• I would love to argue with you, but your facts are facts. These stats blew me away when you tweeted them Friday and I’m still amazed. I wish there was some way to get at how well recruiters and HR professionals use LinkedIn (the ones I talk to are just scratching the surface). It would be an interesting trend to track these numbers over time to see how the numbers change. Thanks for the post!! I linked to it from mine on ERE!

  • Glenn, this is a great article. Seriously, Kudos on this one.

    The only thing I’d add is what you’re probably used to hearing me say over and over and over again. “Quality of Talent” is dependent on the observer. A typical KForce recruiter might judge someone as an “A-level” while someone at a highly niched firm might observe that same candidate as a “C-level”. It’s very easy to look at the raw numbers of number of profiles . . . but it’s very difficult as you get more and more granular. Insights at 40k feet are much easier than insights at 4 inches. This is why most senior military officers have no clue what’s really going on in ground scenarios. They have satellite imagery, but greatly rely on intel from operators on the ground more than snapshots.

    However, I will say this — given the fact that most LI profiles do not provide any ‘substantiation’ of talent (beyond a mini-resume that, for the most part, only includes employers and titles), it would be extremely difficult to gauge talent level from a rudimentary profile alone.

    In that regard, I agree that, for the most part, you’ll find a normal distribution.

  • Glenn

    Thank you for another good observation.
    I spend time reading this blog because your opinions are almost always backed up by the logic behind how you got there. Also, this blog is one of the few that is written largely after original first hand research.

    Maybe someday you will get around to doing an article on top-10 professions / titles / skills or something on LinkedIn.

    Couple of differences between LinkedIn and Job boards are
    – LinkedIn handshake mechanism facilitates rapid networking
    – LinkedIn allows us to find if we have friends in common, making it easier to network
    – LinkedIn allows us to learn more about a person by seeing an integrated view their comments in groups, see what groups they belong to, see their references.

    LinkedIn and Job boards serve two distinct functions with some overlap.


  • Don

    Just curious on your thoughts regarding the term “sourcer”. Do you think this could be skewed by someone who is sourcing parts or the like in a manufacturing environment?

  • Boolean Black Belt

    Thanks for reading! Good question regarding the disambiguation of the title “sourcer.” I ran this search on LinkedIn: country:”united states” ctitle:sourcer and I got 608 results – a very small percentage of the total 1.068M. Then I randomly sampled the results from multiple pages and every single one I reviewed was a sourcer for talent/human capital. That is not to say there aren’t some non-people sourcing profiles mixed in – I certainly did not check them all, but given the extremely small pool of people with the word “sourcer” in their current title, and my random sampling, I don’t think my overall statistic of 1 in 20 is skewed by the “sourcer” title.

  • Paul

    Glenn – Great post and very interesting indeed. I love your blog and it’s immensely helpful.

    I did want to mention that by including “human resources” in the search string for recruiters the number of individuals actually involved in the recruiting process may be a bit lower since many people with “human resources” in their job title are not directly involved in recruiting. With that said, the non-inclusion of the term “HR” excludes about 113,000 from your search, so maybe they cancel each other out in the final results. Any thoughts? Either way, your point is well taken.

    I do think what you say in your conclusion is very important. There are many recruiters – especially those working in corporate settings or those not responsible for sourcing – who are on LinkedIn but do not use it for recruiting. Some recruiters (who are less savvy LinkedIn users) see the site as a way to connect to other recruiters but do not utilize it as a candidate database. For this reason, I think there are fewer recruiters leveraging LinkedIn effectively making it less tapped into then it may appear.

  • Boolean Black Belt

    Good observation. I am aware that not all HR professionals are involved in the recruiting process, however, some are. Without exploring each person’s profile, it would be impossible to determine. I posted this article in a number of LinkedIn groups and one of the more interesting bits of feedback I got was that there are definitely other roles that do use LinkedIn for recruiting – such as project managers. So by limiting my search to only 8 sourcing, recruiting, and HR titles, I am actually missing other non-recruiting related titles of people who may actually leverage LinkedIn for sourcing and recruiting without using those terms or even mentioning it as a responsibility.

    Also, I ran this search on LinkedIn, which targets the words HR or “Human Resources” in the U.S.: country:”united states” ctitle:”HR OR human resources” and I got 104,378 results, which is roughly only 10% of my 1.038 M figure. Additionally, adding HR specifically only adds 6,550 more to the total results (97,828 say human resources, and 6550 say HR).

    You’re right – having around 1M recruiting types on LinkedIn in the U.S. can appear to make LinkedIn heavuly tapped, and I agree that many are not fully leveraging it. However, the large number of recruiters on LinkedIn at least highlights that LinkedIn is not a secret competitive advantage for anyone who’s trying to do some recruiting. The “secret” is out, in a BIG way.

  • Boolean Black Belt

    Thank you for your compliment of the article – much appreciated!

    I agree that ranking and labeling candidates is highly subjective, but I would not go so far as to stereotype all of Kforce (or any company for that matter) with regard to the quality of candidates recruited. One could just as easily argue that any particular recruiter at any firm – large or small – could have higher candidate quality standards than a highly niched firm (e.g., niched firm recruiter may think they have an “A” candidate, yet a recruiter from another firm may judge them to be a “C” candidate).

    I think it really comes down to the individual recruiter level, regardless of firm, and you can’t compare apples to apples, candidate to candidate, unless you and another recruiter had evaluated exactly the same candidate and labeled them – then compared notes.

    In the end, debating candidate quality is moot unless you can speak objectively about the exact same candidates. Saying 1 firm recruits what it thinks are “A” candidates that someone from another firm would consider to be “C” players is 100% conjecture and is based solely on opinion, sans fact.

    The only relatively neutral (unbaised by the recruiter’s personal opinion) and objective measure of candidate quality is the client’s assessment of candidates. The client/manager is the ultimate judge of candidate quality. When I consistently achieve 1 candidate submitted/1 hire – in competitive scenarios (other recruiters are submitting candidates as well) – I can feel pretty confident my “A” is also my client’s definition of “A”. I could care less how recruiters at other firms rate their candidates.

  • Rob McIntosh

    Glen – You are a man after my own heart around looking at data to support a theory or putting some validation behind the direction people need to think when crafting a strategy or using a tool to identify candidates….Well done.

    I will give one more fact that people must consider given I too have not jumped on the LI bandwagon, and the same reason I have not jumped on twitter or other 2.0 sources as the silver bullet to our candidate identification strategies.

    The issue is not that these sources do not potential work, they do. The challenge is that they do not produce enough hires to justify the feverish level of activity by people posting blog articles, training or recruiters actually using them.

    [Sidebar] Yes we could get into a side debate about the accuracy of source of hire data, but let’s take that off the table for the moment based off some facts that I can point to for the last few years when I have ensured that the source of hire data I have been tracking for companies has been cleaned up. We now have the ability to automatically complete the source of application, as part of the application process where it takes it out of the hands of the candidate worrying about the bazillion choices they are traditionally faced with when applying to a job. I even went so far with a passive sourcing team carefully and manually enter where they original found the name in the first place as a double check and balance.

    If you carefully track source of visitor/application/candidate workflow/hire data you will find that the usual suspects are still the main source of hire (80% from these channels) for lots of companies
    – Careersweb site (could be forwarding traffic from organic search or referring sites from postings)
    – Job Boards
    – Employee Referrals (should be most)
    – 3rd party agencies (should be least)

    LI which I have been tracking even from teams that focus on pure sourcing (vs. full lifecycle recruiting), over the last 5 years, the % of hires originating from this source is less than 5% of total hires. My point is not that this 5% is not important or that this might one day to be much more, but rather back to my initial point that the energy and effort that people invest in these bright and shiny objects IMHO do not produce the appropriate ROI.

    Yes one key hire that you found on LI could justify the use of the tool, but you have your head in the sand as a leader, recruiter or sourcer if you are spending too much time on thinking that LI and other 2.0 tools are going to solve the bulk of your openings………..they simply are not going to do that.

    Personally (not including you Glen), I would like to see more discussions from people on how they increased their employee referrals by 10% or how they increased employer brand that it increased traffic to their careers pages by 100%. The reason we do not see these things discussed so much is back to a fundamental flaw with human nature………..We don’t have the appetite to stick with the core things that work and continue to refine/tweak/adjust and improve as it is not that cool or fun…………..Its hard bloody work.

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  • Boolean Black Belt

    Thank you for reading my blog and for your thoughtful comment – on the 4th of July no less!

    When people want me to talk about using technology for talent identification, their smiles (and interest) seem to disappear when I start talking excitedly about mining internal candidate databases (ATS, CRM, etc.). The effective use of databases (job boards and internal) isn’t as sexy as Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

    I agree 100% that social media does not account for enough hires to justify the “feverish level of activity by people posting blog articles, training or recruiters actually using them,” as you so aptly put it. I write articles about how to use Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to find people – but I also write about “traditional” sourcing methods and what I think has the highest talent identification ROI. However, the traffic figures show me quite clearly which posts are the most popular, and it’s the social media stuff – not the traditional stuff.

    Can you use social media to find great candidates? Sure! But that’s not the point. The return on time invested is much lower than more “traditional” methods of talent identification, as every poll and report shows. It seems like a no-brainer to me to spend the most time on what has the highest ROI and the least time on what has the lowest ROI.

    One of the analogies I use to make my point is that investing heavily in Twitter (or similar) to find candidates is like walking into a casino and purposefully searching for the game that has the lowest odds of winning.

    When recruiting leaders are spending time worrying about whether or not they should allow their sourcers and recruiters to access Facebook during business hours from corporate systems, they should really be worrying about whether or not their sourcers and recruiters are making the best use of their ATS/CRM for the many reasons I’ve written about in several posts. Even more effective use of job board resume databases has a much higher ROI than social media, although no one really seems to want to hear that, as I’m constantly told that the job boards all have “bad candidates.” :-)

    I agree with your assessment of basic human nature – the “familiar” (recruiting and sourcing basics) quickly becomes boring and people are easily drawn to the next new “shiny object.” That’s unfortunate, because I’d argue that at least 80% of the results are produced by consistent and flawless execution of the “basics.” To spend a disproportionate amount of time on the things that produce 20% or less of the results is folly.

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  • The BLS states the number of recruiters employed in the US today is approximately 200,000. This seems like a wide gap between your findings and gov data. Part-timers? Freelance recruiters? Other ideas?

  • Heidi,
    Thanks for your comment/question! I’d say it has to do with how the BLS classifies people, and how they get their data (which I am not exactly sure HOW they do get data on specific job functions/roles). Also, many companies employ people who are responsible for recruiting, yet “recruiter” or “recruiting” are not in their title. As such, I used multiple titles, which helped me get a much bigger #.

    LinkedIn certainly doesn’t represent everyone – only the people with a LinkedIn profile. Having said that, I am sure that the true # of “recruiters” out there far exceeds even the large number I came up with from LinkedIn. So I would have to assume the BLS’s lower figure it simply a result of an estimate, a limitation in their ability toactually get data from every company in the entire United States, or the result of focusing solely on the “recruiter” title and not other titles that are responsible for recruiting as well.

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