Dave Fecak has served as the President and Founder of the Philadelphia Area Java Users' Group since 2000. He is an active blogger on software engineering career topics at http://jobtipsforgeeks.com, and author of Job Tips For GEEKS: The Job Search ebook (http://jobtipsforgeeksbook.com) Professionally, Dave has been a recruiter and consultant for 15 years helping startup and early growth firms to hire software engineers (primarily focused on Java/JVM, Python, Ruby, functional languages, and mobile). Dave is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 72 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

LinkedIn Spam (?) and Recruiters: A Guide for Geeks

08.03.2013
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Recruiters take quite a bit of heat from those in the tech community based on what many refer to as LinkedIn spam, and the definition of spam within LinkedIn’s context seems to be fairly wide.  Recruiter shaming in public forums and blog posts about making ridiculous demands or nasty responses when being presented a potential opportunity are usually popular among a certain set.

Some potential recruits are a bit more creative, like making the Contact Me on their blog a puzzle that most recruiters will be unable or unwilling to solve.  I for one truly admire his creativity and think this is a great way to keep recruiters from knocking based on your desire to have a web presence.  +1 for allowing both a Python and Haskell option, which just makes me want to hire him more!

As I’ve said before, when the shaming and mockery of recruiters is deserved I’m not against it – I’ll grab my popcorn and watch.  Although I probably use LinkedIn much less than others in my industry I am cautious to try and keep my use appropriate.  Bashing recruiters is becoming a bit cliché, and I think the backlash related to LinkedIn in many cases seems unwarranted for a few reasons.

Many technologists use their LinkedIn profile as a way to attract employers – If you go to a publicized networking event and I approach you with a quick, “I’m Dave!  Nice to meet you.”, punching Dave in the face is probably not an appropriate response.  The environment you place yourself in (a networking event) should create the expectation that someone may try to engage you.  Independent contractors, unemployed tech pros, and recent graduates often use LinkedIn specifically as their preferred method (over say Monster or Dice postings) of exposing their experience to recruiters and potential employers.  If you are not using LinkedIn for this purpose, it might be useful for you to include that information on your profile.

It can be pretty confusing for a recruiter to get a nasty response from some LinkedIn users and a warm response from others, particularly when both profiles could be virtually identical.  LinkedIn has products specifically targeted to recruiters and hiring entities.  Being contacted about jobs on LinkedIn shouldn’t be considered a surprise or an infringement on your rights.  LinkedIn is pretty clearly trying to allow people to find and contact you for this purpose.

LinkedIn limits how many characters you can include in an invite – If you’ve been complaining that the recruiter who pitched you a job through a LinkedIn invite gave you vague information, I’d encourage you to try pitching someone a job at your company through two tweets (and no URLs).  Not to mention, you of course want to know why this recruiter feels you might be a good fit for the job.  And you want to know about the job itself.  Funding status?  Tell me about the founders at least?? Chances are you will have to leave out something the potential hire would find important if you are limited to about 300 characters.

If a recruiter finds you on LinkedIn, the only way to contact you may be an invitation to connect - Most recruiters don’t expect that you will want to connect to them (as if connecting has some sort of implied relationship, which in most cases it clearly doesn’t) after a single relatively anonymous interaction on the internet.  The majority of LinkedIn profiles for technologists don’t include an alternative contact method for those they are not connected to already.  If the recruiter is unable to find other contact information the invitation to connect may be the only way to reach you, even if the recruiter feels that connecting is somewhat premature based on the lack of a prior relationship.

What to do when a recruiter sends you a LinkedIn invitation to connect, and how to prevent it?

Some thoughts

Remember that you are fortunate – You have a job that people are falling over themselves to hire you to do.  The inconvenience of clicking Accept or Ignore is about as first world as a first world problem gets.

Don’t respond – Simply deleting the request takes hardly any time at all.  If you get a lot of these requests and deleting them takes a bit more time, please see the point above.

Respond, but don’t connect – If it is something you might want to discuss but you aren’t ready for the whole level of commitment that a LinkedIn connection surely brings, just send a response and take the conversation to email.  No harm done.

Create a canned response – Write a few sentences that you can cut/paste into a quick reply, explaining if/why you were offended and what (if any) type of opportunities you might want to hear about in the future.  Recruiters who value their reputation will try and take your recommendations to heart (for the minority that have one) and be more courteous in the future.

Clarify on your LinkedIn profile that you don’t want to talk to any recruiters –  Why is this necessary?  Because you are on LinkedIn.  If recruiters disobey this request, shame away.

CONCLUSION: You have every right to complain if you are approached for a job that is not at all appropriate to what you do, and you can certainly shame recruiters that ignore any notices you posted on your profile to try and prevent such contact.  But let’s not call every LinkedIn contact about a job LinkedIn spam – for most, that is exactly what LinkedIn is there for.

Like my writing(s)?  I wrote a book.

Published at DZone with permission of Dave Fecak, author and DZone MVB. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)