By Jessica Miller-Merrell
LinkedIn is one of the most valuable tools a recruiter has at his or her disposal today. There’s no better place to see so many professionals all in one place, essentially providing you with one convenient place to source and learn about candidates. However, for as much as we rely on the social network to do our jobs, there are limitations to the system. I have seen so many recruiters treat LinkedIn as if it were a dynamic recruiting CRM or candidate relationship management system and as we were all reminded last week when LinkedIn announced a change to a long-standing policy concerning the ability to export a user’s connections and contacts, it certainly is not.
Before this change, a recruiter could simply download a list of their connections. When LinkedIn made this change, they required that users request the information and then wait up to 72 hours for a list of their connections and contacts. Upon learning of the change, I immediately requested my profile copy, which was sent to me less than 24 hours later. While I’m certainly glad it didn’t take the full 72 hours, I think we can all agree that 24 hours is about 23.5 hours too long to have to wait for that information since most of us will access that information when we need it, not days in advance.
As you probably know by now, this change did not go over well. LinkedIn users, as well as the media, responded to the change with a firestorm of articles and posts via social media, forcing the company to reconsider their position and allow users immediate access.
The unexpected, inconvenient change and subsequent backtrack by LinkedIn highlighted something that many of us needed reminded of. As I said above, LinkedIn is a wonderful tool, but a dynamic CRM it is not. We want access to our contacts, relationships and community in real time. We don’t like waiting, but unfortunately only a true CRM can provide us with that kind of uninhibited and unlimited access. As long as we see and use LinkedIn for what it’s not intended to be and doesn’t have the capability to act as, we’re going to continue to be disappointed when things beyond our control occur.
Candidate Relationship Management: The Breakdown

A CRM offers functionality that LinkedIn doesn’t offer to the average user, or even those in the recruiter seat. There are many obvious flaws to using LinkedIn as your CRM, but there are essentially two main areas where things really break down. Most importantly, you can’t upload your own engagements, profiles and contacts of candidates you are engaging outside the network or community. This creates a major inconvenience, as you’ll most certainly have candidates you need to track outside of LinkedIn. If this isn’t the case, it should be! A CRM provides one central location for all those profiles to live, which LinkedIn doesn’t.
Secondly, LinkedIn has demonstrated that we don’t own our user information or data. We don’t own our profiles, contacts, group members and status updates. We can request access to it, but it is in the hands of and at the mercy of LinkedIn. We can use it, but they are in charge of who has access to it, which isn’t true of a dynamic recruiting CRM. 
Aside from these two main areas, it’s also important for us to look at whether or not the social network will be able to meet our CRM needs in the future, even if it can’t now. Watch for part two of this series to see how LinkedIn fits in with the future of the CRM in HR and recruiting.

Be on the look out for part two in our CRM series. 
TalentCircles is the most comprehensive candidate engagement platform on the market. Take a product tour or request a live demo today. 

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology anthropologist specializing in HR and recruiting. She’s the Chief Blogger and Founder of Blogging4Jobs and author of The HR Technology Field Guide. You can follow her on Twitter at @jmillermerell. 
 

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