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'The best-kept secret on LinkedIn': Tech recruiters share the ways they find candidates fast

Protocol Workplace

Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter. Today, we’re learning the best ways to source talent on LinkedIn — especially if you’re short on time and resources (read: recruiters). Plus, we’re reading Elon’s text messages from Larry Ellison, Jason Calicanis, and Joe Rogan.

— Allison Levitsky, reporter (email | twitter)

LinkedIn recruiting secrets

Companies like Meta and Lyft have stopped hiring for the year, and that’s music to the ears of other tech companies that are still staffing up. Much of talent sourcing still takes place on LinkedIn, but many recruiters have found their own techniques to use the service more efficiently. We asked LinkedIn’s VP of talent acquisition and three outside recruiters for their best LinkedIn hacks for sourcing talent.

When reaching out, short and sweet is key. When sending a connection request, executive recruiter Darrell Rosenstein said he rarely sends more than three sentences or 150 characters.

  • “If you’re at 300 characters, you’re way over for a candidate,” Rosenstein said.
  • Rosenstein also doesn’t ask for an appointment or include a Calendly link in the first message to a candidate. “That’s a second email,” Rosenstein said. “After they’ve connected, then for sure.”
  • Specific, well-informed messages targeted to the candidate are crucial to getting a good response rate — by all means, don’t “spray and pray,” said Shawn Cole, co-founder and president of Cowen Partners. “We do not want to be the agency that sends out stupid messages.”

Focus on skills, not pedigree. Erin Scruggs, VP of talent acquisition at LinkedIn, said skills — which candidates can list on their profiles — are the “future currency” of recruiting, particularly in a tight labor market.

  • “Everything we’re doing on the product is about contextualizing skills, and understanding how skills of one role map to another role,” Scruggs said. “If you’ve got somebody who’s a cashier, they may very likely have the same skills as a customer service rep.”
  • This can be particularly useful for employers that don’t have as much name recognition or as strong of a “talent brand,” Scruggs said. It can also help a team source more diverse hires.
  • Employers that aren’t yet a household name may want to consider skipping the first page of search results — maybe even checking out the candidates on the last page, Scruggs said. “They may not come from the five companies you typically hire from, but it helps you think a little bit more broadly about who could do the job, who’s capable of doing the job,” Scruggs said. “That sometimes helps you go for the people that haven’t been pinged 35 times in the last week.”

Post content to your company LinkedIn page to build a recruiting brand. Particularly for lesser-known startups, content can offer a glimpse into your company culture and personality.

  • “I follow thousands of talent acquisition professionals,” Scruggs said. “When I go to hire, I have sort of an affinity bias towards people whose posts that I’ve really enjoyed or people who have been really insightful along the way. I think the reverse is true: Employers can create their talent brand by being really intentional about what they post.”
  • Outside recruiters can use this tactic as well. As an executive recruiter, Rosenstein said he posts content to his own profile that helps him engage candidates and raise his response rates.

Try LinkedIn’s “best-kept secret”: affinity groups. Paige Scott, who leads the Asset Management practice at the recruiting firm Kingsley Gate Partners in San Francisco, said groups are one of her favorite LinkedIn features for reaching candidates.

  • Groups can reach a targeted set of users like financial officers of health tech startups, for example. Reaching out through groups can be particularly helpful for those who haven’t ponied up for LinkedIn’s premium subscription options, she said.
  • “It’s probably the best-kept secret on LinkedIn,” Scott said. “Groups are an incredible way to reach a bigger, broader audience without having to trigger different licenses.”

'Haha cool'

The world got a glimpse into Elon Musk’s text inbox this week thanks to his ongoing legal battle with Twitter. Now we know what tech’s power brokers really want: for Twitter to be an “open source protocol” rather than a company (Jack Dorsey), for Musk to move Twitter’s headquarters to Austin and force employees back to the office (Jason Calacanis), and a 24-hour edit button (Gayle King).

Larry Ellison, Reid Hoffman, and Joe Rogan are in there, too.

Read the full story.


Today, we expect instant results from our every action, from calling an Uber to ordering takeout. Companies no longer can afford to not adopt technologies like automation. We are now living in the Automation Economy – a new world that requires agility and a complete reimagining of how we work.

Learn more

By the numbers

90% of companies will require workers to go back to the office next year, according to a new survey of 1,000 business leaders across sectors.

  • Nearly three out of four remote companies plan to return to the office within six months.
  • That’s not such a big change for most companies, two-thirds of which already require in-office work, the survey found.
  • One out of five companies will fire workers who don’t go back to the office. (We’ll note that Big Tech doesn’t seem to be enforcing RTO mandates yet.)

Some personnel news

Anyone else having a bad case of Great Resignation whiplash? It’s hard to keep up with which tech companies are growing, shrinking, floating, or sinking. We’re here to help.

⬆️ Binance is continuing its global expansion: The crypto exchange just opened an office in New Zealand and registered as a financial service provider there.

⬇️ Digital health startup Truepill just made its fourth round of layoffs this year, TechCrunch reports.

⬇️ SoftBank’s Vision Fund is planning to cut 30% of its employees, according to Bloomberg.

⬇️ Google is shutting down Stadia and reassigning the employees who worked on it, The Verge reported.

For more news on hiring, firing and rewiring, see our tech company tracker.


Today, we expect instant results from our every action, from calling an Uber to ordering takeout. Companies no longer can afford to not adopt technologies like automation. We are now living in the Automation Economy – a new world that requires agility and a complete reimagining of how we work.

Learn more

Around the internet

A roundup of workplace news from the farthest corners of the internet.

No corporate Patagonia vest? No problem. Say hello to the branded Cotopaxi windbreaker. (The Information)

More than 42,000 U.S. tech workers have lost jobs this year, according to this updated layoff tracker. (Crunchbase News)

Seven signs of “quiet firing.” (CNBC)

Calendly just bought the interview-scheduling startup Prelude. (Business Wire)

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