses outside of recruiting, it has become a standard practice for most professionals to have a profile on LinkedIn. In fact, one of its strengths is that its members can be visible on LinkedIn without being suspected of looking for a job. As LinkedIn has added more professional features (i.e. answers, groups, events, etc.) employees have even more professional reasons for joining, expanding the percentage of members who are currently not active job seekers. Having a profile does, however, provide the added benefit of making a person "visible" to recruiters. So even if you’re not actively looking, having a profile will provide you with an opportunity to be periodically "found", so that at the very least you will know if you're still marketable.
3. Its database quality can be verified – Although LinkedIn has more than 150 million users, volume doesn't always mean quality, so you always need to verify the quality of the membership of any prospect database. The best way to verify quality is to use your own employees as a benchmark measure. First, make a list of your very best performers in a high-volume key job at your firm. Then check the LinkedIn database to see what percentage of your best employees are found in a search of their database (you can do the same analysis for your worst employees). Then compare the percentage of your top performers found on LinkedIn with the ratio of your top performers found on other sites including large job boards, referral sites, Facebook, and Twitter. Don’t be surprised when you find that the highest percentage of your top performers is found on LinkedIn.
4. It is referral-friendly – The most effective recruiting source both in volume and quality are employee referrals, so any sourcing option becomes more valuable if your employees will regularly use it find referrals. Because LinkedIn has many features that are not related to job search, your employees probably already frequent LinkedIn to benchmark, to gain mentors, to ask questions and to learn. LinkedIn makes it easy for your employees to identify and connect with others in the same profession that may eventually become an employee referral. Recruiters, who have a broader access to the entire LinkedIn database, can also "suggest" names within LinkedIn that an employee may want to build a relationship with in the hope of eventually making them a referral.
5. Its profiles are easily comparable and searchable – Because resumes come in dozens of different formats, they are a nightmare to search and compare side-by-side. LinkedIn profiles are consistent, meaning that they all contain the same format in every profile. This consistency makes it easier for recruiters and hiring managers to compare different prospects side by side on the same factors. LinkedIn makes it easy to search their database on a variety of topics including industry, connections, current and previous companies, job title, location, profession, and education. LinkedIn also provides targeted updates and follower statistics which allow you to limit and target the updates that you receive.
6. Its profiles are accurate – Research has shown that LinkedIn profiles can be more accurate than resumes. Because their profiles are seen by so many colleagues and individuals (many of whom would've attended the same schools and worked at the same organization), it's much harder for an individual to "get by" with a profile that contains inaccurate information. LinkedIn profiles are also more likely to be up-to-date than resumes, in part because LinkedIn will periodically encourage you to keep improving and updating your profile.
7. LinkedIn can help you identify when someone is about to begin looking – Smart recruiters can learn that certain actions by an individual may "signal" that they are about to enter "job search mode." The signals might include updating their profile, joining new groups, becoming a LinkedIn answer "top expert" or increasing other networking activities. Contacting a targeted individual who in the past has expressed no interest in a job may get a completely different result when they are considering entering job search mode. And if you get there early, you will likely encounter little recruiting competition.
8. LinkedIn makes it easy to apply – Allowing individuals to apply instantly for a job without having to update their resume is a powerful advantage. Some firms are beginning to use a LinkedIn profile (at least initially) as a substitute for a resume. One way to do that is to add an "Apply with LinkedIn" button to your job postings.
9. It has a job-posting capability – LinkedIn makes it easy to post and distribute current job openings to both types of prospects. When you are seeking active candidates, use LinkedIn job postings as a supplement to your normal job-posting channels.
10. It provides recommendations and facilitates introductions - If you need additional information on a prospect, LinkedIn provides a recommendations feature, which although subjective, it can provide additional insights into the individual and what others have experienced when working with them. LinkedIn also has an "introduction" feature that allows an employee to introduce a recruiter or another colleague to one of their contacts.
11. It facilitates event recruiting – Professional events can be a great place to recruit and the LinkedIn events tool has a limited capacity to help you learn what current professional events are being attended by your target audience. It can also be used to publicize your own events.
12. It includes executive search capability — because many executives have LinkedIn profiles, the LinkedIn database may allow your internal recruiters to replace some external executive searches.
Non-sourcing related reasons for using LinkedIn
In addition to direct sourcing, there are many other reasons to use LinkedIn.
1. A powerful talent management research capability — perhaps the most unique feature of LinkedIn is that it provides you with the ability to conduct talent management research. For example, LinkedIn is the only database that allows you to identify which firms are hiring and which individuals got hired there. Research can also help you measure the turnover at a particular firm, and more importantly which firm those people turning over immediately moved on to. The research capability also allows you to find out whether the number of individuals in a particular job title at a firm are increasing or decreasing and whether employees at a particular firm are being promoted internally. If you're interested in strategic recruiting, internal movement, and retention patterns, there is really no alternative to LinkedIn.
2. It offers many professional learning groups – Although many think of LinkedIn as a recruiting tool, it is also evolving into a professional learning and sharing site. There are more than a million professional groups that employees and recruiters can use to learn and share. The site allows you to create your own group or join an existing functionally targeted professional group (e.g. The Recruiter Network). A group may include thousands of members, so in addition to the obvious prospect identification goal, LinkedIn groups can provide frequent opportunities for employees to share ideas and to test new approaches. Because LinkedIn is more professional than social, you are less likely to get bogged down in a lot of outside of work conversations in their groups.
3. It provides an easy reference snapshot – In addition to recruiting, LinkedIn is a widely used reference source for quickly getting to know an individual. Many professionals use LinkedIn to get a quick snapshot of a stranger who contacted them or an individual whose name they come across while reading. With permission, it is also possible to conduct 360° reference check surveys among the connections of an individual you are considering hiring.
4. It supports employer brand building – Building a strong employer brand is essential if you want to eventually attract the very best. LinkedIn provides the capability for firms to create their own "company page" and to populate the page with materials that help to build their employment brand. Individual employees can also send updates to their connections with links to relevant articles, news items, and blogs, which taken together may also help to strengthen your employer brand. The company page can also be used to highlight your company’s products and services.
5. It allows you to poll – LinkedIn provides the capability of polling a large number of individuals on professional issues. Not only will polls provide you with valuable and current information but they will also signal to others that you (the poll sponsor) are a key information source on that topic.
6. It is integrated with many other services – LinkedIn is integrated with sites like Slide Share, you can also view the presentation work of an individual prospect who you are interested in. LinkedIn allows you to link with blogs of your choice and it is at least partially integrated with many other vendors including Twitter, Taleo, Amazon, and Windows Live Messenger, just to name a few.
7. It allows InMail for communications – LinkedIn has its own internal e-mail tool for sending messages. However, unless your messages are scripted perfectly, you can't expect fast responses or a high response rate on your InMails. In addition, if you make the mistake of frequently spamming messages or job postings, your response rate will quickly degrade.
8. I t provides an advertising capability – Although it's advertising approach is not as strong as other portals, LinkedIn provides the capability of strategically placing ads covering your products or jobs.
Additional reasons for using LinkedIn
Some other miscellaneous reasons associated with using LinkedIn include:
LinkedIn is relatively easy to learn and master by recruiters and even hiring managers.
Is relatively inexpensive to use, even with its advanced features.
If some of your employees are well-connected on LinkedIn, your recruiters may be able to piggyback on their contacts in order to get immediate sourcing results.
LinkedIn is continually growing and becoming more global.
Their answers tool can allow your employees to showcase their skills and solutions by answering the questions posed exclusively by individuals their network.
It can also double as a sales lead building tool.
Incidentally, if you're looking for a job, contacting recruiters directly through LinkedIn isn’t the best approach.
Final Thoughts
For our cynical readers let me repeat my acknowledgment that LinkedIn is not yet a perfect recruiting database. But almost everyone would have to acknowledge that LinkedIn is certainly making continuous progress on improving its recruiting and other services. If LinkedIn keeps growing and improving at its current rate, it won't be long before it will be universally recognized as the ideal sourcing database for "not-looking" professionals.
I have been a LinkedIn user since 2004 (#313,697) and have no financial relationship of any kind with the firm
 
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