LinkedIn’s Recruiting Survey: The Big Question – Why So Little Data From the U.S?

Article main image
Nov 13, 2015

There’s no denying that Linkedin is a 600 pound gorilla in the talent acquisition space. But as I write that, I wonder in what space exactly Linkedin is.

Wikipedia says Linkedin is a business-oriented social networking service. Linkedin says it’s the world’s largest professional network with 380 milllion members.

Is it the ultimate job board? Is it an employer branding consulting firm? Is it a talent research firm? Is it a recruiting company?

Maybe it’s all those things. Or, maybe it’s none of those things and it’s something else altogether.

But whatever it is, I think we’d all agree that it’s big, it seems to be influential, lots of companies in the talent space are afraid of it, and most professionals – all over the world – wouldn’t look for a job without it.

An interesting report, but no big surprises …

So I read with interest Linkedin’s new report, Global Recruiting Trends 2016. It’s a quick read with some interesting data. The report sections are:

  • Introduction;
  • Key takeaways;
  • Quality of hire: The magic metric;
  • Employee referrals: On the rise;
  • Employer brand: A cross-functional priority;
  • Retention and internal mobility: Time to align;
  • Parting thoughts;
  • Methodology.

I like simple and straight forward reports like this. They tell you what the headlines are, give you charts and graphs that are easily understood, and then they end with a summary and the description of their methodology.

So the highlights are these:

  • Quality of hire is most important to talent acquisition practitioners, but there isn’t a lot of agreement on how to measure it.
  • The use of employee referral programs is continuing to increase.
  • Other functions, most notably Marketing, are getting in on the employer branding act.

… except, the people who responded to the survey

That’s about it. Nothing is really surprising, but here is the really interesting part to me: the methodology.

  1. It’s a global survey – 3,894 talent acquisition decision makers in corporate HR departments who have some stake in the recruitment budget took the survey.
  2. All those responders were Linkedin members.
  3. They were from all over the world.

Although the report doesn’t specify that the numbers shown by country represent the number of survey respondents by country, we must assume that is the case. And if it is, I find it fascinating that only 400 U.S. respondents were included.

It’s true this is a global survey. And it’s also true that the world of talent does not revolve around the U.S.

But, when 400 U.K. responses, 300 Australia/New Zealand responses and 231 Brazil responses are included – and only 400 U.S. responses were included – I’m not sure whether this analysis is all that compelling.

The U.S. has ~7 milllion organizations; the U.K. has ~ 4 million; Australia and New Zealand have ~ 2 million; Brazil has ~1 million. Shouldn’t the U.S. be more represented?

A simple fact: Too few respondents are from the U.S.

I’m not arguing that there are too many respondents from countries other than the U.S. There are some incredible talent innovations emerging all over the world in countries like India, Brazil and China. I’m positioning, rather, that there are too few respondents utilized from the U.S.

I’m pretty sure that if the survey had included more talent leaders from the U.S., the results would have been different. It’s hard to say exactly how different, but different nonetheless. Having a more representative national sample vis a vis other nations would make the conclusions more compelling.

With a hat tip to blogger (and TLNT contributor) Laurie Ruettimann, this raises the issue that we have to be mindful of the results of vendor research analysis. When sample size is too small, or when questions are ambiguous, or when the answer selections are biased (which they almost always are in vendor sponsored research), we really do need to take the results and analysis with a grain of salt.

There are interesting analyses and conclusions here that are worthwhile. But I wouldn’t build my budget from this report if I were a talent leader in the U.S.

I appreciate that Linkedin, the world’s largest professional network – or whatever it is, is asking its members questions related to the talent acquisition challenges with which every employer around the world is grappling. And it’s interesting to see the results country by country. I’m just not sure the U.S. data is solid enough on which to build action.

What do you think?

This originally appeared on China Gorman’s blog at

Note: An earlier version of this post listed the number of U.S. respondents as 200 instead of 400.