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Finding and reaching candidates with LinkedIn Recruiter (2022)

This blog explains all the possible methods of recruiting on LinkedIn and answers your most important questions on finding and reaching people on the platform.

September 29, 2020
Yuma Heymans
February 15, 2023

LinkedIn is the biggest professional networking platform in the world. 

With almost 800 million profiles, it is a valuable source of candidates and their professional related information.

But there are also things to take into account while recruiting on LinkedIn, like the high competitiveness amongst recruiters and outdated data.

In this guide you’ll learn about what LinkedIn recruiting is, how you can get started, what to keep in mind and how you can set up a longer term strategy for recruiting on LinkedIn.

What LinkedIn recruiting is about

LinkedIn is the biggest professional social networking platform in the world, owned by Microsoft, which bought LinkedIn in 2016 for a staggering 26.2 billion dollars. 

LinkedIn doesn’t report the exact amount of revenue per product, but estimates are that about two third of the revenue is coming from LinkedIn Talent Solutions.

LinkedIn Talent Solutions have several underlying products, like LinkedIn Recruiter (access to search filters), LinkedIn Jobs (job board) and LinkedIn Recruitment Marketing (job advertisements).

These are recruiting products that LinkedIn offers and what they give you:

1. LinkedIn Recruiter: finding people

The LinkedIn Recruiter seat is one of the premium accounts of LinkedIn. As a company you pay per individual user that uses access to LinkedIn Recruiter.

For small and medium businesses there is the LinkedIn Recruiter Lite plan that is less costly than the full LinkedIn Recruiter functionality.

These are some of the latest LinkedIn pricing indications (averages, rounded off):

  • Recruiter Lite: €1.320 billed annually (or €160 per month)
  • Recruiter Corporate: €8.400 billed annually (or €835 per month)

Here’s a full blog on how pricing works for LinkedIn Recruiter.

What you pay for is access to search filters and unlimited search on the platform.

Below is what's included in the plans.

LinkedIn Recruiter (corporate and professional services):

  • ‍InMails: 150 InMails every month
  • Search: 40 search filters‍
  • Collaboration: Multi user account is available (collaborative environment)
  • Reports: Jobs and InMail reporting, plus insights into your Recruiter pipeline, usage, and performance summaries

LinkedIn Recruiter Lite:

  • ‍InMails: 30 InMails every month
  • ‍Search: 20 search filters‍
  • Collaboration: multi user account not available‍
  • Reports: not included

2. LinkedIn Jobs: posting jobs

You can post jobs that you have on the LinkedIn job board. Posting a job works the same as on any other job board.

You get one job post for free, after that you pay a daily budget for your job post that you can set yourself, for example if you set a daily budget of $10,- that will cost you $300,- for a 30-day listing.

Paid job posts get placed on top of the search results of candidates and therefore can expect some more views and potentially more applicants.

3. LinkedIn Recruitment Marketing: advertising jobs and employer brand

You can pay for promoting your job post or your employer brand as an advertisement to LinkedIn users.

This works the same as the LinkedIn ads that you see yourself on your LinkedIn timeline and in banners for instance.

Prices of advertisements are dependent on the amount of views and how popular your advertisement target group is.

If you target the most sought after software developers, you are likely to pay more than when you are targeting less in demand positions.

How to start recruiting on LinkedIn

If you’re just starting out with recruiting on LinkedIn, you might want to know a couple of things to get started.

LinkedIn as a platform is a valuable source of candidates, but it can be also quite expensive and very competitive.

You’re not the only recruiter on there which can make winning candidates for you hard, so it helps to know your way around on the platform.

First thing to understand: how searches on LinkedIn work

We all know you can find people on LinkedIn using the search bar and filters. But how LinkedIn provides the matching results of your search, is dependent on how you use LinkedIn and what service you are using.

There’s a difference in the user interface between a regular LinkedIn account and the LinkedIn Recruiter account.

Regular LinkedIn search without paid subscription
Search on a paid LinkedIn Recruiter subscription

The LinkedIn Recruiter functionality allows for some additional search filters, but if you would use the same search criteria the resulting matches will be similar to the regular LinkedIn search.

Searches on as well the regular LinkedIn account as on LinkedIn Recruiter work partly with search filters and partly with (Boolean) search operators.

The use of search filters speak for itself with mostly a selection of options you can include in your search to target it towards for example a specific location, education or language.

Search operators can be used in the general search bar which allow you to determine what to include in your search and what not.

If you would insert the following search string in the search bar you would get engineers who have DevOps and AWS on their profile, and have at least one of the keywords API, Cloud or CI/CD on their profile:

(DevOps AND AWS) (API OR Cloud OR CI/CD)

There's a lot more you can do with search operators so if you want to learn more on how to build a targeted search with operators, you can check out this article:

Complete boolean guide

How to recruit on LinkedIn for free

The premium plans on LinkedIn are rather pricey, so before subscribing you might want to look into what you can already do with a free account.

Here’s an overview of what you can do for free on LinkedIn:

  • Post a free job on LinkedIn Jobs and receive applicants
  • Search for candidates in the search bar of the regular account using the basic search filters
  • Engage with content posted by candidates (like, comment and share)
  • Create a LinkedIn company page to promote your employer brand

Using these free functionalities you can come a long way recruiting talent.

By trial and error you will learn what the limitations that LinkedIn is enforcing to get you to convert you as a potential customer to a paid subscription.

First start of with a free LinkedIn account and think twice before pulling your credit when you hit a limitation, because oftentimes you can go around those limitations and keep recruiting for free.

Here are some helpful articles to learn more on how to use LinkedIn for free:

3 Hacks to recruit talent on LinkedIn without paying

How to send unlimited free messages on LinkedIn

LinkedIn Inmail credit: cost, free InMails and alternatives

LinkedIn connection invite limit and how to bypass it

What to keep in mind while recruiting on LinkedIn

There are a couple of things that are important to realize when recruiting on LinkedIn.

Whether you are a seasoned recruiter or just starting out, LinkedIn seems like a simple platform but underneath the social media giant lies very complex technology and an ecosystem of people, every person has their own way of moving around on the platform, or not being active on LinkedIn at all.

These are the things to be aware of when recruiting on LinkedIn:

1. LinkedIn is not the only platform to find candidates on

Some of the best alternatives to recruiting on LinkedIn are:

  • GitHub
  • Stack Overflow
  • Reddit
  • AngelList
  • Xing
  • Kaggle
  • Medium

But there are many more alternatives, take a look at this full list with alternative platforms to find tech candidates.

2. LinkedIn contains a lot of fake profiles

LinkedIn is brimming with fake profiles. Many companies create a fake LinkedIn profile for business development or data extraction purposes.

As a recruiter you have to be aware of this to be able to anticipate the fact that you might be chatting (or trying to) with a bot.

3. LinkedIn is a competitive talent marketplace

Most recruiters are entirely dependent on recruiting talent on LinkedIn. That means that LinkedIn has become a very competitive talent marketplace.

The more recruiters are active on LinkedIn, the more offers candidates get and the harder it gets to catch the attention of candidates.

So you need to invest time in understanding how you can stand out from the big recruiter crowd.

4. You do not have to search on LinkedIn to find LinkedIn profiles

Sounds strange, but you don’t have to be searching on the LinkedIn platform to actually find LinkedIn profiles. 

Almost all LinkedIn profiles are public and there are many ways to search them.

You can for example do an X-ray, which is a google search for LinkedIn profiles. 

But you can also use a talent search engine to find the profiles and contact details.

Both methods are explained in the next part.

A long term strategy and plan for recruiting on LinkedIn

Now we know more on how recruiting on LinkedIn works and what to be aware of, we can take a look at your game plan for recruiting on LinkedIn. 

What you need to know when you deploy an outbound recruiting strategy (proactively reaching out to candidates) is two things:

  1. How to find the best candidates on LinkedIn
  2. How to reach out to candidates on LinkedIn

1. How to find the best candidates on LinkedIn

Searching for people can seem simple but the absolute majority of recruiters is overseeing how complex it really is.

The LinkedIn algorithm has to be able to find nurses on the one hand and software engineers on the other, two completely different profiles which require completely different search filters and ways of searching. 

That means you have different approaches to finding candidates for different roles.

Here are some strategies for specific roles that might be helpful:

Digital talent

Data scientist

Software engineers

SaaS talent



But there are some general guidelines and methods we can take note of when we recruit talent on LinkedIn.

These are some of the proven ways of finding people on LinkedIn:

Manual search on LinkedIn

The most obvious way of finding people on LinkedIn is going to LinkedIn and doing a search there. This is what most recruiters do but it doesn’t have to be the most effective way.

X-ray search on Google (or other search engines)

A less obvious but very effective way of finding the right candidates is doing an X-ray search, which is a search in google using search operators to make sure you find profiles only (and not documents or websites for example).

These are some examples of X-ray searches for LinkedIn profiles:

site:linkedin.com/in "growth marketeer" -SEA -Advertisements

site:nl.linkedin.com/in engineer JavaScript node.js

site:linkedin.com/in "sales executive" saas startup

You might not know exactly how an X-ray search works, so here’s a complete guide on X-ray searches:

X-ray search in 2022: find any candidate online

Use a talent search engine to find LinkedIn profiles

Talent search engines are designed to find the right profiles based on your requirements. Some talent search engines do not only find LinkedIn profiles, but also profiles from other platforms.

A talent search engine like HeroHunt.ai for instance finds all public LinkedIn profiles but also finds GitHub and Stack Overflow profiles, perfect for finding software engineers.

Some of the talent search engines also find contact details.

2. How to reach out to candidates on LinkedIn

There are different ways of reaching out to candidates on LinkedIn.

Below we list the most effective ones that have been proven to work.

Send connection invites to candidates

Sending connection invites to candidates on LinkedIn can be a very personal and effective way of reaching out to candidates and at the same time make them part of your network.

You can send up to a 100 connection invites to candidates per week, that’s 400 connection invites per month!

Connection invites are free for anyone to send, and you can also include a short personal message to your invite so you can introduce yourself and the reason for reaching out.

If you want to learn more about the connection invite limit, and how to bypass it, see this article:

LinkedIn connection invite limit and how to bypass it

Use InMails to reach candidates

InMails are a paid feature of LinkedIn that allows you to send direct messages to people who are not in your network (so-called 2nd and 3rd connections).

InMails allow for longer messages than connection invites, giving you more space to explain who you are, who you’re recruiting for and what your job offer is.

What many people don’t know is that you can send InMails for free to some profiles.

To learn everything about LinkedIn InMails and sending free message, see these articles:

Guide to LinkedIn InMails: credits, templates and more (2022)

How to send unlimited messages to candidates on LinkedIn

Find email addresses and send emails

Email is one of the communication channels that is as old as the internet and still standing.

Almost everyone in the world has an email address, so if you are able to find the email address of a candidate it’s a great way of reaching them.

You can use contact finders that find email addresses and in some cases phone numbers or you use a talent search engine that finds contact details.

You can also cross-reference candidate profiles, which is basically checking the candidate’s other social media account and see if they have any contact details on there.

Use alternative ways of reaching out

There are many other ways you can reach candidates.

Take Twitter for example. Many Twitter profiles are public and allow for sending messages even if you’re not following each other.

Other examples of platforms you can use to reach out are Discord or Reddit.

Because the options above require quite some manual work and have a lot of limitations, it might help to explore the possibilities of a talent search engine which brings all the information and contact details together in one profile:

Talent search engine that finds contact details

And here are some examples and inspiration for what you can say in your outreach messages:

Outreach message templates to recruit tech talent

Tools to accelerate recruiting on LinkedIn

Recruiting on LinkedIn can be a very manual and time consuming process.

That’s why it can help to make use of the right tooling to support your recruiting efforts in LinkedIn or which provide alternatives to recruiting on LinkedIn.

Below we’ve listed some of the most useful tools, categorized by software tools and chrome extensions.

Software tools

VONQ - multi channel job advertising

HeroHunt.ai - talent search engine that finds profiles and contact details

Gem - automated outreach tool 

OfferZen - job board for engineers

Goodtime.io - scheduling tool to manage your interviews

BrightHire - automated interviews and analysis

Recruitee - ATS to manage candidates

Chrome extensions

ContactOut - contact finder tool

Loom - record video outreach messages

GlossaryTech - find definitions of tech related keywords

Quillbot - improve grammar and words used in outreach messages 

Lightshot - make screenshots

Highlighty - highlight important keywords

Search by image - search people by their profile picture

OctoHR - find more information on a GitHub profile

Linkclump - open multiple links at the same time

NativeCurrent - include diversity filters in your search

Here’s the full list of software toiling and extensions:

Recruitment technology: extensive list of software tools

Happy recruiting!

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