Recruiters, please, don't be a LinkedIn 'tart'

I am no LinkedIn expert. But I do use it. I post status updates, I join groups, I comment in discussions, and I check backgrounds of just about every person I am about to interview or even meet.

I also get lots of requests to connect, and as a result have about 1,000 connections currently, so I suppose I could be described as an ‘active LinkedIn’er’.

Active enough to realise there are a few things LinkedIn users simply should never do!

Firstly, let’s get away from chasing numbers when it comes to connections. Target your niche for goodness sake. I seldom send connection requests, but when I do, I know the person. I will have met, or dealt with that individual. I will certainly be sure that person is in a related field, and that there is potential for our business objectives to overlap.

And I do not accept all requests to connect. It’s tempting, I know. We all love to feel loved. But when I get a request to connect from a Library Assistant at a University in South America, I mean seriously, why would I?  And by the way, no disrespect to that individual. He may be a great guy with great skills, but is there really any likelihood that we can add much value to each other from a professional point of view? And that’s what LinkedIn is for, after all.

Secondly, don’t spam your connections with marketing material, requests to read your blog or any other self-serving communication. I delete people who are using their LinkedIn list purely to sell aggressively. That’s not what its for.

Thirdly, please don’t ask me for a recommendation if you hardly know me and must realise I hardly remember you. In fact, frankly, don’t ask for recommendations at all. Don’t you think soliciting people to say nice things about you is just a little bit tarty?

In fact, on that topic, the whole concept of LinkedIn recommendations is flawed, open to flagrant abuse, and borders on self-love. Who is going to publish an unflattering recommendation? Indeed, who is going to write one? I have seen LinkedIn recommendations from managers, when I know that manager has fired the ‘recommendee’! What a load of old cobblers! I have written the odd recommendation myself – but only when I really know and value the person’s work, and even then I do it partly out of a desire to please. I increasingly do not answer recommendation requests, particularly where the person is not well known to me.

And lets round off this little rant with one more pet peeve. Don’t be a tart with your updates. We all know there is software that allows you to multi-list your updates, using TweetDeck for example. So, you tweet some banal observation about what someone in the office is wearing, but you copy that tweet to your LinkedIn status too? I mean seriously, do you think we want to see your LinkedIn status updated every 10 minutes with your inane tweets?  Do you think that’s what LinkedIn is designed for? That kind of update is bad enough on Twitter, but on LinkedIn it’s just so much dross.

, specifically for those using LinkedIn for recruitment. It’s a great resource. Please do not abuse it, or the people on LinkedIn, by blanket ‘headhunting’ approaches. Don’t be the LinkedIn equivalent of the guy in the pub desperately trying to hook up with everyone….. anyone! Be a little subtle. Do some research on your target. Find a plausible reason to engage, interact, and then ease into job opportunities.

LinkedIn will work best for you if you:

  • target the right audience
  • use a professional tone at all times
  • share great content and
  • display your expertise in your field

Only after you have done all that, can you afford to “sell” yourself, and even then, just a little.


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Views: 387

Comment by Donna Frazier on May 9, 2011 at 12:41pm
Although I agree with most of what was posted. I disagree on the recommendations.  Many consultants get recommendations from clients that they worked with as a testimony to their performance while on a contract position.  Personally, I never got a recommendation from any company where I was laid off but received many from past employers/clients I serviced who valued my work and gave recommendations to me based on the value I brought to them, unsolicited.  I don't believe all recommendations on Linkedin are hype but do agree there are some that are very self-serving.  Overall, really enjoyed your post!
Comment by Akiode Segun on May 9, 2011 at 12:46pm
Greg, nice post. Your points are just in time for me, as  I see a whole new insight in the purpose of LinkedIn and you say you are no expert? Thanks for sharing.
Comment by Keith Goodwin on May 9, 2011 at 1:50pm
I agree with you across the board. I think requesting an invite from someone you don't know is very inappropriate. It's an obvious request to simply expand one's network with little/no interest in really connecting with you.
Comment by Brian K. Johnston on May 9, 2011 at 2:52pm
Good Article/post.... I would urge you to read/understand how the algorithms with google work, specific to social media... (linkedin, twitter, youtube, facebook etc)  We do need to be focused (niche), but we also need big #'s, Big reach, etc., should you be interested in free organic traffic (inbound recruiter) from the #1 search engine in the world (google), and #2 (youtube/owned by google)  This was a very good article to read (GREAT CONTENT) Best to ALL,
Comment by Saundra Lee on May 9, 2011 at 3:07pm
Yes, you should make sure you are connecting to your target market but as a recruiter, why exclude?  I volunteer for the state doing workshops for those on unemployment and I tell them ALL to connect to me.  If we just connect to people we know then we would not need the database/search capabilities.  A few times, I have ran into random requests and while I might not be able to remember the person's name, I was able to find them in my network. It is OK just to help people once in a while and not get paid for it!
Comment by Valentino Martinez on May 9, 2011 at 7:00pm


Your comments express both common sense and nonsense--and "tart" is such a vague label to foist on violaters of your rules of behavior on LinkedIn.

I agree with Christopher's take on the lameness of your wanting to connect "only " with people you know.  It's a country club mentality that is put off by an invitation to connect with a third world student who wants to "connect" with you on LinkedIn. 

And a recommendation is as good as the person who makes the recommendation, or are you calling their integrity into question?  LinkedIn is one of the few vehicles to allow for a "recommendation" to stand for all to see.  Kudos to LinkedIn and to those professionals who get them and give recommendations.  It's sad state of affairs when a company tells its management "you will not recommend employees you regard highly on our letterhead."


Comment by Sandra McCartt on May 9, 2011 at 8:14pm

Having been a tart before it was fashionable (love the word by the way) i accept all invitations to connect on linkedin.  It's my take that if someone took the time to find me and wants to connect i will do them the courtesy of accepting.  As a generalist i never know what is coming down the pike in my world and i find that strange connections unrelated to what i normally do have been good referral sources.  If i needed a person in the U. S. who spoke Portugese that librarian in SA might have a connection in the U. S. who does so that's what makes my life fun.  Like a global Easter Egg Hunt.  Somebody always knows where there is a good  "egg".  I do not request connections unless i have a specific position to talk about for that person.  Period.  Gathering up connections is like having somebody sign your high school yearbook in my opinion.  If one is in a niche i can see trying to gather all the acorns instead of just mixed nuts.


As to recs.  I would die before i would ask anybody to rec me.  I have a list of references that i am happy to provide anyone who needs them.  I will rec contractors who worked for me in the past as companies don't much like to  rec them.  Don't know about anybody else but when i see a slew of recs on somebody's page i know that they have campaigned to have a bunch of them but so what ,if it makes them feel warm and wanted great, they don't mean much to me and seem pretty goofy most of the time, but i have used them to send to a client if they come from a previous employer since they have the person's title on them.  Fluff is fluff as in most references since nobody gets a bad one from the folks they provide.  What's new about that?

Comment by Jerry Albright on May 10, 2011 at 9:22am

I am a tart I guess.  I accept all invitations - and invite every person I think might add value to my network.


I could care less about recommendations and have never asked for one.  Maybe that's why I don't have many.


Linkedin is a giant database of resumes/profiles/people.  I want my piece of the pie to be as big as it possibly can be.


I do not "add content" to the millions of discussions there. 


I find the people I'm hoping to recruit - look at the groups they are in - join the groups and then go back to them (usually the same day) and invite them to connect with me to discuss their career.


It works.  I'm not so much concerned as to the original intent of the thing.  My use of Linkedin is strictly for directly contacting qualified candidates in order to make a presentation to them about the client I'm recruiting for.


In fact - I'm doing that right now.  Gotta get back to it!

Comment by Jacquelyn Anderson on May 10, 2011 at 10:37am

These are great rules to follow.  I especially like the one on recommendations.  Thank you.

Comment by Valentino Martinez on May 10, 2011 at 3:59pm

Are we confusing "tart" with "fart"?  I qualify for the latter, as in "Old fart".



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