Here’s How LinkedIn Is Trying to Improve Both Sales and Recruiting

Apr 16, 2013
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 10.45.39 PMTwo years ago, LinkedIn realized how much it needed not just a lot of good employees quickly but a lot of good recruiters quickly.

It came up with an uncommon answer, one its recruiting director Brendan Browne talked about at today’s ERE conference in San Diego.

First, to give you a sense of LinkedIn’s employee-population growth, I’ll put it this way: it started off 2010 with about 500 people; 2011 with about 1,000 people; 2012 with about 2,100 people, and 2013 with about 3,458.

Anyhow, LinkedIn turned to its sales organization to find salespeople who’d rotate through the recruiting department. (More here, by the way, on what it looks for when hiring salespeople.)

These salespeople, many young people pretty fresh from top schools, spend a week learning the ropes in recruiting. Then they spend three or four months actually doing recruiting.

About 80 people have been going through this program annually. Browne’s seeing benefits on both sides.

For the talent acquisition department, he feels like the program is raising the skills bar, as the young guns are performing at as high levels as some recruiting veterans, and their success, skills, and ideas are rubbing off on some colleagues.

For the salespeople, these recruiting-trainees are getting closer to the customer. In other words, they work for a company that sells to recruiters and here they get to spend some time actually being a recruiter, thus putting themselves in the shoes of the people ripe for buying LinkedIn products.

This is all part of a larger effort by LinkedIn to improve skills like “business acumen” among LinkedIn recruiters.

Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 1.50.52 PMAs an example, LinkedIn is trying to convey to recruiters — who’ll convey this to candidates — the “total addressable market” for LinkedIn (including the statistic you see in the graph about a 3,300M+ “worldwide workforce” that’s a potential market for company).

What this is about is how big LinkedIn can be, both in terms of the number of members as well as financially, such as the Internet advertising and recruitment advertising spending the company can capture. LinkedIn’s size and scope is a critical part of its pitch, its value proposition to candidates: we’re big, we’re growing, and let me tell you …. we can get even bigger, reach more people, and make a lot more money.

If you did a “where are they now?” with graduates of the training program, you find that some are in sales, some involved in LinkedIn non-profit board work, and others in talent acquisition. Browne, says, smiling, that “we kind of cherry pick some of the people we think are the best, and convince them to stick to recruiting.”

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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