Performing Reference Checks and Screening Job Applicants with LinkedIn
When you use LinkedIn to post a job request, the screening part of your hiring process clearly benefits from using LinkedIn. Rather than asking for references from the applicant and ordering a background check from a services company, you can use LinkedIn to verify a lot of the information in your applicant’s resume and application at any stage of the process, without paying a dime!
Here are some reference search strategies to keep in mind:
Start by checking for the applicant's LinkedIn profile: If the applicant has a common name, use additional information from her resume or application (such as past jobs, location, or education) to narrow down your search.
Read through the applicant's recommendations and follow up: If your candidate has received recommendations, go through them and see whether it’s applicable toward your open position.
See whether you’re connected to your candidate: When you pull up your candidate’s profile, you’ll see whether she is a second- or third-degree network member, which would mean there are one or two people who connect you with the candidate. If so, contact that person (or ask for an Introduction to reach the correct party) and ask for more information about the candidate.
Because most LinkedIn users have already defined each company where they worked and the years of employment, LinkedIn offers an interesting and helpful application called Reference Search.
It works like this: Say you’re evaluating a candidate who says he worked at Microsoft from 2000 to 2005. You’d like to find out whether you know anyone in your immediate or extended network who might have worked with your candidate. LinkedIn scans everyone’s profile and looks for matches in the company name and years employed, and it shows you who is a possible match.
You can then follow up and hopefully will get a much more honest, unbiased opinion of the candidate than someone the candidate has pre-selected to deliver a glowing recommendation. Beware, though, in case you get the ex-employee with an axe to grind.
There is one catch: You have to have a paid account in order to use Reference Search. Performing a reference check using Reference Search is easy:
Log in to LinkedIn and click on the Advanced link next to the search box at the top right of the screen. When you get to the Advanced Search screen, click the Reference Search tab.
Enter the company name and years of employment in the text boxes provided.
If the candidate is currently working at the company, enter the current year in the second year box. You can enter more than one company in the boxes provided, and your result list will contain anyone who matches at least one of the companies provided.
Click the Search button to start the reference search.
You see a results screen, where you get to see a summary of the number of first degree connections as well as the number of their friends who match your reference search.
If you have a premium account, you can evaluate each profile in your results list to see whether the applicant worked in the same division, and if so, contact the person in your Results list for a reference.
Obviously, for a big company, like Microsoft in example, you may have to search multiple people to find the right division.