Why one million LinkedIn users in Thailand is irrelevant


Congratulations to LinkedIn for just recently passing one million members in Thailand. Out of context, you too would agree that this is a significant achievement. But here is the but, and it’s a big but!

A few years ago, I asked in my blog if LinkedIn was killing the recruitment industry. They say that Curiosity Killed the Cat; a reference to the dangers of unnecessary experimentation and speculation. Herein lies a possible answer to the question of whether LinkedIn is in the process of pushing the executive search and recruitment profession over the cliff. Dear reader: hold your speculation.

LinkedIn reports that they now have 380 million members in over 200 countries and territories.

  • 56% are male
  • 87% are 35 years of age or older
  • The US has 107 million users, while the UK has 17 million
  • 61 million users are registered in Asia
  • 10 million users are located in China and 7 million are in Australia
  • Thailand has 1 million users

Thailand has a labour force of 38 million people from a population of 67 million. Of the 38 million, only 6 million have a higher education according to Thailand’s National Statistical office. Higher education is defined as a diploma, bachelor or master’s degrees.

So if you go hunting for new staff on LinkedIn, you are fishing in a pool of one million out of six million higher educated people. You are dipping into a group that makes up only 17% of the potential. So the question you must be asking yourself, what about the balance of 83% that represents the five million higher educated people, who have chosen a life without LinkedIn?

I hate to add insult to injury but someone has to make the point – active candidates who are looking for a job, or those that are at least open to consider a new position, are proportionately only a small population of the best talent. High performers are almost always employed and seldom look for a job.

OK, let’s say that you accept finding candidates out of just one million, because they are registered LinkedIn users in Thailand, and let’s say that you gladly ignore the other five million higher educated who are also out there. You find that one profile which looks about right, someone who on paper ticks the boxes of preferred industry, right education, and excellent relevant experience. Now what?

The biggest challenge is what happens next – I mean after you have that name and LinkedIn profile. Just reaching out, asking the person if she is interested in a new job, surely will not cut it. But then again, this is the question inexperienced recruiters, corporate or recruitment companies, gladly ask right after they have introduced themselves. And don’t forget that HR managers are in HR rather than sales for a reason. Few people in HR find it to their liking to cold call someone and sell a job opportunity. Yes, recruitment is for a big part Sales with a capital S.

You must bring unique selling points to the table when you establish contact with the person you found on the Internet and LinkedIn. We call these points for Employee Value Proposition in executive search. You must be good at selling the job opportunity, have a high influence factor, be able to quickly establish a good rapport, have a strong impact when you communicate and be full of confidence. These traits are hallmarks of a top recruiter.

Why else will the executive search and recruitment industry never be pushed aside? Remember when internet job boards came into our world? Remember when large multi-national organisations set up their own recruitment departments, often with staff from the recruitment industry? Some predicted it was the end for headhunters and the like. Despite these initiatives mentioned above, the recruitment industry is doing well, thank you. In fact, with the expected contraction in the labour force, it’s not anyone’s guess what that brings to the industry. The best kept secret: golden days ahead for the professional headhunters; that is, if you can find the candidates for your clients or hiring managers.

3331_magnifying_glass_redHaving said all that, I do believe that the recruitment companies who only sell resumes lifted from Internet job boards or their own databases will find it tougher out there. Without any value added services in their product offering, their client companies will hesitate to pay for a pile of papers with names of people who have not been qualified to their requirements.

950_blurb_blueIf you find it a challenge to identify applicants and candidates, ask yourself if your company is using technology tools, Internet job boards and tactics learned 15 years ago. You see, fewer people now hang out on job boards, participate in discussion forums, or check Classified Jobs in the printed media. I know of some who have taken down their LinkedIn profile, or made the profile private, to avoid being chased by desperate and hungry corporate and recruitment recruiters. The reason? Just being fed up receiving calls or in-mails every day asking if they want another job.10750_shopping_basket_low

I should really laugh when I see now many HR and line managers blindly and clueless continue to post any managerial and top executive vacancy on Internet job boards. In Thailand alone, there are many choices when it comes to where you can buy a small piece of Internet real estate for your announcement, which your company is looking for people. But this is no laughing matter. It’s nothing but mis-management and really a reason for dismissal. Ask your preferred Internet job board provider for their candidate demographics. One of the major job board players in Thailand will tell you that around 90% of their candidates are younger than 30 years of age, earn less than 100,000 a month, and have no bachelor or master’s degree. Now tell me if that looks like a really good place to find your next Finance Director or any other senior executive?

Even worse, and plain incredible, is to see client companies use a recruitment company who in turn post the vacancy on the job board, harvest whatever applications reach the email inbox, send the collected resumes to their client and if someone is hired, finish their job with an invoice. I’m not sure who should be first in the line of fire, the client or the recruitment company. Oh well. If only such recruitment companies would stop calling themselves headhunters when all they do is shoplift on the Internet. I guess the first people to be fired would have to be the ignorant HR department.8416_5730_10 clapperboard_stee_LowPS You are welcome to leave a comment – just below!

4 thoughts on “Why one million LinkedIn users in Thailand is irrelevant

  1. LinkedIn has been very successful in convincing many recruiters, hiring managers and ignorant human resources experts that LinkedIn is the only place you need to go for candidates and applicants. Well done to LinkedIn but shame on those who blindly accept this questionable fact. LinkedIn’s penetration of higher educated people is in some countries impressive (most developed economies) but in others not so. Take Thailand as an example, where we have six to seven million bachelor and master degree educated professionals. Earlier this year, there were 1.5 million registered users in Thailand or 20-25% of the higher educated population. And less than 100,000 are considered regular users. LinkedIn must be only one of the places you look for people; not the only. And just because it’s easy to find people, does not mean it’s easy to hire. On the contrary.

  2. Yes agree that HR Dept’s and recruitment companies in Thailand are seldom effective in finding the desired applicant for the post. Tester mount to this is the frequency jobs are re-advertised again and again with certain companies.

    I believe there are 2 main reasons for this failure.
    1.The first round of applicant vetting is just a very simple tick box exercise, Failure to have anyone of those few boxes ticked results in immediate elimination. This part of the process has usually been designated to a junior member of staff with a clear ‘pass or fail’ mandate.

    2.Absense within the screening process of the ability or desire to spot talent. HR Depts and recruiting companies operate a generic vetting process.
    Talent however can only be identified by studying collectively an applicants experience, skills, achievements and desires. This requires not only knowledge of the given industry, but more importantly an ability to recognise unique traits in the applicants application.

    That is the difference between Headhunters and HR/recruiting companies. Headhunters have the skills and desire to identify the correct candidate simply because their reputation and lively hood totally depend on it.

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