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LinkedIn etiquette - how do I get connected?

Posted by Elaine Varelas  June 8, 2011 10:00 AM

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Q. I have worked in the property and casualty field for 11 years and in healthcare for the last 4 years. I am interested in working for a specific property and casualty company.

I have received a phone call and an email in response to resumes sent for the same position posted at different times. I responded to the phone call with a few calls, but did not hear back. I responded to the email by email and then a few phone calls, but again, did not hear back.

One of the recruiters from this firm did visit my LinkedIn page. I am considering attempting to connect with the recruiter through LinkedIn. Is it appropriate to do so? What do I say? I am interested in even an entry level (e.g., call center) position despite being a qualified insurance professional with management experience.

A. LinkedIn is made for connecting and there is etiquette suggested by LinkedIn and practiced by effective users of this great tool. One of the worst ways to use LinkedIn is to try to connect to people that you do not know, and want something from. “Linking” is a mutual activity. There needs to be a benefit to both parties. Many people see others who are part of a larger group, and attempt to link individually without a clear sense of why the other party would want to connect. Unless you are able to be introduced to a person, consider communicating without inviting someone to link.

There is something positive in your resume or profile which attracted the attention of the recruiter, but it seems there may also be something which puts an end to that interest before you make it to the next step. Review your written material with a critical eye. Ask a respected colleague from the property and casualty industry for feedback. You may need to make changes to something which is raising red flags. People may also wonder why you left the industry 4 years ago, and you may need to make that information understandable and positive.

Focusing all your energy on one firm is not a good job search idea. There are many reasons why an organization would not choose to follow up on a candidate. What is it about this specific firm that has your interest? Perhaps there is a history with people or relationships here, which may be part of the lack of interest on their part. I would try to communicate with the recruiter via email. There is no need to request a link. You may get the answer to your questions and, if not, be prepared to move on.

In regards to the actual position - being flexible about the level of position you would be willing to consider is positive, but you seem ready to take this to the extreme by considering an entry level role. Those types of comments from any job seeker lead to red flags for hiring managers. Confident candidates, particularly with 11 years of experience, focus on the value they add to an organization, and are more attractive to hiring managers.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.

Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.

Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.

Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.

Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.

Tracy Cashman is Senior Vice President and Partner of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.

Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.