Hands up if you’ve ever received a generic InMail on LinkedIn about a new opportunity or role that you’d supposedly be a good candidate for (whether or not that’s true, whether or not you’re remotely interested)? *Everyone raises hand*. That’s what I thought, you can all put your hands down now.

It’s pretty stock standard stuff, really, in the world of recruitment. Recruiters recruit people for specific roles, on behalf of organisations. Whether it’s an internal recruiter or an agency one, the end goal is ultimately the same. Players gonna play play play play play, Taylor Swift is gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake and recruiters gonna recruit, recruit, recruit, recruit, recruit.

Hi (insert your name), I hope you are well. I wanted to talk with you about an exciting opportunity I’m working on which I feel you’d be a great for! My client is looking for an “XXX” to help lead the “YYY”. They’re offering a really competitive package for the right person, let me know if you’re open to having a confidential discussion. Best regards, “ZZZ”.

You can spot a generic InMail from a mile away. They have a certain formality; a ‘one size fits all’ gleam about them. It really doesn’t matter though; you’re either interested or you’re not, so you’ll react in one of the following ways:

  1. You’ll think, ‘no, this has no relevance to me right now and I’m not interested’, ignore it and go about your life.
  2. You’ll think, ‘no, this has no relevance to me right now and I’m not interested’, write a quick ‘not interested, thanks’ note, bump the automatic response option, refer someone or say ‘let’s keep in touch though’, then go about your life.
  3. You’ll think, ‘actually yes, this sounds interesting’, write back telling them to give you a call to discuss.

Unfortunately, these reactions don’t cut it for some. Sometimes, recipients of these generic approaches on LinkedIn feel the need to retaliate in a sinister way, replying with a nasty, snide remark. Or, in some cases, I’ve seen naming and shaming occur, which ultimately tears down a recruiter, ruining their reputation in a public forum. Some feel the need to go to the recruiter’s boss and dob on them for un-targeted approaches, or publicly whinge and whine about recruiters and their “spamming” ways, igniting a recruiter-hate debate online. They feed the rumours that recruiters are relentless and chase candidates for their deal at all costs, without doing research first.

If I’m totally honest, I just cannot understand how and why people get so frustrated at receiving generic InMails, even if they are completely irrelevant to them and their profile! I guess these people feel at liberty to express scathing testimonials about recruiters seeing as they feel they’ve been wrongly targeted, had their time wasted or been victim of some line-crossing behaviour. But my question is this:

Why does it matter?

The generic InMail approach transcends recruitment and is used by sales people and business developers across a range of industries. LinkedIn is an incredible networking tool that allows professionals to build and foster relationships that they otherwise might not have the means to. If you’re on LinkedIn, you’re putting yourself out there to be contacted. Recruiters are simply doing their jobs when they contact you. Don’t you have something better to do than whinge?

Why, why, why?

First of all, let’s look at why recruiters send generic InMails. They are ultimately looking for candidates for their clients, and you have appeared in a search they’ve run, suggesting to them you could be a good fit for the role. With millions of people in the world, if a recruiter wrote a personalised InMail to every person on LinkedIn who could potentially be suited to a role they are recruiting for, they would have zero hours in the day left and would never stop writing.

Obviously, the better the recruiter, the more targeted their searches will be and the more relevant the InMails; but even the greatest recruiters don’t have time to craft individualised InMails for every single person. Recruiters are up against so many odds; they are up against a range of competitors and need to reach as many relevant people as possible, so as to deliver the best possible talent options for their clients.

This is all not to mention that many people put generic information about their own careers on LinkedIn in the first place, leaving a lot room for guesswork, ultimately inviting more generic approaches. You could be the perfect person for the role, but a recruiter wouldn’t necessarily know because you’ve only listed a few details which could be interpreted a million and one different ways! How remiss it would be of a recruiter not to at least make an approach, and let you decide if you are / aren’t interested or suitable.

All within reason…

Obviously there are far better approaches recruiters can make other than the generic InMail. Great recruiters really get to know their network and attract candidates for their clients in more strategic ways than generic InMailing. This is not an approach to be constantly relied upon, nor is it effective enough to build a business on, however if one candidate is placed off the back of a generic InMail, that could mean a HUGE fee for an agency recruiter, or a budget / target reached for an internal one. Worth it? Indeed.

Let me also point out that if you tell someone not to contact you again, you have every right to do so. I’m in no way condoning harrassment or repeated unwanted approaches. I’m just talking about random recruiters who get in contact about a particular role for the first time, not knowing much about the person they’re InMailing.

In summary

Recruiters have to try everything; they can’t afford not to. Recruiters aren’t InMailing you for the fun of it, nor are they doing it to be annoying. They are doing it as a way to offer you the chance at applying for a role they are working on, and sooner or later you might actually really need their help. Who cares if a recruiter InMails you about a role of no relevance? Obviously they have huge pressure on them and are trying all they can to find people for their vacancy. The answer is simple; just ignore it if you’re so disinterested. It’s not invasive, it’s just an InMail. Get over it.

About Phoebe Spinks

Phoebe is the editor of Undercover Recruiter & Senior Account Executive at Link Humans.

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