Answered by Dana, Hiring Expert at ManpowerGroup, on Thursday, July 10, 2014
Absolutely! I would highly recommend checking out prospective companies on LinkedIn (LI), and exploring any and all information they make available to the public. I agree with an earlier response which stated that you should especially check out the Careers Section on each LI page, and see if they offer any information regarding open positions, their application process, and possibly specific recruiter or HR contact info. You can also check out these companies on Twitter, too. That’s something which is often overlooked, but also a great resource for candidates.
FYI, sometimes LI Career Sections are not fully up-to-date, and/or they will push you to the company’s official job board. Once on the official board, you should be able to see a nice snapshot of any open internal roles, even if they aren’t being posted on LI regularly.
In regards to outreach, I think it is becoming much more common for candidates to connect with recruiters or HR staff at a prospective employer via LI. In the past, I have had outstanding candidates identify me on LI as an employee of ManpowerGroup, and ask excellent questions about our company and our application process. I’ve then been able to route them to the appropriate recruiter or departmental contact, and it was a very professional exchange.
My best advice would be to briefly describe your interest in the organization right up front, and affirm that you are looking to strengthen your network in xyz field. Even if that particular recruiter or HR member isn’t the right person for you to work with, hopefully they can redirect you towards others within their organization who can perhaps chat/email with you.