This week's tip is going to be an answer to a question that I have been receiving more frequently lately, and that is "Can I use LinkedIn to find employees and, if so, how?" That is a pretty silly question, wouldn't you say, once you step back and remind yourself that LinkedIn gives you the ability to search through 100 million resumes, by far the largest fully searchable resume database in the world.


Bear in mind that I am not a professional recruiter.  Professional recruiters are trained to match employers with potential employees. This is what they do all day long, and hiring peoplenot only do they have experience with using LinkedIn, but they have tremendous networks that can help them find people who are not even officially looking for jobs. So do not underestimate the value of having a professional recruiter help you in your search. 


That being said, I have found the following features on LinkedIn to be extremely helpful. Some of them I have used myself and some I have learned about when others have shared their experiences with me. I am going to call this tip:


How To Use LinkedIn As Your Employee Finding Machine


1.     Use your Status Update Box to ask your network if they know of anyone who is qualified for the position you are attempting to fill. After all, this is your network, and the people in your network know you well and understand the nature of your company. If someone in your network is aware of a prospective candidate, he/she should be able to quickly introduce you to the candidate. This is the easiest and most efficient way to find your next hire. That being said, I would not post this question in your Status Box every day, but try to limit this question to a couple times per week.  


I know a president of a local company who found a new VP for his company in just five days after using the Status Update to ask his network for help. Think of the time and money that saved him.  


2.     Use the Jobs tab in the groups you belong to, especially those groups that are related to the specific industry your potential candidate would work in. Consider joining new groups just for the purpose of looking for this candidate if you are not involved in groups where this person would usually "hang out."


3.     Use the Advanced People Search. Some of the criteria you will want to consider when building your search are:


A.     Title. Be sure to try some different words for the same job.


B.     Company. This can be very useful, especially if you choose the "Past" option when you are searching companies that compete with your company. 


C.     Keywords.  Here you can get very creative, using things like specialty software, skills, specific industries, territories or regions of the country, etc.  Also, if you include words like "pursuing," "seeking" or "looking" in your keyword search, you will find interview-ready candidates.


D.   Other search criteria you might want to include would be using the Company field and putting in your competitor's name(s). You also have the option of picking current, past or both based on your desire to hire someone who is still there or has left their employ or either. This is really helpful. This is how I found the last employee I hired.


4.     Once you have landed on a search or searches that brought you some good potential candidates, be sure to save that search by clicking the word "Save" on the top right of the Results screen. This way LinkedIn will continue to look for more potential candidates by regularly searching your network, including the new connections people in your network are making on an ongoing basis.


5.   Search through Status Updates by typing "seeking employment" or other similar words in the area marked "Search Updates." You find this on your home page right below the blue Share button in your Status Update Box. 


This enables you to find people who are mentioning that they or someone they know is doing just that--seeking employment, etc. You can regionalize this search by adding relevant geographic search criteria. Be sure to save this search so you can rerun it later.


6.     Post a job on LinkedIn's Job Board. Currently the charge for this is $195 per month per posting. There are some multiple-job discounts. You get to this by clicking the Jobs tab on the top toolbar and selecting "Post a Job."


7.  Review the Departures section of each of your competitor's company profile page. This is currently accessed by selecting "Check out insightful statistics about [company name] employees," and then click the Departures tab on the bottom.


Once you have used the above techniques to find a few good candidates, be sure to spend some time reading and studying each candidate's profile, especially the recommendations. There is just a wealth of information included on the profile that may either bring that candidate to the top or sink him/her.