The world of social media never fails to surprise us, and the latest changes to LinkedIn are no exception. This month, LinkedIn is rolling out some major product updates that are likely to affect the hiring industry.
We had a chance to catch up with Ashley Ryall, founder of UntapSocial and expert LinkedIn trainer, to discuss how these changes will impact talent acquisition professionals, what they can still use for free on the world’s biggest hiring platform, and what they may need to pay for now.
The Search Bar
We’ve said goodbye to the Advanced Search feature for non-paying accounts, and in its place is a much more basic one. Of course, some talent acquisition professionals may not be thrilled by this change, but it’s not all bad news!
While LinkedIn has put many advanced filters behind a paywall, including job title, keywords, and zip code, you can still filter by:
- Level of connection (1st, 2nd, or 3rd+)
- General location (country, state, city)
- Company (e.g. Rockland Trust, Wayfair, Google)
- Industry (e.g. computer software, staffing and recruiting, marketing)
- Language (e.g. English, Spanish, French)
- Nonprofit Interest (Skilled volunteering or board service)
- School (e.g. Boston University, MIT, Harvard)
Depending on how you've used the Advanced Search feature in the past, this may or may not impact you too much. Many of the companies Ryall does LinkedIn sales and recruiting training for depended on zip code search, which is a big loss in functionality to them now.
“You can search by general location, such as ‘Greater Boston area’ but one of my clients only hires in the North Shore, and they can no longer refine their geographical search,” says Ryall.
LinkedIn has also removed the ability to save searches for non-paying account holders, so if that’s a feature you used to find potential job candidates quickly, you’ll need to work around the downgrade or consider paying for a premium account.
What You Can Do
Despite these big changes, Ryall says there is still a lot talent acquisition managers can do with a free profile. “What many folks may not realize is you can still use Boolean search technology to find most of what you’re looking for,” she explains.
To search by job title using Boolean search (since it’s no longer a free filter) you would type this:
“It’s the same functionality,” Ryall continues, “but the results are a little more limited.” She explains that you can expect more false positive search results than before, but in general it’s still functional and can be useful to many talent acquisition professionals.
Since you can no longer save your searches, you will have to type them in manually from here on out. One hack to make this easier is to save your Boolean search terms and filter selections in a document somewhere so you can simply copy and paste into the LinkedIn search bar.
Notes and Tagging
If LinkedIn has served as your primary applicant tracking system (ATS) to date, the removal of notes and tagging will greatly impact how you save and reference key details about your conversations and interviews with candidates. And if you haven’t already saved these details elsewhere, unfortunately, they may be gone by now…
Additionally, you can no longer see your history with a connection on LinkedIn. This includes the date you connected with them, conversations, and of course, notes and tags.
What You Can Do
Ryall advises hiring managers never to rely solely on a channel that they don’t own or pay for to store critical hiring information such as candidate notes and tags, so it’s time to note-take elsewhere. “Most hiring managers I know have some sort of ATS or Excel spreadsheet where they keep track of candidates and conversations,” says Ryall.
Now, for a positive change! Profiles on LinkedIn are more centralized and streamlined in the new interface. Today, the most important pieces of information (Summary, Highlights, and Activity) are displayed right at the top of the profile so that you can quickly see if a job candidate is a potential fit without having to spend a lot of time digging around their profile to find out.
Here’s an example:
You can see an overview of a person's skill sets/experience (the Summary), mutual connections (Highlights), and engagement (Posts & Activity) without needing to scroll.
What You Can Do
The new profile structure is actually a great thing for hiring managers, as it helps to streamline the candidate qualification process.
“Now, the most relevant information to a hiring manager is shown first and foremost,” explains Ryall.
A Push Towards Mobile Hiring
The redesigned LinkedIn web interface has a very similar look and feel to their new mobile app. Is mobile the new way forward in the hiring process?
“I think the movement toward refining the mobile app and making the desktop version look very similar is definitely a symbol of how much of the hiring process is happening on mobile today,” explains Ryall. “We’re in an age now where hiring managers are confirming interviews via text, and I only expect that type of activity to continue in the coming years,” she says.
As hiring managers and candidates alike are searching for their next opportunity on the go, it only makes sense that a platform like LinkedIn would proactively adjust their model to adapt to this new way of working and connecting.
The Future of LinkedIn: To Pay or Not to Pay?
So...the big question. Will you stick to using what LinkedIn gives you access to for free, or is it time to pay up?
Ryall has found that many companies can still find job leads with the free account. If some of the features that now lie behind the paywall are absolutely necessary to get your job done, then it might be time to consider paying for a premium account.
But if you don't have the budget for LinkedIn Premium, it may be time to use another tool to source great talent.