How NOT to Contact Recruiters on LinkedIn

Lots of us in the recruiting world are very active on LinkedIn, doing what we can to be accessible to jobseekers. We love networking, meeting new people and finding great candidates to fill our openings. Many of us also like to give back to our networks, helping out in any way we can. While we may not be able to help with every job search request that comes our way, many of us help jobseekers by passing along introduction requests, answering questions, sharing jobsearch tips, giving networking advice, volunteering our time to moderate networking groups, etc. LinkedIn is a great tool for helping others and I love to do my part.

That said, there are some requests that cross the line, in my opinion, and I think that jobseekers should be careful to leverage their network without taking advantage of it. Most have the purest intentions in mind and aren’t even aware that their request may not be received in the best light, so this list is written to help jobseekers make the best possible impression when networking with recruiters on LinkedIn. I hope it is helpful to you!

1) Can you help me find a job?

This is the most common request in my LinkedIn inbox, but one where I’m least able to help. An agency recruiter or headhunter might be able to “shop” your resume around to a few of their clients, but at the end of the day, a recruiter is someone who finds candidates to fill jobs, not someone who finds jobs to employ candidates. This is a key mistake that many people make. Most recruiters are happy to share their advice for job seekers, but a recruiter is not a professional “job finder”… Those really don’t exist!

2) Do you have any job openings that fit my profile?

Agency recruiters or headhunters might be a bit more open to this type of request, but before approaching an in-house/corporate recruiter with such an open-ended question, be sure to do a little legwork ahead of time. First off, remember that recruiters aren’t “job finders” (see #1 above). Secondly, companies often have dozens or even hundreds of openings at any given time. These openings are spread across a team of recruiters who only have real visibility to the openings they are personally handling. Thirdly, you are the best one to pinpoint positions that fit your interests, talents, and career path. Be sure to first look online, find positions of interest, apply via the careers page, and then approach a recruiter at that company with some specific positions of interest in mind. Most will do what they can to put you in touch with the appropriate decision-makers. Having done some homework on your end will not only speed up the process, but it will also put less of a burden on the person you’re asking for help.

3) Can you review my resume and send me your edits / feedback / suggestions?

As much as we’d love to help, resume critiques would take up a full 40-hour workweek (or more!) if recruiters complied with every such request. Resume writing is a very time-intensive process that requires two-way discussion, in-depth knowledge of your past experience/career goals, extensive editing/rewriting, etc. Professional Resume Writers often charge big bucks for their services because it’s no easy task or quick process. Recruiters may be able to recommend a professional to you (or help you network to find a good one), but this type of request is something that recruiters simply don’t have the bandwidth to accommodate.

4) Can you please send me John Doe’s email address / phone number?

If a LinkedIn member wants their contact information to be public knowledge, they’ll be sure to post it on their profile (and many of them do, so be sure to check). If not, then it’s really not appropriate for their network contacts to give it out to others. (You wouldn’t want your network contacts giving out your email address and phone number, would you?) Instead, use the “Introduction Request” feature on LinkedIn. It’s a great feature that enables you to message your target contact without revealing either party’s email address. Most recruiters will gladly pass along introduction requests on your behalf and then your target contact can decide how he or she would like to follow up with you. (Or, if you prefer to go the direct route, you can do a little Google research, as explained in this previous blog post, and easily figure out that person’s email address.)

5) Do you know anyone at Acme Company?

Probably! A well-connected recruiter likely knows multiple contacts at your target company. Rather than asking that person to run a search of their network to find a list of all possible contacts at a company, you should instead run a LinkedIn search yourself and sort through the results. You can easily identify an appropriate target or two (recruiters, hiring managers, peers) and then send an introduction request. After all, no one knows better than you why you want to reach out, which departments fit your career goals and who the best contacts at that company might be.

6) I’m interested in a position at Acme Company and would like to apply for position #1234. Can we set up an interview?

Normally this type of direct contact is a great strategy after applying online, but be sure to read the recruiter’s profile carefully before reaching out. It’s shocking how many times I’m contacted about positions at my former employers! Oops! Always read the LinkedIn profile carefully before reaching out for help.

7) Can you endorse / recommend me?

Lots of recruiters are open networkers, open to meeting new contacts and connecting with them for mutual networking purposes. These recruiters are typically very active on LinkedIn and will often do what they can, but if they’ve never met you and have had zero interaction with you thus far, please don’t ask them to write a LinkedIn recommendation for you. I’d like to think that an endorsement means a little bit more than that! It’s always best to get a recommendation from actual coworkers, colleagues, or clients who know you well and can provide feedback that is authentic, meaningful, and specific.

8) Let’s chat on the phone, grab coffee sometime, meet up for lunch, etc.

While this suggestion sounds all well and good, email communication is generally preferred due to the volume of candidates a recruiter handles in a week. These options might make sense down the road, but it’s best not to jump the gun. Recruiters are usually booked back-to-back with phone screens, onsite interviews, interview feedback meetings, resume sourcing, and gobs of administrative tasks (tracking, metrics, record-keeping, reporting, etc.). Not to mention all of the after-hours calls that recruiters make to accommodate working folks who can’t phone interview during the business day! So please don’t be offended if the recruiter can’t take you up on your offer… We would if we could!

9) Hi Tracy / Hi {FirstName} / Hi trusted friend / Hi James:

When reaching out to contacts on LinkedIn, please be sure to get their name right. I’m not super picky about people misspelling my name “Stacey-with-an-e” (unless it’s a technical writing, quality assurance, or similar detail-oriented profession), but “Tracy” is pretty far off, “{FirstName}” is clearly some mass email error, “Trusted Friend” is obviously an impersonal email spam blast and… “James”? Well, that’s just plain wrong! 🙂 An incorrect name makes a poor first impression and is the quickest way to turn off your recipient since the mistake appears right at the top of your message. Be sure to personalize the note and get the recruiter’s name right!

10) Wow, love your picture / What a nice smile / Hello there, Beautiful…

Last but not least… remember that LinkedIn is a business networking site, not Jobseeking or not, always be professional!

By Stacy Donovan Zapar

Stacy Donovan Zapar is a 15-year recruiting veteran and CEO of Tenfold Social Training, a training / consulting company for recruiters and hiring teams. She is also the Most Connected Woman on LinkedIn with more than 36,000 first-level connections. She served as Technical Editor for Wiley’s LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day and is a regularly-featured contributor on The Undercover Recruiter. Feel free to follow Stacy on Twitter @StacyZapar and connect with her on LinkedIn.