is this request from a networking contact weird?

A reader writes:

I am transitioning out of my current career (military) and am in the job search process. I recently received a LinkedIn connection request from someone who claims to run a nonprofit to help veterans in my particular skill area find civilian jobs. From his profile, he looks pretty legitimate, with lots of recommendations from people he’s helped in the past. However, I can’t really find any information about his nonprofit on the web, except for a couple of blog posts that only mention his name and the nonprofit’s name.

He then sent me a message telling me to “get his email from the most senior person I know” and to send him my resume once I have it.

This seemed a very strange way to offer assistance and made me balk at following up with him. He sent another message a few days ago emphasizing the free assistance but again instructed me to “talk to senior people about this job network.” It was very oddly phrased and didn’t make a lot of sense.

Is the “get my email from someone senior” thing simply a way for him to ensure that I’m legitimate? Is that normal? That seems odd, especially since his email address is in his LinkedIn profile.

My current gut feeling is that this person is well-meaning but, based on the oddly phrased messages, would probably not be very helpful and that I’m better off not following up.

Yeah, that’s weird.

I can’t say for sure whether this guy could be helpful or not. There are certainly weird people aplenty out there who, in addition to their weirdness, also manage to be helpful. It’s possible that this guy is one of them. It’s also possible that he’s weird and unhelpful and doesn’t know he’s doing.

Do you know anyone who likely knows him or knows of him? If so, you might as well ask about him and see what you find out. If not, I wouldn’t put a ton of time of time into tracking down information about him, but hey, since his email address is available on LinkedIn anyway, why not use it to send him your resume and see if anything comes of it? You’re not obligated to work with him if at any point you conclude that you don’t want to, but there’s no real harm in taking a step further and seeing what you learn.

{ 66 comments… read them below }

  1. LBK

    I can see it being an attempt at testing just how high up the OP’s reputation can get him, but I’m wondering if this is supposed to be a way to impress the OP, too? Like if the OP goes to someone very high ranking who says “Oh yeah, I know Bob, he’s great! Here’s his email to contact him” that will buff up the OP’s opinion of this guy?

    Either way I think it’s a totally weird way to go about verifying either party’s legitimacy and I wouldn’t continue on with him, or at least I wouldn’t put more effort into it than Alison describes by just emailing him your resume directly.

  2. NavyLT

    Yeah, that’s definitely weird. I mean, depending on what your particular skill set is, it’s possible that this guy actually is someone that senior people will know (as in, he’s retired military and spent his entire career in that particular area, and does have a network), but I’d be leery of an organization you can’t really verify is legitimate. There are plenty of scams out there.

    1. Kelly L.

      And I’d be really wary of someone who wanted me to jump through this odd hoop for no reason, and possibly make myself look silly to higher-ups in my own chain, kwim?

      There are a lot of scams specifically targeting vets. I’d be leery too.

  3. julie

    What the hell? Why do you need to go through freaking mission impossible to get OFFERED help? I started a nonprofit too and I make it as easy as I can for people to verify that we’re the real deal. Screw that hunt me down nonsense! As if you don’t have enough things to focus on in a job search.

  4. Mephyle

    Except that it’s Mission Very Possible since his e-mail address is actually available on his LinkedIn profile. To me, that disconnect stands out as the biggest flag of weirdness. It reminds me of the spam letters that start “Dear eBay user, you can tell this is a legitimate e-mail and not spam because we are addressing you by name,” but your name is not there anywhere.

  5. MH

    Maybe email him with more questions about the nonprofit and how it could help first? If he seems pushy or indigent, then I would move on. I’ve been getting cold call emails through LinkedIn lately, but some are telemarketer like.

  6. julie

    Yeah, exactly! Why is he being requested to go through a stupid email hunt when there is the standard route right there? I wouldn’t bother with these shenanigans. Your entire “helpful” relationship will consist of him having you run through mazes to get cheese when he could’ve just open his fridge and tossed you a block of Swiss from the get go. Screw that noise.

  7. snarkalupagus

    I’d agree with the other commenters here. This smacks of a scam to me–loudly–and this is one of the rare times that I’m going to disagree with Alison’s advice. If I were you, I would ignore the LinkedIn request and not send a resume. If the service is legitimate, it’s safe to assume that it’s being just as poorly marketed on the hiring side, which I can’t say would make hiring managers excited about using it. If it’s a scam, you’ve avoided a hassle. Listen to your instincts. You can always continue to monitor it and change your mind later.

    1. Zillah

      Totally agree. This sounds like a scam.

      Tbh, the fact that his email address is on his profile makes me feel like he’s trying to manipulate you into thinking he’s really important (“Wow! This guy won’t give out his email address, he must be a big deal!”) without actually stopping you from contacting him. It also sounds like he copy-and-pasted the same message to a lot of different people.

      I’d ignore the request and block him.

    2. Sara M

      I also think Alison gives _great_ advice, but I think she’s wrong this time.

      This absolutely sounds like a scam, and if you engage with him as she suggests, the “real harm” could be that he talks you into things. Sometimes scammers genuinely believe in what they’re doing, and they can be very convincing. Even smart, savvy people can fall for things.

      1. Zillah

        I may just be super paranoid, but I’d also be very hesitant to send someone my resume like this. Most of the information likely is on LinkedIn, but some of it – e.g., phone number, address, email address – likely isn’t.

        1. Mabel

          I was coming here to say the same thing. I think if you decide to send him your resume, you might want to leave your postal address off. Depending on your comfort level with giving out your phone number, that might be OK, but I think it’s possible for someone to get your address if they know your phone number. I might be deluding myself that anything is private these days, but you don’t need to make it easy for someone to get your address.

          1. Kat A.

            I wouldn’t send him a resume or anything. I don’t see any real benefit in doing so and, if he’s a scammer or just plain creepy, you don’t want to hand off all that info about yourself to him.

      2. Jessa

        And the scammer would have a lot of information about you as well. Most resumes can be pretty detailed. And he could then in the future boost himself more by saying he knows you. Your resume would give him enough information to do that.

    3. NE

      Yes, I had the same thought. It sounds like a phishing attempt by a non-native English speaker. I would block him.

  8. Zoni

    I read the “get his email from the most senior person I know” as the guy’s attempt to have the OP network for him. In that the OP is passing along the guy’s name and supposed services to higher ups. To be totally cynical, it seems almost like he’s taking advantage of people who might not see the red flags that the OP saw.

    If the OP doesn’t know anyone personally who can vouch for him per Alison’s advice, perhaps he can reach out to the others who have been helped by him in the past and see what they say.

    1. The IT Manager

      Yes. I do not understand which person the “his” pronoun is referencing, but it does sound wierd marketting guy is trying to get the LW do the work of increasing wierd marketing guy’s network.

    2. OhNo

      That’s what I was thinking. It sounds like he wants the OP to go to a senior and say, “Hey, have you heard of Joe Schmoe? Apparently he runs a nonprofit for XYZ vets.” Then the next person to go to that senior and ask for help transitioning out might hear, “Well, OP mentioned there is a nonprofit for XYZ vets run by Joe Schmoe…”

      Seriously, sounds like a scam that this person is trying to get spread around by having people ask about it. Drop it like a hot potato and move on to something that doesn’t require you to jump through weird hoops.

    3. Stephanie

      Yes, that was my guess as well! He’s not great at networking and is trying to get OP to network for him by mentioning his nonprofit to his senior military colleagues. I’ve heard of recruiters farming for new clients from old employers from resumes, so maybe this is another version of that.

  9. INTP

    Sounds like he’s trying to start a different type of business and is trolling for senior-level contacts (bringing in the hoops-jumping in hopes that the OP and other scam-ees will talk senior level people into emailing him themselves or they’ll furnish the info when saying, “X gave me your info”). Maybe he’s really trying to start a recruiting agency for veterans (doesn’t sound like a nonprofit one to me, though) but he might also be hoping to build lists of contacts (especially military contacts) to sell to military contractors or to use in his own military contracting business.

  10. Dave

    Probably less a scam and more of a “networking group”, the type of which that tends to pop up on linkedin. He’s using some terminology that is common in the group and unfamiliar to us & the OP. The reviews are likely a “you pat my back, I’ll pat yours” which is part of being in the group.

    You should be able to look up the nonprofit by name at http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Search-for-Charities and, if it shows up, that lends a little legitimacy to the whole thing. If not, steer clear as it’s a scummy linkedin networking group.

  11. nicolefromqueens

    OP, I think you should copy and paste the email into Google. I personally found out about a few more common scammers this way.

  12. Nanc

    I believe legitimate non-profits have to be registered and have a non-profit ID number. Most, if not all, post the ID number somewhere on their website. I agree with the other folks who are getting the Scam vibe.

    I haven’t been in the military but I worked in higher ed for quite awhile. Is there a local college with a veteran’s affairs office nearby? You can get some info on any courses they may offer and they can probably point you towards other local, legitimate resources.

    Thank you for your service and good luck with the transition.

    1. Vets Wife

      Or the local VA. Most of them have employment help centers. If this guy is legit, I would bet the local VA has heard of him.

  13. Apollo Warbucks

    I’m so cynical about most things online. If this guy had a real connection to the forces and was engaged in providing legitimate help to ex vets then his contact details would provided to you by someone as part of a debrief / planned exit from the services.

    If steer well clear of this guy at worst it’s a scam at best he’s playing silly games with you.

  14. Craigrs1

    Could you send messages on LinkedIn to the people who have endorsed him? Just asking them to confirm or give a bit more detail about their experience with him?

    1. Zillah

      But I think this is something that could potentially make the OP feel more safe without making them more safe, you know? Even if the OP messages some of the people who have endorsed this guy, if they lied/embellished on the endorsement I doubt they’ll balk at doing so in response to OP’s query. If they were people the OP knew, it would be a different story, but this smells fishy in the first place, so I’d let it go.

  15. Student

    OP, please be aware that there are several organizations that specifically prey on people transitioning out of the military.

    While there are certainly legitimate groups that help transition people out of the military, please trust your gut and look somewhere else. You are a vulnerable target right now, so protect yourself; the transition from military to civilian life is notoriously difficult. Talk to other former military who made a successful transition. Look at defense or government related jobs, where your service will be viewed as an asset. Even if you don’t stick in those kinds of jobs long-term, think of it as a way to make a smooth transition before you focus on your longer term career goals.

    1. MH

      I agree. The military also gets targeted for financial scams a lot – due to moving around and the like. Plus, if you have to pay for this guy’s services or seemingly “work” for him to get his services, move on.

  16. Cupcake

    Is there a legitimate transitioning program with which you are already involved (there HAS to be one for our vets, doesn’t there?) I would take this directly to them. If it is a scam, they likely have heard of it already. Good luck in your search for a civilian position.

  17. LizNYC

    I agree. This sounds really scammy. In 2014, this nonprofit doesn’t have a web page, Twitter account, Facebook account or ANY other presence outside LinkedIn!? This is really, really bizarre–and smacks of a scam, or at least a person who’s trying to grow his own network through trusting people.

    If you want to pursue further, OP, I’d look into the reviews other people gave and see if you’re possibly connected to any other them and ask them if he helped (or if those people even exist! You can create dummy accounts on LinkedIn.). Otherwise, I’d update my LinkedIn account, possibly block him from contacting you further (you can do this), and pursue opportunities worth your time–and that are Google-able.

  18. Just a Thought

    If it is a legitimate nonprofit you can search their 990 (it is public record) on guidestar…

  19. AF Capt

    OP, There are several legitimate organizations to help with the transition. I personally had one contact me on linked in and now I’m working with them. What I would say is just be careful regarding this because there are also a lot of folks that prey on us.

    That being said, I can vouch for Cameron Brooks and Bradley Morris as legit, in that I’ve talked to them and met them face to face and see what they can do. Everyone else just be wary about, and only go through their websites if you want to contact them. These companies are big enough that they have legit sites and ways to find them. Good luck in your transition!

  20. OP

    After submitting my question, I continued trying to dig for a bit of information about this person. Here’s what I discovered:

    He’s probably legitimate. I found his name and “non-profit” advertised by the main professional organization for this military area. I don’t think he’s a scammer. To put it nicely, he’s very, very, retired: he probably isn’t looking to advance himself in any way. I noticed that all of the LinkedIn references were from people he helped over 20 years ago.

    Based on that, I think I’m going to go with AAM’s advice and send him an e-mail asking for more information with my resume attached, just to see what happens. I’m fairly confident that, if not particularly helpful, this is not a scam. I’ll send an update if anything interesting comes out of it.

    1. HumbleOnion

      Even if he’s not a scammer, this wouldn’t fill me with confidence. Is this actually a non-profit, or is he just using that term? It sounds like he’s well-intentioned, but, to answer your original question, this is not normal.

    2. snarkalupagus

      Thanks for the update. All the best to you with the transition, and as I should have said initially, thank you for your service.

    3. Zillah

      He’s probably legitimate. I found his name and “non-profit” advertised by the main professional organization for this military area.

      I’m not sure I’d take this to mean that he’s truly legitimate. Unfortunately, sometimes organizations don’t truly do their due diligence – they hear about/are contacted by someone, and they slap the listing up without really looking into it thoroughly. My alma mater has done this and students/alumni have had to email them telling them that it’s a scam. Ideally, that wouldn’t happen, and maybe this organization is more careful about it… but I’d still approach with a lot of caution. Maybe email him asking for more information, but without attaching your resume just yet?

    4. JB

      Maybe he’s trying to get you to do extra legwork to show that you are a go-getter? It’s possible. But not likely! I agree with what everyone else is saying.

    5. Sara M

      Thanks! Do let us know. Maybe he just wants to feel useful to someone. It sounds like you’ve got your head on your shoulders.

    6. Not So NewReader

      I hope you contact that main organization, along with your decision to contact this guy. It never hurts to keep getting the opinions of others, even if you feel you are on solid ground. I wish you much luck in your endeavors- please let us know how it goes!

  21. Jim

    A little thought experiment – if you wanted something from a higher ranking officer, would you ask the officer or his/her adjutant? Either this guy is a retired four-starr with memories of a large staff/command, or he is trying to impress you how important he is (meaning, his is most probably a whack job)

  22. jamlady

    My husband is active duty prepping to make the transition in a year and one thing he was told was to be very wary of how you create your network, especially if it’s someone who sought you out specifically because of your active or veteran status. He has been making several contacts through military-affiliated programs and companies who offer transition training leading to long-term careers. However, he seeks them out. I’d be wary of this. It may be nothing, but just keep OPSEC and other safety training in mind. You may be out (congrats btw!) but people in your position are still targets. :/

    1. Student

      Yeah. Be aware that one of the types of groups that specifically target people transitioning out the military are the legally-legitimate-but-crazy racist groups. Along with the legal-but-crazy paramilitary separatist groups.

      1. jamlady

        Yikes. He’s excited to be out soon, but he feels sometimes like it will never end, even after he’s out.

  23. JMegan

    I’m suspicious that the guy doesn’t seem to have any internet presence at all, other than a couple of blog posts. That seems weird to me, even for a nonprofit. If you want to continue your detective work, you could google his name, or his phone number, his email address, the name of the nonprofit – and add the word “scam” to each of the searches, just to see what comes up.

    You may or may not come up with anything, but the overall results should give you a feel for whether or not he’s legit. If you do decide to talk to him, proceed carefully, and don’t give him your resume or any personal information other than what’s on your LI profile until you’re really sure you know what he’s up to.

    Just last week, a good friend of mine fell for a scam which seems to have targeted him specifically, based on details from his resume. So it does happen.

  24. HR Manager

    Agree this is odd. If he’s good at what he does, he would not need you to network for him by asking for senior contacts. Good recruiters and placements do this regularly and should know how to sell their services. If this person has been as good as he claims to be at finding job matches for veterans, I would think he has plenty of success stories and clients willing to vouch for him.

    I can’t say if it’s a scam yet, but this person is putting his job on you, and that is a red flag.

  25. Kiwi

    He’s either clueless, in which case you should avoid his “help”, or a scammer, in which case you should avoid his “help”.

    To summarise, avoid his “help”.

  26. CoachShannon

    I have done a lot of connecting/networking on Linked In with individuals I don’t know, or at least have not met in person. As many have already mentioned, if this guy is real and his nonprofit is real, he should make it apparent in his profile how to reach his nonprofit. Basic due diligence is necessary with any business, I expect it from people and I hope that they do check out people before connecting with them. I don’t connect with someone unless I’ve been introduced or we have something in common and can add value for one another. As with anything online, take it all with a grain of salt and follow your common sense.

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