LinkedIn is revolutionizing recruitment. The $30 billion professional social network has garnered tens of thousands of companies as clients, including Fortune 500 firms Apple and Chevron, who search for talent among its 400 million users. Using big data and people analytics, the company has become recruiters’ first stop on their hunt for hires.
With rapid growth, it is little wonder the world’s top business school students are flocking to the Silicon Valley headquartered company. LinkedIn this year hired from Stanford GSB, Yale SOM, and HEC Paris among others. LinkedIn’s Talent Solutions revenue increased 46% year-over-year to $502 million.
And with talent being the company’s number one operating priority, there is demand for business students to work in various functions, says Chris Brown, director of LinkedIn Talent Solutions UK.
In this exclusive interview with BusinessBecause, the executive explains why big data is the future of recruitment, how online solutions can boost diversity, and LinkedIn’s continuous search for the best and brightest employees.
Since 2012 the NYSE-listed company, which operates from 30 cities globally, has increased headcount from 2,100 to 9,200.
My readers would be keen to know if you value business professionals as hires at LinkedIn.
Yeah [we do]. We have all sorts of functions at LinkedIn. We have over 9,000 employees now so, for business professionals and business students, there are of course opportunities at LinkedIn [UK] and in our offices all around the world.
Is big data the future of recruitment?
It’s happening now. It’s the present. What we’re doing is connecting people with talent with opportunities, but doing that at scale. Being able to match those opportunities or those jobs with people at scale all comes from use of data.
We’re helping companies find better candidates for their roles — people who are actively looking at jobs, but also people who might not be looking for roles — and using that rich profile data to make that matching much quicker and reduce the time it takes to hire.
What are the key benefits of using people analytics to businesses. Is it all about slashing costs, for example by reducing employee turnover?
It’s a mixture. All the companies that use LinkedIn get different value from it.
Very quickly, recruiters can home in on the most relevant people. Being able to do that quickly can remove friction in that recruitment process. Companies find removal of that friction to be a time saver.
We estimate the vast majority of people are “passive” — they might not be looking for jobs but are open to exploring opportunities. That kind of access to passive candidates is the biggest change in the industry in recent years.
What impact is social media having on networking?
For members of LinkedIn, the value proposition is around staying connected. [Social networking] allows us to maintain a network much more easily than we could have done before. The Rolodex is a thing of the past.
It’s easy to keep in touch through a social network and it’s easier to maintain that network.
The other thing members get [from LinkedIn] is being informed about their industry, even if you’re not looking for a job.
What do companies tell you they want to see from LinkedIn users? And what advice do you have for job searchers in the internet age?
The more relevant your profile can be — putting all of your experience online, and using keywords — is key. And building your brand based on what you stand for, and what your purpose is as a professional, but going beyond skills and expertise.
Authenticity is also key. Make sure that what you’re writing online is authentic and human, rather than stale CV descriptions.
Competition in recruitment is said to be tough in some sectors. Does big data offer recruiters a competitive edge?
Absolutely. The data insights allow employers to find the required skills more quickly than ever before, and uncover talent from places that they might not have looked at before — people in different industries for example, or other countries.
Interestingly, there’s not just the searching and the matching: lots of companies we work with in the UK now are realizing the data we can offer helps them position their brand to the right target audience in different ways.
Is there a danger that the use of data could discriminate, creating homogeneous workforces?
When people sign up as a member, we don’t ask for background or gender. So when employers search for matches of candidates, they’re searching based on skills and experience.
We’re supporting all efforts to improve things like diversity and we spend lot of time thinking about it.
How did you get hired by LinkedIn?
I was found on LinkedIn. I wasn’t looking for a role, but I had built a profile. I was using LinkedIn to stay in touch with my customers at the time.
I had invested in my brand, my profile was good enough, and I had invested in my network. My recruitment is a good example of how powerful passive candidate recruiting is with the availability of data. Without LinkedIn, I wouldn’t have had my CV out there.
Will robots and algorithms ever replace recruiters?
No, I don’t think so. I think data brings loads of value, like uncovering talent and helping identify talent pools. But recruiting still needs that human element for companies to understand how they can fulfil their goals and purposes.