Given that I've been in the recruiting and career development business since the late '90s, I have many connections on LinkedIn. Some of these connections are with people I know quite well. But, with upwards of 1,000 people in my network, many are merely digital acquaintances, connected because of business synergies. Whether or not they are real or superficial allies is somewhat of a moot point, though, because if you ask me to introduce you to a connection, there’s an underlying hint that I’m representing you for a job opening that they might have and I’ve gotta say “no.” Here’s why:
I’m Not Representing You OR The Person You Want to Be Introduced To
Recruiters are not selling product to earn a living. We are selling companies, career opportunities and, to a large extent, people. If I attempt to introduce you to someone at Say Media and Say Media is not my client, that individual at Say Media is not going to be happy with me. They are going to think I’m soliciting business from them by dangling talent in their face.
There are many recruiters who actually do this to get business. They will take your resume, delete the name and contact information, and maybe even your current company, and then send it to a prospective client saying something like: “Hey, I see you are looking for a Marketing Director. Check out the kind of talent I can get you.”
The practice is called phishing and it’s ugly and unethical in my book. I once had a client call me and say, “Jane, I got this resume from another recruiter who noticed that I’m conducting a search. I don’t want to touch this with a ten foot pole. Can you figure out who the candidate is?” I took a look at the resume and in 30 seconds figured out who it was on LinkedIn.
Reputable recruiters do not try to solicit new business in this fashion. It’s cheesy. Even if I was trying to just be nice to you, the person on the receiving end would never assume as such because I’m a recruiter and I earn a living by placing people, not by making gratis introductions. Which brings me to the second reason I’m not going to introduce you to one of my LinkedIn connections….
Recruiting is a Revenue Generating Business Not a Social Connection Tool
Asking me to introduce you to a company I’m not working with is essentially asking me to recruit for free. First, I can’t do that because I have a kid going to college in 5 years and a mortgage to pay. But, second, what if one of my clients finds out that he’s paying me a fee while other companies are getting candidates at no cost? It would completely cannibalize my business. It’s like asking a lawyer to provide you free services or a jeweler to give you free necklace.
It’s My Reputation on the Line
Taking the “introduction request” one step further, I’ve had people ask me to provide a references for them. Usually this comes from someone I don’t even actually know. It’s just bizarre. Here’s a doozie that I received recently, that made me scratch my head in disbelief:
Hope everyone is doing well! I'm sending this to ask you for a brief recommendation of my work at x or for my consulting services, y, or z. I would like to add this to my LinkedIn profile.
If you could take a moment and endorse any of my skills as well that would be wonderful! In addition, a full letter of recommendation would be amazing if possible and can be emailed to me directly at _____. Any of the above would be appreciated.
I would be very grateful and happy to reciprocate with recommendations, or endorsements.
First of all, my name is not “everyone.” Second, I have no idea who this woman is! Third, why would I take time out of my day to write a full letter of recommendation for someone I don’t even know? Sure, we can look at this as an aberration, but the reality is that it’s not the first time it’s happened.
The bottom line is, recruiters earn their reputations based on the quality of jobs they carry in their portfolio, how well they treat their candidates, AND the quality of the candidates they submit for the jobs that they are commissioned to work on. You can bet that I’m not recommending anyone unless I have fully vetted them thru an interview process.
As a human being, I tend to feel a little bad to have to say no when someone asks me to introduce me to a contact. Especially, when it’s a candidate I work with closely. Of course I want to help that person get a job. But, I have to do this within the parameters of the recruiting business model. If I’ve got a client and you’ve got the skills, will I make that intro? 100%.
Jane Ashen Turkewitz is the President of .comRecruiting, a firm that's dedicated to advancing careers in digital media and ad technology. Please feel free to email her at Jane@DotComRecruiting with any comments or questions.