Hiring Today: Recruiters Know Smart Candidates Follow These Tips Already


You know this if you use LinkedIn: It's a wonderful tool for connecting with people in the business world.

But, you probably also know this: LinkedIn has struggled to become the "go-to" recruiting tool that it wants to be, and potentially could be, because of its large footprint among business people, many who don't (and perhaps never would), use it for recruiting purposes.

That's something keep in mind as you dig into these "secrets to getting hired in 2016" from Eddie Vivas, the head of product at LinkedIn Talent Solutions, and published recently in Fast Company.

That's not to say that Mr. Vivas' insights shouldn't be taken seriously, or that he isn't better positioned than most to expound on what is going on when it comes to hiring. But, know that underpinning everything he says is the fact that he's also pushing a new LinkedIn recruiting product, so consider what he says with that firmly in mind.

His "secrets" are aimed at job seekers, but I've found that tips aimed at people hunting for jobs are extremely instructive to those trying to hire as well because they help give insights into the mindset of those job hunters knocking on their door.

Secret #1: It's Less Who You Know Than Who You Know Knows

Insight from LinkedIn's Vivas:

Companies love hiring people who were referred through someone they trust. Even if you don't know someone directly at a company, chances are you know someone who knows someone. We’ve learned it’s not necessarily your best friend who’s going to help you land that next job. It's more likely to be your best friend’s former co-worker, or even that co-worker’s neighbor.

When we surveyed more than 500 people in North America who changed employers between February and March this year, 40 percent said they were referred by one of the company’s employees. But only a little more than one-tenth (11.7 percent) of respondents had one or more first-degree connections on LinkedIn at the company six months before they started working there.

That means most of these professionals scored that referral from second- and third-degree connections, not from people they were connected with directly. As our economist Guy Berger puts it, "It looks like it’s not who you know, it’s who you know knows."

My take: As we all learned from the Saul Goodman character on Breaking Bad, sometimes it's good to "know a guy ... who knows a guy ... who knows another guy," but direct, first-level references and referrals are always best.

I don't doubt that people get referred to jobs by second or third tier connections on LinkedIn, or that they can be helpful and worth cultivating, but this sounds like more of a LinkedIn sales pitch given how they love to tout the size of your extended circle of connections even if they're people you really don't know much at all.

Bottom line, I'd love to dig deeper into this research and get some deeper insights into the breakdown with the second and third level connections, because I'd be surprised if there aren't more wrinkles to it than you're getting here.


Secret #2: It's Less What Your Diploma Says Than What You Now Know

Insight from LinkedIn's Vivas:

The world is simply changing too quickly for even young professionals to rely on the hard-won skills from their college years. You may choose a well-researched major or what looks to be a stable career path, but there’s no guarantee those skills will be in demand in 10 years’ time — sorry! ...

For employees, that means everyone should be thinking about developing new skills right now in order to keep up, or how they could adapt their existing skills to a new specialty. Job seekers who will come out on top will be those who stay curious and are life-long learners. For companies, it'll mean arming existing workforces with new knowledge, getting creative with job requirements, and keeping an eye out for skills that could transfer well into newly imagined roles."

My take: I don't disagree with the notion that the world is changing rapidly and that the job skills that will be highly valued are rapidly changing, too. But as someone who has been around for a while, I wonder: Hasn't this been the case for quite a few years?

Yes, disruptive businesses are rapidly changing a great many industries -- just look at what Uber and Lyft have done to the taxi business -- but that isn't a new phenomenon. Just Google "new job skills" or "changing job skills" and you'll see what I mean.

But, some skills never go out of style -- business/accounting/finance, science and technology, engineering and math -- so the advice here that is hinted at but left unsaid is this: Once you finish college, your life-long job to continually update and upgrade your jobs skills begins. That's what LinkedIn's Vivas means to say but doesn't quite articulate very well.

Secret #3: You've Got More Power Than You May Think

Insight from LinkedIn's Vivas:

We're about to see more power shift away from companies and into job seekers' hands as technology makes it easier than ever to find or change jobs. ...

In the process, job seekers will not only enjoy more connectedness and company transparency than ever before, they'll also become savvier about promoting their professional brands online. We’re already seeing these trends today, so if you're in the market for a new gig, it's worth polishing up your online profile right around now. And as the gig economy and remote work options expand, professionals are finding more and more opportunities available to them ...

Beyond that, professionals need to keep doing what they've always had to do: Work your connections. Keep learning. Stay flexible. And always keep an eye on the market, because new, never-before-seen opportunities will be waiting around every corner."

Old school advice is pretty good advice

My take: That last bit is the best piece of advice in the entire article. Yes, "professionals need to keep doing what they've always had to do: Work your connections. Keep learning. Stay flexible. And always keep an eye on the market ..."

That's old-school advice that keeps getting stomped on by so-called "experts" who think that old-school wisdom is, well, so much old school.

If you're a professional, you know that you just need to do what you have always had to do. Doing that, staying flexible, and keeping your skills up to date is the key to being successful in our 2016 world.

Hiring managers know that too, and that's why they, and you, should keep that in mind as the War of Talent continues to heat up.