How LinkedIn can now help you look for a job behind your boss’ back

The professional network’s new feature, Open Candidates, allows users to let recruiters know they’re open to opportunities while keeping their current employer in the dark

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 October, 2016, 7:33pm
UPDATED : Friday, 14 October, 2016, 5:07pm

LinkedIn has long been a way to show your resumé to other companies or recruiters without hanging out a “for hire” sign that your boss can see. Now it’s launching a way to let recruiters know you’re open to considering other jobs – and do so privately, the company says.

The professional social network recently announced a new feature it has been testing, called Open Candidates, which allows users to flip a switch under the “preferences” tab that tells recruiters they’re open to job opportunities.

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Recruiters who pay for LinkedIn’s premium service will then see a tab in their search results that lists profiles of those who have turned on the signal, connecting them with what LinkedIn calls “warm” talent. Others won’t be able to see if a user has turned on the feature, and LinkedIn hides the signal from recruiters at an individual’s own company or its subsidiaries.

The move is an interesting one for LinkedIn, which grew into a giant in the recruiting world because of the access it gave recruiters to millions of desirable “passive candidates” who are not actively job hunting.

Some 87 per cent of recruiters say they use LinkedIn to evaluate candidates during the hiring process, more than twice that of any other social network, according to a survey by Jobvite.

Now even if they’re “passive”, LinkedIn users will be able to signal a little more active interest in considering opportunities, helping recruiters target more accurately the huge number of employed candidates who might be open to making a move.

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Estimates from the consulting firm CEB say that about 40 per cent of the labour market is made up of people who don’t want to be contacted by recruiters at all, while another 35 per cent are not looking but are open to contact.

“It should theoretically make it more effective and efficient for recruiters,” says Brian Kropp, CEB’s human resources practice leader.

It could also cut down on the deluge of inquiries some users, especially those in high-demand industries, receive from recruiters, which turns some people off, Kropp says, pushing them to more specialised forums, such as GitHub for software professionals.

“Candidates are bombarded by so many recruiters that they’re not responding to anything,” he says. (A spokesperson says users can block messages from recruiters if they wish.)

Meanwhile, a crop of start-ups has begun helping people, particularly in tech jobs, covertly scan for opportunities.

Switch, for instance, is an anonymous Tinder-like tool that lets users rate job opportunities by swiping right or left, while Anthology, formerly known as Poachable, acts as an anonymous career matchmaker. A LinkedIn spokesperson said the new feature was not a response, but a way to “improve the experience”.

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LinkedIn says it will hide the signal from “known recruiters” at a user’s employer, as well as affiliated companies, but there is some fine print: on its website, LinkedIn says “we cannot guarantee, however, that every company is accurately identified, or that affiliated companies are accurately mapped on our platform.

“We also cannot guarantee that every recruiter has an up-to-date and correct Company ID, so there’s a small chance that your career interest preferences will be visible to a recruiter at your current employer or an affiliated company.”