Here is the next in our series of interviews with avid LinkedIn users, I hope you find it interesting and useful.
James Taylor, I’m a Director at Macildowie Recruitment Expertise and I have been in this industry for 18 years.
When I joined Macildowie in 1997 we were purely a Financial recruiter, in 2001 we started an HR recruitment division because HR were getting more involved in recruitment and we knew we could leverage those relationships. In 2009 we started a Procurement & Supply Chain division and just this year we have launched a Sales & Marketing Recruitment division. As you can see we have continued to grow through these difficult times and I think LinkedIn has played a big part in this. We are Midlands based currently but are now in a position to expand geographically and we see 2013 as a very exciting year for us.
When was your LinkedIn date of birth?
November 5th 2007 (Bonfire night!). I was a major sceptic prior to this, I thought LinkedIn was just another excuse for my staff to avoid getting on the phone and doing some ‘real work’! I then looked into it and realised that you could map out the structure of organisations to ensure that these calls were more effective. That was just the starting point and got me intrigued and so I went on one of your courses where you introduced me to things like searching with boolean strings and it was really then that the penny dropped and I realised that, once you knew what you were doing, this was a really powerful tool.
Finish this sentence "to me LinkedIn is………."
...The most up to date professional database in the world and therefore a sea of business opportunities! We have just invested in a new recruitment database system but it is only as good as the data entered into it and how well our consultants keep it up to date. LinkedIn however keeps itself up to date! 4-5 years ago people mainly used LinkedIn to get a job so they would only update their profile occasionally, these days professionals at all levels use it to maintain and develop their professional networks and as a result their profiles are kept up to date. The use of mobile apps has also made a big difference in this respect.
Once you know how to set up and save relevant searches on LinkedIn it becomes and invaluable market intelligence tool. Recruiters are in my opinion, information brokers and so the more relevant information we have, the more chance we have of being successful. This is just as important to finding new candidates as it is for generating leads.
When do you login to LinkedIn and how often?
First thing every morning when I am having my first coffee at 6.30am. My first login is almost always on the app on my phone.
How many connections do you have and why do you connect with someone?
1544, I tend to invite the following people to connect;
• Employers (clients)
• Potential employees
I will normally email someone first before inviting them to connect. Clients and potential employees are the most difficult and sometimes this process takes several months but I would always aim to engage with them first before connecting,
Candidates are more straightforward.
With regards to invitations I receive, I tend to accept the vast majority of connection requests, the only exceptions would be obvious time wasters from overseas locations where we do not have any business interests plus some direct competitors.
Obviously this has some danger in that by connecting to clients and candidates there is some risk that they will find each other so I tend to leave it a month after working with them before connecting. That said, I have always taken the view that we are sufficiently confident in our quality and ability to manage the whole recruitment process that allowing candidates and clients to find each other is not really a threat.
In fact I go even further than that and have run workshops for my clients and candidates where I show them how to use LinkedIn, including how they can find candidates if they wish to! The reality is that there is far more to recruitment than just finding a random profile of an individual on LinkedIn who has put the right keywords in their profile and who appears to have relevant experience. By helping our clients in this way we are effectively showing them that we are offering them far more than just a searching service and this helps to win hearts and minds.
Recruitment is still about good old fashioned relationships and our focus on this that has been a major factor in our success and helping our clients (and candidates) to use LinkedIn more effectively is all part of developing those relationships.
What features of LinkedIn do you use most?
Advanced search is a fantastic facility for a recruiter.
What success (if any) have you had from using LinkedIn?
We recently started a new division in Sales & Marketing as we see this is a big growth market. One of our first clients gave us a role with a very unique requirement. They were in the food industry and wanted to recruit someone who had been trained in one of the major supermarkets but had then shown some entrepreneurial flair by starting their own deli! As you can imagine this was a nightmare to source but LinkedIn came to the rescue!
I initially joined several food related groups, some food industry related and some were just for people who were into food! It was in one of these groups where I got my break. I simply posted a question in the group asking people if they had any advice or ideas on how I could find such a person (note this is a very different approach to most recruiters who would typically post a ‘I am looking for’ job advert). I got into dialogue with about 6 people who were all very helpful and this led to one of them giving me the name of someone who I subsequently approached about the job, I then went through a detailed evaluation of this individual and they turned out to be very suitable.
This was the only candidate the client interviewed (they understood there would not be many!) and they ended up recruiting him. Our fee was over £15,000!
The key to this was that LinkedIn gave me the opportunity to find this person in a new market to us where I did not have any long-standing relationships via a referral. By joining the right groups and engaging with those communities I found that they were able to help me. Social media works when you understand that it is a community environment, not a job board or a marketing tool but a place to meet and get to know people.
That is a one-off story but it is fair to say that LinkedIn has been the cornerstone of our growth over the last few years. Starting new divisions in markets where you don’t have established relationships has traditionally taken a long time but we have been able to successfully do this by using LinkedIn and quickly building new contacts and relationships in new markets. For example in our first year in procurement & supply chain about 75% of our revenue came directly from LinkedIn.
What new features would you like to see?
It's not really in my nature to think about how LinkedIn may develop in the future, I can only deal with what they give us now so what is the point? We have though developed our new website along the lines of being more social in a very unique way. You can check it out here
Will LinkedIn still be important in business in 2020?
I would be very surprised if it isn’t but you can never say never. I would imagine that it would be very hard to compete with LinkedIn now as they have reached a critical mass and are so dominant.
Now that they are publicly owned they will need to keep growing and innovating as their shareholders will expect them to keep growing so its unlikely that they will get complacent.
A big thank-you to James for taking the time to do this interview, I have known James for sometime and wanted to interview him because I love the way he is prepared to spend time and effort running LinkedIn training sessions for his clients and candidates. It's a sign of confidence that he is prepared to do something which most recruiters would think is crazy! I know for a fact that this strategy has really paid off for him. I love his quote 'Social media works when you understand that it is a community environment, not a job board or a marketing tool but a place to meet and get to know people'...If only more recruiters could understand this!
If you feel you have an interesting story to tell regarding how you use LinkedIn then please feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org