Going viral on LinkedIn

Posted by kdow on Apr 26, 2016 10:28:37 AM

Look at all that swank!

A few weeks ago my employer opened a new, swanky office space for us to work in. Alongside that was the bigger news that we’re going to go very aggressive on our hiring strategy for Dublin. Cue big press statements, ribbon cutting and drinks with partners/press.

Given I’m a hiring manager, I took advantage of the free publicity to highlight the hiring opportunities to my network on LinkedIn.

I published a press photo of one of our rooms (a quiet room with a library style to it) and mentioned what an incredible journey it’s been so far. I started as new hire #1, and now we’re hiring over 300 new people just three & a half years later!

This simple post spurred a huge amount of engagement. Around 500 ‘likes’ and 40 comments on the photo itself. But the more surprising levels of engagement were from the huge swathes of people who added me to their networks, and sent me InMails. This latter engagement is what’s inspiring this post, because I saw it all: the good, the bad, and the really, really ugly.

The archetypes of people I saw were as follows:

  • Recruiters who want to route CVs to our team & earn some commission.
  • Students looking for graduate roles and/or internships.
  • Applicants for specific roles who want to be referred through by a human rather than apply online.
  • Applicants who didn’t look at our jobs page and are spraying-and-praying with their CVs.
  • Old friends & former colleagues reaching out to say hello.

All of these connections are fine. LinkedIn is a bit of a nuanced social network to work in. It has a unique sandbox compared to Twitter, Facebook or anything else. It’s a professional network. People reaching out to me are professionals primarily seeking work of some kind. All very legitimate so far.

However, the wheels really came off the tracks with some people. A couple of simple things I observed were not limited to, but included:

  • Poor grammar & spelling. I mean, at least capitalise your sentences properly!
  • Firing a CV at me and expecting me to find a role that fits — as if I have time to do that.
  • Being extraordinarily arrogant about the skills they had and assuming that they would be god’s gift to the business (note: these people tended to be an awful fit).
  • Doing zero research into what we do, why we do it and how we do it before chatting to me.
  • Sending me a note to ask me to call them. Basically asking me, the person they want to get a job from, to do all of the legwork.
  • Asking to speak to the hiring manager for a role, but without any demonstrated skills or experience in that role.

Some of the mails I got, and even the public-facing comments on the photo I posted could make YouTube comments look like Shakespear. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised but I’m typically a passive user of LinkedIn, so my being taken aback by the behaviour demonstrated publicly on a professional network was a bit of a shock.

Of course, I got some very legitimate messages too and no doubt some people will get interviews as a result of reaching out to me. But those people had very simple traits that others really lacked, including (but again, not limited to):

  • Proper spelling & grammar.
  • An interest in joining a specific team or role.
  • Some demonstrated skill or experience that would fit that team or role.
  • A basic understanding of what the company does, how it does it and why it does it.
  • Demonstrated intelligence when approaching me to ask about the best way to get an interview or recruiter connect call.
  • A proper LinkedIn profile, featuring all of the information a hiring manager might need (as opposed to requiring people to do lots of leg work).
  • A cordial, professional tone to their messages.
  • Demonstrated active reading/listening. e.g. When I respond with a message akin to, “let me know which open role you want to apply for, and email your CV to my address”, don’t respond with a CV pasted into the InMail window with no context.
  • An understanding that I’m probably getting a lot of messages (demonstrated by the fact that the photo I posted has a lot of interaction!) so being generous with time helps me out.
  • Being nice.

After enduring a lot of messages for a week or two I’ve started to be far, far more selective about who I add to my network. And I’m even more precise about who I’ll reply to on InMail.

The act of connecting to someone on LinkedIn to enquire about the company & role you want to work in is a fantastic strategy. It demonstrates due diligence & genuine intellectual curiosity in the business. But if you do that the wrong way, it demonstrates all of the reasons why you might not be worth the effort of interviewing, let alone hiring.

The key call-to-action here is simple: use LinkedIn properly. Be professional.