While 5% may seem like a small number, it is a disproportionately large representation of the profession - it literally means that 1 out of every 20 LinkedIn profiles in the US is a recruiting, sourcing, or HR professional.
What’s the significance of this? Why should you care? I’ll get to that shortly, but first I’d like to show you how I came up with the 1 in 20 figure.
How Did I Come Up With That Statistic?
I ran this search on LinkedIn:
And got this result:
That’s the total number of LinkedIn profiles based in the United States.
Then I ran a search using LinkedIn’s advanced operators targeting everyone in the United States on LinkedIn with one of these terms in their current title: recruiter, sourcer, recruiting, talent, executive search, human resources, staffing, recruitment
ctitle:”recruiter OR sourcer OR recruiting OR talent OR executive search OR human resources OR staffing OR recruitment” country:”united states”
And got this result:
So, 1,038,799 / 20,767,694 = 5%.
Or more precisely, 5.001994925%.
If you’re unfamiliar with LinkedIn’s advanced search operators (e.g., country:, ctitle: used above), you can learn all about them here.
U.S. Dominates Recruiting Presence on LinkedIn
LinkedIn claims to have over 40,000,000 members globally.
I ran this search across the entire LinkedIn network looking for people whose profile has a recruiting related title:
ctitle:”recruiter OR sourcer OR recruiting OR talent OR executive search OR human resources OR staffing OR recruitment”
And I got these results:
Out of a total of 1,602,654 results of people mentioning one of 8 recruiting-related titles, 1,038,799 (64.82%) are in the United States.
Critics of the job board resume databases (Monster, Careerbuilder, Hotjobs, Dice, etc.) are often quick to point out that “everydbody uses them” - offering that “overexposure” (or dilution, depending on how you want to look at it) as one of the main reasons why they are “poor sources” of candidates due to the high level of competition over the same people.
Well, now we know that over 1M U.S. recruiting/HR professionals are on LinkedIn – 1 out of every 20 U.S. LinkedIn profiles. That’s a high level of competition for a smaller candidate pool than the resume databases of Monster, Careerbuilder, and Hotjobs. And there is literally no barrier to entry to search LinkedIn – more than 1,000,000 sourcers/recruiters/HR professionals can search LinkedIn for FREE, internally or via X-Ray.
Yes, people and companies can pay for greater access to and more features on LinkedIn, but many companies are seeing the costs of LinkedIn’s Talent Advantage/Recruiter as more “affordable” than the costs associated with the major job boards, which coupled with other factors is driving more employers away from the boards and to LinkedIn’s premium services. That means more and more competition in the LinkedIn talent pool. So when the time comes when it seems like everyone (as if 1,000,000 people isn’t a good chunk of all sourcers/recruiters in the U.S.) is using LinkedIn, I wonder if we will see more people talking about LinkedIn as they talk about the job boards today.
What’s that? LinkedIn isn’t a job board? Well, no it isn’t exactly, but it’s pretty darn close! If you don’t think so, please take the time to read this article. The fact is LinkedIn does share many of the common features of the job boards (pay to post jobs, pay for more candidate search results, etc.) – I think LinkedIn is essentially what the job boards *should* have evolved to years ago. Kudos to LinkedIn!
Of course, the other side of the 1 in 20 statistic is that 19 out of 20 U.S. profiles is NOT a recruiter, sourcer, or HR professional. However, as often as people disparage the job board resume databases for the supposed lack of candidate quality, let’s not forget there is no barrier to entry for candidates to post profiles on LinkedIn. There is no built-in quality control mechanism that ensures that everyone who creates a LinkedIn profile is a stellar “A” player, or even a solid “B” player for that matter.
In fact, I’d argue that if anything, LinkedIn represents an average cross section of the total candidate population (or in other words, a normal distribution – aka, a bell curve). Due to its large sample size (>20M people), statistically, LinkedIn isn’t likely to have a larger percentage of top talent than any other source of human capital. If you don’t think this is an accurate assessment, please support your rebuttal with something other than opinions and conviction. I’m standing firm that the laws of statistics support my theory.
Passive vs. Active
Whenever I see people writing about LinkedIn as a source of candidates, most of the time they refer to LinkedIn as a source of passive candidates. However, I’d argue that the number of “passive” candidates on LinkedIn isn’t any different from the percentage of “passive” candidates anywhere – on the street, in your ATS, in Monster’s resume database, on Twitter, etc. I’ve seen many people throw around a 70% statistic, claiming that 70% of all people are “passive” candidates (i.e., not actively looking). I’d argue the same statistic applies to LinkedIn or ANY source of candidates. How can anyone say that every last person with a LinkedIn profile just happens to NOT be looking for a new opportunity? They can’t, or at least they can’t if they want to live in reality.
The reality is that LinkedIn is not just a source of passive candidates – there are plenty of active job seekers on LinkedIn (say, 30%), and there really is no point to try and label people as “active” or “passive,” or any particular source of people as an “active” or “passive” resource. Everyone is a candidate – you need to establish contact and begin to develop a relationship with a person before you can really assess whether or not they are ready to make a move for the right opportunity.
I love LinkedIn – but I’m also not a mindless bandwagon jumper, and all is not perfect in LinkedIn land. LinkedIn is a great sourcing and recruiting resource, but don’t kid yourself – there’s plenty of competition and there is no barrier to entry to compete. Being the best free resource of human capital (or talent, or whatever the recruiting industry word du jour is for people you might like to hire) is a sharply double-edged sword. With easy access to ~20 million potential candidates in the U.S. comes heavy competition. If you’re using LinkedIn for talent identification and acquisition, you’re not dipping into a magical source of disproportionately passive or talented people, and you’re not doing anything particularly special – you’re doing what 1,000,000 other people are doing in the U.S. alone.
However, as I have written many times before, simply having access to a resource neither implies nor imparts any level of skill or ability in actually utilizing that resource. The real competitive advantage comes not from what recruiting resources you have access to, but from how effectively you are able to leverage them. The simple fact of the matter is that most sourcers and recruiters aren’t that adept at precisely and exhaustively mining information systems for talent, LinkedIn included. So in that regard, it really doesn’t matter if sourcing, recruiting, and HR professionals are 5% or 20% of all LinkedIn profiles.