Most LinkedIn messages I receive are of the "We are looking for a candidate with your skill sets.." theme.

These messages frustrate me not because people are finding my profile and inquiring me about open positions, but because they always end their messages with:

Any interest? if yes..yay! If not...do you know anybody who would be?

[..] Role offers a great landing spot for someone with 2-5 years background in the MS stack. If anyone comes to mind, I would love to speak to them!

If you or anyone in your network is interested in reviewing the details of this position please refer them to me!


It's like they expect me to spread their open position with my friends/peers, and while it's good to know of open positions, it is not my duty to refer my friends to them, and it's kind of rude. It's like "Hey, even if you aren't interested, take my information and send me someone else to bother."

  • How can I respond to recruiters to deter this behavior but doesn't burn any bridges with them?
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    *comments removed* Remember what comments are for. For extended discussions, Get a Room (a chat room). Also, I have edited this question to remove some of the negativity and to focus on the core question. Feel free to edit if this changes your intent too much.
    – enderland
    Aug 20, 2014 at 21:15

6 Answers 6


I also receive quite a bit of requests from recruiters on LinkedIn and like you, they ask me to reply if interest or forward to others.

Those recruiters are taking the easy road by blasting requests to many LinkedIn users without qualifying first.

This is not much better than spam.

Since you are not looking for another position at the moment, I would simply ignore the request and move on. Just like messages to sell you pills or letting you know that you won the lottery, there will be more messages from recruiters in your LinkedIn inbox tomorrow.

There are plenty of good recruiters that will take the time to know you and they are usually coming through your connections and not by cold calling, or in this case a non-personalized message in your LinkedIn inbox.

I used to reply to some of those requests but quickly realized that it was pointless. Now, I ignore them or, in some instance, mark them as spam.

  • Totally agree. I even received a message used in their email campaign (sign out from this newsletter link still in place). So most of them go to the spam/trash.
    – Luceos
    Aug 21, 2014 at 12:19
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    Remove these recruiters from your list. You probably won't get much help from this type.
    – Almo
    Aug 21, 2014 at 14:01
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    @Almo, none of those recruiters are in my list of connections. They send me messages out of the blue. Aug 21, 2014 at 15:14
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    This is not much better than spam This is what I thought except actually I can't see any difference from spam. They just formulate generic offer for whatever and blast out to random ppl. Imagine the difference if they actually made an effort to reach YOU in the recruiting process (more effort for them). I had similar experience lately with email reply from a company. Many are generic preformulated replies. If its a short note with personality it struck me a lot more and gave me positive impression of company
    – Brandin
    Aug 22, 2014 at 6:38
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    @Brandin I was trying to be nice. :-) Aug 22, 2014 at 6:46

I receive many "cold-contacts" from recruiters on LinkedIn. I always politely respond, and usually agree to add them to my network. I don't think you should attempt to deter them from contacting you, and here's my reasoning:

  • I've had cold contacts turn into great jobs! My previous job was a cold contact from a company's recruiter, and even though I'm no longer there, I have good relationships with the former coworkers and bosses.

  • You may know someone who is looking and it could be a great fit. I've forwarded opportunities multiple times to friends/ex-coworkers, and a few times they've resulted in the friend/ex-coworker taking the new job. Then I got a check for connecting them to the recruiter!

  • LinkedIn, and professional networking, is not like Facebook or a social circle. You don't need to be close personal friends with everyone connected on LinkedIn. In a business relationship, you aren't expected to keep in touch (unless it's also a friendship) unless it's potentially beneficial. If you respond politely and network over LinkedIn, maybe next time the recruiter has a job you've always been interested in, you'll have a contact to make the introduction for you.

To address your point of it being rude, I don't think you should consider it that way. A recruiter is in the business of connecting people. They want to do it as efficiently as possible, and you should prefer it that way. If every recruiter you came into contact with wanted to develop a close professional relationship with you, your network (and potential job reach) would be greatly diminished. They are trying to save you (and themselves) time.

  • I think this is a great answer. And you provide good reasoning, which seems like it was through personal experience. I suppose I haven't experienced this so far in my career and that's why I find it a little annoying and rude, but your points shed light on why that may be a little narrow-minded, all while remaining objective. Thank you
    – Mark C.
    Aug 20, 2014 at 21:15
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    As long as I like your positive answer, we have another more negative answer from David Segonds. True that you may still gain something from such contacters, but they're still taking the "easy road" as David put it. Wanting "to do it as efficiently as possible" is not a reason to spam people. Aug 21, 2014 at 8:02
  • Because of people adding them to their contacts they believe this process of "cold contacting" without any vitial information actually works. Which means people like me recieve spam.
    – Donald
    Aug 22, 2014 at 11:05

it is not my duty to refer my friends to them

Of course not it's not your duty, and they aren't commanding you do to it.

Realistically, it's very unlikely that you'll want the job, but (while still quite unlikely) it's less unlikely that you'll know someone who does. On the odds, the recruiter probably gets more out of asking you to think of someone who's interested than they get out of asking you if you're interested.

If the recruiter can get some benefit out of you pointing a friend in the direction of a job they want to apply for, then why would any of you not want that to happen?

Recruiters have said the same thing to me even when I went to them rather than them cold-calling me. If I'm not interested, but I know someone who is, I should pass on the details. I don't really know why they bother saying it, it seems pretty obvious to me that if I spot a dream job for a friend of mine, I'm going to tell them about it whether the recruiter asks me to or not. But I guess they think it's worth mentioning in case it jogs my memory.

send me someone else to bother

Well, they've giving you some encouragement to pass the information on to any of your contacts who you judge would be interested, so that your contact can go to the recruiter for the full details if they choose. They aren't asking you to give up your address book. In fact they aren't even asking you to give them specific names to bother, so arguably they're showing at least some restraint.

It's rude to waste your time by sending a message when there's a very small chance that you even know anyone interested, let alone are interested yourself. Unsolicited bulk mail is rude, but they could be a lot ruder.

I very much doubt that there's anything you can do to change their messages without "burning bridges", since they're sending the same message to everyone they contact. They aren't going to hand-craft a message like this especially for you. And they aren't interested personally in you or your opinion or in pleasing you, so any response you give designed to avert them from this behaviour will, in the unlikely event they don't immediately forget you, leave them with a negative impression of you. So either block them or accept their messages as-is.


On the contrary, I find this positive.

Usually I try to keep in contact with people I've worked with in previous projects, if I feel that I could recommend them for other projects.

The new project offer most likely requires a similar skillset, so I already know several people who might fit and be interested. I won't go out of my way to connect them, but I'm quite often going for lunch or dinner with other freelancers and yes, I'll mention these projects with them if they indicate that they have free capacity.

However, I will do that only if I have an indication that I am allowed to talk about the project. Without that closing remark, I assume that the email contents should be kept confidential.

  • 1
    The recruitment process is fairly similar, whether for a position or for a contract on a project -- in both cases you need to match skillsets against requirements. The effects from networking are less pronounced if you have a smaller network as a result from only accepting long-term employment contracts. Aug 21, 2014 at 14:28
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    @Mark: I second Simon’s point that telling someone you know about a job can be positive. Imagine you’re not personally interested in or able to take a job, but you do know someone who’d be great for it, and you put them in touch with the recruiter. The recruiter now loves you, because you gave them a great candidate to fill their position; they may well think of you for future roles. Your friend loves you, because you found them a great new job. Quite literally, everybody wins. Obviously, that’s rare, but it’s valuable enough that I don’t think it’s rude for recruiters to mention the idea. Aug 21, 2014 at 14:34
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    The key is “If anyone comes to mind”. The recruiter is not asking you to send the job details to all your LinkedIn friends. They’re saying “if you know someone who you think would be great for this role, please consider putting them in touch with me.” Aug 21, 2014 at 14:39
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    @Mark: I’m not quite clear what your point is there. “I prefer to not take responsibility for recruiting my friends.” Cool. No-one’s asking you to, including the recruiters who add messages like these to the end of their e-mails. Aug 21, 2014 at 14:42
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    @Mark: asking someone to do something doesn’t make it their job to do something. You’re allowed to say no to requests, or ignore them. I think you’re being a little over-sensitive to these messages. Aug 21, 2014 at 15:07

It's like they expect me to spread their open position with my friends/peers, and while it's good to know of open positions, it is not my duty to refer my friends to them, and it's kind of rude.

I do not interpret that particular behaviour as rude, and I'd like to provide two explanations:

1) They may be legally required to do so: In some places, trying to snatch employees away from their current position by directly addressing them with a better offer can be considered illegal, hence headhunters circumvent such restrictions by not asking whether you would like the job, but whether you happen to know someone who does. Reading between the lines, they of course want you to consider the position.

Now, in that case, it is not at all rude for them to ask you whether you know someone who might be interested. It is simply careful wording, and should not be misunderstood as a request or even a command to actually look for someone else.

What is rude here, if anything, is the fact that they are sending you unsolicited messages in the first place. Spam e-mail and cold calls are a severe nuisance, and in that respect, offering jobs is not any different from offering products of any kind. Given that you signed up with LinkedIn for the very purpose to be findable and contactable with respect to the job market, this is kind of a mixed bag, though.

2) While you may feel flattered by being addressed in the message, the person offering the job also has a need to find someone for the position. They are aware that whoever they write to might not at any given time be ready or willing to change their job, but chances are they are in contact with other people with a comparable skillset. Hence, kindly asking you to pass on the offer if you happen to know someone suitable totally makes sense from the recruiter's point of view in terms of increasing the success of their offer, and once again should not be mistaken for an order to actively search for someone.

Conversely, it may be the case that you do happen to have friends who are looking for a position. Asking you to pass on the offer just saves you the effort of finding out whether the recruiter in question would allow you to show the message to someone else. Seen like that, I would actually perceive such a request in a recruitment message as a positive sign, as it shows the company is not an uptight place that hammers down merciless confidentiality rules on every tiniest bit of communication. Likewise, it implies that at least they do not use shady practices such as making you one offer, while making someone else a substantially different offer (which, based on a thorough background check, is still good enough for them, but considerably worse than what you were offered) - the offer you received is the offer they want to make to their employees, it's not an offer that was tailored to convince you, and only you, of joining.

  • 1
    Thanks for the answer. I was not aware of #1 - I figured it was like a FFA (Free For All). I just think that they are taking the easy rode, and that they are finding other means of someone else doing their job. Regardless of that, I do see reason in your points and appreciate your time to answer.
    – Mark C.
    Aug 21, 2014 at 12:16


  1. Hanlon's razor:

    "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by carelessness"

They might not expect you to do anything. It's probably just part of a template that everyone gets. Don't worry.

  1. They are dead serious: Here's an opportunity for you to hook up a friend with a job if you think that person will enjoy the opportunity.

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