LinkedIn Sourcing Tips

by Raj Bhargava

LinkedIn Sourcing Tips



LinkedIn Sourcing Tips and Tricks

LinkedIn Sourcing Tips – LinkedIn is the 800 lb. of talent acquisition. In the pre-LinkedIn the world before social media opened everything resumes were a scarce commodity hidden in proprietary large job board sites and databases like Monster, CareerBuilder and staffing agencies. One had to pay large fees to access these candidates.

The other cheaper but less effective option was to run esoteric Boolean strings to dish out buried resumes that were more often totally off the mark within search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. The contest was always on who could write the most esoteric Boolean string to yield seemingly on the mark resumes that missed the mark! Staffing firms would charge search fees that at times exceeded 30% of annual salary. It was a great time for agencies and job boards to make lots of money from their closed proprietary databases and hidden candidates.

Enter LinkedIn with an open platform where people enter their profiles for all to see by connecting with them. No more proprietary databases. No more technical Boolean strings needed to pry the internet.


LinkedIn sourcing tips and techniques

Of course, any solution or platform has its pros and cons. While the platform became open for all to use and technically simple to search the challenge arose at another level where a search in the metro could yield thousands of results. How to filter these searches or run an intelligent search? In this article, we provide some solutions on how to ensure you run quality LinkedIn searches.

LinkedIn is one platform you need to be comfortable with. It is so deceptively easy to use that it can take you down the wrong path if you run your searches without any planning, research and prep work. But then we know in our daily lives good execution is prefaced by good planning and prep work.

A typical sourcing project should be around 60% research and 40% sourcing in terms of effort expended. Doing a good job at the front-end (research) will yield good results at the back-end (sourcing).

Incorporate America, especially within the SMB space recruiters are inundated with open roles. Increased work pressure, time constraints mean the research part of finding talent gets tossed out of the window. Recruiters head straight to the search part. Without any background research, the results are mediocre at best with everyone hitting the same mediocre candidates who are actively looking for work and have spruced up their profiles to show in the first few pages of the search.

Good to great sourcing is about finding that elusive candidate that is buried and would never show up in your simplistic research deficient searches. Finding a great candidate is kind of a WOW moment! The challenge is- this take a fair amount of time and effort – something that cannot be circumvented if you need to find the right talent.

Here is a road map to great LinkedIn sourcing tips –

  • Step One: Sourcing Research – Understand the need for the role
  • Step Two: Sourcing Research – Understand what skill sets
  • Step Three: Sourcing Research – Understand similar roles
  • Step Four: Sourcing Research – Understand your brand
  • Step Five: Sourcing Research – Understand the talent pool
  • Step Six: Sourcing Search

Step One: Sourcing Research – Understand the need for the role

In software development, this is referred to as the Requirements gathering phase and is the most critical phase in designing computer systems. The requirement phase starts with the business problem the system needs to address. At the end of the day, however technical a system is it needs to address and solve a problem the business is facing. Many multi-million systems have failed which while was technically very advanced but did not address the business problem they were supposed to solve.

While there may not be multi-million repercussions with a sourcing project (at least not for junior roes) it is vital to gain a solid understanding of the search goals and objectives. Say you are looking to back-fill your head of sales role. You will need to start by understanding what happened? Was it a performance, culture, politics or some other issue that prompted the person to exit?

You may need to do some detective sleuth work – what truly transpired? How could this have been fixed? Who were the actors involved? Will the search outcome be impacted? If not, you will end up hiring a great head of sales who will leave as they encounter the same issues. Of course, if you are good at your job you will have developed good relationships with your end-users and stakeholders to dig into the root cause and hopefully figure out the impact on the search process.

So, at a business level two possible scenarios need to be addressed:

If a new role – why has the role opened?

If a back-fill – what happened?

What are the high level (business) critical success factors for the person in the role to succeed? How will the search be impacted?

Finally, create a two-column table. On the left side list, all required skillsets followed by preferred skillsets. On the right side, list the impact of not being able to fulfill that skillset. Once you completed the chart you can start prioritizing the skillsets. Do not be too surprised if a preferred skillset rather than a required skillset ends up being a higher priority due to its greater impact. We call this the Talent skillset impact analysis.

Step Two: Sourcing Research – Understand what skillsets

If understanding the role from a business need perspective is akin to the brain in the body; skillsets can be equated to the two arms. For a right-handed person, the right arm equates to required skills while the left is your preferred skills. Required skills are your must-have skills and are vital. For a sales rep, this could be selling B2B complex solution sales. The preferred (nice to have) skillsets could be having experience selling in a quota-based environment. Required skills tend to be implied and will get you your candidates with the minimum skillsets.

However, the skillsets that will yield you your purple squirrel will be your preferred skillsets. Labeling them “nice to have” is a misnomer. In a lot of scenarios, they are the deal-breaker with your Hiring Manager. When conversing with the HM for the role you need to make sure you understand each preferred skillset in-depth and the implication of the candidate lacking the skillset. Bottom line – ignore preferred skillsets at your peril.

In certain cases, the skillset that matters is not even explicitly mentioned. In one of our international searches we found out the Hiring Manager liked to socialize in the pub and this was important to the HM. Of course, this was not mentioned within the job description.

Having an intake or information session with the HM is something that needs to be in your high priority of to-dos. You need to hear it from the horse’s mouth. As a sourcing support firm, we will not take on any search if we do not have a 30-minute intake or fact-finding session with the HM. We need to hear their story. Sometimes the recruiter is hesitant for this to happen – however, we know how critical this is and hence pen this in our contractual agreement. After all, we need to know if the HM is a social animal who will want to socialize with the new hire over a few drinks in the pub!

Step Three: Sourcing Research – Understand similar roles

Now that you have a good understanding of the role and what it entails – it is time to see how it compares in the marketplace in terms of quality and ability to attract talent. Remember you are not alone in the role stratosphere – you are competing with other companies.


Search effectively with LinkedIn sourcing tips

Check out how the big guys have their roles scribed. Are you missing out on anything?  Does the role flow in terms of roles and responsibilities? Does it pertain to what is in for the candidate or just about what is in it for you? Is it catchy? Will it appeal to the right demographic? Is it boring? Does it capture the essence of the role? It is always good to know what is happening on the other side of the fence and make sure nothing slips through. A good well-written job description will ensure your search will not go off in a tangent. Be prepared to sit down with your Hiring Manager to negotiate aspects of the role.

Step Four: Sourcing Research – Understand your brand

While yes, you would love to attract talent from the likes of Google and Microsoft – is this realistic? Is your brand strong enough to match theirs? Many times, SMB companies have unrealistic aspirations to attract talent from top tier companies without any track history of this happening.

What can you realistically attract? What is your employment brand? LinkedIn offers an objective solution to getting this answered. We call this TITO (talent in – the talent out). Talent in – what companies have you been able to attract talent from for the specified skillset. There is attrition in any company – talent out – what companies do the talent head out to. So how do we go about doing a TITO mapping?

To research, this enters your company name, skillset and current company in the filters. You will get a list of your current employees. Select each and note down what was their previous company they were employed before joining you. This is your list of “talent in”. For talent outrun the same search. However, change the current company to “past and not current company”. You will find out what company did your past employees join after leaving your company – your “talent out”.

Now with your TITO done you have an objective list of what companies worked for you to hire from by researching history. This is a good starting target list. The list can also be shared with your Hiring Manager to help set realistic expectations and kill the Google/Microsoft bird once for all!!

Your search has now a vastly powerful tool we call CBT (company-based targeting). This means we start the search by entering the appropriate companies from our TITO analysis and then headhunt talent from within these companies. Results – a much relevant, appropriate and laser-sharp search!

Step Five: Sourcing Research – Understand the talent pool

Now that we know what to look for where – well time to open the spigot and see what is available. Remember the talent pool is what it is. It cannot be modified; it cannot be fuzzed. It cannot be created. Your search will be constrained by the quantity and quality of the available talent pool. If your search is in a large metro, well you will get over a thousand searches.

In a small city a much smaller number. Both are problematic. Larger pools mean coming up with the right filters to narrow down your search list. With a smaller number, you may need to go beyond TITO and spend more time analyzing the profiles. You can broaden the search to reach out to candidates asking for referrals.

What is a good size talent pool? A good very comfortable number for us is 200. At the low end, we never take on a search where the pool is smaller than 100.

Step Six: Sourcing Search

Finally, the research is over! Now to the easy part! We hopefully by now know what, where, when and how to target! What skillsets; what companies (where); when (open or pipeline roles) and what filters/keywords (how). All your searches will now be coated with intelligent research and hopefully yield the RIGHT candidates (who are the right cultural fit; will stick around and deliver)!

Here are some other relevant topics: “Also read about: Talent sourcing specialist

LinkedIn Sourcing Strategy

CBT (company-based targeting). Identify the right companies to target that have worked in terms of hiring from the past. Headhunt talent from within these targeted companies. No need to browse through pages and pages of candidate’s listings.

You are looking for Network Engineers in the DFW region. You enter your search strings in LinkedIn and voila – 1000+ searches!

You try tightening the filters. The numbers go down but still, the obdurate 1000+ pops up. Help!!!

There is a solution! Company based targeting or CBT. Start by focusing on the right companies. These will be in the handful not in the thousands! What is the right company you ask? The right company is a company that is a close match in terms of the company culture, environment, etc.

Hold on. LinkedIn does not provide this data you say. And you are right. However, we can find out what companies your employees are coming from! Where are they being hired from? This is the start of your list…

So back to your Network Engineering role. Research all your current and past Network Engineers employees. Identify companies they came from. Now identify employees that are doing good or have been with you for say 18 months plus. Are there multiple employees from the same company with tenures over 18 months?

Start building this list and keep on refining it till you have a dozen or so companies that match your company’s culture. Remember they are happily employed working past the 18-month line. Now that you have built your list of companies to target – the rest is easy. Source candidates from these companies. You should have around 50 or so candidates to work with compared to the thousand plus.

There is another side advantage of CBT. When your hiring manager says we need to think big and hire from the Googles and Apples you know to nip the desire in the bud! “John, we have never hired from Google. In fact, my research says they will be a misfit. So, let us skip Google. Here is a list I have come up with…”

CBT is relevant, precise, rhymes with reality and truly workable. While it takes time to research upfront it pays dividends as you source from a very dwindled list.

Most important LinkedIn sourcing tips

Take your time to understand the role first. What is truly required? What are the must-have vs. nice to have skillsets? How important are each of these skillsets and why?

Some things you need to understand:

Why is this role open? New/backfill? If back-fill, what happened to the previous employee? Was he or she the right candidate to start with? Too junior/too senior? What was lacking? Did we hire from the right company? Have we hired from this company before for these skill-sets? What was the outcome?

These are tough questions that will better your sourcing as you get the big picture and then dissect into the appropriate search words. While it may be hard to approach the hiring manager – well, to do justice to your sourcing effort you do need the full picture.

Second most important LinkedIn sourcing tips

Profiles are not resumes. Great candidates who are happily employed and not looking (passive) are likely to have shoddy profiles that your keywords will likely miss unless you have done your research. Minimize reliance on job titles.  Do your TITO analysis so your search can be simplified using techniques like CBT.

LinkedIn sourcing techniques

HM intake/fact-finding meetings; TSIA (Talent Skillset Impact Analysis); TITO (talent in/talent out) analysis; CBT (company-based targeting)

Sourcing without LinkedIn

Not a good ides unless you are looking for blue collar talent or entry level talent. You cannot bypass LinkedIn if you want to source for the now and/or build pipelines for the future.


LinkedIn sourcing tips and tricks

LinkedIn sourcing training

Do not bother. You do not need to know esoteric quirky LinkedIn Boolean strings/operators that will be here today and gone tomorrow. Stick to the basics. Do your research and then use filters appropriately.

The one thing sourcers should not jump to – sourcing!

Your job posting did not yield the results you were looking for. Both quality & quantity missing. You need a fresh batch of candidates (tips for sourcing candidates) like yesterday. You pick up the JD & quickly jot down the job title, location & key works. You open LinkedIn, select the right title, put in the location and keywords to start sourcing…

Wait and back off! You are not ready to start sourcing. Sourcing is not a title or keywords search. It is much more if you want to get it right.

For any queries and support –

Email us at or call 214 432 0842

Raj Bhargava

Raj Bhargava is the VP of Sourcing Support for Global Rhymes/Sourcing Geeks. Global Rhymes helps small to mid-size companies source and hire great sales talent. Sourcing Geeks helps enterprise companies with sourcing support and diversity sourcing. We have partnered with over 600 companies in the last decade. Enterprise clients have included: Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, GE, HP, Dell, Johnson & Johnson, Comcast, Verizon, Bic, Gap, Staples, Liberty Mutual, Prudential, DuPont, BIC, Blue Cross Blue Shield, WPP, Cisco, Citrix, Avery Dennison, Bank of America, Bloomberg, Gannett. Our Model: