LinkedIn recently released a report on Why and How People Change Jobs, which offers interesting insight to any company that wants to attract and hire stronger people. I’ll be discussing the findings in detail at an upcoming webcast on August 26th, but I thought it would be important to provide an initial assessment of the results.

Here are the core findings from the LinkedIn report, supplemented with some related research:

1. Just about everybody finds their jobs via networking.

All passive candidates find their jobs this way and over 50% of active candidates do as well. (Here’s a recent survey summarizing these findings.)

2. Job branding is more important than employer branding.

After a few years in the workforce, people are more interested in making an impact. In this case, the job content is more important than the employer name.

3. People are finding better jobs at smaller companies.

While big companies are a great place to start a career, for many people they become stifling after a few years.

4. Emphasize the work itself and why it’s important, not the skills needed to do the work.

People want to know what they’ll be doing before accepting an offer. This is the essence of job branding. Clarifying expectations up front has always been the number one driver of employee satisfaction.

Given these findings, here are some things recruiters can do to find more great talent and what you need to do to convert your open job into a career move.

Convert skills-laden jobs into a series of challenges before you call anyone.

To get more strong referrals you’ll need to know why your position represents a career move. The difference between what a person is currently doing, learning and becoming and what he/she could be doing, learning and becoming is how the person determines if it’s a career move or not. That’s why the recruiter and hiring manager need to fully understand what a person in the role needs to do and the bigger impact of doing it successfully.

Proactively network with co-workers to get more referrals.

In my opinion, the true value of LinkedIn Recruiter is that it’s a network of 380 million names, not a list of them. So when looking for candidates first ask, “Who at my company would have worked with someone for this role?”

For example, sales people work with customers, those in procurement work with vendors, project managers work with everyone, financial analysts work with executives preparing budgets and product marketing people work with engineers. Once you find some coworkers who might know someone for the role, connect with them on LinkedIn and then ask them who is the best person they have ever worked with doing the type of work required.

To get even more names, search on your coworkers’ connections for potential prospects. Then ask the co-worker if the person is worth contacting. Then only contact the best people. 

Engage in a conversation, not a sales pitch.

When you first contact these referrals mention your co-worker’s name. This will boost your response rate, but when you first talk to these people don’t start selling your job. Instead, ask the person if he/she would be open to engage in an exploratory conversation to determine if one of your current openings represents a possible career move. Most people will say yes, but once they do, still don’t start pitching your job. Instead, start by reviewing the person’s LinkedIn profile.

Conduct career discovery.

Once the candidate agrees to a more in-depth exploratory conversation, it’s important to listen and ask questions. The worst thing to do is to sell your job. Recognize the purpose of this conversation is to understand what it would take for the person – a passive candidate – to consider the job a growth move.

As you’re reviewing the person’s LinkedIn profile examine three key areas: the scope and impact of the person’s current role, how long he/she has had the role and the work the person finds most satisfying. If your job offers more stretch, impact, more and rapid growth, you have the makings of a career move. With this you can begin a low key sales approach.

Offer the possibility of learning more.

It normally takes about 10-15 minutes to determine if the potential for a career move exists. If so, describe why you think another more detailed conversation is warranted.

To obtain agreement to move forward you’ll need to present the combination of stretch, impact, satisfaction and growth as significantly bigger in comparison to the person’s current role and your open opportunity. If the person agrees to another more detailed conversation or an exploratory call with the hiring manager, you’re now well on your way to converting a passive referral into a serious candidate.

LinkedIn’s Why and How People Change Jobs report offers great insight on what it takes to recruit and hire passive candidates. What’s not mentioned is that recruiting a passive candidate you found through networking is comparable to solution selling. This involves a deep understanding of the person’s actual needs and crafting a custom career solution. This is also called great recruiting, but it’s a slow dance, not the quick step or the hustle. Moving too fast is a sure way to lose some great people and more great referrals.

Register for Lou’s webinar to learn more about these new data and how you can use it to recruiter candidates.