Kanye West Knows How To Use LinkedIn Better Than You

Tuning into LinkedIn’s newsfeed is a lot like turning into E!. Instantly, you’re confronted with a promo featuring the same people talking about their same perception of their same problems. An avid consumer of reality TV could confuse it for the myriad of Kardashianism that runs rampant. It’s the herd of recruiters gathering around and try to out complain one another about who hates LinkedIn the most.

We watch this gladiatorial hyperbole as if it were the latest Kardashian collapse. Much like a gun control debate after a school shooting, everyone points and swears off that “they are done with LinkedIn.”

But you don’t.

You don’t leave. It’s like Kanye: you hate the noise, but you love the sound. And you love the Kardashians. All of them. Just like you love LinkedIn.

Since you’re not leaving, and no one wants to realize that your complaining rewires your brain for negativity, shouldn’t we focus on how you can go from B-List to A-List?

Here are 3 ways to build community and engage candidates on LinkedIn.

You’re Going to Have To Hustle

Some of the best candidates you’ll work with aren’t specifically looking for a new job. They’re passive candidates — generally satisfied with where they are, but open to hearing about their next great opportunity.

LinkedIn’s 2016 U.S. & Canada Talent Trends report says 90 percent of professionals are interested in hearing about new job opportunities. But only about a third are actively looking; the rest are where you can find your knockout candidates — if you connect with them the right way. The right way means that you are going to do a little more work. While that’s uncommon for some of you to do more than simply inMail blast everyone that has the word “DevOps” in their profile, it means you’ll have to actually do some research.

While you will get lucky 13% of the time when you praise on top the same candidates, catfish, and unicorns that everyone else is blasting, you could attract passive candidates for free by making a few strategic sweat equity investments.

Let’s Get to The Three

Talk About Vehicles

People who need a new job put all their emphasis on finding the job. They have resumes on Indeed, Careerbuilder, or their personal blog. People who don’t need a job can bide their time until something perfect comes along — and that’s not a job or a position, but a vehicle that gets them to where they want to go next. When you reach out to candidates on LinkedIn, talking about a specific role focuses all of the attention on the job. In doing so, you’ve sucked all of their ambition out of the conversation.

Instead, focus on where the new vehicle will take them.

Sending a LinkedIn recruiting message about an open position isn’t enough — instead, offer specific details about the opportunities the position can deliver. Those opportunities could include stretch goals on an accelerated timeline, increased impact to an organization, greater recognition or opportunity for advancement. This approach can get passive candidates to start thinking about a change.

Make It Simple

Despite the flurry of Recruiter Herpes that candidates receive, um… I mean inMail, they are intended to be scarce by design. Even with a paid LinkedIn account, users cannot send InMails willy-nilly — each user gets a specific number of InMails to use per month. This limited quantity has touted benefits. There are those that suggest because of that the recipient takes the message more seriously because they know they were likely hand-selected instead of mass-mailed.


It’s not the inMail that matters. It’s the notification and the brevity that comes with it. Like an elevator pitch, you don’t want it to be a cold call (see above) and you want it to be highly personalized.

While that might seem like a contradiction, my typical inMail including my subject line is less than 5 sentences long. It forces me to get to the point quickly and tell the recipient exclusively in the Notification or Preview pane why I am reaching out to them. This needs to be ideally the very first line of the message.

Since we’ve identified your first sentence, establish a shared purpose with your recipient. This needs to be authentic, not Kardashian. If you read that the person loves to build elegant software, you need to mention it. If they went to the same school, talk about their love of craft beer, or Game of Thrones (which is very important to me, too), you need to mention it as a sign of commonality. If nothing else, you talk about the Battle of the Bastards and a baller IPA.

But here’s the trick and it’s where most of the messages on LinkedIn suck.

It’s about them.

This is not about you.

This not about your placement.

Lead with them, not you. Limit the bullshit about you. Don’t talk much about yourself. I could verbally vomit about this for hours.

There’s very little space to assault someone with details in this initial email. It’s the same basic rule of conversations with individuals in real life. Don’t dominate the conversation or bore people with details about your company. Focus on the individual instead. You have 5 sentences — maybe 4 at best.

All you want is 10–15 minutes to talk about their future. Not a big ask, but one that led to a positive exchange, and enables the candidate to learn more about the opportunity without any major commitment on his part. Asking for coffee or lunch is a big ask. It’s a lot of time on both parts. Instead, focus on something that is easy to say “Yes” to. Don’t ask if they’re interested in coming to work for you or for your client in your first cold outreach message. That’s way too forward, and borders on impolite. Ideally, you want your target to say “yes” to your next step, without inconveniencing them.

Keep it simple.

As flattered as candidates may be when someone messages them out of the blue on LinkedIn, they don’t care. They do not give a single fuck. Just like how they don’t care about that call from a number they don’t recognize.

Who are you?

If they don’t know who you are, they know you are wasting their time. At our most base level, we know we have a limited amount of time. We keep moving. A solicitation from an unknown is a low-return proposition. That means you’re starting from square one every time. Each new position you have to fill turns into a new search — and that wastes time and effort.

Instead, invest your time in building relationships on LinkedIn. Participate in groups dedicated to the industries and positions you’re often looking for. Dedicate some time each week to sharing news and insights about those industries on your own page, and read up on what others share as well. Doing so will help those cold contacts feel a little less cold.

Copy Kylie

LinkedIn is a great place to attract passive candidates, but it means being transparent and active on the site, not just showing up at the bar at 2AM and looking for someone to take home. Being part of the journey will help you find whom you’re looking for faster. In short, be Kim. Just ask for the chance and then exploit your stardom, or be Kylie and copy Kim.



Executive Recruiter. ✈ #ATL ↔ #SF ✈ Building companies is my favorite. Opinions are my own. Responsibility is freedom. 🖖

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Brian Fink

Executive Recruiter. ✈ #ATL ↔ #SF ✈ Building companies is my favorite. Opinions are my own. Responsibility is freedom. 🖖