SAP has teamed up with LinkedIn to provide recruitment services for the software vendor's channel partners. It will offer special tools and services for the popular business social-networking and careers site.

The move is the first such agreement LinkedIn has formed with a software vendor. It is also the first instance of collaboration between the companies following an investment SAP's venture capital arm made in LinkedIn last year.

The offer is available globally and is aimed at channel partners with up to 1,000 employees. It includes a special tool that helps partners find, track and contact appropriate candidates, as well as access to a job posting service on the site. SAP's announcement indicates that partners will get a discount, but pricing information wasn't immediately available.

Some 140,000 SAP consultants use LinkedIn, according to SAP.

But it isn't the only option for finding talent. Career sites such as attract their share of SAP professionals as well, and many systems integrators and staffing companies maintain their own candidate databases.

In addition, a lot can be done with LinkedIn using only its complimentary tools, according to Jon Reed, an independent analyst who tracks the SAP skills market. "Why pay LinkedIn to search things when you can do so much without paying LinkedIn anything?"

That said, the true SAP "all-stars" in the marketplace may not be actively looking for work, Reed noted. "SAP is no different than any other industry or area. Top performers rarely float résumés on job boards," he said. LinkedIn's social-networking components provide "a pretty powerful platform" for reaching out to such individuals, Reed said.

Meanwhile, the dismal economy is prompting companies to spend less money on recruitment efforts. But that doesn't mean companies aren't still looking for SAP talent, given the constantly shifting areas of demand for new skills as the vendor makes acquisitions and releases new products, according to Reed.

"Even with 50 people on your bench, you may not have what you need right now," he said.