How to Use LinkedIn to Source Talent for Your Open Positions

Sourcing quality talent is one of the most important aspects of recruiting. With LinkedIn’s massive professional network of over 800 million members, it has become an invaluable tool for recruiters and hiring managers looking to find great candidates to fill open roles. This comprehensive guide will teach you how to fully leverage LinkedIn to source top talent for your organization’s hiring needs.

Crafting an Effective LinkedIn Recruiting Strategy

The first step to sourcing great candidates on LinkedIn is developing an effective recruiting strategy. Here are some tips:

  • Define your hiring goals and ideal candidate profiles. Before searching for candidates, be clear on the roles you need to fill, required qualifications, skills, experience level, etc.
  • Leverage all of LinkedIn’s recruiting tools. Take advantage of job posts, Recruiter account, search filters, InMail, talent pools, and more. We’ll cover these in more detail later.
  • Search beyond your immediate network. LinkedIn has a massive member base, so don’t limit yourself to just people you’re already connected to.
  • Actively source candidates. The best talent is likely not actively job hunting, so be proactive in seeking out potential hires through searches, InMail, etc.
  • Engage passive candidates. Many quality candidates aren’t actively looking, so compelling outreach is key to capturing their interest.
  • Offer employee referrals. Your own employees often have large professional networks full of potential candidates. Incentivize referrals.
  • Build relationships over time. Connect with prospective talent before you have an opening so that you already have a relationship to leverage.

Leveraging LinkedIn’s Recruiting and Search Tools

LinkedIn offers recruiters and hiring managers several tools to make sourcing and connecting with candidates easier:

LinkedIn Recruiter

LinkedIn Recruiter is LinkedIn’s enhanced recruiting platform that offers added features like:

  • InMail integration to contact non-connections
  • Talent discovery and management tools
  • Recruiting analytics and reporting

The different account levels provide varying levels of access to these features.

Boolean Search

LinkedIn’s advanced boolean search gives you more control and specificity in your talent searches. Some helpful operators include:

  • “Title:(Sales Manager)” – Search by job title specifically
  • “Company:(Apple)” – Limit results to candidates at a certain company
  • “School:(Stanford University)” – Search by university attended
  • “Skills:(Python OR Java)” – Require candidates to have certain skills
  • “Location:(Chicago)” – Only see candidates in a certain geographic area

Search Filters

Narrow your LinkedIn searches further by applying filters like:

  • Location
  • Current company
  • Industry
  • Past company
  • School
  • Job function
  • Seniority level
  • Years of experience

Profile Badges

Badges on member profiles indicate openness to opportunity. The ones to look for include:

  • Open to Work
  • Career Opportunities
  • Hiring Insights

Talent Pool Organization

Save and organize candidate prospects into different talent pools based on common criteria like location, skills, company, etc. Nurture relationships over time.


InMail allows you to directly contact anyone on LinkedIn, even if they’re not in your network. Great for engaging passive candidates.

Where to Find Candidates on LinkedIn

Now that you know how to use LinkedIn’s recruiting tools, here are the best places to search for candidates:

Advanced People Search

Leverage LinkedIn’s advanced boolean search and filters to find prospects matching very specific criteria. Great for filling niche roles.

Company Pages

Search employees at competitor or similar companies likely to have the experience you need. Engage those open to new opportunities.

University Pages

Recent graduates make affordable emerging talent. Search alumni from schools offering degrees relevant to the open role.


Join industry or role-specific groups to connect with engaged professionals in your target talent vertical.

Content Shares and Comments

Notice who frequently shares and comments on content relevant to your open positions. They likely have strong interest in the field.


Attend virtual career fairs and events to connect with candidates open to new opportunities in your area.

InMail Recipients

If you purchase InMail credits, you can identify and directly contact qualified prospects, regardless of existing connections.


Ask current employees to review their connections and refer anyone that may be a good fit. Incentivize referrals.

Best Practices for Engaging Candidates on LinkedIn

Once you’ve identified promising candidates for your open roles, it’s time to reach out. Here are some top tips for engaging them effectively on LinkedIn:

  • Personalize InMail and connection requests by mentioning why you’d like to connect based on their background and experience.
  • Communicate the opportunity clearly, including an overview of the role, required qualifications, company culture, etc.
  • Sell the value proposition by focusing on how the opportunity aligns with their career goals, interests, location needs, etc.
  • Be responsive to replies and messages, even if it’s just an acknowledgement of receiving their note while you prepare a more detailed response.
  • Address concerns transparently and have information ready regarding compensation, benefits, work-life balance, advancement opportunities, etc.
  • Get a referral whenever possible. Candidates are more likely to engage with an outreach from someone they already know and trust.
  • Stay organized using talent pools so you can continue nurturing relationships with prospects over time.
  • Follow up if you don’t receive a response. Try contacting them through a different channel like InMail if you first used a connection request.

12 FAQs About Sourcing Candidates on LinkedIn

If you’re new to leveraging LinkedIn for recruiting, chances are you still have some questions. Here are answers to the 12 most frequently asked questions:

1. Is a paid Recruiter account required to source candidates on LinkedIn?

No, a free basic account is sufficient to search profiles, join groups, and connect with prospects. However, paid Recruiter seats unlock more advanced features and InMail credits for directly contacting anyone.

2. What is the benefit of InMail over just sending connection requests?

InMail allows you to proactively reach out to prospects who are not already connections. With connection requests, you have to wait for them to accept before communicating.

3. Is it better to contact prospects directly or get an introduction through a shared connection?

Warm introductions are ideal, but don’t wait indefinitely for one if you find a great candidate. A personalized InMail works almost as well. Mention the shared connection when possible.

4. What is the best way to grab a passive candidate’s attention on LinkedIn?

Highlight the value proposition of the role and how it aligns with their current career trajectory. Remind them that exploring new opportunities can accelerate growth, even if they aren’t actively job searching.

5. Is it worth paying for premium search filters like Contact Info and Open To Change?

The premium filters can surface more prospects open to opportunity, but you can also identify them through Profile Badges for free. Contact info is handy for proceeding beyond InMail.

6. How important is the recruiter’s LinkedIn profile for attracting candidates?

Critical. Prospects will review your profile, so showcase your expertise, organizational info, and career achievements. A standout profile establishes credibility.

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7. What is the best time frame for following up with candidates who haven’t responded?

Follow up within 1 week of initial outreach if no response. Quick follow up shows responsibility but avoids becoming a nuisance. Vary your message for the follow up note.

8. How can I maintain relationships with prospects not ready to make a move now?

Add them to appropriate talent pools to continue nurturing the relationship with relevant content shares. Periodically check in to remain top of mind for future roles.

9. What information should I request from prospects to prescreen before the full hiring process?

Basic career background, location/remote preferences, salary requirements, and interest in the role/company. This helps filter for serious candidates worth advancing.

10. Is it better to contact candidates early in the hiring process or closer to making an offer?

Earlier the better in most cases. Top talent may accept other offers if you wait too long. Ideal scenario is establishing a talent pipeline before openings arise.

11. How much should I customize outreach templates to each prospect?

Fully customized messages have the highest response rates. Mention specifics from their background that make them a great fit and pique their interest given the opportunity.

12. How do I integrate LinkedIn sourcing with our organization’s broader recruiting efforts?

Coordinate with the recruiting team to avoid duplicate outreach. Share prospect info and add candidates to existing talent pools in your ATS.

Key Takeaways for Sourcing Great Candidates on LinkedIn:

  • Develop a sourcing strategy outlining ideal talent profiles for each open role.
  • Leverage the full range of LinkedIn’s recruiting features to surface and engage relevant prospects.
  • Search broadly across the platform, not just within your immediate network.
  • Prioritize passive candidates who aren’t actively job hunting. Compelling outreach is key.
  • Take a personalized, consultative approach in your outreach and follow up diligently.
  • Build an ongoing talent pipeline, not just for current openings but future needs.

Using LinkedIn strategically provides access to hundreds of millions of professionals, both active and passive candidates. Following these best practices will help you connect with top talent to advance your organization’s recruiting and talent acquisition goals.

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