Find the Perfect Sales Hire- How to Get The Most Out of LinkedIn in 2013

LinkedIn is a phenomenal recruiting tool for all industries, but there are a few subtle things you can look for on a profile when evaluating an Ad Tech sales candidate.

  • Company Progression- Are the companies they work at getting more or less prestigious?
  • Career Progression- Is their title going up primarily because they are joining smaller and smaller companies? The skill set of a Sr. sales person that moved up in the ranks at a large established company is very different from one that moved up in the ranks by moving from start up to start up. Neither is better than the other overall, but one of these backgrounds may be far better for your open role.
  • If their LinkedIn profile indicates they are still employed, but they mentioned in the interview they left a few months ago, there is a very small chance this is a good hire.  You had me at “unemployed”.
  • Who Moved My Cheese? Is this person at (or did they at some point in their career stay at) a bubble company for too long?  Think a 3rd tier CPC network that has been dying a slow death for the last 6 years. Why didn’t they see the writing on the wall? They are either complacent, have bad instincts, or couldn’t get anyone else to hire them. All bad news.
  • Blind References- One of the most important ways to leverage LinkedIn.  This can be difficult because the sales rep has likely not told their company that he or she is interviewing, and you don’t want to broadcast it. But I wouldn’t recommend hiring a sales person without at least 2 or 3 blind references.  Go through your shared LinkedIn connections, and find a few people that you not only trust will be discreet, but that you trust to give valuable feedback.  Give them a call and keep it simple; Should I hire this person?

The above tips all describe ways to use LinkedIn to evaluate candidates already in the interview process. But to ensure that you are hiring top sales talent, it’s important to proactively fill your candidate pipeline.  LinkedIn is a fantastic tool for this.  It gives you the opportunity to see all the candidates that you wish you were talking to.

Steps to Finding Relevant Sales Profiles on LinkedIn:

  1. Compile a list of companies that have sales reps with relevant backgrounds.  The LUMAscape charts are a great place to start.  Don’t be afraid to cast a pretty wide net.  You can rarely hire someone from a direct competitor anyway, so hiring from a related, but separate, part of the ecosystem is a great move.
  2. Use LinkedIn’s ‘Advanced People Search’ tool, start with a company on your list, and make sure to check “past or current.’  Next use the Keyword field, instead of the Title field. Type in terms like Sales, Account Executive, etc.  I have found the Title field constrains the search too much, and you miss out on a large number of relevant candidates.
  3. As you are reviewing profiles, be sure to check out the section on the right hand side called “Viewers of this profile also viewed.” Recruiters are constantly doing research on LinkedIn, and this section represents the fruit of their labors.  It provides an excellent curated list of additional candidates.
  4. Start reaching out.  Often times you can find an email address or phone number in the profile, but you can also send an InMail. You will need to upgrade your account to do this, but the  “Sales Navigator” and “Sales Executive” packages are both solid investments. The ability to connect directly with top candidates is definitely worth the monthly fee.

Most Sales VP’s outsource LinkedIn outreach to recruiters, and in some cases this can make a lot of sense.  There are significant advantages to this approach, but there also are number of key disadvantages.  I’ll discuss the pros and cons of leveraging recruiters in my next article.

Until then, Happy New Year and Happy Hiring!


Ellie Windle is a contributor at The Makegood and Sales Director at MediaMath. MediaMath is the leading provider of digital media trading technology and services, and invented the demand side platform (DSP).