13 November 2012

How not to use LinkedIn: Lessons for recruiters (and other self-promoters)


How can professional people, people who should know better, do such dumb things in the course of doing their job?

No, I’m not talking about Former CIA director David Petraeus and his affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell, I’m talking about the way some people use LinkedIn.

I currently have over 2,500 first level LinkedIn connections as well as being a member of about 40 LinkedIn groups. As a result I receive plenty of LinkedIn generated emails each day. Minor irritations are people I don’t know making connection requests by claiming the status of ‘Friend’. Larger irritations are those which I wrote about last month where people use LinkedIn messages as a form of thoughtless mass marketing (Email marketing: Are you annoying people and trashing your brand?)

Obviously not enough recruiters read that blog as today I received another example of how not to use LinkedIn that goes beyond just an irritating email.

The email I received was from a first level connection that I don’t know. The email’s subject line was simply the name of the recruitment agency. The full text of the email was as follows: 
Hi Ross,

Using our extensive knowledge and understanding of the finance industry we operate within, allows us to exist as number one in finance recruitment. Through better judgement & expertise we can be much more accurate with the quality and suitability of candidate we put for forward to your business. At X AGENCY we believe that whether you are replacing a previous member of staff or adding to a growing team, the selection, recruitment and placement of the correct individual can have massive impact on the development and success of an organisation.

I am sure that you receive emails from recruitment agents on a daily basis but I would like to inform you of the three main niches that I am able to offer my clients, that are an industry first;

• At X AGENCY we allow our clients to spread their recruitment fees over 6 months, we understand the growth patterns in a financial practises and the stresses on cash flow whilst recruiting.

• We also offer our clients a 12 week replacement of a new starter should they be unsuitable, although to date I have never had to use this niche!

• My previous Finance experience within both administrative and advisory and management roles allow me the knowledge and understanding of the qualities required to work successfully within the finance industry.

• I have a database with a number of candidates that have been interviewed by myself with regards to their expertise and previous experience that are of a high industry standard that are ready and awaiting confirmation of new opportunities; these consist of high performing Financial Planners and Senior Financial Planners, Para planners, and administrative staff that have experience in Financial practises.

I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to further discuss the ways in which X AGENCY can assist you with your recruitment needs, I have availability throughout next week and will gladly accommodate you if you would please advise me of an appropriate date and time.

I look forward to hearing from you. 
Here are just some of the things that annoy me about this email:

1. No context: There is no attempt to create any form of personal introduction or even limited explanation/apology that the writer is communicating with me for the first time.

2. Grammatically poor: ‘… three main niches …’ The use of the word ‘niche’ is incorrect.

3. Can’t count: Says ‘three niches’ then goes on to list four points.

4. Delusional or ignorant: ‘… that I am able to offer my clients, that are an industry first’. If a 12 week replacement guarantee, previous work experience in the sector in which you recruit and having a database of candidates are all ‘an industry first’ then I look forward to this recruiter revolutionising our industry with reference checking and visiting her clients.

Having then checked this recruiter’s LinkedIn profile I found more things to annoy me:

5. Lazy or careless: Given the recruiter in question resides on the opposite side of the country to me, I am somewhat doubtful the cost of a Melbourne-Perth return airfare is a worthy investment to visit me to discuss my likely Financial Services staff recruitment needs. How about reading the profile of the people before you send emails to check their relevance? If this says something about your attention to detail then I wouldn’t trust you to effectively screen and assess candidates.

6. No photo on her profile: Instead, her employer’s logo is used. What’s that about?

7. Recommendations from family: The recruiter in question has two recommendations on LinkedIn. The second recommendation is from a person of the opposite sex who has the same last name as her; a last name that is far from common. I might be jumping to a massive conclusion but I suspect she is being recommended by her husband, brother or father; not reliable sources of unbiased opinion.

8. An incomplete work history: She has two jobs listed (2.5 years and 11 months), neither of which list any responsibilities. There is an unexplained six and a half year gap between her current job and her previous job.

LinkedIn, at its base level, is free but that doesn’t mean it’s not costing you money.

Please stop annoying people and trashing your personal brand.

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9 comments:

  1. Let's hope your LinkedIn "friend" is reading this... have you sent them a link?

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  2. Gee Ross, I sure hope you can get your needs for Financial Services recruitment people elsewhere... lol...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Love your work, Ross!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymity WAS an option.
    We all make mistakes. It's what we do on reflection that matters.
    Keep holding the mirror up to us Ross. As an industry we need and appreciate it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "Grammatically poor:The use of the word ‘niche’ is incorrectly used"
    irony :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Guilty as charged. I have now corrected my error.

      Delete
  6. Two points regarding the no profile photo and incomplete work history:

    Profile photo/company logo: What's wrong with that? Personally I don't want my mug shot spread all over the internet. It's very easy to copy a persons photo and who knows what it will be used for... You might find yourself on a sex hook-up site!

    Incomplete work history: People who put a complete work history on LinkedIn are idiots. They are just asking for their identity to be stolen and identity theft is all too easy to do these days. It's asking for trouble. The correct use of LinkedIn is to just use an executive summary and leave it at that. Give enough info. as to what you are about but not enough so that your ID can be ripped off. Secondly, my previous employers are my competiton. Why would I want to give them advertising space?

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    Replies
    1. Thanks James.

      People are free to do what they like with their LI profile but I would have thought that if you are choosing to be active on LI then you would want to maximise your chances of success and that means a professional photo and a complete employment history.

      BTW - I have never heard of LI being the source of data for identity fraud. If you have read about any evidence of that happening I would appreciate you giving me a reference to the relevant article or research.

      Delete
    2. https://www.javelinstrategy.com/news/1314/92/Identity-Fraud-Rose-13-Percent-in-2011-According-to-New-Javelin-Strategy-Research-Report/d,pressRoomDetail

      "LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter and Facebook users had the highest incidence of fraud although there is no proof of direct causation. The survey found that despite warnings that social networks are a great resource for fraudsters, consumers are still sharing a significant amount of personal information frequently used to authenticate a consumer’s identity. Surprisingly those with public profiles (those visible to everyone) were more likely to expose this personal information. Specifically, 68 percent of people with public social media profiles shared their birthday information (with 45 percent sharing month, date and year); 63 percent shared their high school name; 18 percent shared their phone number; and 12 percent shared their pet’s name—¬all are prime examples of personal information a company would use to verify your identity."

      Delete