With over 225 million members, LinkedIn has become the number one destination for job seekers and recruiters. Looking for candidates on LinkedIn can be difficult if you aren’t sure what to look for or how to spot a fake. To help you, we’ve come up with five LinkedIn tips that will sharpen your recruiting skills on this popular social networking website.

References vs. Endorsements

One of LinkedIn’s newest features profiles endorsement. Figuring out what type of weight endorsements carry in comparison with references is quite easy. Endorsements rarely take any effort to make—it’s a simple click—so some people will have hundreds of endorsements from people who might not even know who they are, never mind the quality of their work. References take more effort and really showcase the value of an individual in a particular organization. References always outweigh endorsements on LinkedIn.

What to Look for on a LinkedIn Profile

There are a few things to look for on a job seeker’s profile that will make a candidate stand out. Of course, you’ll want to use the advanced Search functions and plug in the keywords for the specific skills, education, or company work experience you’re looking for. You can sort the results by the degree of connection to you if you want to get more personalized recommendations. Look for complete and up-to-date profiles and check what professional organizations they belong to. These kinds of affiliation will show that a candidate has ambitions to succeed in life outside of a 9-5 job.

Spotting Lies on a LinkedIn Profile

Just as with resumes, people often lie on their LinkedIn profiles. According to a recent survey by Marquet International, there are ten common resume lies that transcend to LinkedIn profiles. Here are the top five: stretching work dates, inflating accomplishments, enhancing job titles, exaggerating education experience, and inventing periods of self-employment to cover up unemployment. When you look at a LinkedIn profile, watch out for these common lies. They’re much easier to spot on a LinkedIn profile because people tend to stuff them with keywords to make themselves look better and turn up in more searches.

The Biggest Deterrent for Recruiters

An incomplete profile is the biggest red flag for recruiters. If a job seeker is actively looking for a job, his or her profile should be complete and up-to-date. Having an incomplete profile on LinkedIn is like sending in a resume and forgetting to include any work history. If the profile is incomplete, the individual is clearly not looking for work. It may still be worth your while to approach them in any case if they are highly endorsed or you’ve heard good things about them from other professionals in their field.

Make it Personal

As a recruiter, when you reach out to candidates via LinkedIn, you’ll want to make the note personal. People hate it when they get generic “apply for this position” emails via LinkedIn. If you’re taking the time to look at someone’s profile in order to understand their capabilities and qualifications, personalize the note. And I don’t mean just using their name—talk to them about their profile. You are trying to sell them on the job just as much as they might want the job. It’s all about the approach and how to market effectively. A good recruiter will know how to humanize their emails, whether their interest is generated by a LinkedIn profile or a personal recommendation, by being specific about both the candidate and the position.

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, is an author, speaker, Human Resources professional, and workplace social media expert who has a passion for recruiting, training, and all things social media. She is the president and CEO of Xceptional HR, and a leader in the HR community with more than 12 years of industry experience. The author of Tweet This! Twitter for Business, Jessica was named by HR Examiner as the second most influential recruiter on the Internet and the seventh most powerful woman on Twitter. She is a columnist for both SmartBrief and The Huffington Post, in addition to Blogging4Jobs and Human Resources One on One. Jessica has been interviewed for professional articles in CIO Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, SHRM’s HR Magazine, and on CBS. Jessica earned a Senior Professional in Human Resources designation in 2008, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Business from Kansas State University. Originally from a small town in Kansas, Jessica currently lives near Oklahoma City with her husband, Greg and daughter, Ryleigh.


  • Avatar Allan says:

    LinkedIn professional communities and groups have proved to be a very rich source of quality candidates. I usually start (but not limit) my search for candidates on these groups, especially if we talk about very narrow professional field group, after that it’s very handy to use other connections to get introduced or to write a direct inmail.

  • Avatar Cathy says:

    I have joined the LinkedIn community at the early days of my career. I have been using it frequently to connect with many hard-to-find professionals whom I may not have had the opportunity to connect with using other more conventional means. Recently, I had to fill a position which was more complex than usual and had a very specific skill set, so I used two different approaches on LinkedIn. I posted the position and viewed potential candidates through second and third party connections through immediate contacts and requested an introduction. I got great response, met with a few candidates, and filled the position with a LinkedIn member.

  • Avatar Richard Garett says:

    No matter how wonderful LinkedIn may be for sourcing candidates we can’t allow ourselves to limit our search to just one source regardless of the quantity of potential employees, because by acting so we may involuntary undermine their quality and overlook some really precious talents not so active on this social network.

  • Avatar Paul Weller says:

    In spite of having proved itself to be a reliable and unlimited source of quality candidates LinkedIn will always attract skeptics who will say that using it is not right and so on and so forth. But does it really matter how much effort you put into finding good candidates as long as you do find them?

  • Avatar Edward Lampert says:

    Linkedin is good as I have meet and hooked up with several aspiring and eager professionals willing to do whatever it takes to climb the corporate ladder.

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