Recruiters and LinkedIn: Frenemies?

Jan 16, 2013
This article is part of a series called Opinion.

Mouse trapLast month, I wrote a post called “Recruiters: Your Days Are Numbered” for which I was lynched in the comments thread for disparaging the recruiting profession and forecasting its demise. Even Josh Bersin — a leading authority on HR — chimed in to describe the article as “a bit of a joke.”

One of my particularly unpopular remarks was a reference to travel agents, who were disenfranchised at the dawn of the Internet. In the 2011 ERE article, “How LinkedIn Is Eating the Recruitment Industry,” author Michael Overell concurs: “We are witnessing a massive shift in value provided by recruiters, toward online tools that are now accessible to anyone … Travel provides a useful analogy: You might still use a travel agency to book a very important trip — your honeymoon for example — but they are completely irrelevant for the majority of purchases.”

He cites LinkedIn’s 2011 S1 Statement in support of his argument: “We believe our solutions are both more cost-effective and more efficient than traditional recruiting approaches, such as hiring third-party search firms to identify and screen candidates.”

Two weeks ago, ERE published a counterargument to Overell’s analysis — “Why LinkedIn Will Never Kill the Professional Recruitment Industry” — in which author Adrian Kinnersley proposes that, “LinkedIn is undoubtedly negatively impacting parts of the recruitment market but it’s not the third-party agencies, it’s the job boards.” He adds, “LinkedIn has decreased the value of proprietary databases … preventing the proliferation of more generalist and average recruiters and enhancing the reputation of the credible specialist and niche recruiter.”

Kinnersley’s view is short-sighted. And Overell’s words are truer today than when he first wrote them more than a year ago. Regardless of which side of the argument you’re on, it’s ludicrous to ignore the threat that LinkedIn poses.

Recruiters: To rise to the next level of your performance, you may have to make a dramatic change in reaction to new market forces. Miss that moment and you will start to decline — as a casualty of LinkedIn or otherwise.


photo from bigstock

This article is part of a series called Opinion.
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