Should You Connect With Recruiters on LinkedIn – Ask HR Bartender

by Sharlyn Lauby on April 7, 2013

We’ve talked about how to follow-up after a job interview. Today’s reader note deals with the next logical question: connecting on LinkedIn.

Need help / advice! Is it okay to connect with a potential employer on LinkedIn after you had an interview with them? Why or why not?

I think the key here is *when* to try to connect? If you get the job or don’t get the job, I think it’s okay to connect once you know (if you got the job or not). But during that period of time between the interview and before you find out, can an invite serve as another way of saying I’m still very interested in the position / company.

I think the answer is yes, but wanted to know what everyone else thinks. Thank you!

Great question! I reached out to a couple of my professional recruiter friends for advice. Geoff Webb is senior sourcing specialist at AON/Hewitt, one of the world’s leading human capital and management consulting firms. Kelly Dingee is strategic recruiting manager for Staffing Advisors, a retained search firm.

Is it acceptable to connect with a recruiter on LinkedIn after the interview? Why or why not?

LinkedIn, recruiters, job interview, connect, HR Bartender, hiring, network, social media, Kelly Dingee[Kelly] Absolutely you should connect. Before, During, After…if you are truly interested in the company, it’s a great idea. But, before you reach out and connect, do some quality control on your profile. I mean, proof it! No typos and make sure it’s mostly complete. Always send a personalized message to them on the ‘why’ of connecting.

There are so many benefits to connecting.  It could be if the right opportunity isn’t available now, it could be in the future.  It could be you’ll open the door to more connection opportunities and pique a potential hiring manager’s interest.

[Geoff] I think it is acceptable to try to connect with a recruiter at any time during the process.  If the recruiter is uncomfortable, they can always reject the connection or ignore the connection request and honestly that could be telling because if they are a good social recruiter then they should be accepting requests from anyone to build potential talent communities.

Out of curiosity, does it change if we’re talking about a hiring manager (versus a recruiter)? Why or why not?

[Kelly] No – the same rules apply. And proofing your profile before connecting to a hiring manager is even more important. Many hiring managers look at LinkedIn profiles as resumes. So while I don’t feel unending detail is required, proper grammar and typing error have to be rectified.

LinkedIn, recruiters, job interview, connect, HR Bartender, hiring, network, social media, Geoff Webb[Geoff] Hiring managers may feel like Linkedin is more of a private network.  Personally, I have only ever added people that I reported to after I had known them for a while.  But again you can always give them the opportunity to connect with you by adding your public profile URL to your resume.

If connecting with a recruiter or hiring manager is okay, what should a candidate do if the person declines their connection request? Should the candidate read that as “we’re not interested in you”?

[Kelly] Not necessarily.  I believe if you include a personalized message you’ll see fewer of these.  It could be your profile was not robust enough to warrant a rationale for connecting, or they thought you were a spammer because your connection message was not personalized.  Corporate HR tends to be fairly sensitive to who they connect to.

LinkedIn allows you to follow companies. Would following a company achieve the same result of “showing interest”?

[Geoff] Probably not but, the value of following a company is to understand who you know within the company and what the news, products and updates are for that company.  It should be used for networking and intelligence gathering and not for showing interest.

Beyond connecting with the company or the individuals involved in the hiring process, is there anything else a candidate can do on LinkedIn to show interest?

[Geoff] Sure – they can post a link to the job on their status update, and say they are very excited and ask their network for support and to wish them luck….that’s pretty obvious.

[Kelly] Look for groups.  Some large companies actually offer up groups for current and ‘future’ employees.  Engage with the recruiter in a non-stalkery way, re-post information they share, job postings your network may also be interested.  Paying it forward can be beneficial to you both.  Think about how you can help them help you.

Many thanks to Kelly and Geoff for sharing their insights and expertise. If you’d like to read more of their wisdom (and I know you do), check out Geoff’s blog Mastering the Source or follow him on Twitter at @SocialHRGuy. Kelly tweets at @SourcerKelly is a regular contributor on Fistful of Talent.

Share your thoughts: What do you think about recruiters and hiring managers connecting (on LinkedIn) with job candidates during the interview process?

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Benny April 8, 2013 at 3:40 am

Great insight, I think connecting LinkedIn account with recruiter while the process of recruiting can lead to unethical situation since it will make you hoping to get favorable chance to get recruited.
Benny recently posted..Time Management

the HR Cowgirl April 8, 2013 at 4:42 am

I joined LinkedIn about 18 months ago, and right after inviting work colleagues, recruiters were next on my list. The majority of those I’m connected with that are located in the same city as myself I’ve taken the opportunity to meet in person. LinkedIn provided a fantastic way to gain an introduction to local recruiters, and its something I’ll continue to use to accomplish this.
the HR Cowgirl recently posted..When did Human Resources become a ‘pink job’

Howard April 9, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Reading the question, I came away thinking that the interview with the company had already taken place, a step pass the recruiter.

The question was if its OK to connect with the employer on Linkedin, after the interview, not with the recruiting company.

So the question stills remains, after you have your interview with the company, is it OK to connect with that individual on Linkedin?

Dan Ryan May 3, 2013 at 12:21 pm

I connect with candidates constantly. It only further deepens the relationship I attempt to forge in my work.

I enjoy connecting with others and it is a blessing to occasionally get paid for doing what I love.
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Tim July 5, 2013 at 11:16 am

Great advice!

Just remember: Potential recruiters and screener that you contact via Linked In can check out your online resume and recommendations, so be sure you are consistent when reporting your experience and qualifications. Inconsistencies could be a red flag to a potential employer that you are exaggerating or not being honest about your talents.

– Tim

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