How Small Businesses Can Use LinkedIn to Recruit

November 28, 2017

Small businesses employ 48% of the workforce in the United States, but recruiting skilled employees can still be a huge headache. Time is short, budgets are tight, you’ve got a dozen other things on your plate—and unlike enterprises, you probably don’t have a team of dedicated recruiters at your disposal.

That doesn’t mean you can’t compete: LinkedIn can be a great equalizer. Much more than a job board, LinkedIn is the world’s biggest professional network. Here you can build your brand, tap into your employees’ connections, and target top talent with surgical precision.

Below, we're sharing tips, best practices, and simple strategies for small businesses to find, attract, and hire skilled talent via LinkedIn. Read on for free and paid tactics to help your small business stand out.

1. Set up a free Company Page if you don’t already have one

First and foremost, your company needs a real presence on LinkedIn: that means a Company Page. It’s basically an official LinkedIn profile for your business. If you don’t have one set up already, stop reading this and go create one now for free.

Your Company Page is your home base on LinkedIn: you share a high-level description of what makes you different, officially connect your business to existing employees, share updates on behalf of the business, and attract followers who’ll see your updates in their feed.

It’s also where your Job Postings will show up—more on those in a moment.

2. Make sure all your employees have a LinkedIn profile that’s connected to your Company Page

This is another super-simple essential step (and free). Most of your employees probably already have a LinkedIn profile, but make sure they’re officially listed as a current employees, so that their profiles link back to your Company Page and drive awareness of your business and opportunities.

Viewing profiles is actually the most common activity on LinkedIn, so you’ll drive more traffic to your Company Page just by virtue of having more employee profiles publicly connected to it.

3. Advertise your job openings on LinkedIn on a pay-for-performance basis and get them in front of the right candidates

Posting a job on LinkedIn isn’t like advertising on a job board—LinkedIn is an entire professional platform where you can interact with candidates, build your employer brand, and leverage the networks you and your employees already have.

There are a few ways to post a job on LinkedIn, as we’ll cover below, but all of them use intelligent targeting. This means that the LinkedIn platform targets your jobs so that they are seen by the most relevant candidates. And while every basic platform can target by industry and location, our algorithm goes deeper by analyzing member profiles to find a match and put your jobs in front of them in their LinkedIn feed, instead of them having to search for you.

As a small business, you also want to be sure that you’re getting the most out of your recruiting budget. If you’re only making a few hires a year, the most cost-effective way to post a job is on a pay-per-click basis.

On the other hand, if you’re hiring more than a couple employees a year, it probably makes more sense to use Job Slots: they’re basically recurring, reserved job posts that you can swap in or out every month. For example, if you bought one Job Slot, you could advertise as many as 12 positions over the year for a lower price than buying job posts individually.  

Let’s also take this time to clear up a common misconception: While some platforms claim they can post your Jobs on LinkedIn, the visibility is minimal. Only when posting directly on LinkedIn will your job be targeted and proactively served up to qualified candidates (responsible for over 50% of applications).

4. Have your employees amplify the reach of your job openings and updates

While it’s always a smart idea to post updates and content on your Company Page, you can also encourage your employees to share that content for a huge multiplier effect, leveraging their network. This is true of any content—e.g., a blog post or press release about an award your company won—but it’s particularly important when you’re hiring on LinkedIn. 

You might only have 100 followers on your Company Page to start out, but most users on LinkedIn have between 400 and 1,500 connections. If just one of your employees shares your company update or job opening, that content can then be pushed to the news feeds of all their connections. If any one of their connections likes, comments, or shares it, then it can be pushed to all of that person’s connections in turn.

In this way, you can easily increase your exposure by 10x, 100x, or even 1,000x compared to your initial audience. And, the best part is it’s free!

5. If you want to source talent yourself instead of just advertising a position, look into LinkedIn Recruiter or Recruiter Lite

All of the tactics above can help you get a nice stream of active candidates—talent that’s looking for a job and approaching you about an opportunity. But if you want to really compete with large enterprises, you should also be targeting passive and open talent—skilled workers who aren’t currently looking for a job, but may be open to new opportunities.

That means you’re the one who’s actively scoping out the talent and approaching them, not the other way around. To supercharge your sourcing on LinkedIn, you may want to look into our Recruiter products.

If you have someone on your team who is dedicated to recruiting, LinkedIn Recruiter is a powerful paid license that lets you find, engage, and organize talent. You get unlimited access to every profile on LinkedIn (instead of just your first-, second-, and third-degree connections), along with 150 InMails every month so you can reach out to talent directly, plus premium search, hiring workflows tools,project management, and analytics tools to stay organized and effective.

Enterprise companies often buy several licenses for their recruiting team, but as a small business, just a single license can take your hiring to a new level.

On the other hand, if you are only making occasional hires and don’t have anyone dedicated to recruiting, Recruiter Lite might be a good fit for you. As you probably guessed, Recruiter Lite is a lightweight version of LinkedIn Recruiter: you get unlimited access to all 3rd degree connections, along with 30 InMails a month and the project management tools.

Final thoughts

Whether you invest in recruiting products or just follow best practices, your small business can benefit from using LinkedIn as a hiring platform. More than any old job board, LinkedIn is the premium place to cultivate your employer brand, make the most of your professional network, and find the best active and passive candidates.

Attracting talent as a small business isn’t always easy, but tapping into the potential of LinkedIn can help you go toe-to-toe with big enterprises to compete for top talent.

*Image by Ian Schneider

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