As LinkedIn’s head of recruiting, Brendan Browne in charge of bringing the best talent to a company dedicated to helping match employers and employees.
Since joining LinkedIn in 2010, Browne has found two recurring mistakes that hiring managers make, he told Business Insider.
They’re applicable to managers at any company.
They set unrealistic expectations.
Browne said that it’s part of his job as LinkedIn’s head recruiter to help hiring managers understand what talent is out there. He needs to step in to eliminate the idea of a unicorn — or, as he calls it, a “purple squirrel” — candidate who fulfils every trait of an imaginary person for a role.
He told us a story from his early days at LinkedIn when he was working with a senior manager and their team, scrambling to find a high-level data center expert as soon as possible. The team was so focused on finding an ideal candidate that they were meeting daily to discuss what they needed.
Browne searched through a wide talent pool to find people who met all the criteria and gave his report to the team: There were only seven candidates in the world who fit the bill. If they were to pursue each of them and follow through with necessary planning and negotiations, the entire process was going to take a couple years.
The team didn’t take the news well. “They’re dropping f-bombs, they’re freaking out!” Browne said. But the point, he told them, was “We’ve got to think about this differently.” Maybe they simply needed looser criteria. Or maybe the Platonic ideal of this job was actually two roles that could be more easily filled.
Hiring managers need to be willing to be flexible, and not wed to the idea of a perfect candidate.
They make impersonal cold calls.
“If you’re a recruiter and you’re cold calling candidates, you’re failing the IQ test,” Browne said.
“The standard pitch you would get from many recruiters is, ‘Hey [name], it’s Brendan. I recruit from company XYZ. We’re amazing. We’re growing like crazy, we’re going to change the world, we have wickedly smart people, great office space, and good food. Let’s talk.’ You will probably delete that,” Browne said.
LinkedIn conducted a study where they measured the rate of favourable responses to recruiting cold calls sent via LinkedIn messaging. In short, Browne said, they found that the favourable response rate jumped from 28% to 85% when a recruiting pitch included a personal recommendation from a mutual connection.
That is, if Browne included in his pitch’s subject line, “Lyndsay said you would be great at LinkedIn,” and included a personal message, the prospective hire would be much more likely to agree to a follow-up interview.
He has also found that this approach leads to more efficient interviews and a higher rate of hires. “It’s a very simple concept, but based on the outreach that I get from many recruiters, people don’t do it,” Browne said.
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