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How To Search Resumes on LinkedIn To Find Top Talent

Kristin Bachman
6 min read

If you've got job openings to fill within your business, LinkedIn is a great place to start. This professional network is relatively easy to use and has built-in tools to connect hiring managers with job seekers. 

Of course, you'll get more out of LinkedIn if you know how to use it to search resumes and find top talent. Not sure where to begin? We'll cover it all in this step-by-step guide, along with some other actionable tips for recruiting on LinkedIn.

Why is LinkedIn the Place to Find Candidates?

There are many reasons to start using LinkedIn to search resumes and find new job candidates, ranging from its wide reach to its intuitive job search tools. Here are just a few of the top reasons it's become a go-to network for hiring.

It Has Nearly 850 Million Users

For starters, LinkedIn is home to about 850 million users (as of July 2022). As an employer, this means that being a part of the platform will instantly provide access to a large talent pool right away. Meanwhile, your recruitment strategies will have a huge potential reach.

It's Built for Business Professionals

While LinkedIn is a social media platform, it has carved out its niche as a network tailored for career-focused business professionals. Unlike other social media platforms, the majority of its members use the platform to connect with other professionals, search for employment opportunities, and share valuable industry insights with others.

It's Optimized for Recruiting

LinkedIn also features several tools that make it easy for businesses to search for potential candidates. These include InMail and Messaging, which simplify communication between employers and candidates.

Meanwhile, LinkedIn makes it easy for recruiters and hiring managers to review candidates' unique skills, qualifications, and employment histories via their LinkedIn profiles. This often eliminates the need to contact them directly to request this information, which expedites the process of scanning resumes and screening individuals.

Can You Search Resumes on LinkedIn for Free?

The real answer is yes... and no. Like many social media networks, LinkedIn is free to use. A free Basic LinkedIn account will allow you to search resumes across the platform and see up to 100 profiles at a time in search results.

But if you want to maximize your recruiting efforts on LinkedIn, you may want to upgrade to one of LinkedIn's paid recruiting plans. These subscription plans allow you to conduct more advanced searches with specific criteria, including ZIP code, years of experience, and other parameters. Two of the paid plans offered by LinkedIn include:

  • LinkedIn Recruiter: Ideal for mid-market to enterprise companies and staffing firms
  • LinkedIn Recruiter Lite: Better for smaller to medium-sized businesses with low-volume hiring needs

How To Search Resumes on LinkedIn

Ready to search for resumes on LinkedIn using a Basic (free) account? Here are a few simple steps to help you get the most out of the LinkedIn search experience.

1. Narrow Down Your Job Requirements

Start by figuring out the main requirements you're looking for in a candidate who applies for your position. Employers often struggle to set realistic job requirements for job candidates, so you'll want to put some time and thought into this. Ideally, you'll be able to list a handful of requirements to filter into your first candidate search (you'll be able to add these shortly).

2. LinkedIn Advanced Search — Use People Search

Next, try using LinkedIn's Advanced Search and People Search features to find the best possible job candidates from your search. This will allow you to filter your search further and set specific parameters to narrow down your results. For example, you can search for candidates based on their current company, job title, and location.

When using the Advanced Search function to enter these parameters, be sure that you also select the People tab. This will ensure that the results you receive are only job candidates (not groups or events).

3. Enter Parameters Benefiting Your Job Requirements

Once you set clear primary job requirements, you can start to narrow down the parameters for your candidate search results. Some of the fields you'll want to fill out include Title and Industry.

In doing this, you may still end up with thousands (or even tens of thousands) of results, so keep filtering and narrowing down your search criteria. The more specific you can be with your parameters and job requirements, the easier it will be for you to find suitable and qualified candidates for the job. Some additional parameters to consider include schools, past companies, and nonprofit interests.

4. View Profiles of Prospects and Narrow Down Your Criteria Further

Once you narrow down your search parameters as much as possible, all that's left to do is to view the list of candidates who meet your requirements. At this point, you can begin to view candidate profiles and identify ideal matches for your job opening. You may consider sending messages to candidates directly on LinkedIn to invite them to complete a formal job application — or even set up a job interview.

Once you complete your search, it's also a good idea to take advantage of LinkedIn's Save feature. This will allow you to save your exact search terms and parameters so that you don't have to enter them again down the road. You'll also have the option to sign up for email alerts, which will notify you whenever a new candidate that meets your results is available.

Forbes names Hunt Club one of America's best executive search firms. Read more>>

Best Practices for Searching Through Resumes on LinkedIn

As you get started searching for resumes and job candidates on LinkedIn, there are some best practices to be aware of that can optimize your search.

  • Search for active candidates by skill.
  • Make sure your company's page is updated and includes clearly communicated core values.
  • Leverage current employee networks/connections.
  • Keep InMail messages under 100 words, if possible.

Key LinkedIn Trends You Should Be Aware Of

LinkedIn is a large network, so the platform is constantly changing and evolving. As a result, the way candidates and recruiters use it will continue to develop, so you’ll want to stay up to date about the platform’s hiring and job-seeking trends. 

Consider, first, that 64% of the workforce is made up of passive talent. With this in mind, even if a candidate hasn't advertised on LinkedIn that they're open to new job opportunities, many are willing to at least have a conversation with a recruiter. The key is knowing how to approach the conversation tactfully.

Likewise, referrals remain a popular way for job seekers to hear about open roles. When your company uses LinkedIn, you expand your talent pool by leveraging your existing employee networks — a strategy that can result in better quality hires.

Narrowing Down Your Search in LinkedIn Recruiter

If LinkedIn's Basic membership isn't getting you the results you'd like, or if your company has more extensive recruiting needs, it may be time to sign up for a LinkedIn Recruiter subscription. This talent search tool is specifically designed for enterprise-level businesses and allows you to scour 1,000 different profiles and resumes at a time (as opposed to just 100 with a Basic account).

With LinkedIn Recruiter, you'll also have the option to share project and candidate notes with your entire team, allowing for a more collaborative hiring experience on the platform. You'll even be able to filter for candidates who are more likely to respond. These are just a few of the compelling features that set LinkedIn Recruiter apart from the free Basic membership.

Perhaps the best feature of LinkedIn Recruiter for hiring managers, however, is the ability to tailor your search with more than 40 different filters, including:

  • Years of work experience
  • Years in their current industry
  • Years in their current position
  • Skills
  • Fields of study
  • Degrees
  • Certifications
  • Seniority
  • Company types
  • Company sizes
  • Job functions

When used correctly, LinkedIn Recruiter brings your organization's ideal candidates directly to you.

Active Vs. Passive Candidates on LinkedIn

Another major benefit of using LinkedIn to find job candidates is the ability to search for both active and passive candidates. So, what is the difference between active and passive candidates?

Active Candidates

As the name suggests, an active candidate is a person who is actively looking for work. This often includes people who are unemployed, unhappy at their current jobs, or simply looking for new opportunities.

These candidates are usually easy to identify — not only because they're the first to respond to job posts, but because LinkedIn actually allows candidates to share that they're open to work. Current employers can't spot this designation, as candidates have the option of signaling to recruiters privately.

Passive Candidates

A passive candidate, on the other hand, isn't currently looking for new opportunities. They may be happily employed and content with their current roles, or they may simply not have considered changing their careers. Still, these candidates may be open to conversations with a recruiter or organization.

If pursuing a passive candidate, you may need to take a more relationship-based recruiting approach if you hope to persuade them to join your organization.

Alternatively, You Can Use a Recruiter

If you're still feeling overwhelmed at the idea of using LinkedIn to find new job candidates — or if you haven't had much luck with it — you can always partner with a recruitment firm to handle most of the hiring process for you. Here are just a few of the reasons why businesses choose to work with professional recruiters.

Find Candidates That Aren't on LinkedIn

While LinkedIn can be a gold mine of quality job candidates, it's still limited to just one network. Professional recruiters have both the time and resources to dig deeper during the search process, tapping into all types of networks to widen your search for top talent.

Meanwhile, referrals are often regarded as one of the best sources for hiring. Recruiters can help your business secure more referrals by leveraging their connections and helping you strategize to encourage employee referrals internally.

Gain Access to Talent Networks and Refine Your Candidate Pool

Recruiters also use exclusive talent networks that allow them to source stronger candidates. They can take care of the front end of the hiring process, which includes everything from reviewing resumes and screening candidates to checking references and running background checks.

Find More Passive Candidates for Your Open Position

Because recruiters leverage relationship-based recruiting, they can engage passive talent more easily. Having insight into candidates and the selling points of your business, recruiters can position your business as an attractive employment opportunity.

Search Resumes on LinkedIn and Beyond With a Professional Recruiter

LinkedIn and its recruiting tools can certainly be a practical starting point when you have a job opening to fill. However, nothing beats working with a professional recruiter if you're serious about getting the most out of your search and taking the hassle out of the process.

Work with our recruitment experts at Hunt Club to find the best candidates for your hiring needs.

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