What To Do When A Recruiter Messages You On LinkedIn

If you have a LinkedIn profile, you’ve probably seen a message or two from a random recruiter.  If you’re happily employed, you most likely ignore it and go on with your day without thinking about it.  But if you’re looking for a job, or considering leaving your job, you may find an unsolicited message from a recruiter intriguing to say the least.

But how can you tell if it’s a legitimate message or something in the world of spam.  Well the good news is there’s a lot of ways to figure out if it’s a legitimate opportunity or not, but it’s important to proceed with caution.

Here’s what you should do when you receive a message from a recruiter on LinkedIn for a job you didn’t apply for.

#1: Put Your Detective Hat On

photo of detective arriving home

I’m not 100% sure if detectives still wear caps or dress up like Sherlock Holmes, but hopefully you get my point.  Your first reaction should be to investigate the message itself and who is sending it to you.  Here are a couple of things to look for.

  1. Are there spelling mistakes
  2. Does the opportunity seem too good to be true?
  3. Does the person sending the message have a skimpy LinkedIn Profile?

If you answered yes or possibly yes to any of these questions, then you may want to close out of the message and move on with your day.  If your gut is giving you warning signals (my usually does after I’ve eaten more cookies than I should have) you probably should listen to it.

I’ll tell you a quick story that relates to the detective work.  When I was a young bright-eyed college graduate, I got a message from a recruiter at LinkedIn about a job at ESPN.  As someone who had watched ESPN growing up, it was a dream come true.  I didn’t care that the job was for a Virtual Assistant.  I couldn’t tell you what a Virtual Assistant did and had no experience as one, but I figured it was a foot in the door.

people woman girl connection

Well I messaged that recruiter back and was very excited for the opportunity.  He asked for my resume and once I gave it to him, I noticed the next day that he had disappeared from LinkedIn completely.  I was confused, then upset that I had spent a few days dreaming of working next to Stuart Scott as an update anchor rather than looking for a job. 

The morale of the story is I didn’t do my research and it came back to bite me.  If you spend time on this first part, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort in the long run.

#2: Think About If the Opportunity Is Right for You

Here’s a reality check for some of you out there.  Recruiters don’t care about you.  I know that may sound harsh, but their job is to find people who best fit the roles they are hiring for.  Not to make sure that little Joe Smith has the most perfect job for him and his family.

If a recruiter is sending you a message about a job you aren’t exactly interested in, it doesn’t make sense to get involved and reply. 

men s wearing black suit jacket and pants

On the other hand, if you are interested in the role or want to learn more, you should absolutely respond and let them know that.  You should try and steer the conversation to a phone call and not give too much information away in your messages. 

Also, if you are interested in the role, do some research to make sure that you’re qualified and more importantly, the role is posted somewhere on the company’s website.  There are times when a spammy recruiter could send you a message about one role and then do the old bait and switch into another role.  (I’ve had that done to me with a car I was looking to buy, and I am not a big fan of the bait and switch).

#3 Proceed Through the Interview Process with Caution

So, the recruiter seems legit, the job seems legit and the company seems legit.  That is a great start and seems like things are going in the right direction.  But don’t start the party yet.  It’s important to be extra cautious during the interview process.

I always have the phrase “If it seems too good to be true it usually is” in the back of my mind in cases like this (and other life situations but we don’t need to get into that now).  It could be the perfect job and wind up being a great opportunity.  But you may also be thinking you’re going to interview for a job to host a radio show but then at the last minute they tell you it’s to be a door-to-door radio ad salesperson. 

apps blur button close up

You need to go through the interview not just like you are the one being interviewed, but you should have plenty of questions ready for the recruiter about the opportunity.

The Bottom Line: Always have your guard up when it comes to people who you don’t know on LinkedIn.  I was never really a big fan of strangers when I was a kid, but as adults, we forget that strangers never really go away.  (That was meant to sound thoughtful, but it sounds more like the beginning of a scary story.)  Anyway, always make sure you proceed with caution in these instances, and if you’re gut says no, listen to it.  Or you’ll wind up regretting it and having to take a Tums.

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