By Rob Weatherhead, Head of Search and Digital Response at MediaCom North

Speak to any recruitment consultant and you will find the Linkedin is one of their key tools for sourcing candidates, especially in the more technical markets. It gives them a ready-made source of potential candidates without having to ring around their existing database or make speculative calls which is a time consuming process. With Linkedin they can filter people by skill sets and job roles and get a good idea of where they are in their careers before they go through the process of making contact.

Tools like linkedin, and the widespread use of job boards, have also however made it more and more easy for employers to get by without recruitment consultants. You don’t need their database of potential candidates as linkedin provides this. It can however be a time consuming process so it is worth noting a few key tips before embarking on your own recruitment spree.

•Think about the candidate you want: Not in terms of skills, but more in terms of where they might be right now. Understanding what their current job title could be will help you find people using the search functionality available in linked in.

•Read between the lines: Remember that everything written on a linkedin profile is added by its owner, so its not always 100% accurate! Most people will overstate what their responsibility and job involves and things like ‘contract roles’ may well have been short stays where exit wasn’t the individual’s choice! Learn to be cynical of their profile information as it might save you some time in the long run.

•Ignore the recommendations! Recommendations on linkedin are not references! In the most they are left by colleagues who are friends and are reciprocated by the recipient. I’ve seen some profiles where I knew of the 4 recommendations where I know 3 were friends and 1 was a family member, hardly an unbiased view!

•Join groups and engage the discussion: Be careful not to join too many but pick the right groups and you can not only connect with potential candidates before you have a vacancy, but you can reach a larger number of people with job postings and links.

•Promote your roles and let people come to you: As you build a network of contacts promoting your roles in your linkedin status’ and through the groups you join will have people coming to you rather than the other way around.

It takes time and effort but when weighed up against the costs of paying recruitment fees sourcing candidates via linkedin can save you a lot of money in the long run.