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I sometimes get contacted by recruiters on sites such as LinkedIn, asking if I am interested in a job they have available, and they usually want to make a formal connection on the network to share more details about it.

I feel unsure about how to handle this: All of the people in my LinkedIn network are people I actually know and work with now or have worked with in the past, and I am not certain it's a good idea to add people to my network based on communication that is based on a single message. On the other hand, I also wonder if I am losing out on potential opportunities because of this.

I would like more information from the recruiter, but don't want to formally add them to my network unless I have a real personal connection with them. What is the proper etiquette for handling this situation?

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    Personally I will connect with anyone on linked in if they are relevant to furthering my career. I see every recruiter connection as an opportunity to seek out work should I need to in the future. If they start to harass me I will let them know that I an not interested in job opportunities at the current time and if I change my mind I will reach out to them. Except in a few rare cases that has been enough to make them stop bothering me. – Alan Barber Apr 27 '12 at 19:45
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Not sure what the etiquette on this is, but if you have a personal policy of "I only connect with people I know/network with in the real world" I'd say that's a Good Thing: it means sharing your network with an employer has more value - "I know all these people, they all know me, we've worked together and we respect each other."1

If you're interested in the opportunity contact the recruiter out of band via email/telephone and express your interest. Their job is to fill the position with a qualified applicant, and if you're qualified they should be happy to talk to you.

If the opportunity pans out (or even if it doesn't) and you feel like this recruiter is someone you like/respect enough to add to your network follow up by sending them an offer to connect. You are paying them a sincere compliment by saying "I like/respect you enough to list you in my LinkedIn network.


1 - The reason I don't use LinkedIn is because people seem to connect with everyone who sends them a request: IMHO it's as bad as the way people auto-accept Facebook friend requests and defeats the purpose of a professional network as I can't be sure if your network is "real" or if it's just people blindly accepting your requests.

  • Good points, I think I will continue communicating with them (via LinkedIn's messaging system), but only add them to my network after I've talked to them enough that I feel I actually know them. – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner May 1 '12 at 18:15
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    It's important to note that it is also possible to communicate via LinkedIn's messaging system without giving them your phone/e-mail and without actually making a connection. Perfectly reasonable too, IMHO. – Iszi Nov 9 '12 at 20:00
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I haven't yet found this to be an issue. For example, I'm connected to a few recruiters, but I'm up front with them and say, "I'm not looking for a job currently, but if you're interested in meeting up over coffee and talking shop, I'd be happy to meet." Only a few recruiters actually take me up on this, but the ones that do seem to be the most interested in connecting in a way that goes beyond simply using each other to find employment. This also limits the number of recruiters I connect with.

Since I'm not currently looking for a job, I use this network for two things: first, they occasionally post jobs that friends might be interested in, and having met them personally means my friend may have a leg up when I introduce them to the recruiter. Secondly, you never know when you'll next be looking for a job, and like any other role in your industry, it doesn't hurt to have connections when it's time to move.

I've heard some people comment that having too many recruiters in your LinkedIn network (or having a high percentage of your total network be recruiters) can seem like you're more interested in finding a job than connecting with professionals in your industry. Whether that's true or not depends on how you use things like LinkedIn, I suppose, but it's probably good advice.

As far as connecting with recruiters who might have positions that you're interested in, I don't see any harm in that. You can always remove them from your network if things don't pan out, or they turn out to be more of the "spamming" sort.

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    Meeting up for coffee - interesting approach! ...Also a good point about having a too-high recruiter:non-recruiter ration in your network; I hadn't considered that! – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Apr 27 '12 at 18:22
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I am thoroughly convinced that you are in no way hurting your career by ignoring their spam, and that is exactly what it is and exactly who they are, spammers.

spam (spæm)

— vb , spams , spamming , spammed 1. to send unsolicited electronic mail or text messages simultaneously to a number of e-mail addresses or mobile phones

Source: Dictionary.com

I not only ignore and delete these requests from my LinkedIn and email, I actively despise them with heated passion. Anytime an employer posts a new job in my area I can expect, emails, LinkedIn requests and phone calls from at least 3 different recruiters all competing for the same pool of people. No matter how many times you tell them to leave you alone or remove you from their list they will continue to solicit you with impunity. Keep these parasites off of your LinkedIn profile. The less they know about you the harder it is for them to contact you.

Yet another reason why you wouldn't want them on your LinkedIn profile is because most of these recruiting companies are revolving doors. You will rarely talk to the same person from the same company more than once. If you accept everyone of these connection requests your profile will get cluttered with people who moved on to real productive jobs and will drown out people that you have actually known and worked with who can provide the best recommendations and references for you.

  • I delete those spam emails from recruiters without emotion :-) They were sent by CRM application anyway, not by a human. You have no reason to get worked up, IMHO. – Peter M. May 3 '14 at 0:59
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You shouldn't have to "connect" on a website if there are other means of communication. I've sent message back and forth on LinkedIn with people without having to be connected personally or professionally. If I had to guess, I would guess that recruiters want to connect with you on LinkedIn to see who else they can reach out to and try to place people in positions or sell positions to them.

You may be losing out on potential opportunities, but you also don't have to think about it in this way. By choosing to work with a recruiter, you are placing your job search in their hands. In a way, you are giving up control of your life. That's a choice you can make, and the experience can vary from person to person and recruiter to recruiter. By limiting your network to just people you actually know and trust, that gives you the advantage of having a stronger network of people who could connect you to wonderful opportunities in the future. It's a two-way street, and a good sign of the value you hold for yourself and that you give to your contacts.

One way I would handle these type of things is to keep your messages brief and concise but also maintain a professional tone. Figure out what the recruiters want to hear from you. You are under no obligation to work with them, and I don't think you want them to take over if you are having doubts about how you want to conduct your job search. It can lead to good opportunities so it might not hurt to bite and see what develops. If the recruiter is someone reputable and someone you can trust, then you can decide whether to add that recruiter to your professional network.

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I think people have broken what was originally a very good design on LinkedIn.

Non-recruiters could connect with people they trust and would endorse. LinkedIn used to make plain that you're supposed to KNOW, TRUST and essentially VOUCH for the people you intend to connect with. Then you would be able to "meet" new people through mutual friends. This is how interaction for non HR related stuff could work.

To allow recruiters the information they need, LinkedIn had (have) specific payed for accounts that allow you to see and search through CV like information and send people mail.

If recruiters don't know this or don't use it they're either cheap, stupid or trying to spam you (since you're allowed to specify what you want to be contacted for).

I hate it and wish LinkedIn would own up and do something.

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I'm more inclined to connect, even when I'm not really looking, on the basis that if I establish having a baseline of connections to recruiters, then when I actually am looking, I won't need to have a sudden spurt of connections, which would indeed appear suspicious.

I do have a couple filters, though -- I'm more inclined to accept if someone sends a note indicating that they at least glanced at my profile, rather than that I was just a hit on a keyword search. I'm also more inclined to connect with someone who is local, or is already connected with some former co-workers.

The level of requests and notes has never gotten to the point where it's a real annoyance for me, but I may have a higher threshold than others.

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