H habanero management social
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Nov 08

Category: Job Search, Social Media

Last month, LinkedIn released a new feature called ‘Open Candidates’ — basically, a way for those who already have a job to indicate to recruiters that they’re open to new opportunities, without letting their boss or current colleagues know.

Previously, LinkedIn required those on the job market but currently employed to tread a tricky tightrope: indicate somewhere on your public profile that you’re open to offers, but without alerting your current company to the fact that you’re an imminent flight risk.

Typically, that didn’t work particularly well. Those people perfectly happy in their present jobs got calls from recruiters while many were so subtle about their willingness to move on that they were overlooked.

The new feature removes any confusion by letting users create a signal that is viewable only to recruiters using LinkedIn’s premium (paid) tier of service and, should the user’s current firm have an account, taking steps to prevent them from seeing your status. The signal isn’t shown publicly, and there’s no indication that you’re open to offers on your profile page.

In turn, those recruiters who are looking for candidates like that person will get a signal that a particular candidate is open to changing jobs and happy to be contacted about new opportunities.

To make use of Open Candidates, simply navigate to the ‘Jobs’ menu and select ‘Preferences’. You’ll see a new menu that allows you to amend your preference and to specify some details about the types of offers to which you’re open.


Now, when we recruiters begin a search for a potential candidate, we see appropriately skilled candidates divided into key groups:

  • Total candidates
  • Those that are open to opportunities
  • Those that have company connections
  • Past applicants

Is this a game-changing moment?

Yes, maybe. The new feature has been long-awaited and, in recent years, has become increasingly needed. As LinkedIn has grown into the online professional network its hundreds of millions of users have become increasingly active — networking, sharing tips and advice, showcasing their work to the world, and, of course, looking for a job.

However, the majority aren’t on the market for a new job and certainly don’t welcome being contacted when they’re using the site for other things. We’ve even seen some people resort to writing in their professional headlines and summaries that they explicitly do not want to be contacted.

Open Candidates is, therefore, a logical and sensible addition. It permits users seeking to use LinkedIn for purposes other than job looking to get on with their day uninterrupted while allowing recruiters to focus their energies on candidates much more likely to respond with genuine interest.


The success of the feature will depend on how well-used it is. Surveys often report that, at any given time, somewhere between 45 and 85% of people are potentially open to new opportunities. So far (and it is very early days), the Open Candidates feature is being used by only a tiny fraction of those people.


Source: LinkedIn, ‘Talent Trends 2014’

Given these survey findings, you have to wonder whether it might have been better for LinkedIn to have implemented this feature the other way around, i.e. to have allowed those who have no interest in being contacted at all to opt out, rather than requiring users to opt in.

Often, we find that — should a particularly favourable opportunity be offered; one that perfectly suits a particular candidate’s skills and experience — so-called passive candidates can be persuaded to look at it seriously, even if they wouldn’t previously have contemplated doing so.

The danger is that some recruiters will so enjoy the shortcut offered by only having to review the smaller pool of individuals who have turned on the Open Candidates feature that they’ll neglect the much broader pool people who haven’t turned it on but may still be interested.

It is, after all, the job a good recruiter to find the needles in the haystack.