Career Advice – Avoid Spontaneous Combustion Linkedin Introduction Requests

Feb 8 2011 in Featured, Networking/Social Networking, reCareered Blog by Phil Rosenberg

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Given the power of job search tools like Linkedin, I continue to be surprised in the creative self-destructive methods some candidates use on this system. Take Linkedin introduction requests, for example …

I get a few Linkedin introduction requests per day – that may seem like a lot to you, but considering the size of my Linkedin network, it’s a surprisingly small number. Keep in mind, I have one of the top 20 largest networks on Linkedin and receive about 100 Linkedin invitations daily from people who want to share my network and see my career advice articles. While this sizable network gives me a broad reach, this also means that I network so broadly that I can’t possibly personally know the majority of my Linkedin connections.

Back to Linkedin introduction requests … Most of these requests are polite, with a note asking for my help. I’m happy to pass every one of these along and consider it part of how I pay forward.

However, a couple of times per week, I’ll get a request that’s self-destructive. What’s strange to me is that the candidate doesn’t even realize that if I did what they requested, they would look terrible in the reader’s eyes.

Here’s an example of a self-destructive introduction request I received yesterday:


I am applying for a job I found on LinkedIn, and would sincerely appreciate it if you could take a moment to write a short recommendation for me, which you can then forward on to the job poster.

You can find details of the job I am applying for here: [link]

Please let me know if you have any questions, and thank you very much,

– Linkedin Candidate

Linkedin Candidate’s message to Hiring Manager:

Dear Hiring Manager,

I have asked my connection Phil Rosenberg to provide a short recommendation for my qualifications for the position you posted, entitled ‘VP of Business Development’. Here’s a link to the job: [link]

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Thank you for your consideration,

– Linkedin Candidate”

I’ll gladly write recommendations of people I know, people who I’ve worked with, even people who I’ve never personally met but who I’ve gotten to know via significant email correspondence. Now if I knew Linkedin Candidate personally, if I had worked with him, if he had payed it forward, or even if he had established an email “relationship” with me, so that I had at least corresponded with him in some depth … I might know him well enough that I could write something on his behalf.

The extent of Linkedin Candidate’s online/email relationship with me was that this was the second introduction he had asked me to forward – on the first one he was wise to have avoided the boilerplated email requesting a recommendation).

In this case I also didn’t know the Hiring Manager (he was a 2nd level connection, one of over 5M level 2 connections in my network).

So even if I was so foolish as to risk my reputation (and also risk Linkedin Candidate’s) and would consider writing a recommendation for someone I don’t know, what would I write? About all I know about Linkedin Candidate is that he sends templated emails without fully thinking them through. I could write that he invited me to Linkedin a few months earlier, indicating that I’m a person he’s done business with at his marketing firm (except that I’ve never heard of his firm). Maybe I could try to turn these into positives by saying that his poorly planned emails demonstrated how efficient he is in email correspondence?

The worst part of this request was that he stated in the portion of the invitation that went to Hiring Manager that he had asked me to provide Linkedin Candidate with a recommendation. If he had done the polite (and smart thing) and emailed me in advance to first ask if I’d recommend him, I could have saved him embarrassment. Instead, he asked me in the same email that he also told Hiring Manager to expect a recommendation from me.

In case you were wondering, here’s my response to Linkedin Candidate:

“Linkedin Candidate,

Happy to forward without a recommendation.

But I’m curious … How would I recommend you when I don’t know you and I’ve never worked with you? Why would you ask someone you don’t know to recommend you? What would you expect me to say that could help you, when I don’t know you? Why would you tell Hiring Manager to expect a recommendation, when you hadn’t first asked if I would write one?

This is a great topic for one of my articles – self destructive job search mistakes to avoid.”

So here’s today’s career advice: It’s fine to ask someone you don’t know to pass along a Linkedin Introduction request. But before you ask someone to recommend you, keep these basics in mind:

  • Figure out if they know you well enough (or at all) to write anything of substance
  • Ask for a recommendation before telling the recipient to expect a recommendation
  • Find out what the relationship is between person you’re asking to write a recommendation and the hiring manager ( or introduction recipient ).
  • If you ask someone to give their time to you to write a recommendation, don’t use an obvious template. It’s rude and insulting – most people won’t even respond to this type of correspondence at all.

However, I do want to thank this Linkedin Candidate – his Linkedin Introduction request was such a great example of candidate spontaneous combustion, that it turned into a great lesson to teach other candidates. Kids – don’t try this at home!

Readers – Have you seen other good examples of candidate spontaneous combustion? Please share your favorites!


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Author: Phil Rosenberg

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