Most of the recruitment industry is professional, just like any other. It has its codes of conduct and professional associations. It has clear best practices. Recruiters deserve to win awards for great work and, most importantly, there are plenty of clients and candidates throughout the world―and you may be one of them―who can testify to positive experiences of how recruiters have helped.
However, there are also the rotten eggs, who are unprofessional and tarnish the reputation of their industry by their bad habits and frustrate you as a candidate (apologies for the vulgar headline you’ll find in that linked article; it wasn’t my idea).
Personally, I am tired of accepting requests from recruiters who then never again contact me. (I confess I’ve some in my LinkedIn network who connected with me years ago and have never been in touch once. I know, I know, I will root them out when I get a spare moment.) Such experiences tell me these are the ones who mine you for your connections. That’s irritating. After all, why should they get a free piggyback ride on your network that’s a result of your hard work and effort? If there’s going to be no relationship and no mutual advantage, why should you bother?
What’s the benefit of having your brain-powered connections picked? Surely it’s better to enhance your connectivity by you using your network, rather than have it exploited by someone you don’t know?
So how do you figure out the good from the bad?
First, answer these questions about the next invitation you receive.
- Is it worth accepting? Do these things to be sure
- Evaluate whether the recruiter’s company page profile looks and sounds professional. Check if they are at all active on LinkedIn. Do they post many jobs relevant to your professional interests? Their company should appear credible and convincing, and they should cover your industry or at least certainly your profession. They should be updating their page regularly with one or more of jobs, recruitment insights and news. Why? Because recruiting is a bloody tough, fiercely competitive industry and if they don’t show they mean business and don’t engage or share on LinkedIn, how likely is it they’re going to engage with you in any meaningful way? Also, check their website and see if they have testimonials from satisfied candidates. Rule of thumb: If they look and act like the real thing, and you feel they are, go ahead: Connect.
2. Review the recruiter’s profile
- Do they person impress you as being of at least genuinely potential help to your career in the future? Are they posting job opportunities that at least match your professional interests? Lovely. Then connect.
- Have they been in their current recruiting job for mere months? Perhaps reconsider. They could just be mining your network for fresh contacts. Unfortunately, many recruiters treat it as a numbers game. If they get connected to you, your professional network and industry contacts become a mine for them to extract gold quickly and easily in the form of potential shortlisted candidates they need to prepare for their clients.
- Check that the person inviting you to connect has, at least, an email address (I’ll come back to this one in point 3). Every professional recruiter should be contactable. If not, how professional can they be?
3. Drum roll … Now here’s the biggie: How can you tell if the recruiter is genuinely interested in you and not just wanting to mine you for your wonderful connections?
Even when you have answered questions 1 and 2 above, you may still be uncertain because while the recruiter may now appear professional, you may still doubt whether they want you or your connections.
If in doubt, here’s my surefire, fail proof way of being sure, so you know whether or not to connect. This polite approach also guarantees your integrity and professionalism even when you may doubt theirs.
First, you will have already ascertained that the person has an email address. If you’ve discovered that they don’t have one, don’t worry. You can still easily find it out yourself:
- I find the two quickest ways are either to Google their name, company name and the word “email” added.
- Another quick way is to use this brilliantly simple and effective tool. Just enter the person’s first name, second name, and the recruiter’s company domain ending (e.g., recruitment.com, or recruitment.co.uk). It will then instantly produce a comprehensive list of addresses you can easily copy and paste into your “To” field of your email. One of them is bound to be correct.
- Other options include either choosing one of these methods, or trying one of these. Trial and error will show you your preferred approach.
a) Now send them this email (while it works for me, you may wish to tweak some of the word choice and/or phrasing to suit your personality).
Subject Header: Your invitation to connect on LinkedIn
Dear First Name Second Name
Thank you very much for your kind invitation to connect. If it’s about a specific job, please don’t hesitate to email me here at this address.
Otherwise, I’m afraid I’ve become jaded by the experience of recruitment people inviting me to connect and then hearing nothing from them after that. Months, years go by and not a word. So why do they connect? It seems to me because some of them are extending their pool of talent to search. In other words, they want to mine my LinkedIn connections for their own interests.
I am not saying you are such a person, but I’ve decided simply nowadays to email each recruiter personally when they invite me to connect. This is what I write to them:
Here’s my email. We’re now connected. Delighted to be so. How may I be of help?
First Name Second Name
b) You may find they respond with a genuine interest, wanting to talk to you about a real opportunity. Great. Then connect on LinkedIn and take that call. I find the disingenuous ones do not even bother to respond after that. Now, that’s unprofessional and a further indication they weren’t worth bothering with in the first place.
Congratulations, too, at this point, as you’ll have succeeded in vanquishing your first brain picker.
c) However, you may find that they respond further with an attempt to spin supposedly clever bullshit at you with something similar to the example immediately below. The following is an exact copy of one I received just this week, but with the senior recruiter’s personal details removed to respect his confidentiality and that of his big league recruitment company. I have put certain words in bold for emphasis, to show you that―even though their approach is supposedly about an actual job―in fact, it’s just an excuse to get to their mining tactic:
Good Afternoon Your First Name,
Thanks for coming back to me so swiftly.
I was looking to speak with you regarding a specific job, admittedly it is a role that will be too junior for you but I was hoping you may be able to recommend someone. The position is a XXX role for a XXX firm based in XXX, the role will pay competitively and will give the successful candidate the chance to progress within the business as well.
Would there be anyone within your network that may be interested?
Name of Senior Recruiter
Name of Supposedly Professional Recruitment Company
d) If you receive (c) above, then my recommendation is to consider sending them this reply, as follows
Subject Header: Your invitation to connect on LinkedIn
Hi First Name
Thank you very much for your response. It certainly sounds like an interesting opportunity for the right candidate. I’m afraid nobody in my network comes to mind for such a role, though.
However, I do wish you the best of success in your search. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me directly via this email if you do have opportunities for me in the future. I would be delighted to consider them.
Your First Name
I hope some of the above has been helpful. If so, great. If not, I sincerely hope it’s because you’ve only had positive, genuine experiences with great professional recruiters out there. In which case, long may the recruiting force connect and be with you.