LinkedIn is telling strangers to ask me for referrals to jobs I have nothing to do with

A reader writes:

This is 50% a question for you and readers’ general opinions, and 50% a request for advice. I recently got a LinkedIn message from a stranger asking if we could discuss a particular job opening in my company. It was a position I’d never heard of; I have nothing to do with hiring and there are no open positions in my department. I wrote back and said sorry for the confusion, but I wasn’t familiar with that and she might have the wrong person. She wrote back and said I was listed under the job listing, with a link to the LinkedIn posting. It was indeed an open position in my company, but in a very different department that I know nothing about. It’s a huge company. I didn’t see myself listed, but a heading under the listing said “Best way to get this job: Get a referral!” with the profile of someone else who works for the company…whom I know has nothing to do with that department either.

So my question for you/commenters: Has anyone else noticed this feature? I don’t know if LinkedIn only gave me that “referral” bit because it knows I work at the company, or if it’s showing that to everyone, with random people at the company listed. If so, that’s ridiculous, right? It’s misleading job seekers into bugging people who may not have anything to do with the position. I clicked on some other random job listings with other companies, and although I didn’t see the “get a referral” thing again, I saw a few that said “Meet the team!” and have the profiles of people listed, but I don’t know if those people actually work on the team or are just random. If random, that’s still bad, right?

Now, my request for your advice: She followed up again asking me to put her in contact with whoever’s doing the hiring so she could “discuss this issue with them.” There’s nothing to discuss because it’s LinkedIn’s mistake, not the company’s, but she may not realize that. I feel bad, so I thought I’d just respond “unfortunately I don’t know anything about this position, the best way to apply is through the instructions on the listing, blah blah.” But my boyfriend thinks she’s just trying to get me to refer her to the hiring manager to get her foot in the door, not in an honest attempt to clear it up. What’s there to clear up anyway?

This is compounded by the fact that I received another message from a different stranger asking me straight-up to put them in contact with the hiring manager so they could interview, for a different position that I also have nothing to do with. Of course I’m not going to refer a stranger, and my boyfriend says these aren’t even worth replies, because they should know better than to badger strangers on LinkedIn. What do you think? I feel bad, and a simple “apply through the listing” sounds okay to me, but he thinks this will open a window for more pushing.

WTF LinkedIn.

This is totally a feature they’ve rolled out. The “get a referral!” thing is supposed to show you people in your network who work at that company. I don’t know if they’ve since expanded that to just show random people at the company — which would be a terrible idea since it’s inviting harassment from strangers and no one wants that — or if this was a malfunction and it wasn’t supposed to list you, or if you actually might be in her network in some way but many degrees removed.

Honestly, it’s not the great idea even if it worked as originally intended (just showing you if anyone in your network works there), because the person in your network who works at the 15,000-employee company you’re applying to, and who maybe only knows you because you once accepted a sales pitch from them two jobs ago, is not necessarily equipped to refer you in any way. Some connections will be, of course! But so many won’t be that the “get a referral!” framing is pretty bad … and is going to encourage bad networking rather than good networking.

I’d have no objection to the feature if it said “see who in your network works there” … and then you could make your own judgments about what might be appropriate to ask of them. For example, sometimes it would be appropriate to ask a contact about the inside scoop on the company, when it would be really inappropriate and presumptuous to ask that person for a referral. And yet some people are going to take LinkedIn’s “ask for a referral!” as an indication that that’s actually appropriate in every situation where it appears.

LinkedIn should be encouraging good networking, not bad networking.

As for the person who contacted you … I agree with your boyfriend that she’s trying to get you to connect her to the hiring manager to get her foot in the door, not because she wants to “clear up” LinkedIn’s error. You are 100% okay just not responding. If you feel rude about that (although you shouldn’t), you could write back, “I’m sorry I can’t help. Good luck with it!” But really, you’ve already given her one polite response, she’s pushing for more, and you can just disengage.

With the other stranger who asked you to connect them with the hiring manager for a different position, you’re fine ignoring those requests too. They’re sort of the LinkedIn equivalent of spam. (That said, I don’t totally agree with your boyfriend that you shouldn’t respond in case it opens a window for more pushing — I mean, it might do that but it doesn’t really matter because if someone pushes more, you can revert to ignoring at that point. It’s not like you’ve let them in your house and now you can’t get them to leave. If someone responds to your polite “sorry I can’t help” message with more pushing, you can just ignore them at that point.)

{ 188 comments… read them below }

  1. Marty*

    Ignoring it would be kind. Some people would simply forward the entire debacle to the real hiring manager. Enough with the pushiness!

    1. KarenT*

      Agreed. I’m a bit torn, as the applicant is definitely being pushy but LinkedIn totally set her up for it.

      1. Ashley*

        I don’t think this was so pushy to track down the hiring manager but if any of these exchanges lead to hostility I would definitely spend the time finding the hiring manager to advise them.
        It can appear rude to ignore them, but remember the sender is the one being rude. It is almost the equivalent of a telemarketer cold call. Just because they call you doesn’t mean you need to take the call or return the call.

          1. valentine*

            You’ve zero obligation. You’re assigning yourself the tasks of responding and helping. Don’t respond. (Especially if that might cause LinkedIn to refer you more often.) Find out why you feel bad and see what you can you to nip that in the bud.

        1. FTW*

          The applicant may not realize how big of an ask connecting her with the hiring manager is. A 100 person company would be one thing, but in a large company, this could be a significant (1-2 hours) amount of effort.

      2. TrainerGirl*

        I had someone I knew from a job about 6 years ago reach out and ask me to pass their resume on the hiring team for a position at my company. I just assumed that they’d looked in their connections for someone who worked there and contact me, but perhaps I was listed as a referral. I thought it was strange that this person thought I would know who the hiring manager was. This is no bueno LinkedIn.

    2. Zillah*

      I find the pushiness annoying, but if it’s just a matter of a couple linkedin messages that weren’t rude or aggressive, I think it’d be kind of petty to seek out the hiring manager just to tell them.

      1. Anon at Very Large Company*

        This “feature” to ask for referrals is ridiculous, as it has no resemblance to the hiring process at my very large company. Also, I am not allowed to tell a random person, or even a friend, who the hiring manager is for a position, without that hiring manager’s consent. Sometimes the hiring manager herself publicly posts the job on LinkedIn, in which case I could point them to that posting, but otherwise no. I may be open to doing a referral for you if I am convinced you are a good candidate, but a random approach is unlikely to work for that, and if I don’t know the hiring manager, it’s probably not helpful anyways.

  2. But you don't have an accent...*

    I wouldn’t bother responding back. I don’t think it’s rude, and honestly I know a lot of people who only log into LinkedIn when they’re looking for a job or got promoted (so once a year). Some people lose all sense of social norms on LinkedIn, though, and that can be frustrating. I had a recruiter once message me – I wasn’t interested in the position so I didn’t respond back. I gave him no additional contact information. He then proceeded to call my company (with offices all over the country), get transferred to my line, and leave a voicemail on my desk phone asking if I or anyone I knew was interested in the position he was trying to fill. I quite honestly felt incredibly violated by that. I had another recruiter inbox me, so I opened it to read it, decided I wasn’t interested and then didn’t respond back. Within an *hour*, he messaged again saying “hey, these messages have a read receipt on them. That’s so cool! Let’s setup a time to chat about ABC position”. So, my only other advice would be “don’t open the messages either”, because they may be able to see if you read them.

    1. babblemouth*

      I detest read receipt on all social networks. They provide no service whatsoever to most people, and only empower creeps and stalkers.

    2. The LW*

      Holy crap, those are both so pushy. I’ve heard some stories of pushy recruiters before but nothing like that. What did they think–that you’d magically want the job if they kept bugging you??

    3. Hooray College Football (I hate the offseason)*

      I had something similar happen, but it was a financial advisor who tracked me down and tried to sell me his services. He actually called the public affairs office of my Government office trying to find me. The only thing we had in common was the fact that we both graduated from the same extremely large university, although some 30 years apart. I actually closed my LinkedIn account after that. I retiring in 3 years and don’t need it for anything.

    4. Kate*

      I find it useful for three things:

      -keeping in touch with business contacts whom I would like to maintain a connection with for work but not pleasure, so my personal email and Facebook are out;

      -writing bios for people my boss is going to meet;

      -using it as a bit of a job feed. I have liked the pages of a number of organizations I would in working for; since they often post jobs on LI it’s like my own personal job feed.

    5. Mpls*

      Eh – I get recruiter calls in my VM with a followup LinkenIn/resume email address all the time (in-demand field). Maybe it’s pushy? But it’s not that unusual or out of the norm to me.
      I haven’t ever returned one of those solicitations though (generally pretty happy where I’m at).

      I do seriously judge the recruiter on the types of messages they leave (some are waaaay too buddy-buddy for someone I’ve never met) though.

    6. BlueWolf*

      Ugh, a similar thing happened to me where a recruiter called our main number and had reception transfer him through to me. I sit in a cubicle farm, so I was not keen to talk to him about other job opportunities in earshot of all my coworkers, especially since this was literally about 3 months after I started my job. I just told him I wasn’t interested. I get recruiter messages fairly often on LinkedIn and just ignore them because I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon and I don’t know many people in the industry to refer to them either.

      1. JustaTech*

        About 2 weeks after a coworker left to a new company (on the other side of the country) a recruiter from his company called all of us. You could hear the calls all over the cube farm, so by the time it got to me I was all “You know you’ve called people’s desk phones, at work, in cubes? ”
        Not subtle at all.

    7. Jasnah*

      This just happened to me yesterday. I got a random phone caller who asked for me by name–weird since I never get phone calls, especially not in English (I work in a non-English-speaking country). Turned out someone had looked me up on Linked In, called the main line and had them transfer me. He rambled on for about 5 min before I cut in and said I had nothing to do with deciding that and no, we weren’t interested.

      I know that recruiters and HR and salespeople are just doing their jobs, but Linked In is for networking, not sales cold calls. I really don’t appreciate my information being used to try to hook my company as clients.

    8. TrainerGirl*

      I had a recruiter contact me on LinkedIn last week, and couldn’t even be bothered to remember my name. Yeah, they didn’t hear from me.

    9. AnonyNurse*

      I had a recruiter reach out multiple times. From a prior employer. After I’d quit and joined a class action lawsuit for wage violations. That they settled. I received a not insignificant amount. Settlement was confidential so I couldn’t tell the recruiter that particular reason I’d never work for them again, but did mention a couple others. Which was kind of fun. I do feel badly for recruiters who are so, so desperate to find candidates. But that doesn’t excuse obnoxious tactics. Do they ever work??

    10. GermanCoffeeGirl*

      Recently, I was contacted by a recruiter on Xing (the German equivalent to LinkedIn) and I didn’t respond. He then went on to send me a Facebook message and Facebook friend request, which I found incredibly rude. I contacted him on Xing to let him know that I thought that was highly unprofessional and that I wasn’t interested in working with him now or anytime in the future.

      I’ve also had recruiters stumble upon my profile on LinkedIn and Xing and cold call me at work, which just bugs the hell out of me.

    11. TeapotNinja*

      I don’t know how they train the people who answer the phones at your company, but where I work they never, ever blindly transfer calls, ever. What they do is they call me first to check whether I want to take the call from “Such and such”, and if I don’t pick up or say no, the call simply does not get transferred. I had some random company, who wouldn’t say what the call was about call the main number every day for about two weeks before giving up.

      Our phone people rock!

    12. Quinalla*

      Pushy recruiters are so annoying. I don’t always respond, but I usually do as I find responding with not interested usually shuts down most of them. Sometimes they’ll come back with the “Do you know anyone else who is looking?” which I just say no unless I really do have someone I know who is looking, but that is rare. But yeah, recruiters calling at work pisses me off too and it happens about once a month. And yes, they are nearly always transferred to me as there is no way to get my direct line from our webpage.

    13. wondHRland*

      Or, you can reply, thanks for reaching out, but I’m not interested. Have a nice day – that lets the recruiter know you looked, considered, and are not interested. Most will let it go at that point.

  3. Valegro*

    I ignore 99% of what I get on LinkedIn. It’s mostly spam or people trying to “connect” with thousands of strangers like it will get them somewhere.

    1. Anon for this*

      I finally have an answer to why people try to connect with thousands of strangers on LinkedIn. When I started looking to change jobs last year, a friend, who’d gone to a (iirc) bootcamp on that subject, offered to share their knowledge with me and “connect to everyone and their dog on LinkedIn” was one of their top recommendations to me. The logic behind it apparently is that, if you have enough connections, then at any company you want to apply to, you will have a 2nd or 3rd connection working there, if not a direct one. You then contact this person and ask them to (??? -profit – seriously, I forgot what you’ve got to ask them to do, but the idea is that they can somehow help your resume be seen by a hiring manager at their company). I was told that the critical mass, after which I’d have some type of connection at every workplace in my area, was 500; and to add everyone, literally everyone I know, not just through work, but through hobbies, meetups, church if I have one (I don’t), etc. I managed to get to 300. No idea if it helped, my job search has been sputtering for reasons not related to my resume not being seen.

      1. The LW*

        Yeah, unfortunately I think that person was off-base. I don’t think just being connected to people helps anything if they don’t actually know you or can vouch for your work.

      2. peanuts*

        I assume this would never help. Because just because you added someone you don’t know, doesn’t mean that someone THEY barely know would be willing to refer you for a job on the basis of that connection.

        I winnow my linkedin stuff every so often, removing people who I don’t even remember who they are, but even with the ones who are left, I’m not sure I’d just refer all of them for any jobs. It would really, really depend. And *their* connections? This isn’t my sister coming up to me and saying “hey this good friend of mine, she’s etc etc etc, could you help her with her resume” and me saying “yes” (which I’ve done). It would just be someone I’ve never heard of, on a social networking site I haven’t logged into in ages.

        1. Anon for this*

          I added people that I knew, just not through work. The idea, as I understood my friend, is not that total strangers are going to reference you for a job, for no reason other than you are connected to one of their contacts. The idea is that someone you know, who’s not your contact, might be working at a place you’re applying to, without either of you realizing it. This is my sixth job in my 20+ years in the US and it’s safe to say that most of the people I worked with, especially in the 90s, are not my LinkedIn contacts and I have no idea where they are now; despite the fact that we once had a good working relationship.

      3. Tigger*

        I worked at a job that I was written up for not making 50 new linkedin connects per week and sending at least 60 messages per week..

      4. Jasnah*

        This fundamentally misunderstands the point of “using your network.” The idea is that your neighbor’s daughter’s company is looking for a unicorn hairdresser, she moans about how she can never find anyone, the neighbor says, “Oh, my neighbor is a unicorn hairdresser, plus she’s a kind person!” And then you get connected. AKA each step of your network knows who they’re hearing from and can therefore trust the information they’re getting.

        If a stranger gets your resume, it doesn’t matter if you know them on Linked In or not, they’re not going to suddenly trust you. And if you just added your neighbor on Linked In and it recommends your neighbor’s daughter, she’s not going to trust you more through Linked In than by hearing about you from your actual connection. You can’t erase the human judgment portion of this and call it just as effective–that’s what makes this whole thing work!

        1. Just Employed Here*

          Is that a unicorn who is a hairdresser, or a human who does unicorn hair? ‘Cause I’m one of the two, and am totally looking for a new job…

      5. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I really don’t understand the point of adding a bunch of strangers. The fact that we’re connected on linked in means nothing, I still don’t know you! Why would this help either of us get a job?

    2. DAMitsDevon*

      Back when I was job searching, and even now when I do look at the job postings on LinkedIn out of curiosity, I have noticed the “get a referral” suggestions mentioned in the letter. I ignored them though, because even though I actually did know the suggested person well enough to feel comfortable asking them for a referral, I also knew them well enough that I didn’t think they would actually be able to help me get that particular job (because we talked in person about their job in a different department, or because I could see it right on their LinkedIn profile).

      Also, so many people spam my grad school classmates and me with LinkedIn requests. I only know this because I can see that we have like 30 or so mutual connections and they’re all people I went to grad school with. However, other than those mutual connections, I have literally no real world connections to these people. And they never write any sort of introduction or explanation for why they want to connect with me. It’s so annoying.

  4. The New Wanderer*

    I tried messaging two first-degree contacts on LinkedIn about positions at their companies along the lines of “I’m interested in the position you also have at Company Z, could you tell me a little about X and Y aspects?” Neither of them responded, totally their prerogative. There’s probably not much difference between first degree contacts who you don’t have a personal connection with and total strangers in terms of what you owe them.

    Generally speaking, I think it’s very common to not respond if you can’t help (for would-be applicants) or aren’t interested (for recruiters).

    1. MtnLaurel*

      I was on the receiving end of similar messages. I responded as the contact works at my company, but really I wasn’t able to help him much as the job title I have is one that is used all across the company for several purposes, and the one he was interested in was totally outside my wheelhouse. I wondered why that happened and now I have an idea.

    2. The LW*

      In this particular case I felt bad because I worried LinkedIn misled them, but it’s true that one kept pushing after I’d already told her I didn’t know anything about it, and the other wasn’t asking for general info or advice–she just assumed I’d immediately connect her to the hiring manager. So I’m glad to see that it’s normal not to respond to messages like these.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        LinkedIn definitely misled them, it’s a terrible feature. If you’re not a recruiter or the specific hiring manager for the posted position, there should be zero assumption you have any information or influence about it and it should not be implied by LinkedIn that every person can refer every other person if only they ask.

    3. Lily Rowan*

      I’m curious who you are connected to on LinkedIn that you don’t have a personal connection with? Like, how did you get connected?

      1. Zillah*

        I’ve had a lot of people in my field try to connect with me even though I don’t know them – either we’re in the same vague location or have connections that I do know in common. Occasionally I okay it, often I don’t.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        Generally they are colleagues of a colleague I do know personally and also work in my field or relevant adjacent fields, but I haven’t met them personally. I myself only send out invites to people I have met through work, but I accept invitations from people I don’t necessarily know if we have mutual connections and their current position is in line with my work (meaning it’s possible I could meet them at a conference someday or have overlapping work interests).

        Incidentally one of the people who didn’t respond to my message when I was job hunting did “like” my later update about my new position!

      3. Delightful Daisy*

        Before I closed my Linked In account, I would receive connection requests from all kinds of people that I’ve never met and most likely won’t meet simply because of my job title. I felt the LI brought no benefit to me whatsoever so I deleted it.

  5. The Imperfect Hellebore*

    Ugh. As far as the pushy job seeker goes, I agree with both Alison and your boyfriend. She asked once, which is fine; it sounds like a silly system at the moment that may have initially led her to believe you had something to do with the job she’s interested in. You then politely replied, stating this was not the case. She then pushed you, which is rude, and not okay. (It also makes me question her judgment and attention to detail).

    What good she thinks pushing you is going to do, I have no idea, but I think at this point you’re fine either ignoring her, or sending her a final polite message with the words you mentioned: “Unfortunately I don’t know anything about this position, the best way to apply is through the instructions on the listing.”

  6. Ann O'Nemity*

    I would hate for my non-response to reflect badly. So I’d probably just respond with a quick, “Sorry, I’m not involved in the hiring process in any way.”

  7. pamela voorhees*

    This is awful! Is there some setting you can use to turn this off, like ultra-super-privacy-deluxe? The idea that complete strangers are going to be told to contact me about positions I know nothing about is at best, annoying, and at worst, a horrible violation of privacy.

    1. The LW*

      I just looked around my settings on LinkedIn and couldn’t find anything that it seems would stop this, but if anyone else knows of anything, that would be great!

    2. ChicagoRecruiter*

      LinkedIn has terrible privacy settings. I used to recruit for a major global manufacturing company and had people from outside the US constantly get my info from my LinkedIn and use it to stalk my personal social media accounts and flood my work (and personal, which wasn’t listed) email with requests. An InMail is one thing, using my unique name to find me on Facebook/Instagram and message me there is a whole new animal.

      1. This is She*

        I had a huge knockdown-drag out with LinkedIn. They were mining my email addresses AND contacts and spamming them to join LinkedIn. They were also — against their own terms of service — sending multiple messages a day, and to people not in my contacts list. They swore they weren’t doing it, but I could prove it! My poor dad (who had never been in my contacts list on my work email account, obvs) was getting 2 and 3 emails a day. A 70 year old retired logger — could not be less interested in LinkedIn, was not tech savvy, and was furious.

        They also reached out to any other personal addresses that weren’t in my contacts list, but that I may have been fool enough to email from my work address once upon a time, spoofing their emails to look like a personal invitation from me, which was very embarrassing for me on at least one occasion (e.g. one-time date that I never want to see again). It took me WEEKS of almost daily fighting, higher and higher up their food chain, to get them to leave me and mine alone.

        Not long after, there was a class action suit over this very thing and they had to pay out $13 million. I couldn’t have been happier and they can burn in hell.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          Ugh, yes. My husband once got in trouble at work because someone accused him of sending multiple LinkedIn connection requests when for complicated reasons he was not supposed to be contacting that person. They were all automatic and he hadn’t authorised LinkedIn to mine his contacts.

        2. TardyTardis*

          Did you ever hear from Bitcoin Boy? Or were you wise enough to change your password after they got hacked?

    3. Eeyore's missing tail*

      The last time I was on LinkedIn several years ago, there was no (or almost no) privacy settings. Which is how a former stalker found my profile. I wanted to keep LinkedIn, but just block him, but I couldn’t. From what I was able to find, LinkedIn didn’t want to allow you to block anyone because “anyone should be able to find anyone!”

      No thank you.

    4. Nikki T*

      If you go into privacy settings, there’s a line that says “Representing your organization”, you can turn off showing your name with content about/posted by your employer.

      Don’t know if it works, but, maybe?

  8. Lurking Tom*

    I get messages through LinkedIn all the time asking me to consider the senders (or from recruiters representing someone else) for positions at a company I haven’t worked for in over 3 years! My profile is up-to-date and everything, so either they’re not reading or LinkedIn is somehow making them think I still have hiring power there.

    1. CanuckCat*

      LinkedIn’s algorithms sometimes seem to latch onto the oddest connections; I keep being recommended to connect with people who also worked at my company, except they left long before I ever started so the only connection we have is that at one point in time, we both worked for the same company.

      1. ArtK*

        The suggested connections bit has a bug that LinkedIn has recognized but not fixed in several months. I used to be able to delete entries in that list, because they just weren’t viable connections. The worst are “… based on your profile…” That ability has gone away and now the suggested contacts list is getting less and less useful.

        I get some suggestions based on old companies, but even worse, on my university. I’m sorry, but that’s a real tenuous connection since I got my BS 35 years ago.

        1. The LW*

          I got ANOTHER message recently from a stranger asking me to connect them to a hiring manager because we went to the same university! It’s a fairly big school and we weren’t even in the same college within the university, so I’m not sure why they think that’s a strong enough connection.

          1. Observer*

            For crying out loud.

            Of course LinkedIn shouldn’t be encouraging this. On the other hand, the people using this site are presumably reasonably competent adults. Why would anyone in their right mind think that a stranger is going to connect them to the hiring manager just because the two of you went to the same college? Blaming LinkedIn is just taking the old “gumption” and “Just bring your resume into the office” advice and turning it digital.

          2. Cobol*

            I almost only use LinkedIn from a mobile device (and no I don’t want to download your app LinkedIn), and instead of showing me actual connections that work at a company, I can only see people who went to my 20,000+ undergraduate school. It’s not even people who went there when I did. LinkedIn has messed up priorities.

          3. That Girl From Quinn's House*

            Is your university’s career services or alumni department encouraging this? I periodically get alumni-targeted emails about “Leveraging your University network to find a job!” and sometimes, “Hiring? Post on our Career Services page for recent alumni and know when you hire a University Llama, you’re getting someone with a great educational background!”

          4. 2 Cents*

            LinkedIn always tells me how many other grads are at a company I’m looking at — a school with an ANNUAL enrollment of 50K. (Then multiply that by the *cough* decade I’ve been out of school…). These people are naive or just clinging to any advantage they think they have. You can either ignore or have a script you copy and paste, “Sorry, don’t know anything. Please apply through the normal channels.”

        2. ArtK*

          Follow up: I was looking at the suggested connections list and it is now extremely short. So, I can’t weed it and there aren’t many choices. 33 useless “connections.” Bah.

    2. sheworkshardforthemoney*

      I haven’t updated or looked at my LinkedIn in 3 years but they regularly send me “see who is connected” emails to me that go right into my spam folder. I should check out my profile but I’m afraid that any activity might make them spam me even more.

  9. Need a Beach*

    Not only could this backfire for the requestor for obvious reasons, but also I can see it going badly on the other end. If a naive employee at a company that gives referral bonuses gets this sort of request, she could abuse it as a blatant cash grab.

  10. Magenta Sky*

    I have never noted LinkedIn to be anything other than annoying and spammy. I used to get regular invitations to link to people despite not having ever set up an account there at all. For all I know, I still do, but everything from them was relegated to the spam folder years ago.

    1. Ophelia*

      Yeah. I maintain a profile there, but I don’t really take any of the information I get through it seriously. The only thing I’ve found it useful for is if we have someone we know we’re interested in for a given position (I work in an industry that has a lot of niche roles), but the CV or contact info we have for them is out of date, someone can usually find something useful on LinkedIn.

    2. The LW*

      Yeah, the two messages were a few weeks apart but I saw them at the same time, because I hardly ever check LinkedIn anymore and I turned off email notifications from them. It can be useful on occasion to keep in touch with or find old managers/colleagues, see a quick overview of someone who’s applied for a job, etc. but isn’t particularly helpful on a day-to-day basis.

    3. The New Wanderer*

      The connect-with-me! messages most likely aren’t even directed at you personally. LinkedIn has (or had?) a feature where it would offer to scan your email address book to “see who you already know!” and then spam them all with the connection invites, whether or not they were members. I had to tell my mom about that because she gets invites once in a while to an old email account from one of my friends and was feeling guilty/annoyed about ignoring them – it’s not personal, it really is spam.

      1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        LinkedIn got in trouble for worse than offering to scan your email address book. They were actually grabbing your email address book *without your permission if you opened your email and LinkedIn in the same browser at any point in time.*

        This was around 2013.

      2. Magenta Sky*

        I don’t recall a single one from anyone I had ever heard of before. They were spam, pure and simple. Maybe they don’t do that any more, but I don’t care.

    4. Beth Jacobs*

      I do like the concept of having everyone’s resumes online. I find it helpful when cooperating with someone I don’t know well: I can better understand their background and put a face to the name. I find it useful when researching potential colleagues on a team where I’m applying. I think it’s great that I can look through my law school acquaintances and see if I can ask someone about a firm I’m interested in (and I mean genuinely ask candid questions about the culture, not try to bypass the hiring process).

      But spammy is a very insightful description. I hate that it asks you to send out unrequested invites to everyone in your contact list. I hate that it pushes template messages. I don’t like the posts feature of it either. I’d prefer a simple “who’s who” but I guess that’s not a profitable model.

      One example of its spaminess is how it pushes template messages (when a contact starts a new job, joins LinkedIn, has a birthday or a work anniversary). I live in a non-English speaking country and I always chuckle when a contact who shares my native language sends me that template English message. I mean yes, we both use English professionally but we’d never speak English to each other unless a third party was present :D

  11. Observer*

    In theory, I’m with Allison that it’s ok to respond once and then not respond if they ask for more. On the other hand, I think that your boyfriend may be onto something here. You seem to have a sense of obligation here, and you have absolutely zero obligation here. How much engagement (and aggravation) are these people likely to get from you? Do you have a tendency to get sucked into too much apologizing for things that are not your issue?

    I realize that I could easily be reading too much here. But it IS pretty clear that the first person is trying to guilt you into putting her into contact with the hiring manager.

    1. The LW*

      It was the LinkedIn feature that made me feel bad more than the messages themselves. I thought these people might have been misled by the website, so I was probably giving them more benefit of the doubt than they deserved. But outside of this, I usually don’t get sucked into things, and have no trouble telling people no :)

      1. Kyrielle*

        FWIW, I’m imagining if I saw that and the person there was one I didn’t know well, or whose role at the company I didn’t know, or both.

        I…I cannot imagine sending those letters. If I knew you, but not well, at most I could see a, “Hey, I see you work at X company, I’m considering applying for Y position, do you know anything about it?”

        …but even that seems like most of the time, no reply or a quick “sorry, no” would be the norm.

      2. Ginger*

        I would have had the same response as you. And if I were the people messaging you and received your very polite response, my reaction would have been “OMG I’m so sorry!” (written more professionally, of course).

        Pressuring you further reeks of desperation and violates all of kinds of norms and boundaries.

      3. Observer*

        I hear that. But, yeah, I think you were giving them more benefit of the doubt than they deserved, and I bet that that’s what they were counting on.

    1. The LW*

      Oh, yuck. I hadn’t seen that recent blog post before.

      The whole “suggested phrases” thing they mention makes it even worse. I guess it’s a nice idea, but it seems to me like it would just encourage people to click a button and send generic messages for something that should be a personal connection with someone you actually know.

      1. Loubelou*

        This is exactly what it does. I was hiring recently and was listed by name as the main contact for the role on the LinkedIn job ad. And yet a contact (that I had never met) sent me a message using the template language asking if I could ‘connect her with the hiring team’. Until I realised it was a template message I was incredibly confused. She took herself out of the running there and then by demonstrating that she hadn’t even read the job description (the role requires attention to detail!) but I can’t help thinking this laziness was encouraged by LinkedIn.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      I think there’s some advantage to being able to keep in touch with work contacts after you leave an organization, through some platform other than facebook (which is too personal). Sometimes a weak tie ends up being valuable in your career. However, it’s such a mixed bag in my field whether people use it or not, and without a adoption rate it’s not valuable. I definitely don’t pay any attention to any contacts that aren’t first degree though – people I really met in real life and know decently well. There’s a whole other side of it that’s around contracting jobs and friends-of-friends, I think.

    2. Bunny Girl*

      I’m not on it either. I understand the value of it, but I think it’s spammy, difficult to use, and I honestly prefer to not have much of an online presence. I made an account a while back when I moved states because I wanted that networking, but it was more of a headache and I am pretty sure I either deleted it or attempted to.

    3. Exhausted Trope*

      I strongly dislike LinkedIn. It has in no way helped me to find work nor has it benefitted me as a professional.
      I keep a profile because it’s an expectation of many employers.

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I’d say I do. 1) employers look at it when you apply 2) job candidates look at it when they apply for work on your team (not sure how this is helpful, but I somehow feel it’s not a bad thing), 3) corporate recruiters look at profiles and will contact someone if they seem to be a good candidate for an opening they have, 4) employers now expect everyone to have one, and may not know how to react to a job candidate who doesn’t.

      I’d delete my Facebook account before I delete my LinkedIn one, to be honest.

      1. Anonymous Engineer*

        I’ve always said as long as I keep getting good job offers when I need them, without having LinkedIn, I’m gonna stay off of it. Since the inception of LinkedIn I have gotten jobs at 3 different companies (and in each case, the job was the first I applied to when I started looking) with no problem. I’m finally working for a company I could see myself building a long term career at, and I’m thrilled that it seems I may have dodged LinkedIn for life.

        (For what it’s worth, I deleted Facebook too.)

        1. Sloan Kittering*

          Yeah, a company that didn’t hire someone because they didn’t have a linkedin account would be pretty weird to me – unless maybe it’s in some consulting/contracting/PR field where that would be expected. I didn’t have one for years and still got jobs.

        2. cheluzal*

          No LI or FB here. If a job didn’t hire me because I value privacy, I don’t want to work for them.

    5. Environmental Compliance*

      I like it only in that I can link documents/images/etc to each position, so that it gives a concrete idea of what I was working on at that particular position. I have mine set up to be a snapshot of what I do career-wise, and I do use it to follow along with updates from federal groups (actually quite nice in that respect for my job). But I refuse to connect to random individuals, and I think my network’s only at like 80, if that. I have some connections that have over 500 connections, which seems…overt. And useless. The connections I have I either am interested in what they’re doing or we tend to share information back and forth – like there’s a few state-level regulators I used to work with/for, and we share interesting training documents/policy thought-pieces with each other.

      I get a couple random invitations to connect a week, and I just ignore them.

    6. chica*

      Yes, in an industry that has a lot of movement it’s really great to get notified when people change jobs. Especially when your interaction is entirely work based so may not have their cell or personal email. In my case, the overall industry is still pretty small, so you tend to keep running into the same people anyway but keeping up with who’s where can be challenging! This assumes that you only add people to linked in that you ACTUALLY know (which is not the case for everyone I guess).

    7. Ginger Snap*

      I really got into LinkedIn starting a year ago. I used to think it was useless with little value. I’ve changed my mind though. I started following major players in my industry as well as companies in my field. I like, follow, comment and share articles every day now. I have a massive network of people in my field now, including some pretty high up people I’ve had some good conversations with regarding our field, new advances, things I’ve seen, career tips – some pretty invaluable stuff to me. I’ve been asked out to lunch to network, and I’ve gotten free invites to conferences that I otherwise would have never attended due to cost. I’ve gotten invites to take free courses that are otherwise $$ as well. I also for the first time have recruiters and companies messaging me and gauging my interest, just because I’ve made myself such face that is seen a lot on network. I’ve sent people referrals to each other and have been told if I “ever need anything” I have contacts I can tap now. If you’re only on there when you need a job nobody will give you the time of day on there – however, if you really take the time to build a presence and become a part of your industry community it pays off and people do notice you.

      1. CdnAcct*

        This is a late reply, but I wanted to ask, could you estimate how much time you spent daily or weekly during your ‘build-up’ period on this?
        I think for certain industries it could be very useful, but it depends how much your industry as a whole uses it. I sometimes have a hard time finding non-clickbait / worthwhile relevant to my industry.

    8. Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins*

      I have an account, which I keep up to date simply because it is the first hit when you google my name. I have an uncommon name, so it’s a nice generic first hit for potential employers.

    9. Wild Bluebell*

      Yes. I got a job recently through LinkedIn. Was contacted by the company’s internal recruiter.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I was contacted by an internal recruiter on LinkedIn recently, too. In my case, I decided against pursuing the job for unrelated reasons. But it is definitely a thing that happens.

      2. Lily Rowan*

        I’ve actually gotten a job that way, too.

        But mostly I use it to keep contact information for former colleagues.

    10. I Herd the Cats*

      Maybe we’re outside the norm or old fashioned given the other responses, but LinkedIn is the first thing I look at for prospective employees and info about people meeting with the CEO. (We are a US nonprofit.) It would be seen as odd not to have a profile on there.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I work in a decidedly for-profit industry and last year I was specifically advised for two of my in-depth interviews to review the LinkedIn pages for the people on the interview rosters. The internal recruiter even provided the links in one case. I’m sure they reviewed mine as well. So it can be helpful that way and it isn’t too uncommon a thing, but it also wouldn’t have seemed odd for one or more people to not have an account.

    11. The LW*

      My view of it has always been a kind of combination of what responses above me say…it’s helpful to have for certain occasions, like if I’m looking up an old manager/colleague. It’s also nice to see where former colleagues have ended up in their careers, and I like the idea of having something professional come up if someone Googles me. But I very rarely actually “use” it.

    12. SusanIvanova*

      It was useful for the first year or two, but then it decided it wanted to be the next Facebook and turned spammy. There are still people trying to use it for its original purpose – showing your resume and refs from people you worked with – but it’s an uphill battle against LI itself.

      1. Polymer Phil*

        The site changed hands a while back. The original LinkedIn was great, but the current owners are milking it for advertising income and making it uncomfortably similar to Facebook in the process. I think they’re going to go the way of MySpace and Friendster soon.

    13. DAMitsDevon*

      It’s led to me getting a few interviews for jobs that I applied to directly through LinkedIn (though Allison generally advises applying through the company’s website, but this was before I started reading Ask a Manager). Other than it, it’s mostly just been a source of spam and a bunch of inane posts with cheesy, inspirational quotes that people put on their pages because they feel like being active on LinkedIn will help them (even though I feel quality over quantity is probably more important when you’re posting stuff).

    14. Even Steven*

      I am on it, but wavering about remaining. I job hunted this fall, sent in many online applications at company websites, interviewed all over, and NOT ONE of the companies checked my carefully curated LinkedIn page. I have been in my new job for a few months and have not updated the LI page to show the new job. I figure two things – one: why bother? and two: deleting it altogether would restore my privacy. It always gave me the heebie-jeebies that anyone could look me up on LI and know where I probably was during normal weekday office hours. I don’t think the alleged ‘career benefits’ outweigh the value of privacy and safety. You know, you just helped me make up my mind. I am going to LI right now to drop out. Thanks! :)

    15. CristinaMariaCalabrese (do the mambo like-a crazy)*

      I have had two legitimate hiring managers reach out to me for jobs that I did not apply for through LinkedIn. The jobs were suited for my skills, were in a great location, and were more money than I was making at the time. I had multiple interviews for both jobs, had a job offer from one, but ended up taking a different job. However, I keep my LinkedIn active because these were great opportunities, and I didn’t even see them advertised elsewhere.

    16. JustaTech*

      I use it to help me remember who I’ve worked with and where. I have a terrible memory for names, so when an application wants the name of my manager from that place that closed, I can’t very well say “that jerk who mad me cry”.
      I check it maybe every 6 months.

      I do prefer LinkedIn to FaceBook for looking up professional connections (people from a conference, interviewees) because I feel like LinkedIn is what people want their coworkers to see, where FB is way more personal.

  12. CanuckCat*

    I just had a similar experience where someone reached out to me about my workplace – after apparently sending the same message (or variations thereof) to about 5 of my colleagues; and now I’m wondering if it was because of a similar ad, since I know my company regularly posts open jobs on LinkedIn.

    In my case, I just ignored the request because everything they said they wanted to know was questions that could be asked of our HR team if they got to the interview stage, and sending the same questions to 5 of my colleagues suggested to me that they were just looking to get some sort of personal ‘in’ for the interview process.

    1. The LW*

      Yeah, that definitely seems like someone copying/pasting the same message hoping someone will respond and connect them, instead of someone with legitimate questions/interest.

  13. Radio Girl*

    This is exactly why I closed my LinkedIn profile six years ago. I don’t like the way the site operates. It walks a thin line.

  14. Rusty Shackelford*

    I agree with your boyfriend that she’s trying to get you to connect her to the hiring manager to get her foot in the door, not because she wants to “clear up” LinkedIn’s error. You are 100% okay just not responding. If you feel rude about that (although you shouldn’t), you could write back, “I’m sorry I can’t help. Good luck with it!”

    You could also cut her off with “Thanks for letting us know about the issue; I’ll make sure this information gets to the correct people.” I mean, if she’s really only interested in letting the hiring manager know what LinkedIn is up to, this should make her TOTALLY satisfied, right?

  15. Antilles*

    She followed up again asking me to put her in contact with whoever’s doing the hiring so she could “discuss this issue with them.”
    I’m a hiring manager. I set up processes to hire through LinkedIn specifically *because* I don’t want people trying to sell me on their qualifications directly. Don’t try to circumvent my processes.
    End. Of. Story.

    1. The LW*

      Yeah, even if I did respond to the message, I never would have actually connected her with a hiring manager. The listing and instructions are there for a reason!

      1. Krabby*

        I am an HR Manager and I deal with all of the hiring for my company, so I sent out a template to everyone that they could use if someone reached out who they didn’t know/didn’t want to talk to:

        “Hi NAME,
        Our hiring manager won’t accept resumes that circumvent the application process, so I’m not able to help you out. If you are interested in a job with us I encourage you to apply directly on our website. Our hiring manager will be in contact if they think you are a good fit.”

        And then ignore them, or simply repeat, “If you are interested in a job with us you can apply directly on our website. If our hiring manager thinks you are a good fit, they will be in contact.”

        Sometimes it’s fun to see how long it takes before they give up. Our office record is 10 back-and-forths with no change in the script. The person sent her resume to the guy three times during the exchange and never actually applied through our hiring portal (and before anyone asks we don’t make candidates jump through hoops, it’s literally three yes/no questions and a spot to upload your resume).

  16. MLB*

    I treat LinkedIn like I treat all social media accounts – I don’t connect to anyone that I don’t know directly. I’m wondering if this happens to those who connect to most people that contact them, who have any sort of connection down the line to those you do know personally. Regardless, you shouldn’t feel bad by not responding ever. You owe them nothing…like Alison said, it’s networking spam.

    1. The LW*

      I only connect to people I know, too. Rarely I’ll accept someone’s connection if I, say, see that we graduated the same year from the same department and have a ton of mutual connections, because I likely had classes with them and forgot or something like that. But I ignore almost every connection request from people I don’t know.

      I’m glad to hear that I’m okay not responding, though.

  17. ArtK*

    LinkedIn’s whole job listing system is bad. I can’t count the number of things I see that say “Be an early applicant” when the posting has been up for a month. My (least) favorite is getting the “we’ve found 10 jobs that you might be interested in,” but when I click on one of them it says “this job is no longer accepting applications.” I’m a software guy and that bugs the crap out of me — a simple filter would clean that up very quickly.

    1. Nanani*

      But see if they put up a filter they’d have to show you the real number instead of a nice, round, inflated one, and that would get fewer clicks, which makes the internet machine sad. /s

    2. Environmental Compliance*

      It’s awful. Here’s some job listings for you! “Environmental Associate” pays $12 an hour! Aight, LinkedIn, just because it says ‘environmental’ doesn’t mean I have any relation to it.

      1. ArtK*

        Lots of issues with terminology. There are two (very) different kinds of “systems engineer.” One is someone who manages your computer systems/network. The other is a critical role in major manufacturing and design. I can do both, but had to remove the term from my profile because I kept getting the “wanna be a sysadmin?” approaches and not the other kind.

        Recruiters who mine LinkedIn for keywords are a problem, too. I got one who reached out to me for an engineering job — the kind of engineer who maintains the elevators, boilers and heating/AC for a hotel. Other than that one word, there was *no* match.

        1. SusanIvanova*

          16 years ago I worked on Java UI, back when people still saw it as a thing to write user-facing apps in. Not Java Server, which is all anyone cares about today. Despite that, LinkedIn sent me more Java recs than anything I’d done more recently. I eventually had to take it off my profile. (And then a coworker “helpfully” added it back, not realizing it had been intentional!)

        2. Environmental Compliance*

          I get similar things too from recruiters. Hey, you held a part time lab job (in an ecology lab, mind you) 6 years ago, and have absolutely no positions in a lab of any kind since then, and have manager in your past 2 titles? You definitely want to be working as a lab tech in a nuclear chemistry lab. *Totally* applicable.

          Right now I get a lot of healthcare-related compliance positions thrown at me since I have compliance listed as a skill from someone. I know nothing of health insurance past my own personal medical history, I don’t want to switch careers, thanks.

    3. The LW*

      Those “jobs you might be interested in” lists bug me too. They are almost never helpful because they’re so general–I’ll get 8 jobs in my general industry that are all entry level, even though my LinkedIn has multiple years of experience and higher positions listed.

      1. ArtK*

        One of the ones that pops up for me on occasion is an internship. I’ve been a working professional since 1976.

    4. zora*

      What really drives me crazy about this is that they are a huge multi-billion dollar company and the most basic functions seem totally worthless to me! I just don’t understand how on earth they employ thousands of people and make billions of dollars (presumably, Microsoft bought them for $26b) when the most basic things like their home page layout and job search filters are so terrible.

      I used to work near their HQ building and it is crazy how many people work there. I really don’t understand.

  18. an infinite number of monkeys*

    I work for a large state government agency that covers lots of different areas, depending on which division you’re in, but we all have standard generic state job titles. I had a guy a couple of years ago message me because he was applying for a job at my agency with the same title as mine, but in a different division. He wanted to know what kind of work the job entailed, what kind of experience it required, AND asked me how much money I make.

    I honestly didn’t know where to begin; my general job duties are listed in my profile, and he should’ve seen that there was no overlap whatsoever (think marketing vs. IT). For that matter, my salary is public record, so he could easily have looked that up. I ignored him, but it felt rude.

    I haven’t had OP’s experience, but I get many, many recruitment messages and connection requests based on completely unrelated things that my agency handles, so honestly I’m not the biggest LinkedIn fan.

    1. The LW*

      Yeah, I think more people do this to try to get a foot in the door than to actually get information. If they truly wanted that kind of information, there are easier ways to get it.

  19. Em Dash*

    I feel like this feature exists because LinkedIn is trying to increase the number of private messages sent on its platform, so it can report that it’s engaging more users. Their interest is less in facilitating healthy networking than it is pulling numbers that show people are actually using their site.

    1. Sybil Carpenter*

      Yes, precisely. This is all social media sites in general. The platforms strive to increase user engagement; the quality of engagement does not matter in the least.

    2. The LW*

      You might be on to something there. You’d think a business/professional site would recognize that this isn’t the right way to network.

    3. The New Wanderer*

      Exactly, it’s all about ad sales and revenue-generating games/classes. Almost all the LI inbox messages I have are trying to sell me LI’s various services.

  20. I also got a message like this*

    It’s not a bug. I recently got a message from a graduate of the university I attended asking for similar help. It was a bit left field, and I couldn’t even help as she was looking at a humanitarian role (I am in support services) and was frustrated that I didn’t know more about the visa process or interviews.

    Now it makes more sense. We were only vaguely in the same network via our university. 3rd connections at best, but this seems to be what LinkedIn is pushing.

    Funnily enough, I have an ex-colleague who works there that I might drop a line to now to see if this is intentional.

  21. Bulbasaur*

    Re: “LinkedIn should be encouraging good networking, not bad networking.”

    Well yes, they should be, but… it’s LinkedIn. Unless this person was very new to LinkedIn or the working world in general, she should have known that none of LinkedIn’s value added features can be trusted. Once in a while (like the blind squirrel) they come up with an idea that isn’t horrible, but at an absolute minimum she should have been looking very closely at them and exercising a bit of professional judgement. Following up and attempting to get a referral ANYWAY, after your reply made it crystal clear that this ‘feature’ was just more LinkedIn snake oil… I don’t know what kind of impression she thinks she has made, but the last thing she should want is you talking to the hiring manager about her.

  22. HS Teacher*

    LinkedIn is gross. I set up an account with them and when I left the company I was with, I couldn’t get them to give me access to my profile since I’d sign out with my former employer’s email and had no more access to it. My LinkedIn profile is outdated by 15 years and reflective of an industry I’m not even in anymore. They’re ridiculous.

  23. anon for this one*

    In a weird twist on this, I actually applied for a job AT LinkedIn, via LinkedIn and they encouraged me to do this. I do have a couple people in my network who work there, I’m debating about whether to reach out.

    1. Jasnah*

      I wonder if you’d get extra points for using Linked In’s referral template in a situation like this!

  24. Legal Rugby*

    I truly don’t understand LinkedIn’s internal logic. I turned on the job search function out of curiousity a few months back. My J.D. is listed on there, as is my title, Assistant Director of XXXX (large compliance function, upper-level administration). Every job they recommended was an administrative assistant, at best. I was contacted by a number of recruiters for legal secretary jobs. I’m seriously considering getting rid of it.

    1. The LW*

      I got the same kinds of listings when I used that feature, too! Lots of entry-level roles when my profile clearly said otherwise. I stopped looking at those at all.

    2. Michaela Westen*

      When I was looking for a mid-level staff position, it sent me listings for executive and upper management. Sigh.
      I wonder if they contacted you for legal secretary jobs because of the surplus of law school graduates to available jobs? Whether that’s it or not, it’s not very nice!

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      With the small tweak that Alison mentioned (“people in your network at this company”) it would have value, but I think you could always search organizations to see if you know somebody there (?).

      1. PollyQ*

        Many organizations don’t make their entire corporate directory public, though. (Not that I’m in favor of what LI is doing.)

  25. Rafflesia Reaper*

    LinkedIn is *absolutely* sending applicants messages suggesting they connect with random people within companies they’ve applied for. I’ve gotten no less than 3 emails suggesting I reach out to someone who’s clearly an individual contributor at a company I applied for a job at. We’re 3+ connection branches away, so I don’t know what LinkedIn is trying to do, aside from make me look desperate.

  26. LaDeeDa*

    I get it ALL the time. My title makes people think I have something to do with recruiting, but I don’t. I reply back with “Hi! I am not part of the recruiting process, please submit your application through (the online site) good luck!”

  27. Gumby*

    Yeah, I actually updated my summary statement on LinkedIn to specify that I do not have input into hiring decisions after a number (greater than 10) of recruiters and temp agencies emailed me about a job that is posted on our company web site. I’m 90% sure we don’t use recruiters at all, much less for the type of position that was listed. I should change my policy to “just ignore the emails” instead.

  28. KR*

    Ugh Linked In is so useless as a work-related social network most of the time. I use it mostly as a roladex to keep track of people I have worked with and want to stay in contact with. And when you’re looking for a job it’s nice to have an online presence that’s work oriented like that. But I ignore most of the notifications I get from it because they’re almost always useless.

  29. LaDeeDa*

    One of my biggest beefs with LinkedIn is men who think it is a way to hit on me. After every networking event or event in which I am speaking at, I have men contacting me for flirting. It is so weird!

      1. pamela voorhees*

        That’s just absolutely wild to me. Of all the social platforms to try and flirt, you choose… LinkedIn? Have some people actually gotten dates off of LinkedIn? They must have, right, because otherwise people wouldn’t keep doing it, but just… WHY? LinkedIn isn’t even good for what it’s designed for, why would you think it could be wrangled to do something else?

        1. The LW*

          Some people see any social situation as a way to get dates, unfortunately. Regardless of whether it’s worked in the past or not.

  30. Michaela Westen*

    I’ve only used LinkedIn a little when I was job searching, and I’ve barely logged in since I got my job.
    My impression is it is very pushy, and a little greedy. It sends me emails trying to make me log in. When I was job searching it tried to make me pay to do basic things like sending messages. Sure, an unemployed person can afford that!
    It always seemed difficult to use, too. A few years ago someone was sending me LinkedIn messages from Asia saying we met at a conference. I suppose they were meant for the only other person of my name, who lives in Europe. I tried to reply, but wasn’t able to.
    The combination of pushiness and difficulty described by OP seems like typical LinkedIn to me. I hope I never have to use it again.

  31. OlympiasEpiriot*

    LinkedIn is a very weird operation. Feels about as useful as chain letters from back when I was in middle school.

  32. Ginger*

    Alison – maybe you could do a share your LinkedIn or social media horror stories post someday? I’ve received a few fun messages on LinkedIn that still make me shake my head thinking about them years later and it sounds like others do too.

  33. Anna Mouse*

    I’ve been jobhunting and have seen this feature. I’ve only tried it once, when the person recommended was a recruiter and a 1st degree contact, but I’ve noticed it suggested 2nd and 3rd degree contacts as well, which might be where the “stranger” part comes in. LinkedIn should definitely limit it to first degree contacts only, and then job seekers just need to be smart about when to use it (i.e. only when you do actually know the person well enough to ask for a referral.)

  34. AKchic*

    All this does is remind me that I haven’t checked my LinkedIn in like… 2.5 years? Goes to show just how little I use it, and how much value I put into it.

    I would treat these messages like spam. Ignore/delete.

  35. The LW*

    Hi Alison and comment crew! Thank you for answering my question, the advice, and other LinkedIn stories! I mentioned this in a response somewhere, but since writing this question a few days ago, I received yet another one of these messages (this time from someone who went to my university, but a different year and a different college within the university) and thought that was enough of a connection for me to refer them?? I have very rarely received these messages in the past, so there seems to be a direct connection between the “get a referral” feature and their frequency. Ugh, come on, LinkedIn.

    I really only felt bad because I thought the feature might have been misleading people, but everyone’s assurance that these are basically LinkedIn spam and okay to ignore—and the fact that I keep getting them from strangers who seem to know I’m not doing the hiring and still think it’s okay—makes me feel a lot better ignoring these people. Thanks again!

    1. designbot*

      If anything I might complain to LinkedIn. Report SPAM and explain that these people are being encouraged to spam you by a new feature and request they remove the feature. Most likely you’re not the only one having this problem and adding your voice to the chorus might make a difference.

    2. Rick Tq*

      I intentionally used a throw-away email address (not my work email) for all work-related social media accounts like LinkedIn to reduce this kind of behavior and I treat them the same as friend suggestions in Facebook: I ignore them.

      I don’t even respond to most solicitations, I just mark the sender as SPAM and go on my way.

  36. Martha*

    I would be afraid that responding would mark me in some hidden algorithm as a person who helps with these referral requests. For that reason, I would probably ignore them.

  37. MissDisplaced*

    Hm…Interesting. I use LinkedIn all the time and even have the Sales Navigator version. I’ve never had anyone contact me about jobs that way with the exception of a person I was in my graduate program with, whom was already a contact.
    I wonder if my privacy settings are blocking this type of “referral” introduction?

  38. TN INFP*

    Is it me, or do the negatives of LinkedIn far outweigh the positives? I got off of it years ago because I hated getting emails at 2 in the morning that said “Here’s a job you need to apply for – midnight shift, short order cook at Waffle House in North Dakota.” Those emails notwithstanding, the “connections” seem so fake. You meet someone once at an interview 6 years ago, and you’re suddenly going to help them get a job at your place of employment based off of that?

    I was applying for a job recently and the only way to apply was through LinkedIn. I was a perfect match and it had a great salary, but I was ok with not applying because any business that used LinkedIn solely for their recruiting purposes isn’t someone I think I would enjoy working for anyway.

    1. IndoorCat*

      It isn’t just you.

      I had to get a LinkedIn awhile back because I was a freelance writer, and I agreed to write articles and blog posts for a company. The company’s most successful presence on the internet was on LinkedIn, and I wrote articles that quoted or referenced related, non-competing experts and companies, which my client company shared mainly on LinkedIn. This actually generated a lot of engagement! People liked being quoted, so they shared the article with their followers.

      But, I’m still not totally sure if this resulted in more sales. And if you’re not trying to build your brand, it’s not worth it at all. My current job doesn’t require me to create (or become!) a brand, which is a relief, frankly.

  39. Liz*

    OP, I would just ignore the second response. You’ve been clear that you can’t help this person and that’s all you need to do here.

    I can’t let the response or the comments go here, though. There’s a ton of LinkedIn hate on this site, and it’s really painful to read. I just have to say this: LinkedIn is like any social site. You get out of it what you put into it. If you don’t want to deal with LinkedIn, no ones forcing you to be there. No organization in their right mind is going to turn down a great candidate because they don’t have a LinkedIn profile. It’s fine to opt out and go the usual “business card and handshake” route to networking.

    But if you want to reap the value that LinkedIn provides — networking with people, getting referrals, finding new job opportunities, exchanging information with others in the same industry, etc. — I think you should also contribute to the community that provides that value to you. It’s only fair. That includes talking to other people — i.e., networking. You don’t have to do favors for strangers, but the level of angst and bitterness over this referrals issue is excessive. No one’s asking you to harm anyone or do something that will send you to prison. It’s a referral request. Say no and move on.

    /unpopular opinion

    1. LinkedInReject*

      It’s not just a referral request, though. An ACTUAL referral request involves someone you know who is in a position to help. This is spam, pure and simple. It’s a poorly thought out and terribly executed “feature” that doesn’t achieve its goals, causes issues for people and misleads candidates. It’s crappy.

      You also appear to be reading a lot of “angst and bitterness” into comments that don’t seem to warrant that response. No one here is getting that upset about this. That interpretation probably says more about you than anyone else.

  40. jam*

    I just looked at my Linked In “privacy and settings” and found a switch for:

    Representing your organization and interests – Choose if we mention you with content about your employers or other content you publicly expressed an interest in.
    Show my name and/or picture with content about my employers, such as in job posting details and on company pages and insights, and with content related to my publicly expressed interests (e.g. when I like a service or follow a company, or comment or share its posts, we may include my name and photo with their sponsored content when shown to my connections)?

    This might be what’s causing this?

  41. boop the first*

    Aw. I joined Linkedin once, because some young friends were doing it. But then I realized that I was way too embarrassed to put my work history online so I was just a name with no photo and no information.
    And then a bunch of random strangers started “endorsing” me for skills I’d never demonstrated, and I was so confused, disillusioned and creeped out by that alone that I deleted the account. Nevertheless I still get annoying emails from time to time??

  42. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    To throw some complexity on this:
    I’ve had multiple employers that paid “referral bonuses”. If I refer a person for an open position at my employer, and my referral gets hired for that job, my employer pays me a referral bonus. My current employer pays $1,500 per successful referral.

  43. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

    Check through your privacy settings on LinkedIn. There’s only 71 options, with supporting submenus (which I chose not to count). Somewhere in there is a choice about whether you are featured on your company’s page.
    I’d go look for it, but if you want to take advantage of LI (which can be awesome), there’s a certain amount of due diligence that you should do to make sure you’ve got it reined in.

  44. TardyTardis*

    And change your password if you’re on LinkedIn, or be prepared to get a threatening message from someone I call Bitcoin Boy (in a European timezone judging by when I got the email compared to the timestamp). But it made me change *all* my passwords, so it was probably a good thing after all.

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