after I applied for a job, the HR rep viewed my LinkedIn profile — should I follow up with her?

A reader writes:

I recently submitted my resume and supporting documents for an executive assistant position with our local government that I am incredibly excited about for a variety of reasons (career advancement, community outreach, etc.).

On Friday, I received an email from LinkedIn indicating that the HR director who is the contact point for the position had looked up my profile. I know this likely doesn’t mean much, but I was excited nonetheless. I am curious to see if you have any advice about what, if anything, I should do next. I thought about sending her a connection request reiterating my interest in the position and inviting her to reach out to me so we can discuss the opportunity in person. I’ve posed the question to a few people whose judgement I trust and they all seemed to think I should go for it… “what would it hurt?” But I’m hesitant to do anything that might alienate the HR contact. What do you think?

Too pushy. She knows you’re interested, because you applied for the job. You know she received your application and is looking at it, because you saw her look at your LinkedIn profile. The ball is in her court. If she wants to contact you to talk further, she will. And she knows how to get in touch with you.

I know it’s tempting to interpret the profile view as evidence of something, but it doesn’t really mean anything. It doesn’t mean she wants to interview you, or that she’s even ready to begin interviewing candidates. It could mean that she thought your name sounded familiar and she was trying to see if you were the person she was thinking of. It could mean that you worked with at a company she thought her neighbor worked at, and she was checking. It could mean that she was idly killing time looking up info on applicants while waiting for a conference call to start. Or yes, it could mean that she was interested in your application and decided to look up more info on you. But there’s no way to know, and the act itself doesn’t mean anything.

Taking it as a prompt to reach out to her and ask to meet is just as pushy (and ineffective) as it would be if you did it without the LinkedIn profile view. Which means that some hiring managers won’t particularly care at all, and plenty more will be annoyed or at least roll their eyes and wonder why you don’t trust them to reach out to the candidates they want to talk to on their own.  Why risk that, when a good employer who is interested is going to contact you regardless?

{ 61 comments… read them below }

  1. MaryMary

    I always do a quick internet search on candidates I’ll be interviewing, including checking their LinkedIn page, if they have one. I’m checking for major red flags and to get a better feel for the candidate. On Linkedin, I’m looking for it to be as polished as your resume, and while I don’t expect the content to be identical, I’d probably ask you about major discrepancies. If we have connections in common, I might reach out them after the interview, particularly if we’re thinking about extending an offer.

    1. MW

      +1

      I always do a search of people (usually google – not just linked in) before deciding on interviews or if they have reached out to me in some way. I also hire students and interns, so it can be an informative quick check…..

      1. MW

        I don’t mean to imply that I don’t find interesting things (good and…well, informative) on people of all ages, just that in general I’ve found that students tend to have more open privacy settings on social media links that pop up in a google search. And because of where I work and my position, I’m contacted by students often looking for internships, assistantships and other opportunities.

    2. Ash

      This is why I do a regular google search on myself to make sure what comes up is positive and accurate. There are only 3 people in the U.S. with the same name (spelled the same way) and most hits are me…

      It makes it hard though that most of what comes up is my work on a specific issue that I’m trying to broaden myself away from…

    3. Mints

      How much are you looking for? My LinkedIn account is bare bones. The companies/dates match but I don’t have accomplishments/duties. I think I’m sort of self conscious about it but I don’t know why. I should probably get over it and flesh out out

      1. Ash

        I asked this on a previous open thread but seems fitting to ask here again since it’s related to this comment —

        How should you handle what’s on linked in if you shape your resume slightly differently based on the position applying to. All true stuff, but emphasizing different things (for instance highlighting research work rather than policy or vice-versa). I’m not sure which version to include on linkedin since I’m applying to both types of jobs…

      2. MaryMary

        Personally, I’m really doing an internet check as a due dilligence against anything really disturbing and to get a better feel for the candidate. So if your LinkedIn profile is bare bones or doesn’t exist, I won’t think much of it except that Linkedin is not for you. If your LinkedIn profile is full of typos or says you were a Teapot Designer at OldJob when your resume says you were Director of Teapot Design, that’s more concerning.

        1. Volare

          Interesting. I’ve been promoted twice since starting at my company 3 years ago: and I haven’t bothered updating my LinkedIn profile, because I don’t want the people I work with to think I’m putting on airs.

      3. Jen in RO

        I also have very limited information on my LI profile – just job title and dates, no details – and I thought I was the only silly person to feel odd about putting my responsibilities and achievements there. It hasn’t harmed me, and I’ve even gotten messages from recruiters.

    4. linda

      well, that’s kind of lame. what if people just want to have linkedin but don’t really use it much…it IS just another social media outlet. some people (like myself) don’t even care too much to fill out all my sections. i just don’t want to share that much information via linkedin. is that grounds for not being eligible?

    5. Anna

      Be care you don’t admit to using anything you have found online to base your hiring decision on. This can open you and your company up for a lawsuit. Hiring decisions need to be based off the candidate who is most qualified to perform the essential functions of the job

  2. :)

    This site makes me supremely happy in the knowledge that others are freaking out just as badly as I am over little things that mean nothing.

  3. Anon

    This is kind of like profile views in online dating. Just because someone looks at your profile, even multiple times, it doesn’t mean they’re interested in dating you.

    1. some1

      This is exactly what I thought of. I have had female friends who have actually been confronted when they view a guy’s profile and decide not to contact him. Red flag or what?

      1. Anon

        When I first started doing online dating I kind of thought I was supposed to leave a message whenever I looked at someone’s profile. But I quickly realized how awkward that would be. “Hi there, I see we have similar taste in movies and are from the same part of the country. Cool! Not at all interested in dating you, though. Bye. :)”

    2. Kelsey

      Sometimes I see a guy and think ‘not for me but would be perfect for my friend’! I never know what to do in those situations but it always ends up with me looking at them a few times.

      I also do that a lot with job postings so..

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Sure.

      Don’t be offended if they don’t accept the invitation; some people don’t connect to anyone they don’t know bette than they’d know you from an interview. But some people do, and there’s nothing wrong with sending the invitation.

      1. Rosalita

        Agree. I do a lot of interviews and get a lot of requests to connect. I don’t often end up accepting the requests because I still feel like I don’t know the requester very well.

        1. JenTheNiceHRGirl

          Sometimes I get to know people really well during our long interviewing process and then if they don’t get the job, they will want to connect with me and I usually accept if they seem like someone who I would want to network with. If it was some random person who I didn’t really know, then I would think twice about accepting…. but if it was someone who I spoke with and had a good rapport with, I would most likely accept. I think it is nice when someone wants to join my network.

  4. KarenT

    After I sent a strongly worded email to a restaurant about a terrible experience I had there, the manager looked at my LinkedIn profile before he responded. THAT was weird.

    1. Yup

      Huh. Is that the top Google result that comes back for your name? I wonder if he was trying to figure out whether you were a food blogger with a zillion twitter followers or something before replying…

      1. KarenT

        It comes up if you search my email address, which he would have had since I had emailed him. I wondered about the food blogger thing as well. I suppose he was just curious.

    2. Sunflower

      Last year my brand new parked car was hit and the driver left his info so I never called the police. A week or two later, I saw a police officer had looked at my LinkedIn profile and then I got a voice mail from the police department telling me I needed to call them immediately. Turns out the driver actually tried to drive away and good Samaritan called the police and the officer left his information on my car. However, when I got to my car, the driver had come back and taken the cop’s info off of it (not sure why?). The officer needed info from me to finish the hit and run report and since I never called him, he told me he had to stalk me out on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn until he found a phone number!

      1. some1

        “the driver had come back and taken the cop’s info off of it (not sure why?)”

        So he wouldn’t get in trouble?

        1. Sunflower

          I was thinking that but he had already caught the driver- it was easy since he was driving a large company truck when he hit me – and had ticketed him. The info left on my car was the business owner begging me to call him first thing in the morning and his insurance info. I never called him and just called the insurance company. I think the fact that it was a business vehicle complicated everything and taking the cops info probably had something to do with the owner hoping to escape liability? Immediately after I got hit, I told my dad and he thought something seemed fishy about the whole thing and of course, a couple weeks later, I found out the driver was not as nice as he appeared!

          1. Elizabeth West

            Ugh! So annoying. Probably didn’t want their insurance rates to go up.

            Someone backed into me this weekend; she left before we were finished and I got her info but she didn’t take mine. I was going to file a report but I couldn’t at the station because of the holiday. So last night I called her and got her policy number and gave it to my insurance agent and alerted them just in case.

            There was only a scratch on both vehicles so neither one of us will probably do anything about it. My agent’s admin said “Well, we are aware now just in case.” I told her if it came to that we’d just let Judge Judy handle it. :)

  5. Mimi

    Sometimes I relate it to walking past a storefront, and slowing down to peek in the window, and having the owner rush out the door saying, “Come in, come in! What are you looking for? We have more inside! Don’t be shy! Come in!”

    Sometimes looking is just that – looking.

    1. Chriama

      I like this analogy. People don’t want to feel pressured into making a purchase, even if that purchase is “just” an interview. (Also, it has less of the gender connotations of the job search / dating analogy)

  6. LW

    Alison, thank you for responding to my question. I want to reiterate that I did NOT send the connection request. My instinct told me it was not a good idea, even though some peers I bounced the idea off of seemed to think that it wouldn’t hurt, or might even show some initiative. I also know (truly, and logically) that the fact that she looked at my LinkedIn profile has little to no meaning and provides no indication of the likelihood of a call. I am, by nature, an over-analyzer extraordinaire, often looking for meaning where none can be found and this tidbit sent my imagination into overdrive.

    1. Ethyl

      Is it me or is all this outdated “show initiative/moxie/gumption” advice seriously awful? To me, this is on the same gradient as cold calling, offering to work for free, and that kind of thing. Ugh, that is not how the world works anymore (was it ever??)!

      1. Jean

        This site’s archives offer an overflowing cornucopia of awful advice bestowed on job seekers. No bad reflection on Alison, though–she’s just collecting the bad information in one place and clearly labeling it “what NOT to do.”

        1. Ethyl

          I know — it was REALLY helpful to me during my job search to learn that my instincts were correct :) I guess I’m just interested in the fact that there’s a bunch of pieces of terrible advice that all seem to be ….. part of the same family? I dunno, it’s just interesting to me that they are all variations of this really particular 50s-era ideal of getting hired (or into Juilliard, or whatever (Robin Williams this is all your fault)) by being unconventional yet displaying “moxie.”

          1. Ethyl

            Is that who I’m thinking of? He stood on the steps and monologed for like days and then they accepted him? ANYway, you get what I’m saying.

    2. Anonymous

      I once applied for a job and someone on the hiring manager’s team connected to me on linkedin and sent me a message if I was still interested he would tell his manager to interview me.

  7. some1

    One other point about why I wouldn’t reach out to the contact on LinkedIn yet, one of an executive assistant’s main objectives is to anticipate the needs of their exec.

    It sounds like you would be supporting a high-level official, and part of your job will be to act as gatekeeper with citizen questions and complaints. If I was the HR Director and you made unwanted contact, I would wonder if you’d understand when a citizen is doing the same on the job and how to handle it.

    1. Jean

      This a wonderful observation! It can be expanded by all job seekers into a general guideline of “if the job description specifies they want X, make sure your behavior doesn’t show any signs that you’re inclined to do the opposite of X.”

  8. Joey

    Ugh. I’ve had that happen and it sort of gives me the same felling as the hawk salesperson who sees me glance at their product and uses it as an opportunity to start pitching. The problem is I like to do homework before Im ready to talk to anyone. And if you reach out to me before I’ve done my homework it feels like you’re trying to guide me to the selling points you want me to know and stopping me from the ones I’m interested in. Or maybe. I’m just weird.

  9. Sunflower

    I look at a lot of people’s profiles for so many different reasons.

    1. I like to look at their career tracks, where they started, how they got into those positions.
    2. When I’m updating my resume, I look around at profiles of people in similar positions to see if there are any things I might have missed on my resume that I’d want to include
    3. I look at people who work, or used to work, at a company I’m interested in to see how they’ve developed there or how long they stayed in the position.

    If you apply for a job on LinkedIn, I’d almost expect the hiring manager to look at your profile since it’s hooked directly up to the application.

  10. Mary

    Recently, I signed up with LinkedIn. I saw where some woman in my area had
    looked at my profile. I, in turn, looked at her profile; I still didn’t know who she was; but
    no big deal. A few hours after I looked at her profile, she contacted me via LinkedIn
    asking why I was looking at her LinkedIn. I replied that I only looked because she
    had looked at mine. She never gave a reason for looking at mine; although she did
    mention she was looking for a job. I kind of thought it was odd that she would contact
    me. From this experience, I wouldn’t contact someone because they looked at
    you LinkedIn for whatever reason. I now prefer to look at someone’s profile
    anonymously, because of the above reason.

    1. Joey

      I hate that about LinkedIn. There really is no good reason to ever know who views your linkedin profile. The curiosity will drive you crazy

      1. Jen in RO

        I have set LI to not show any details about myself when I view other people’s profiles, which means that I never get to see any details about them when they view my profile. I did it so I could ‘stalk’ an ex-coworker without him knowing (the lies on his profile were entertaining), but it also gives me lots of peace of mind.

    2. Cara Carroll

      It makes to sign out first before taking a peek at profiles! Although, then depending on the person’s settings you might not be able to view everything. Still it is better than leaving candidates wondering OR leave HR people feeling like they should change their locks…

  11. Sunflower

    I also think people have very different ideas of what a LinkedIn connection is and a lot of it comes down to quantity vs quality.

    LinkedIn is supposed to be a virtual medium for keeping in touch with your contacts and network. It’s also a great way to meet and get to know new contacts and just keep in touch in general. There are people who value these connections and continue to enhance them as time goes on.

    Then there are those who are trying to get as many connections as possible. There are people who think by connecting to someone via LinkedIn they now have a ‘contact’. In reality, I don’t really know what a LinkedIn connection to a person you’ve never spoken to will get you but it certainly doesn’t equate to having someone who can speak about your skills.

    I’m not saying that is what OP is doing but I think the younger generation(which I am a part of) is always being told to grow their network and show enthusiasm for the job and in this virtual world, this kind of fits in with that.

    1. Ash

      Agreed — I turn down several requests. If I’ve never met you, even briefly at a conference, you’re not getting a connection. Especially if your tagline is “looking for a job,” which I definitely got over the weekend.

      There is something to having 500+contacts though. I’m sitting at around 400, but again all people I actually know/connected with at some point IRL.

  12. Eden

    I’m glad I went to the trouble of updating my LinkedIn profile and making sure it was complete and has some recommendations on it as at least three hiring managers I have sent applications to have viewed it.

    It’s a little embarrassing to me now how incomplete and bad it was, and probably people have been looking it at the whole time I’ve been job hunting.

    Does anyone know, do you have to have the upgraded version to be able to indicate that you want to remain anonymous as you look at a profile? I am just curious.

  13. AnonUK

    I recently received a 13 page CV which included some truly bizarre information from someone with over 25 years work experience which was followed up the same afternoon by a phone call to see how their application was progressing, for a very low level admin position – I looked them up on Linkedin to see if they looked as crazy as they obviously were!

    1. JenTheNiceHRGirl

      Good point. There have definitely been times where candidates have not been considered because of what we discovered about them on the internet. It is usually things like lying about experience, having something that is extremely professional out there, or just having a messy LinkedIn profile with a lot of typos (in our line of work writing skills are super important).

  14. JenTheNiceHRGirl

    I always Google candidates and check to see if they have a LinkedIn profile. It is just a way for me to gain more information on a candidate that could possibly be a good fit for the position. Sometimes candidates will e-mail me and basically say that they saw that I was on their profile and does that mean that we are interested in them as a candidate. I just let them know that it is just a way to gather more information on them before I submit their credentials to the hiring manager. So I would say when someone looks at your profile it is probably a good sign that at least your credentials are being considered, but doesn’t necessarily mean that you will get an interview. So for anyone with a social media presence, make sure that anything that you have out there that could be viewed by a hiring manager portrays you the way that you want it to.

  15. Alison

    Hello,

    I read the questions / thread regarding LinkedIn connections with HR or hiring manager’s looking at your profile applying for a job and agree, the connection is too forward and a little premature at that stage of the hiring process.

    On the same vein, what about following the company you applied through as a sign of interest. Same idea? Too soon?

    Thank you

  16. Rose

    Hello!
    Really great information on this webpage, so glad I found it. I am new to this site/blog, so I am not sure if this is the best place to post a related question?
    I applied for a job online about 1 week ago, I am very interested in this job and company, and mainly have the needed qualifications. I follow the company on linked in and am wondering if it is OK or too pushy to connect with the “talent recruiter” through linked in? One thing is, I left my most recent job off my resume, but it is on linked in. It does relate to the position, just not as well and I didn’t have room for all positions. I would like them to see this experience as it may help my case, but also hope it is not strange to them it isn’t on the resume I sent. Any feedback or info would be greatly appreciated.
    My last 2 positions (first 2 “professional” roles out of college) have been only 6 moths each.. due to moving, bad luck, bad company, etc. I know this makes it more difficult to get past early stages as it doesn’t look good, so I wonder if I need to push a little harder to get there, like by reaching out?
    ALSO I left my last job 4 months ago.. I’ve been working but it is unrelated to the field (serving/waitress).. should I include that somehow so they know I’ve at least been working?
    Ok done with the questions now :)
    Thanks for any response.

  17. Brett

    Ugh… I had applied for a job and then like three different people from the company looked at my profile. I didn’t hear anything, then like a week and a half later. One of the same managers from that company looked at my profile! All I wanna do is reach out, but like everyone here has been saying, it’s kinda pointless. If they want to, they will.

  18. Me

    Do you really want to work for an employer who snoops on your profile? Someone who distrusts your application so much that they look you up on the internet? I have turned down an employment offer after one snooped on me. What’s going to happen if there are any issues in the job – will the employer automatically distrust you?

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