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Org Charts Make Executive Recruiting Ridiculously Easy

Org Charts Do What LinkedIn Does Not

Org charts super charge executive search because they literally show you every executive at a target company. They enable you to pick and choose the best candidates without first having to find them. But LinkedIn? The go-to resource for in-house executive recruiting teams was never designed for executive search. It is, at its core, a social network dressed up as an executive recruiter. Consequently, relying on LinkedIn as your primary source of executive candidates creates problems for corporate recruiting teams. By comparison, org chart research and talent mapping make executive recruiting ridiculously easy.

“Find the Right Person, Fast”

LinkedIn Recruiter promises to “Find the right person, fast.” Yet, talk to any executive recruiter and they’ll tell you that isn’t always the case. They don’t always find the right senior executive on LinkedIn. Even when they do, rarely do headhunters find that senior executive fast. The reason? LinkedIn Recruiter does not excel at executive recruiting.

LinkedIn Has an Executive Search Problem

Yes, you can post jobs on LinkedIn. But posting senior executive jobs is not a best practice. Far too many unqualified people apply. Yes, you can sift through hundreds of millions of profiles in search of a hire. But that’s not how executive search works. Executive search is about recruiting top-performing executives. That filter does not yet exist on LinkedIn.

In fact, LinkedIn filters are somewhat crude, making sourcing more time-consuming than it needs to be. Nevertheless, LinkedIn will fill some of the searches some of the time. But there will be other times LinkedIn Recruiter will come up short. And when that happens, it’s a problem. By then, companies usually have wasted half a year or more looking for their next executive hire on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn’s 850 Million Member Conundrum

LinkedIn profiles are crowd-sourced — all 850+ million member profiles. Every one of those profiles is entered by LinkedIn members themselves. That leads to wild variability in where LinkedIn members enter information and how they enter it. Some may enter a biography in one field that others use to pack with keywords. Some may enter precise Titles, Start, and End dates, while others merge all their roles at a company into a single role featuring the most senior Title. The member may (or may not) then enter the prior jobs in the detail section of that single surviving job — when that is not where that information is supposed to be. Some people list team names in the Title field, others enter it elsewhere.

So Many LinkedIn Profiles, So Little Quality

For data scientists, this is what we call “dirty data”. They go to pains to clean and standardize the information. Only then is it ready for power searching and analysis. That doesn’t really happen for LinkedIn member profiles. On LinkedIn, the members control the quality of that information. That, my friend, is a problem.

As a result, the business networking site captures only the career information that members are willing to share. Consequently, the data is not standardized, consistently structured, or easy to search. In fact, many profiles offer little more than a name, title, and employer.

Other member profiles are dated — they do not reflect the member’s current employer and/or title. Then there are the profiles that contain false information. For example, candidates frequently change their Title to “Head of” instead of “Director of” to give the impression that they’re more senior than they really are. Some profiles are even fake.

What Makes LinkedIn Sourcing Inefficient

LinkedIn’s data shortcomings create a lot of busy work for internal executive search teams. Uneven data wastes recruiters’ time. So too do crude filters. More to the point, LinkedIn makes it impossible to tell whether you’ve found every potential candidate at a target company. The information is not structured to show you reporting relationships. As a result, recruiters miss ideal candidates that would have been perfect hires. For searches that drag on, the list of potential candidates often mushrooms to hundreds of executives.

How To Miss Perfect Candidates

Companies often come to us with problem searches. When we review the sourcing and recruiting work of search firms that came before us, we discover holes in the candidate research. All too often, the list of potential candidates appears somewhat random. It is difficult to tell from the long list what the strategy actually was. They have singletons — just one candidate — from target companies when scores of potential candidates are available. In other words, while the failed long list is brimming with not-quite-right candidates, spot-on executives remain undiscovered, unrecruited, and unhired.

The Best Way to Contact Candidates

To recruit a candidate, contacting that individual by personal email and cell phone is preferred. On LinkedIn, you first must connect with a member directly to gain access to the contact information that the member wants to share. Sometimes, you’ll discover some 1st-degree connections do not share any contact information at all. For the majority of members who do share their contact information — those phone numbers and email addresses likely will not be included when you export of your LinkedIn Connections.

LinkedIn refuses to include any phone numbers when you export LinkedIn Connections. Mind you, these are phone numbers that members have already shared with you and want you to have. In fact, LinkedIn allows the export of just one email address. Yet when you review that “Email Address” column in your LinkedIn Connections spreadsheet, you’ll note it is largely empty. The spreadsheet contains the following message:

“When exporting your connection data, you may notice that some of the email addresses are missing. You will only see email addresses for connections who have allowed their connections to see or download their email address.

— LinkedIn on Email Privacy and Email Visibillity

LinkedIn Prefers Recruiters to Use InMail

The utter irony is LinkedIn members connect with executive recruiters so that they can be recruited when the timing is right. Why is it that when those individuals share their contact information with recruiters directly, LinkedIn makes it hard to contact individuals outside their walled-in garden? It has the appearance of wanting to force members to use LinkedIn InMail to upsell recruiters into increasingly premium products.

Candidates Prefer Email, Text, and Phone

Communicating with candidates directly outside the LinkedIn platform yields better results. Far too many recruiters use LinkedIn InMail. Too many recruiters send messages that are not crafted for that individual. For senior executives, that does not land well. When you use LinkedIn InMail to recruit, your message gets lost amidst the detritus of emails from other recruiters.

Executives frequently complain about the way in which they’re recruited through LinkedIn InMail. When they respond to us by email or phone, they regularly tell us they never respond to recruiter outreach on the LinkedIn platform. We believe them. Besides, why risk that negative association?

LinkedIn Makes Recruiting Hard

LinkedIn doesn’t map target companies. The social network doesn’t verify member career information. The Microsoft subsidiary doesn’t test email addresses and phone numbers. It doesn’t dig up additional information to fill in gaps in career profiles. It doesn’t reconcile conflicting information, correct misspelling, or otherwise make LinkedIn Member data reliable.

LinkedIn doesn’t tell you whether you’ve found every viable candidate at a target company. It isn’t your recruiting team’s fault. LinkedIn was never designed to give you a clear picture of available talent. At its very core, LinkedIn is a social network dressed up as a recruiter to monetize the social network. It was never designed to recruit.

Now, imagine an org chart of virtually everyone at a target company from the CEO down to the level at which you are recruiting. Because it is an online org chart, it is dynamic. You can click in to view the biographies of every executive in the chart. Verified phone and email information are all right there, ready for recruiters to use. Org charts require an investment. But once you have made the, they’re recruiting gold.

Org Charts Simplify Executive Recruiting

Once you get your hands on the org charts of your top target companies, you can skip sourcing entirely. You simply scan each org chart for the best talent each target company has to offer and recruit them. All the candidates are right there at your fingertips. Your recruiting takes a quantum leap.

Org Charts Make Executive Search Easier

In other words, while LinkedIn Recruiter seems designed to make executive search time-consuming and inefficient, org charts make executive recruiting ridiculously easy. That is why so many corporate executive search teams are harnessing The Secret Power of Org Charts.

Where to Get Org Charts

You can build your own org charts of target companies or you can commission a recruiting research firm to build custom org charts for you. (See The Definitive Guide to Org Charts.)

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Krista Bradford

Krista Bradford

Founder and CEO of Intellerati | The Good Search. Retained executive search headhunter. Former investigative journalist. Wife of saxman. Mama of MD. Co-worker of Hamlet the Corgi. TikTok addict.View Author posts

We invite your comments.

  1. Great article Krista! We are kindred spirits re talent mapping & the short comings of LinkedIn/Social Media/Online Search only approach to mapping out the talent at your competitors

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