Uncle Sam Wants You

What a Web We Weave – LinkedIn Recruiters and Job Hunters

For job hunters, one of the great mysteries of LinkedIn is how to be found by corporate recruiters. You may have heard about LinkedIn Recruiter upgrades and the mysterious people who use them. This article will try to explain what LinkedIn Recruiter is and offer some strategies for being found for your next job.


Although LinkedIn offers “lite” Recruiter accounts for individuals, their flagship offering is LinkedIn Recruiter for corporate recruiting. This service includes:

  • Advanced search with lots of extra options for searching LinkedIn profiles and almost unlimited search results,
  • Tracking tools to identify and tag prospects and slowly guide them through the employee acquisition funnel (similar to a sales funnel, if you know sales),
  • Communication tools for contacting LinkedIn members using InMails,
  • A library of of message templates,
  • An “Update me” tool that automatically notifies the recruiter when you change your LinkedIn profile,
  • A system for importing names and emails from other sources into LinkedIn to find people’s associated LinkedIn profiles,
  • A notes system that allows recruiters from the same company to share notes on prospects,
  • A reminder tool for scheduling follow-up messages or actions,
  • A clipboard-type tool for adding documents associated with a prospect,
  • The ability to easily post job openings on LinkedIn,
  • And all of this is done within Projects, which help organize the various searches by identifying the needs of the business.

Once a recruiter sets up a project for a particular candidate search, he or she can add and remove people from that project. Projects can be permanent or temporary, according to the personnel needs of the company.

Recruiters can easily keep personal notes on candidates. The note stays, even if the candidate is removed from that project. So, if the company has several recruiters, the different recruiters can see notes made by others, even if they are doing different searches.

Being added to a project doesn’t mean that they are actively trying to recruit you, but they might. Even if you don’t want a new job now, they may want to keep an eye on your profile to see if you change your mind, particularly if you are updating your profile in a manner that suggests you might be doing a stealth search or an active search. (See our Frugal Guidance 2 series on doing a stealth job search.)

The Recruiter Search Page

To find prospects, LinkedIn offers recruiters an advanced search and management page. With this and Boolean search tools, candidates can narrow or broaden their search with a wide variety of terms and criteria.



Once they find prospects, cold, warm or red-hot, recruiters can send messages to a single person or a long list of prospects. There are a couple of simple mail-merge-type controls for Recruiter messages, so just because you, the job hunter, receive a personalized message, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are the only one being contacted.

One-Click Responses

If you receive a message from a recruiter, an interesting feature is that you may see one-click response buttons to answer “Interested,” “Maybe later” (if you are not looking now, but could be in the future), or “Not interested”. When you click on one of the three buttons, a response message window pops up which will include some default text, which you can edit.

Be Proactive

It’s not part of the auto-response, but if the recruiter is from a company of interest, or just looks like a good guy or gal, ask them if they are open to connect on LinkedIn. This can help you later, even if you are not looking for work now.

In sales, the word is that it takes 8 to 10 “touches” (or contacts) to make a sale. The same can be said for job hunting. You can take the initiative to increase the communication (touches) yourself rather than wait passively.

InMail Accounting

It doesn’t affect you, but unless a recruiter is connected to you, they are using Inmails to contact you, and they have a limited number of Inmails per month (150 or more, which is a lot more than an individual premium user would get). When you respond, they get a credit to reuse that message, so busy Recruiters will likely appreciate it if you respond, even if it’s just to say you’re not interested.

The LinkedIn Recruiter iPhone app also allows a recruiter to respond to your messages even when away from their computer.

A Response is NOT an Application

Responding to a recruiter’s message does not ensure that there is a definite job opening, or that a job has been posted on LinkedIn or elsewhere. It could mean that they anticipate an opening, or that they are adding potential candidates to their “recruiting funnel” where they keep tabs on people who they may want to recruit in the future.

Also, responding to a recruiter on LinkedIn is NOT the same as applying for a job. If there IS an open job, the recruiter may suggest you read the job post and apply for the job. Some employers may allow you to apply just with the info on your Profile, or they might want you to apply using their website or ATS (Applicant Tracking System).

When you respond to a recruiter’s message (or even if you don’t) your response (or lack of one) will show up on the LinkedIn Recruiter’s statistics page and LinkedIn might automatically promote your name to a new recruitment level (depending on the Recruiter’s settings). The recruiter has ways to track you and your communications, can set reminder messages to contact you later, and can share your info with other recruiters from the same company.

So How Can a Job Hunter Be Found?

A Recruiter likely won’t find you if you don’t have the right info on your profile.

Knowing how Recruiters look for keywords (using the screen shot included above) gives you some clues on how to optimize your profile.

If any recruiter searches for a specific keyword, and that keyword is not on your profile, you are invisible to that search. If you are a “website database designer,” but they do a search for “SQL specialist,” they might not find you at all.

Job hunters need to think like a recruiter and make sure that relevant keywords are on their profile. So think of the different types of keywords somebody might use for your ideal job.

How Can I find the “Right” Keywords?

One way to find out is to look at job descriptions for your ideal new job. Look at which keywords they use. When you find several of these job descriptions, you can combine them together to rank the relevant keywords.

A handy way to do this is to use a tool like Wordle, Tagul or Tag Crowd, which creates a “tag cloud.” Tag clouds show the relative importance of certain words, determined by the number of times the word shows in your pasted or uploaded document.

Wordle is one of the oldest and most popular of these tools and creates a variety of word cloud patterns. Tagul does the same basic thing but with more display options.

Tag Crowd also adds the ability to list the words in order of frequency. If you prefer lists to images, you might like this site best.

You will find that certain relevant keywords keep popping up in various job descriptions. Those are terms recruiters will likely use in their search. Don’t add words to your profile if they don’t reflect your abilities, but do make sure that relevant keywords are not missing from your profile.

Collecting Endorsements Will Help, Right?

Probably not. If you examine the Recruiter search page above, there’s no provision for doing a search or ranking of Endorsements or the number of endorsements. The way that LinkedIn allows you to collect endorsements – from people who may not know anything about your abilities – make them useless to recruiters. LinkedIn might weight search results a bit to those who have more endorsements, but recruiters probably don’t care.

However, the LACK of any endorsements for skills necessary for their job opening might be noticed. Recommendations are probably much more useful.

Why Recruiters Narrow their Searches

With over 380 million people, you will likely find there are a lot of people with your job specialty on LinkedIn. Recruiters are busy people and they might not have time to go through hundreds or thousands of profiles that show up on a search. So they will likely filter their search by region (such as limiting the search to people within 25-50 miles of their zip code), or by your years of experience. They may want somebody with a lot of experience or somebody with only a few years of experience (who may accept a lower salary).

You cannot control how a LinkedIn Recruiter constructs their job search. They may actually not be finding all the relevant prospects because of their need to restrict their search to a manageable size.

Therefore, if you are looking for a job in a different city – say you live in Chicago, but you have family in Dallas and want to move there – you might never be found by a recruiter for a Dallas company, even if you were willing to move there at your own expense. You may want to change your profile to your target location (using a Dallas zip code), and set up an address in the Dallas area (either using a family or friend’s address, or setting up a post office box or a commercial postal address).

Again, having an address close to your target company or companies doesn’t guarantee you will be contacted by that company’s recruiter, but it might prevent them from automatically filtering you out by location.

Who Uses LinkedIn Recruiter?

LinkedIn Recruiter’s full package is very expensive: potentially thousands or tens of thousands of dollars per month, depending on the number of recruiter accounts the company buys. So mostly large corporations are the ones using this tool. You won’t find many Mom and Pop shops or small businesses using the advanced LinkedIn recruiter, although they might use more limited recruitment upgrades or work through contractors. Some small shops and non-profits may just do a search from their own private account.

Employee Recommendations

Keywords are not the only way you can get on a Recruiter’s list.

Another way recruiters may find your LinkedIn profile is from employee recommendations. For some companies, this is the preferred method. This is where networking with people in your target company can be useful. If an employee recommends you and you are eventually hired, they may get a bonus, so there is an incentive for them to recommend you IF you are qualified for the job.

A few days ago, LinkedIn announced a new service called LinkedIn Referrals, to help employees make and track their own referrals. This might make referrals even more important than in the past.

Network, Network, Network

If you don’t have a contact inside your target company, though, you won’t get one of those referrals. Strategic networking (including live, in-person networking) is essential.

It can also pay to connect with a variety of recruiters on LinkedIn, even if they are not using LinkedIn Recruiter. If they do a search using keywords, LinkedIn shows 1st level connections first. That’s a powerful place to be.

It’s Not All about You

A recruiter who is growing his or her network of hot and warm prospects, isn’t just interested in you (sad to say). They are also interested in your connections in the industry and your connections’ connections.

That works in the other direction, too. If you have a strong presence on LinkedIn with a lot of connections in your field, it makes it easier for recruiters to find you, too.

Be Strategic

Job hunters should have several target companies and need to carefully try to cultivate connections in that company. This means you might have to leave your comfort zone if you’re not used to strategic networking.

For a different perspective, see our popular Frugal Guidance 2 article on LinkedIn Basics: Who NOT to Connect With on LinkedIn.

Go Ahead, Research the Recruiters

If you do get a message from a recruiter on LinkedIn, don’t forget to research that recruiter and the company. Recruiters are trained to ensure their own profile is up-to-date and complete and reflects the company they represent. Good recruiters want you to look at their profile. Note that recruiters may have both an official LinkedIn profile linked to their Recruiter account, and a private profile, too.

If you are contacted by a recruiter with a sketchy profile and/or no photo and just a few connections, there is a possibility it’s a fake account and the recruitment is also suspect. Run away as quickly as possible. (This is pretty unlikely, though, if they are using a LinkedIn Recruiter account.)

Also, do your research on the company. At minimum, check out their LinkedIn Company page and website.

In the past year, LinkedIn Publisher has become a good source of info for people researching employers, especially if they are larger, public companies. When you do a LinkedIn search, remember to select Posts as well as Companies.

Use your network, too.

This way, when you finally do talk to a recruiter, or HR, or a hiring manager, you can ask intelligent questions, avoiding the all-too-common “What does your company do?”.

Be Contact-able

If you are job hunting or freelancing, or consulting, or building your own biz, make it easy for recruiters and prospects to contact you without using expensive LinkedIn InMails. Put your phone number and email address in your profile (but NOT in your headline).

Concerned about privacy? Create a special email address just for your job search. If you prefer not to give out your home or cell phone number, consider getting a temp “burner” phone (yes, they’re legal) for your job search.

In Review

Job hunting today isn’t about filling out applications, but about building a network. Make it easier for recruiters to find you and, when they do, try to build a relationship. None of this will guarantee you get the job, but it might help you get the interview.

Other Articles:

See our earlier post What Job Hunters Should Know About The Corporate Recruiters’ LinkedIn. Although written a year and a half ago, it still is relevant.

LinkedIn offer a 65-page PDF file about its Recruiting Services, with some tips that can be useful to job hunters, too. See LinkedIn Essentials, The Modern Recruiter’s Guide. You’ll need to fill out a short form. Click on the Fill with LinkedIn button to speed it up.

Learn what LinkedIn experts are telling HR leaders about the current state of talent in a 34-page free PDF: Talent Trends 2015. See what they’re saying about you.



Title image, is from a 1913 U.S. Army Recruitment Poster, image by James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1960). Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, DC, online catalog.

The LinkedIn Recruiter search box was contributed by Irina Shamaeva. Thanks.

Uncle Sam image with fists on hips is from a 1917 War Bonds poster, by James Montgomery Flagg. Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, DC, online catalog.

Black and White Uncle Sam is also from a 1917 poster, promoting economic fairness. Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, DC, online catalog.

Frugal Guidance 2 - http://andybrandt531.com