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LockedIn Report: tech recruiters' dependency on LinkedIn

We received 100 responses from tech recruiters to the question: What is your dependency on LinkedIn? This is what they answered.

September 29, 2020
Yuma Heymans
September 7, 2022

Goal of this report

The goal of this research was to investigate the dependency from tech recruiters on LinkedIn for sourcing and recruiting tech talent.

In order to get to the observations, we received 100 responses from tech recruiters to the question: do you feel dependent on LinkedIn and what alternatives do you use?

Summary of the conducted research:

  • 100 participants: all tech recruiters at big tech companies and startups
  • Responded to the questions 1) Do you feel dependent on LinkedIn? and 2) Do you use alternatives to LinkedIn and what are they?
  • Dependency is defined as: Without the platform, it would get practically almost impossible to deliver on my responsibility in my current role.

Details on the methodology used can be found at the bottom of this report.

Here are the results.



90% of tech recruiters are highly dependent on LinkedIn to deliver on their recruiting responsibilities.

Just 10% indicated they would manage to live up to their responsibilities without LinkedIn.

Among the tech recruiters that mentioned to be highly dependent on LinkedIn, 57% was entirely dependent (LockedIn) and focussed on LinkedIn as their go to source of talent and 33% indicated to be reliant on LinkedIn but also regularly used alternatives like Stack Overflow and GitHub.

Results question 1: Do you feel dependent on LinkedIn?

Based on the clustered responses from the tech recruiters we concluded on three levels of dependency.

Based on that level of dependency we assigned the following categories:

LockedIn: Their role and company’s hires are entirely dependent on LinkedIn, at a maximum 10% of hires come from other online sources than LinkedIn

LinkedIn reliant: For the biggest part reliant on the LinkedIn platform for hiring, but uses alternative platforms regularly

Linked Independent: For the biggest part reliant on other sources than LinkedIn for hiring

Out of the 100 tech recruiters the majority indicated to feel LockedIn.

What did the different groups of tech recruiters say?

LockedIn group - 57%

The LockedIn group reported to feel entirely dependent on LinkedIn to deliver on their responsibility.

A sourcer and recruiter at a tech talent sourcing company said:

"I definitely feel LockedIn"

And a tech recruiter at a software startup said:

"LinkedIn is the most obvious platform and I therefore reach for it the fastest"

The LockedIn group uses LinkedIn as the sole source for finding talent or they use it for the absolute majority of recruits and just occasionally use other sources and tools.

Some enjoy working with the platform.

A tech sourcer at a tech talent sourcing agency responded:

We are very successful with our company on LinkedIn and we get by far the most hires from that every year

Others are worried about the increasing restrictions and prices for a LinkedIn Recruiter seat.

A tech recruiter at a big e-commerce company shared:

“LinkedIn's monopoly position has gotten crazy forms, I personally experienced that I received different rates for different customers, in the same period.”

Some tech recruiters look sceptically at their own sourcing practices since they are using LinkedIn only, and realize that not all talent is to be found on LinkedIn.

A tech recruiter at a global recruitment agency said:

“Indeed, by using LinkedIn Recruiter only, we limit ourselves in accessing only those professionals who are on LinkedIn. Many good professionals don't have LinkedIn profiles."

A junior tech recruiter at a software company said:

“It works fine - I guess :) But I find it quite time consuming and expensive"

Arguments that were most frequently mentioned to use LinkedIn as the sole source:

  • Biggest pool of candidates
  • Most obvious and therefore reach for it
  • Used to the search experience

LinkedIn Reliant group - 33%

The LinkedIn reliant group is definitely dependent on LinkedIn but mentions to make regular use of some of the alternative sources like GitHub and Stack Overflow. 

A tech Recruiter at a cybersecurity software company responded:

“I think if I had to make the division, I would be 70% active on LinkedIn and 30% on the other channels”

A tech recruiter at a fast growing startup said:

“As a tech recruiter you have so many more options than LinkedIn, but you can't do without it either. If I don't use LinkedIn then it is usually an X-ray for Stack Overflow or GitHub profiles.”

Arguments that were most frequently mentioned to rely on LinkedIn but sometimes use alternatives:

  • LinkedIn has the biggest pool of candidates;
  • But because of LinkedIn restrictions sometimes resort to alternative sources;
  • And to find candidates that are typically not on LinkedIn.

Linked Independent group - 10%

The Linked Independent group said to not feel reliant on LinkedIn as a platform.

They see enough alternative sources and tools to find talent and combined, use them more than they use LinkedIn.

A tech recruiter at a fast growing startup shared:

“I don't feel LockedIn. There are many other sources and channels and fortunately also other tools I am using.”

They find joy in the creative process of trying new ways of finding talent making their job more fun and they learn more doing it.

A tech recruiter at a fortune 500 software company said:

“I like to set up talent pools that consist of people who are usually not (yet) on LinkedIn, I can be creative in my approach.”

They also mention the dependency on a single platform as a risk, because of the singular approach and the position of LinkedIn to restrict you as a user.

A tech recruiter at a global financial SaaS company said:

“The increase in prices doesn't help at all and really, today's tech recruiters shouldn't be bound to the one platform for sourcing candidates. It needs better competition.”

Arguments that were most frequently mentioned to use alternatives:

  • Better quality talent and richer candidate information on other platforms
  • Enjoying the creative search using alternative sources and tooling
  • Increasing restrictions and prices of LinkedIn

Results question 2: Do you use alternatives to LinkedIn and what are they?

We clustered the answers on the question: which alternative sources to LinkedIn do you use?

We have visualized the most answered sources in the below word cloud.

In the middle you see LinkedIn, all of the responded tech recruiters use it.

Around LinkedIn you see the alternative sources mentioned. The bigger the word, the more it has been mentioned.

Stack Overflow and GitHub are by far the most mentioned alternatives to LinkedIn.

Noteworthy observations

  • Across all responses, job boards were mentioned only twice as an alternative source of hire
  • Platforms like AngelList, HackerRank and Kaggle were not mentioned once
  • Non-tech recruiters were not asked for a response but that group is expected to show an even higher dependency on LinkedIn than the tech recruiter group

Definition of the target group: tech recruiters

A tech recruiter in this research is someone who: is dedicated in their role to source and/or recruit tech talent like engineers, data experts and IT specialists.

The target group showed a strong relation to product driven tech companies: companies in the internet and software industry.

The surveyed tech recruiters worked exclusively for big tech companies or fast growing software/internet startups. Most companies were based in the Netherlands.

Method of data collection

For this research, we were not suited for a comprehensive scientific study so we have chosen for a pragmatic approach to collecting the data with a limited sample size (100).

To realize this, we asked 520 tech recruiters the following questions with light variations of questions (unstructured interviewing approach):

1) Do you feel dependent on LinkedIn?

2) Do you use alternatives to LinkedIn and what are they?

The targeted tech recruiters were inside and outside our network and qualified to the above persona description.

Respondents replied through phone call or message. We received a 19% response rate to our outreach with the questions.

For incomplete answers follow up questions were asked. Responses with too limited information to base a conclusion on were disqualified.

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