LinkedIn has just made the most important third-party recruiter networking technique I learned in the good ‘ol days available to everyone. This is a bad day for the old-timers like me, but good for everyone else who wants to quickly find great candidates for hard-to-fill jobs.

I call the technique the cherry-picker, or the leveraged-referral, or the how to really get some great pre-qualified candidate names who will call you back. You’ll call it amazing. If you have an employee referral program (ERP), you’ll be able to boost its effectiveness 50-100% using this new LinkedIn Recruiter feature.

Simply put, the new feature allows you to search on the first degree connections of those people who are directly connected to you. Let me show by an example, how it works.cherry-picker2-150x300Last week, I was conducting a reference check. During the call, I was looking at the person’s LinkedIn profile and sent him a request to connect. At the end of the call I told the person I was conducting another search for a different position. During this two minute wrap-up conversation I conducted a quick search on his connections – the new feature – and four people were highlighted that seemed reasonable. I asked him about them. He told me one was great, but the others were not appropriate. However, when he looked at their names, he then remembered another person who was a also a potential fit for the job. This simple networking using LinkedIn Recruiter took about two minutes and resulted in two great leads. Both called us back immediately, since we mentioned the person’s name in our voice mail.

Here’s how this same technique can be used to turbo-charge your ERP. Rather than wait for your employees to submit names, start searching for co-workers who might most likely be connected to potential candidates (via keywords, titles, or competitive companies). Connect with these co-workers and search on their connections. Then have a discussion with these fellow employees asking about these people and if there are any you’ve missed. Don’t be surprised if a few more emerge. This is PERP, or proactive employee referral program. Try it out; as you’ll discover, this is one of the best techniques a corporate recruiter can use to start finding passive candidates. Make sure you pre-qualify them before you call, then watch out for what happens next.