The business of recruiting has grown beyond posting jobs on websites and in newspapers, and then waiting for the resumes to roll in. Social media has opened up the number and quality of potential candidates recruiters can now reach.

LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional social network, was built with job searching and recruiting in mind. It has a suite of professional networking tools that give headhunters and Human Resources professionals the ability to search and proactively reach out to potential candidates.

Here are several ways to use LinkedIn to find new hires for your business.

Reach Out to Your LinkedIn Network

Search Contacts in LinkedIn

When the search is on for a new position at your company, you’ve probably already got your ideal candidate in mind.

You know what skills you want this person to bring to the table, how many years experience the ideal candidate should have, and more. If you’ve been a LinkedIn member for any amount of time, you’ve probably built up a bit of a professional network of your own. To find a new hire, start by reaching out to your own network.

Are you already connected to someone who would be ideal for the position you’re recruiting for? Do you know if some of your contacts are in touch with ideal candidates for the job you’re trying to fill?

To find your contacts, sign in to LinkedIn, click the “Contacts” tab in the main navigation menu, then click “My Connections.” From this page, you can search your contacts alphabetically, by company, location, industry, and activity in your network to find the best candidate for the job.

Search for Potential Candidates

In addition to tapping into your own network, you can easily search the entire LinkedIn member database for potential recruits. LinkedIn’s simple search can be found throughout the entire website on the top-right of the page. You can choose to search by “People” which only gives you the ability to search a person’s name.

Advanced People Search in LinkedInIf you don’t know who you’re looking for, you’ll want to leverage LinkedIn’s advanced search. You can access it by clicking on the “Advanced” link to the immediate right of the site-wide simple search. Note that you must be on the “Contacts” page in order to access the Advanced People Search.

As a basic (that means free) LinkedIn member you can search by keywords, name, location, job title, company, school, industry, relationship, and language.

You can upgrade your membership to unlock the ability to also search by job function, company size, seniority level, interests, years of experience, date the person has joined LinkedIn, and whether the candidate has worked at a Fortune 1000 company.

Reach Out to LinkedIn Members

Once you’ve found candidates you’re interested in, LinkedIn provides several ways to reach out to them.

The first option you’ll see on a candidate’s profile is the ability to send an “InMail.” This is a paid LinkedIn service. You’ll have to upgrade your account in order to send what is basically LinkedIn’s version of a private email.

Request an introduction on LinkedInSecondly, you can get introduced to a potential recruit you’re trying to connect with. If you have contacts in common with that person, you can ask one of your contacts to facilitate an introduction via LinkedIn.

Finally, you can add this person to your own network in order to connect with them directly. When you’re connected with people you can send them direct messages with your basic account.

LinkedIn Professional Services

It’s standard practice to post job vacancies on your company’s website, but if you’re not posting those jobs to LinkedIn, you’re missing a link to key candidates. When you post a job to LinkedIn, members with associated keywords and qualifications will be served related jobs on the LinkedIn homepage and Jobs pages with the “Jobs You May Be Interested In” widget.

LinkedIn Professional ServicesPosting jobs with LinkedIn is a paid service. The basic package is $195 to post a job for 30 days. With that, LinkedIn gives you additional functionality, like the ability to see a list of LinkedIn members who’ve viewed your job posting.

If you’re in the business of recruiting full time, LinkedIn offers a full service called “LinkedIn Recruiter.” It provides similar features to a paid account, like additional search criteria and InMail, but what makes this service different are the collaboration tools. If you work on a team of several recruiters, you can share notes, searches and leverage project management tools to keep your team organized.

If a service like LinkedIn Recruiter is more than you need, there are several pay options and levels from LinkedIn that open up additional search and contact functionalities, from $19.95 per month.

Have you found your ideal hire through LinkedIn? What advice can you offer other businesses to help them with their LinkedIn search? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

[Image credit: Deborah Austin]