are these men hitting on me via LinkedIn or are they legit business contacts?

A reader writes:

I’ve noticed in the past year or two there are quite a few people (typically middle-aged men) who are reaching out to me via LinkedIn (I am a 20-something woman) trying to recruit me. While I do have a lot of experience, I’m wondering if it’s odd that some of these professionals are reaching out to me as I am under the impression it should be the other way around. They are the ones with the experience and connections while I’m the one building my network.To give some context, my settings are set to the not seeking a job setting, and it’s clear on my profile that I am currently employed and will be for the next year and yet I still receive these fairly regular messages.

After connecting with some of them, they often message me with professional questions, like what I’m studying or what my career goals are, that turn into where I live, how old I am, what I like to do for fun, etc. While none have them have been outright creepy, many of the messages are definitely heading in that direction and my spider senses tell me to shut it down before it gets too far.

I tend to respond to the messages I get because they often ask about my interest in a potential job or industry and I don’t want to turn down a future opportunity. But how can I tell when someone is generally interested in my experience or just in the fact that I am young and a woman? In addition, are the people reaching out to me as recruiters actually genuine or are they just interested in any college business major they seem to come across online and how can I tell the difference?

This is a problem many of my friends have also experienced and not something my parents can really help with as they haven’t faced this issue before. Any insight you have would be appreciated.

Ugh. Yeah, they’re mostly/entirely creeping on you.

Older men contacting you on LinkedIn and asking personal questions are trying to set up a flirtation, and possibly more. Once they start with the personal questions, you can safely assume their initial query about your work was simply their opening gambit, not a sign of actual professional interest. I promise you, they are not messaging mid-20s dudes and asking what they like to do for fun.

So you can stop responding immediately at that point — no need to try to politely ease out of the conversation or anything like that. They’re being rude and using the platform inappropriately (you’re there for business reasons, not to be hit on), so you can just stop responding with no further reply. Block them if you want.

And honestly, I’d be skeptical from the get-go with these men, even before their questions turn personal and inappropriate. Unless they’re professional recruiters or you’re in a very in-demand field with a hard-to-find skill set, it’s not terribly common for non-recruiters to contact strangers on LinkedIn about jobs — and when they do, they usually state their intentions up-front. They don’t ask what you’re studying or what your career goals are; they start by telling you about the job and they focus the conversation on that.

The same is true of professional recruiters. Recruiters do do a lot of random messaging on LinkedIn — some fields more than others — so it’s not odd that you’d be getting those messages, regardless of your profile not indicating that you’re job-seeking. But recruiters aren’t going to ease their way into it with questions about your goals. They’re going to tell you they have an opening and what it is, and focus there. There are also a lot of crappy recruiters out there who are messaging anyone who has a background that sounds remotely suitable for the jobs they’re filling, so you should have a healthy skepticism toward recruiters until you get more information. It doesn’t take a lot of time to respond on LinkedIn so you might as well reply if the job they’re hiring for sounds interesting, but if they’re rude/unresponsive/don’t answer your questions/are offering a job that’s not well-suited for you/are creepy, you can cut that off too. And know that recruiting is a numbers game; many recruiters are dealing with hundreds of people per day, and lots of them won’t notice or care if you just ignore them the way you would spam. (If they do seem reputable/not creepy though, ideally you’d say “I don’t think is for me but good luck filling it” or something else reasonably polite.)

{ 494 comments… read them below }

  1. Cee*

    Ugh, yep. I’ve encountered the same thing. I think Alison’s advice is spot-on, just stop responding when the questions start getting weird and inappropriate. Sorry you’re dealing with this, OP!

    1. TeapotNinja*

      I would report the creeps to LinkedIn and then block them. There are options to do that under the person’s profile page.

      Would be also quite interesting to openly (anonymously, if needed) out these assholes and see what comes out of that. #linkedinmetoo

      1. BeenThereOG*

        I came here to encourage reporting as well, this is also the reason I don’t have a profile picture on Linkedin.

      2. Reilly*

        Thank you for that idea! I didn’t realize you could block connections on LinkedIn but I’ll be sure to do that.

      3. Cynthia*

        What will you report them for, though? Asking business-related questions on a business-oriented platform?

        1. Exhaustipated*

          For intentionally posing as simply asking business-related questions on a business-oriented platform and then quickly devolving into personal, dating-site questions. Of which all of the above are unsolicited and of which the reporting person will have multiple examples and screenshots.

        2. Stardust*

          They were not asking business related questions when they started asking her age. That’s personal very much Not business related.

    2. Kathleen_A*

      I am no longer young (and man, is that an understatement) and I’ve so far not had a creeper on LinkedIn, but of course I get lots on Facebook. But I’ve even had a couple of creepers on Words With Friends. So weird. I mean, I assume they’re probably trying to scam me rather than bed me, but still, creepers a creepin’.

      1. OtherLiz*

        Words with Friends is the WORST when it comes to this. I rarely respond to messages anymore.

          1. Kathleen_A*

            LOL. I used to sometimes play games with strangers, and it was usually OK. But I’ve given that up and now it is literally only words with *friends* – or at least people I know IRL.

        1. LKPNYC*

          I literally had a stranger tell me that if I didn’t answer his repeated “hellos,” well, he was just going to stop playing Words with Friends with me. Fine by me!!!!

      2. Rei*

        I’m also no longer young and I actually had a creeper on LinkedIn recently who thought it was necessary to tell me to keep smiling.

  2. Amber Rose*

    Euuw. Creepers be creepy.

    I get a lot of useless recruitment stuff on LinkedIn. The last one was for a low level, part time position in China, of all things, which I am obviously not leaving my well paid Canadian job for. So I basically just ignore everything I see on LinkedIn. Legit stuff is so rare it’s mythical. At least for me.

    1. Liar Liar Pants Dracarys*

      Agree, agree, agree. LinkedIn has proven to me that integrity does not exist there.

    2. Kimmybear*

      I think it really depends on the field. I”m in a unique role with a specific skill set and get recruiting messages from LinkedIn fairly often. When I was actively looking for a job, I did talk to several recruiters from their messages and they were legitimate job opportunities. However, I do think that isn’t the case for many people as you have experienced.

      1. KTM*

        Agreed. I’m a young woman with 7 yrs experience in a very specialized field and regularly get legitimate recruiting emails with a specific company and specific job description. But as Alison said, the specific job opening is always the first thing they message me with, and I’ve never had any chit-chatty conversations like the one OP describes. I do sometimes get garbage recruitment emails but they are easy to spot and disregard.

      2. cartoonbear*

        Me too. I actually got my current position via a LinkedIn contact from a recruiter. So for me it pays to keep it updated and polished. But.. I am also quite a bit older than OP, and have (thank God) aged out of being hit on by randos.

        1. katelyn*

          +1. I have got my last two positions through linkedin recruiters, and have continued to connect with one of them when she has a position in my field she’s looking to fill or when I have a senior level colleage looking for a good recruiter to connect with.

          But I have also aged out of the “creeper”target age and hold a senior level in my niche area of my industry, so most of the contacts I get are people trying to sell me their products or genuine recruiters with job prospects.

      3. TechWorker*

        I get some that are legitimately interesting (and am having a call with a company this week through one of them). I also get quite a few where they’re like ‘great opportunity!!! Amazing benefits!!!’ and it’s for less than half my salary. I am not overpaid either, many companies pay more for my role/experience.

    3. Michaela Westen*

      I’ve always been office support and the job I have now is a couple of steps up. Linked in was sending me jobs at c-suite level.
      I haven’t seen those in a while, I wonder if I took myself off the list. I still get the ones where I appeared in searches, or the ones trying to make me log in.
      I haven’t gotten any of these creeper solicitations. Can they tell I’m much older than 20-something? Or is it because I have a photo of a flower instead of my face?
      Thank God I have a job.

      1. Exhausted Trope*

        I think the flower photo might be putting off the creepers in a good way. (They gotta know if their target is attractive or they won’t waste their time.) That’s how they operate. I’m nowhere near 20-ish but I’ve gotten some weird requests on the site and I’ve stopped responding.
        I hate what LinkedIn has become.

      2. goducks*

        I’ve considered putting an object or a landscape in my blank photo space, but worried that it might call more attention to my lack of picture of myself.

        1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

          For years I used a picture of a major landmark in my city. I just didn’t like that blank space, but no way was I going to put my picture out there. Nobody even made a peep, then I read the rules that you could only post a pic of yourself, so I took down my beloved landmark.

          This was in the early days of Linkedin, when you had to be invited to join. I was job hunting and went to a social media workshop, and the instructor talked about how important it was to have your picture. Afterward I was talking to a woman in her 60s about how people used to put pictures on their resumes, but it had become a no-no because of racism, ageism, looksism, and all the other isms that employers used to eliminate candidates. I remembered reading articles about that when I was a kid and agreed with her that it was a bad idea, schizy, and even hypocritical in job search conventional wisdom.

          1. goducks*

            Just looked at their policy on photos. Seems that this is still the rule. Photo of you, or no photo at all. So frustrating. I really have to wonder about the people who wrote this policy. My guess is they’re exactly the type of people who would not have their photo used to discriminate against them.

            1. Michaela Westen*

              I never checked the rules and I’ve had a photo of a flower there since the mid-2000’s, so whatever.
              I never liked LinkedIn. I couldn’t do very much with it without paying, and I was unemployed… they were clearly all about money. It’s always seemed like their goals are something other than helping their users.
              From what you all are saying it sounds like they still have hidden goals. Maybe the owners or administrators of LinkedIn are creepers themselves. Maybe they’re afraid they’ll lose ad revenue if people don’t post their real photos. Protecting their users isn’t a top goal and never was. It’s probably money…

    4. tangerineRose*

      I got a job because someone I used to work with saw on LinkedIn that I was looking for a job when that person was looking for someone to do this type of job.

  3. WellRed*

    Oh, come oooon! Seriously! Why do they do this? The existence of a woman does not imply she’s available to anyone, let alone middle aged dudes old enough to be her dad.

    1. RUKiddingMe*

      “The existence of a woman does not imply she’s available to anyone, let alone middle aged dudes old enough to be her dad.”

      Of course it does…women only *exist* to make males happy, no *other* reasons. Didn’t you get the memo?

      1. AnonEMoose*

        Pretty sure I shredded that memo, doused it in lighter fluid, and dropped in a match.

        Personally, I think that when men do this, the OP should respond with the Paging Dr. Nerdlove link about when it is and isn’t appropriate to hit on people…and then block them.

        (Ok, don’t do that, because sadly, these men might be able to affect her professional reputation…but it’s a great fantasy.)

        1. Harvey 6-3.5*

          Definitely creepy. I only connect to people on Linkedin who initiate the request and who I know or are in my field, so I have a few younger connections who contacted me. But if I was trying to build up a network and contact people, I wouldn’t contact young women or young men, because it wouldn’t have job relevance.

        2. Karen from Finance*

          Sadly, if you try to do this, or anything else that references “don’t hit on me”, they’ll deny having been doing that and throw a damn tantrum.

          1. VictorianCowgirl*

            I’m perfectly ok with the tantrum myself. That’s on them. You didn’t say to NOT do it for that reason, but it felt a little implied.

            1. Karen from Finance*

              Yeah it was implied, because personally I don’t want to deal with that, it’s draining to me. I prefer to ignore and move on.

            2. Shay*

              I think a good response to the tantrum would be, “Then you need to conduct yourself in a manor that does not cast doubt on your motives and intentions.”
              Maybe not well worded.

          2. AnonEMoose*

            That’s why you block them immediately after sending the link. They can have all the tantrums they want, but you don’t have to see it. Unless they actually go to the trouble of tracking you down through other means…which…would kind of prove the point, I guess?

          3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            And lash out and say you’re deluded / desperate/ ugly / [gendered insult], etc.

          4. AKchic*

            Yes they do. The gaslight and denial is strong with these types. That’s why when I deal with anything hinky, I screenshot it all, and tell them I am so I can make sure to pass it on to their supervisor for review if they’d like to argue the point.
            No recruiter is going to message me outside of business hours.
            No recruiter is going to make “small talk” or “chitchat” aimlessly that sounds like low-level, inept flirting.

            Then there’s the obvious questions: Is this person even the right representative for the company, or are they just using the company to slide into women’s PMs? Are there any available jobs with this company in the first place, and is this person authorized to make job offers? If he is, would a higher up verify that he does the same chat-ups with male recruits?
            Do they really want a Glassdoor review by women saying that someone is using LinkedIn to hit on women and using their business to do so?

            I’ve hit the age where I no longer care to deal with that BS. I am happy to call it out when I see it. I know that not everyone else can do it in the same scorched-earth way I’d want or would; however a “this seems inappropriate to the topic at hand” could go far. If the “recruiter” gets defensive and aggressively so, then flip the script on him “well, I don’t know why you’re so defensive about this. If you aren’t attempting to hit on me and are communicating with me about a legitimate job offer in good faith, then there’s no reason for you to act so aggrieved about my wanting to keep the conversation strictly professional and about the job details; of which you haven’t even discussed with me”…

            1. learnedthehardway*

              That’s a fabulous idea – screenshot and save the interaction, and forward it to their company’s PR department. I guarantee you this is directly against the company’s code of conduct wrt social media use.

              Love the flipping the script suggestion as well.

              Recruiters who are using LinkedIn legitimately everywhere will thank you!

              1. RUKiddingMe*

                Right? I love that she flipped the script. Like AK I’m way too old to put up with this crap anymore and I’m willing to go all scorched earth, but this is really good for women who can’t.

            2. Not your Dad's Recruiter*

              Just one correction – of course, we do message outside of business hours! And some of us even call outside of business hours – because how can you talk to us during business hours, if you have a job?

              1. AKchic*

                break time, of course! Lunch hour!
                Or I’m just a terrible employee looking for a way out *shrug*

                But if recruiters have so many people to contact, they’d want to get to business quickly and not worry about a random young woman’s aspirations and chat-up pleasantries, right?

            3. RUKiddingMe*

              “…are they just using the company to slide into women’s PMs? Are there any available jobs with this company in the first place, and is this person authorized to make job offers?”

              Wasn’t there a letter a while back about some guy who was using bogus interviews to get dates?

          5. TootsNYC*

            I don’t think you should let that stop you.

            Especially not with these LinkedIn guys, because I bet you a nickel they don’t remember who they were hitting on, so they can’t really badmouth you later.

            There are responses, of course. “Good to know–but I thought you should be aware how it was coming across.”

            Or just, “Nevertheless.”

            1. Auntie Social*

              My daughter asks them if they’re friends of her dad, they look to be about the same age as he is. They slink off.

          6. RUKiddingMe*

            Well sure because how could you even think they were doing anything like that?! What’s wrong with you? Pretty arrogant and full of yourself aren’t you? I mean you’re not even their type plus they are married/in a relationship anyway.

          7. Zardeenah*

            Blogger Rebecca Watson once said “guys don’t do that” in a reference to hitting on women late at night at a conference in an elevator, and 8 years later she is still dealing with the tantrum. (See: Elevatorgate). Ignore and block.

      2. Allison*

        Not to mention, women LOVE male attention! We crave it, we can’t live without it, any time a man looks at a woman she feels all warm and fuzzy because a man noticed her, so when a man hits on a woman, he’s really doing her a favor, as well as taking pleasure in her company. Obviously.

        1. The Tin Man*

          And it may annoy you NOW but when you’re older (and therefore less desirable, obviously) you’ll miss all the attention!

          (/sarcasm, if it wasn’t obvious)

        2. AKchic*

          I know that I stop breathing if I do not have male attention 24/7. Everything I do is geared toward the male gaze and attention. Why, even the process of bowel movements are choreographed with the intention of attracting male attention. I mean, why else would I drop trou and drop a deuce?

          1. Tom & Johnny*

            Hahahaha. Oh god. That’s extra but it’s absolutely hilarious so I have to laugh.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      They drive me nuts. Is it seriously so hard to let a woman exist without creeping on her?! (Rhetorical question)

      It would be great if these guys could treat women as humans instead of objects of desire.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        All kinds of desire. Desire for women to work to make their lives easier: cooking, cleaning, emotional labor…even the professional work that we produce that they steal claim credit for.

    3. Artemesia*

      In my early days as one of the few young women in my profession at conferences, I would misread being hit on for professional interest all the time which led to the occasional awkward situation. The games the same, the venue has changed.

      1. cartoonbear*

        Yeah, I look back on certain of those interactions in my 20s and early 30s now — interactions where at the time I was like “that guy was so great!” and cringe.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          The creepy OLD guy who kept telling me how great my voice was and would I record his out going answering machine (c. 1980) message for him. I was like 18…he was like 80. Ick ick ick.

          I really thought his (and others’) “you have such a great voice” comments were, IDK…sincere.

          1. Exhaustipated*

            Oh my, during my first (and fortunately last) customer-service type job, a creepy older guy on the phone thought it appropriate to say, “You have a sexy voice.”

            It was my first ‘real’ job out of college. I was still a trainee. The person training me (and also listening on the phone) was right next to me, and all she did was just roll her eyes. That taught me that that company, at least, didn’t care because it was a Customer. Bah.

            Sick of enabling creepers.

  4. Princess prissypants*

    Here’s another good reason I’m glad my industry doesn’t use/rely on linkedin.

  5. beepboopin*

    Ugh. While I don’t get messages, I get several requests to connect with men on LinkedIn that are in industries that have NOTHING to do with mine (I’m not actively job searching and keep my LinkedIn activity private). I notice that our mutual connections are mostly the college-aged women that I advise (in a volunteer capacity) who I am also connected with. So I assume they are mostly connecting with me because I am female not because they are interested in actually professionally networking. I always decline these connections.

    1. OrigCassandra*

      Or worse, they want a contact-of-a-contact link with the college-age women you advise.

      I’m not saying you are in any way at fault for being a link creepers try to exploit, of course! But second- or third-degree linkage sometimes makes an out-of-the-blue message look more acceptable than it should.

      Definitely decline those connections, on behalf of your advisees as well as yourself.

    2. Ariaflame*

      Though some of the things that look like that from Linkdin emails are not from people, but linked in trying to smoosh outer contacts together. Because I’ve been getting suggestions to link to someone who I do in fact know, but due to the way their linked in settings are (or possibly mine) any attempt to follow through on this suggestion falls into a ‘can’t do’ thing.

  6. Lily B*

    Welcome to LinkedIn! My policy is to not accept requests to “connect” or respond to messages from anyone I’ve never met in person, except for professional recruiters within my industry.

    1. Corporate Lawyer*

      This is my policy too. If you try to connect to or message me and I don’t know you or remember working with you at some past job, I don’t respond (although I make an exception for some professional recruiter contacts).

      OP, I feel for you – ugh. Creepers gotta creep, it seems.

    2. Grapey*

      How can you tell if it’s a “professional recruiter”? I’m unfamiliar with how recruiters work and is that just something they have in their title?

      1. irene adler*

        The professional recruiter wants to talk about the job or the job possibilities. Things like what you are looking for in a job or what would make you interested in the job they are trying to fill.
        They don’t want to know what you do in your free time, or your hobbies, etc. In fact, they won’t even ask these questions.

      2. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        I get a lot of unsolicited messages from recruiters on LI. (I’m a software developer. It comes with the territory.)

        The recruiters usually have something indicating their role in their title. Might not be recruiter, might be something to do with “talent acquisition” or similar, but it’s pretty obvious. They also either work for a Big Name Company, or a placement agency. (You might have to look at their company page for the latter to become obvious, but no further than that.)

        And the messages are almost always about jobs that they are trying to fill, and think I might be interested in. Occasionally I’ll get one that’s more about staying in touch for the future.

        Sometimes I respond, and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I’ll notice the “I’m not interested” button that LinkedIn provides and use that. I only worry about being civil when I do reply – it’s business, not personal. Hurt feelings don’t apply here. (If hurt feelings do show up, see other posts about creepers.)

    3. EPLawyer*

      Good policy. LW, you are under NO OBLIGATION WHATSOEVER to respond to ANY request made through LinkedIn. You do not have to respond to even innocent sounding requests and then worry about shutting it down later. You can just ignore as you see fit from the get go.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        This is my twitter DM policy. I never respond to a single one (I mean, unless it’s someone I know in real life, of course). I just delete and block with prejudice. I realize I’ve missed out on the chance to “chat” with someone hapless but not actively creepy and I’ve decided I can live with this.

        1. Snickerdoodle*

          Exactly; that’s what I do with Facebook. I don’t accept friend requests or reply to messages from guys I’ve either only briefly met once but not really talked to, or, worse, never met at all and (maybe) have a friend in common but nothing else. Exceptions have inevitably led to disaster, so I’ve learned my lesson. There’s a remote chance I may have missed out on something this way, but I figure non-creeps would use non-creepy methods to contact me.

      2. OP*

        That’s a good idea. I haven’t been doing that because I don’t want to miss out on any potential opportunities but maybe I will consider adopting that myself.

    4. Rebelx*

      Same. Regardless of gender, I generally don’t accept people I haven’t actually met in real life, but I think it’s telling that probably 99% of the requests I get from people that I don’t actually know are men.

    5. Sven Universe*

      Ive stopped accepting recruiter invites because a lot of them will immediately cold call you at work if you accept.

  7. Snarkus Aurelius*

    LinkedIn has been relentless about getting me to post a picture for years.

    This letter makes me glad that not only do I not have a picture but don’t have enough information where someone can figure out my age.

    The next time LinkedIn bugs me for a reason, I should just send this link.

    1. OrigCassandra*

      Good idea, thanks. I usually drop a bunch of f-bombs in LinkedIn’s “but why not” whiner window — I’m only on LinkedIn at all because I teach infosec and OSINT via LinkedIn search is absolutely a thing — but this is better and I will do it.

    2. goducks*

      I have so many problems with the very idea that a job profile should include a photo. It just seems to create all the right situations for age discrimination, racial discrimination, and discrimination based on how attractive one seems to be.
      No thanks.
      I have a linked in profile, but no photo. No matter how many times linked in tells me that it’s hurting me, I refuse.

      1. OtterB*

        There are some professional situations where a photo is helpful – reminding me which “Joe” this is, or making it easier to recognize someone at a conference when I’ve only interacted with them by email. But I agree that recruiting is not one of those situations.

      2. animaniactoo*

        It probably is hurting me because I am a middle-aged white woman. However, that’s the very reason that I won’t put it up. Even if I were actively looking for a job, there’s still no reason someone needs to see my headshot as an integral part of my resume.

        1. voluptuousfire*

          My LinkedIn pic is a bitstrip comic from 2011. Mainly changed since I had a guy hit on me on LI.

        2. irene adler*

          I think the pic hurts my job opportunities due to age/gender discrimination.
          I tried a little experiment where I dispensed with the pic and shortened my first name so that it’s not clear if I’m male or female (“Chris” instead of “Christine”, for example). I fielded more responses to my job applications than before.

          1. animaniactoo*

            Right – by name, I am clearly a female on LI. However, my point is that I am not garnering my middle-aged white privilege points by not posting a picture. That’s a considered decision however, and I am not backing away from it.

            I’m not sure if I would get a different response for not appearing immediately to be female, but I am in an industry/network where it doesn’t hurt to be a woman.

        3. Snickerdoodle*

          It reminds me of those transparent super sleazy “job” ads that aren’t for acting/modeling gigs but still request a headshot. Gross. No.

      3. Tom & Johnny*

        You would be dismayed and frustrated to find out that in many countries a photo on your CV / resume is super standard.

        I was shocked by this personally when my fellow students at an overseas university would have me vet their CV for submission to US companies and it would have their photo, age, birth date, and practically their religion all over it.

        They were shocked that I was surprised by that.

        The US gets a bad rap for racism, sexism, ageism, and sexual-orientation-ism in hiring. With good reason. And we like to idealize places outside the US as being bastions of virtuous business practices where such things never cross their minds.

        But many other countries don’t have even the faintest laws on the books against some of these practices. And they are surprised when we are surprised that something isn’t ‘illegal to ask’ or ‘illegal to require.’

        Of course this gives no one an excuse to creep on young women on LinkedIn or anywhere else. We do enjoy legal protections in the US though that are not available in other countries where photos, birth date, and marital status are de rigueur information provided at the outset of the hiring process. Even though the laws on the books don’t always translate to facts on the ground.

        1. professor*

          in Indonesia, not only a photo and religion, but weight and height….I was pretty icked by that (and ignored it as best I could when getting CVs)

        2. Jasnah*

          To be fair, some other countries don’t have the same severity or nature of discrimination issues with regard to hiring practices as the US, for example ageism. Some countries are obligated to collect certain data for purposes that aren’t an issue in the US, and have laws about that–and it would be weird to ask why the US doesn’t have laws about that.

          That said, point taken and I think we should have stronger worker protection and anti-discrimination laws everywhere.

    3. Michaela Westen*

      I’ve had a photo of a flower since the early days. I was very cautious about posting my picture or other identifiers. This letter and thread are making me very glad I haven’t updated my LinkedIn photo. I probably would if I was actively looking, and I hope I never have to.
      Just upload a photo you like of something innocuous, and get on with your life.

    4. OP*

      We were told in school that we need to include photos on our LinkedIn profile, that employers will think something is off if you don’t which is why I’m hesitant to take my picture out. Plus even if I did, I think my graduation year would give away my age.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        Keep reading around here, and you’ll see that job-hunting advice from schools is often suspect, either out of date or just wrong-headed. Take that picture out right now. There’s a very good reason that in the US we don’t put pictures on our resumes: to force recruiters to actually look at our qualifications. They can put in a little effort if they want to rule you out. You don’t need to make it easier for them to be discriminatory.

        Yes, your graduation date also gives age information but it forces a person to think and do math, whereas your picture is right there in front of their eyes. (Humans are VERY visually-oriented.) If you’re still hesitant, try an experiment: take the picture out for a couple of months and see if that changes anything.

        1. Courageous cat*

          I mean, I don’t know, I don’t know a single person who doesn’t have their photo on LinkedIn, and I do a LOT of looking around at other people’s photos as well.

          I don’t think it will hurt them but I think it could be seen as a little weird to be on LinkedIn without one, especially depending on the industry.

          1. Jennifer Thneed*

            Well, several people have stated here that they do not have a picture on their LI page. I do not have a picture on my LI page. I get plenty of In-Mail, and it’s all from legit recruiters. (And I just did an experimental search on LI for a few different career types, and I’d say about 1/5 of the listings I saw don’t have pictures.)

            Since this LW isn’t job-hunting, I don’t think it really matters what the profile looks like, and if it lets them avoid being creeped on, well, that’s a plus AND it saves some of their time. I’m just not seeing a downside for running that experiment.

  8. Jennifer*

    Gross. It’s interesting how all those older men that wanted to mentor me when I was 21 slowly started to disappear as I got older. Most of these dudes are up to no good. As Alison said, a real recruiter will mention the job early on, instead of asking a bunch of personal questions.

    There are older women that could use help sometimes too, jackholes!

    1. irene adler*

      Help in which department- mentoring or dating? /sarcasm
      But, as an older woman, I don’t think I’d care to interact with such men. And I’m sure they don’t wish to interact with me.

      1. Jennifer*

        I don’t care to interact with them either lol.

        I was just reading about how some women over 50 feel invisible at work and deal with ageism, even when they potentially have many years of working life ahead of them. They give attention to younger women but not the right kind of attention. This kind of thing sucks for younger women and older.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I think it’s “gazing starry eyed while listening to him expound.”

        Alison had a creepy letter about a guy who took this to the “job interview” phase–that is, he said he had a position that exactly matched her background for more money, so she came to his office and spent two hours making polite encouraging sounds while he told her about himself and what he did–but afterward it always worked out that “yeah, talking to people about your application, say how about instead of the office we meet for dinner? Or there’s a concert I think you’d like. We could talk more about the job.”

          1. Shoes On My Cat*

            Then there’s the ACTUAL Google senior manager who invited a job applicant to join himself and his wife at Burning Man to discuss the job….

        1. TheX*

          That reminds me of this.
          2015. My wife (girlfriend back then) goes to an interview. Everything is legit. Interview goes well. She gets a text later that day, reads it, and shows me this from the guy: “oh well you didn’t get the job, but how about meeting for drinks sometime”?
          She had just moved half way across the country (Midwest to East Coast), moving in with me, looking for a job, having neither time nor the energy to deal with reporting this.
          Of all the other thoughts I naturally had about this, I remember thinking to myself: some people (like me) would give their left nut to get into management and then you see this…

    2. Mazzy*

      Couldn’t it have something to do with the fact that young people get mentored and older people don’t, because people are going to assume you are where you are for a reason once you get a certain age?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Please stop invalidating people’s experiences here. It is possible to tell when someone is hitting on you but disguising it as mentoring.

            1. Mazzy*

              I know I’m surprised that it is being presented as the only reason why someone would reach out to you on LinkedIn. That is what I’m pushing back against. I think the OP is going to miss out on real opportunities and I think it isn’t wise to just assume everything is someone hitting on you, as I’m seeing many commenters saying. I am saying there can be nuance, and I’m seeing everyone else saying that of course every contact is a leechy dirty man, which invalidates my experience. And my experience led to real work with real money so

              1. Jennifer*

                I never said that any man that reaches out to you on Linkedin or elsewhere is creepy. I don’t think anyone here is saying that.

              2. Tom & Johnny*

                “I know I’m surprised that it is being presented as the only reason why someone would reach out to you on LinkedIn. ”

                It’s not being presented as the only reason. In Allison’s original response to the letter writer’s question she herself outlined thoughtful and well-laid out criteria by which to judge whether or not the would-be ‘mentor’ is a creeper or is legit.

                No one here is across the board accusing all older career men of being creepers 100% of the time on all younger career women. That’s a transparent strawman argument and I expect you know that yourself.

                There’s nothing here to push back against. You’re pushing back against something of your own invention that no one is asserting because in your experience something specific worked out for you and wasn’t a creeping event.

                That’s great. But that doesn’t invalidate the lived experience of people who have been recipients of the creeping. Or change the fact that many younger women need the kind of criteria Allison provided for how to navigate when something is and isn’t in good faith.

              3. There is not nuance to this*

                “What do you do for fun” is not an “I want to be your mentor” question, nor is it “are you the right person for this job” material.

              4. Anoncorporate*

                Women know the difference between genuine intentions and ulterior motives. We’re not stupid.

          2. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool*

            Um, the letter is about men doing this, so yes, Jennifer rightly ignored the other half.

          3. Librarian of SHIELD*

            She never said she’d ignore half the population. What a weird leap to make. She said *these* dudes, meaning a subset of guys who creep on women in inappropriate ways, times and places. Stop taking her words out of context and trying to make them mean a thing they don’t mean.

          4. Yorick*

            “These dudes” means THESE creepy dudes, who are fortunately not half the population. You can save your tired #notallmen.

            1. RUKiddingMe*

              Thank you. I was just gonna comment on the #notallmen thing.

              Sooo tired of having literally millions of women ignored because a certain males act with basic decency.

              There are some who never do anything inappropriate ever but there are a whole bunch who will intentionally do this shit. There are a bunch who font intend it but do it anyway because they font realize it.

              But most definitely almost all women have this crap happen to them multiple times in their lives.

    3. Snickerdoodle*

      I also noticed that the older guys started disappearing as I got older–assuming they knew how old I actually was. I look a lot younger than I am, and I’m quite sure the creepy guy on my vanpool I ended up reporting to HR would not have bothered had he known how old I really am. Next time an older guy starts trying to creep on me, I’m going to casually mention that I’m 36, not 21, and see how fast he beats it out of there.

      1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*


        A friend of mine looks much, MUCH younger than she actually is, like last oking like she was in high school well into her 20s & looking about 20 well into her 30s. And she used to lament (when she was single & looking in her early 30s) that the only men that ever showed any interest in her were 20 year old who thought she was the same age as them, and 50+ year old men who also thought she was actually around 18-21 years old. She said having the younger men hit on her was frustrating, but understandable, but having the older men hit on her was nothing short of disgusting. I mean she felt they were too old to be coming in to someone of her ACTUAL age, let alone someone 30 or more years younger, and she said it happened ALL THE TIME.
        It’s so much a “thing” I don’t know how anyone here can have even a shadow of a doubt.

    1. Stephanie*

      Why? She shouldn’t have to do that. Plus taking down her photo could affect her receiving legit networking leads in the future.

        1. Nope*

          This smacks of “maybe don’t wear a skirt that’s so short” and I hope you are aware of that. Women are not responsible for preventing people from harassing them.

          1. Jennifer*


            Please read some of my replies below. Suggesting women take precautions is not the same as victim blaming.

          2. JSPA*

            True, but beside the main point. Which is that, in most fields, people who’ll hire you based on your looks are not the people you want to be working for / not the jobs you want to be hired for. So there’s minimal up-side, to balance the negatives.

        1. But Make It Data*

          If people are able to recognize her when they appear in suggestions for someone to add, they may be more apt to add her as a connection. For me sometimes it’s a lot easier to recognize someone’s face than it is to recognize someone’s name.

            1. But Make It Data*

              Maybe, but it might not be to the extent of “oh yeah, I had a meeting with her last month” or whatever. Adding a photo helps fill that gap. I personally am notoriously bad with names. If I just see someone’s name on LinkedIn, I may not recognize them immediately or at all, so I won’t connect with them. The photos help a lot because facial recognition and name recognition are different.

              And as stated above by Stephanie, she shouldn’t have to change her behavior to prevent creepy men from being creepy. Behavior aimed to prevent creepiness, in my mind, shows that the creeps have power.

              1. Jennifer*

                Good point about recognizing a picture more quickly than the name.

                It sucks but I think most women have adjusted their behavior because of creeps. That’s the world we live in. No, we shouldn’t have to, I agree. But I think most of us have crossed the street, started taking a new route, stopped going to a certain place, etc. because of a creepy guy.

                1. But Make It Data*

                  That’s true. I know I’ve done that in the past (once an older guy tried to give me a ride home from high school (!!!) so I reported him to the police and started walking a longer route home). It’s still incredibly frustrating to live in a world where these measures need to even be considered.

                  Ugh, creeps.

                2. Shoes On My Cat*

                  Yep, though ONE time I had the satisfaction of sending a creeper packing with tail between legs, never to return. My friend’s Queensland Heeler was living with me for a few months and I could bring him to the office (unusually social for this breed). He was under my desk and this delivery guy wouldn’t leave and started the creepy questions ‘do you live alone? Do you live here too?’ Chinook must have read my body language because he slowly eased out from under the desk with his hackles up and a barely audible rolling growl and started stalking towards the creep. Guy went white, walked out the door -and the dog followed him then stood on the welcome mat until his car drove off. I adored that dog!!

      1. Liane*

        I don’t know why…Maybe because including a photo in application materials*, in the US at least, isn’t considered professional and since Linked In is *supposed* to be “strictly business” you should leave it off there, too?
        And how is not having a picture up going to adversely “affect her receiving legit networking leads”? By self-selecting her out from jobs where the hiring manager thinks the most important qualifications are “Young looking woman who can double as office decor”?

        *for non acting/modelling fields

    2. NotAPirate*

      You need a photo on linkedin. It should be a headshot style (formal ish wear, facing the camera, shoulders and head visible only). Profiles without photos look incomplete, like someone set it up for a class and never used it. Further photos are useful when you reach out to people “Jane Doe, we met at the XYZ conference” may not jog the memory the way a photo does.

      She does not have to reduce her effectiveness on linkedin because creeps exist. They very well may be sorting by graduation year or something else not looking at photos sheesh.

      1. Random commenter*

        I actually dislike the trend toward photos on profiles quite a bit.

        As a visible minority, I feel it puts me at a disadvantage if there are people who make judgements based on my race.
        Obviously, someone can identify my race in person, but by then, I at least have the chance to prove their expectations wrong because we’re dealing face to face (vs someone not even bothering to get in touch after seeing a photo)

        1. goducks*

          Yep. And it’s not like the photo is buried somewhere in the profile, it’s front and center and the first thing a person sees when clicking on a profile. In fact, sometimes things like actual experience get collapsed, but photos are always right there. It’s hard for someone to get their foot in the door by their experience when the hiring manager’s implicit (or explicit) bias has them reject before they even read the profile.

        2. JSPA*

          That’s not what many people find, doing with / without comparisons. It works, perhaps, if you have a “look” that’s more compelling than your resumé. Otherwise, it’s neutral or negative.

      2. KTM*

        I totally get all the commenters saying that having a photo leads to discrimination, but I have to side more with NotAPirate. I’m a very regular user of LinkedIn and when I see a profile without a photo, I’m very unlikely to accept a connection request and it gives me a slight negative impression (i.e. looks incomplete).

        1. Jennifer*

          If you’re a minority, you run the risk of being rejected because of racism if you have a photo or because your profile looks “incomplete” if you don’t post a photo according to some of the comments. If I’m going to be screwed over either way, I’d rather do what makes me feel more comfortable.

        2. Penny Parker*

          I suggest you change that approach, because what you are doing is to allow racism and sexism to flourish. It would be wise of you to accept there are very valid reasons for people to not post photos, and it is an entitlement of those who do not face discrimination and/or harassment to be able to post such a photo.

        3. Random commenter*

          That’s why I like to mention my perspective. It’s something that a lot of people don’t really consider, and sometimes it leads to them thinking twice about their impressions of a photo-less profile.

        4. Stephanie*

          This is actually how systemic racism (and other -isms) work–people get discriminated against for race and also get discriminated against for doing things that would counteract that discrimination. Even though you know that people don’t post pictures for very valid reasons, you are still willing to default to the idea that it’s for a non-valid reasons.

      3. Jennifer*

        Her linkedin profile as is doesn’t sound effective. That’s why we’re making suggestions that might improve her experience there. Sheesh.

        1. PollyQ*

          Just because creepy dudes are creeping on her doesn’t mean there’s anything at all wrong with her profile. Suggesting that she needs to make changes to it comes dangerously close to victim-blaming.

          1. Jennifer*

            Going to victim blaming is quite a leap, imo. I didn’t say there was anything wrong with her profile. I was making suggestions that may potentially prevent harassment. Similar to telling someone to lock their door to prevent burglary. That’s not victim-blaming, and they don’t deserve to be burglarized even if they forget to lock their door one night. It’s just a precaution. Either way, the harasser/burglar is the one in the wrong.

            Ultimately, it’s up to her. This is what worked for me.

            1. Yorick*

              You said “Her linkedin profile as is doesn’t sound effective,” which literally means that it sounds like something is wrong with it.

              For the record, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with removing or changing a photo if OP thinks it would be helpful.

                1. Penny Parker*

                  No intentionally, anyways. But, yeah, considering the conversation and where you went with it… victim blaming.

                2. Jennifer*

                  Again – there is a difference between suggesting someone take a precaution and victim blaming.

          2. RUKiddingMe*

            Not suggesting that she stops walking down an unlighted street, at night, alone, in a bad neighborhood sounds like victim blaming too…also not something she does or should *have* to do. But…it’s nevertheless prudent.

            1. RUKiddingMe*

              Ugh. I should really proofread better. Omit “not.”

              “and it’s only something for her to consider, not a directive from on high.”

        2. JSPA*

          We don’t know that! We’re not given enough information to know that. She could be getting the same amount of legit interest that some hypothetical perfect resumé for her would get (plus creepers). Or not. The question isn’t how to change her page. (Nor for how her friends, who have the same creeper-time-waster problem, should change their pages.) She could have asked that. She didn’t. The question is, “what’s going on?”

      4. goducks*

        I had someone do a phone interview once after I’d applied via Linked In for a position. During the interview he asked “Why doesn’t your profile have a photo?” and I was so turned off I actually responded “Because you’re supposed to be hiring me for what I can do for your company, not what I look like”. Of course, I had already decided this was likely not a good fit for me earlier in the conversation, and that sealed it.

    3. Old Mountain Lady*

      It won’t help. I never had a picture on mine, and it didn’t stop the creeps. While I might have kept the LinkedIn account after I retired, to keep in touch with some people or in case I decided to freelance, the creepy requests for dates were the reason I shut it down.

    4. OP*

      I was told in my business classes that I should be including a picture, that it would look like something was wrong if I didn’t. My picture isn’t inappropriate either, it’s just a headshot of me in a business suit. I don’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons if I’m the only one without a photo when they look on LinkedIn if I’m applying for a job. I’m also not sure that would help entirely if I removed it. Because my graduation year would indicate that I’m pretty young.

  9. SheLooksFamiliar*

    Regular ol’ free LinkedIn is bad enough. However, LinkedIn Solutions tools make it possible for license holders to send huge amounts of thinly veiled spam – LinkedIn Talent, Supply Chain, Marketings, Sales, Learning and a few other Solutions platforms offer actual or virtual unlimited InMail capability (among other things). I have a LinkedIn Recruiter seat myself, and just checked Terms of Use. What the OP describes is a definite no-no for any LI user, and especially a Solutions license holder.

    OP, please report the creepers and send screenshots of the inappropriate InMails. LinkedIn might not be able to stop them completely, but they might stop them from bothering you. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, and hope it stops.

    1. animaniactoo*

      I was thinking about the angle of reporting them for inappropriate use of the platform, but I think there may be drawbacks to going that route – I need to toss it around my brain more before I can detail why I think it would or wouldn’t be a good idea. I also don’t really use the platform – mostly I have a profile there and that’s it – so I may not have enough familiarity to understand how reporting them as a user would likely play out.

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        I’m not sure why there would be drawbacks to reporting this. Abusive, fraudulent, harassing, threatening, and other inappropriate InMails and/or outreach are straight-up violations of LinkedIn’s Terms of Use, for free users and licensed product users alike. If someone purchases InMail packages for the extra InMail capability, again, TOU specifiies what is/is not okay. And Solutions license holders are held to even higher standards regarding their messaging. For instance, bulk InMailing capabilities are limited and, if the user persists, LI Solutions will freeze their account.

        I’m a certified user and make sure I know what I can – and cannot – do. The guys bothering the OP are jerks, and reporting them has no drawback that I can see.

    2. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      This. Now I get MLM cosmetics spam through Linkedin. Because all women are interested in cosmetics, right?

    3. OP*

      Thank you, I didn’t know about that. I will be sure to look more into reporting and how that works.

  10. Who Plays Backgammon?*

    This is one reason I bailed out of LinkedIn. I wasn’t getting outright creepy, thank goodness, but I received some approaches that were iffy-weird enough to concern me.

    1. RUKiddingMe*

      I’m pretty old and still I got them. I deleted it…oh, years ago now. I dont need it. It never helped me. Why have just one more space gor males to harass me?

      1. AKchic*

        I have one, but I never use it. I probably should update it since I haven’t logged in since 2017.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          I’ve gone longer than that. I think the last time I logged in was when someone was sending me messages, and I couldn’t reply without paying LinkedIn (sigh). I think the messages were for someone with a similar name. That was 3 years ago? 4?
          But I know it’s still there, LinkedIn keeps trying to solicit me to login every week.

    2. Massmatt*

      Maybe Linked In would make a good topic for the Friday open thread? It is a pretty big thing in my industry, I know it’s essential in some and non-existent in others.

      I get lots of recruitment contact for jobs I’m not interested in, and also people “just wanting to connect” but really wanting to see if they can sell me something, or recruit for sometimes sketchy jobs.

      Disturbingly, some professional groups have been infiltrated by people Hyping “opportunities “ which are actually multi level marketing, or worse.

      And I have noticed more Facebook-like “what do you think of Trump?” type bullish!t surveys.

      Still, it’s really useful in Many fields.

      I would be interested to hear more commenter experiences regarding results with and without photos.

  11. jDC*

    I refuse to use LinkedIn exactly due to this. Just creepy guys who added me. Plus my resume has the same info. It doesn’t help someone hiring me to know that I know Jenny from old company. Stupid.

    1. S-Mart*

      I hate that you, and so many others, have had these negative experiences with LinkedIn. It makes the site a worse tool for everyone when people run others off it with these creepy messages.

      I do want to push back on the notion that knowing you know Jenny is useless. When I’m looking for a new job, I want the hiring manager to be able to easily find out if somebody she knows has worked with me in the past. Many of my connections would give excellent recommendations of my work, and presumably if the hiring manager actually knows them they’ll give more weight to that than the 2-5 random (to her) people I will offer as references.

      Also, for me at least, LinkedIn has more information than my resume – because I don’t feel a need to curate my presence down to 1-2 pages of info. I don’t know that the added detail has ever been significant to my employment, but it’s definitely not just the same info as my resume.

      1. jDC*

        I was being somewhat sarcastic on the Jenny thing. Luckily I’m my industry its word of mouth and there’s no recruiting. Im a female in a male dominated industry so even getting a job in it is difficult for me so my personal references are where I go and that works well.

    2. Booksalot*

      The only reason I keep it is because I’m in tech and I refuse to use any other social media. Being on absolutely NO platforms is bad for my brand/field.

      1. jDC*

        Ya that would make sense. Someone in an interview once said to me “I couldn’t find you on social media”. I responded “that was on purpose.” He giggled and I got the job anyway. I ONLY use social media to keep in touch with family overseas.

  12. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway*

    If they won’t take no for an answer or persist in being creeps, feel free to forward their correspondence to their company PR or HR and ask if this is standard recruitment protocol. If these are legit professional inquiries, then they have nothing to worry about.

    1. irene adler*

      I like this!

      Though, I have to wonder, would their profile even be legit given they are using it to look for dates?
      Worth sending anyway. It will alert the company that some creeps have associated themselves with it.

      1. FD*

        Bet it is more often than not.

        I suspect people like this likely don’t believe they’re doing anything wrong (not excusing, but that would require a degree of self-awareness).

    2. OP*

      I hadn’t thought about that but I like it! I will definitely think about doing this if/when it happens again.

  13. Elise*

    I also get messages on LinkedIn that feel like they are heading to an MLM pitch so some of these may be leading there as well.

  14. boredatwork*

    wow – this is a new one for me. I get the standard recruiter emails usually 2-3 a day. But I have never had a “professional” reach out to me to connect and start chatting me up like it’s tinder.

    I’m not that old, I cannot believe this is happening.

    1. Mazzy*

      Yes I’m very confused by the tone of the comments and will probably get piled on, because it’s worth it I think, I got my last job from a LinkedIn connection at a competitor and got an interview that didn’t lead to a job last year. This is the first time I’m hearing on LinkedIn being a site filled with creeps and sexual harassment

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Of course you can have perfectly pleasant interactions on LinkedIn, get jobs from contacts there, etc. That’s the whole point! But it’s also the case that there’s a dark seedy underbelly to it for some women who get hit on there. Both are true.

        1. boredatwork*

          I am very sad that this is a problem for young women and if anyone I worked with did this, it would color my opinion of them very negatively.

          I would absolutely kick this up the chain as an abuse of apparent authority

      2. Delphine*

        I think it’s important to shift our thinking away from this whole, “It never happened to me, so I’m very surprised it’s happening to anyone.” Not only because it can seem dismissive, but because it ignores reality. Women in every industry and from every walk of life have experienced harassment at the hands of men, in their homes and outside of their homes. Harassment isn’t about venue or industry or the type of woman, it’s about men. Wherever there are large populations of men that have access to women, you are likely to find harassment. So, frankly, why wouldn’t there be sexual harassment and creeps on LinkedIn? Let’s be less surprised.

        1. learnedthehardway*

          Thank you for saying this – it’s a shame that it needs to be said, but it (repeatedly) does.

        2. Liane*

          Agreed. Many an advice columnist, male and female, has pointed out that when someone says, “But Person is so nice/polite/kind!” about a known creeper/harasser/bigot/abuser it means “Person doesn’t mistreat me” NOT “Person is a good & decent human being” whether the speaker realizes it or not.

        3. boredatwork*

          I 100% believe this has happened to OP, I’m just sad that in the 10(ish) years since I was a college age student using linkedin, creepy old men have turned it into tinder.

      3. Observer*

        Why are you confused? There are plenty of women in tech who don’t get harassed. Do the well documented issues there therefore “confuse” you? There are lots of women in EVERY field who haven’t been harassed. Do accusations of harassment therefore routinely confuse you?

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          I was gonna say something about having a dwelling beneath a boulder but forced myself to not reply to her that way…

      4. RUKiddingMe*

        So you are confused that others have experiences that you don’t/haven’t had? Are you confused that women get harassed?

    2. The New Wanderer*

      I’ve been on LinkedIn for around a decade and I’ve never been hit on or gotten an iffy message from a connection. However, I totally believe it happens since the same thing happens in person at work (and has happened to me) when the work-related conversations drift to overly personal stuff. I don’t think anyone is misreading the intent of the shift to ‘harmless’ but markedly not work-related messages from older men to younger women in the absence of any relevant context.

    3. Penny Parker*

      So, you are basically calling anyone who has been harassed on LI a liar. How un-decent of you.

      1. Zin*

        No, they are explicitly stating they believe harassment happens even though it hasn’t happened to them. There’s nothing in that paragraph that implies they don’t believe the people stating it happens, quite the opposite.

        1. Penny Parker*

          Perhaps my comment threaded wrong. The comment “I cannot believe this is happening” is calling everyone who states it is happening a liar.

          1. Lance*

            If they were stating it literally, certainly; I’d like to believe boredatwork was using that as an expression of genuine surprise, not trying to erase others’ experiences.

          2. boredatwork*

            I was saddened that men are so creepy that they harass college students through linkedin. I have no reason not to believe OP.

            1. RUKiddingMe*

              Males harass women by any means possible. LI is just one of many ways they do it.

            2. Penny Parker*

              Well then, Poe’s Law. That expression is hard to hear and easy to be confused by. I appreciate the clarification.

          3. JSPA*

            That’s an idiom. It means, “how terrible!” Not, “I doubt the veracity.” In one form or another, it’s older than Shakespeare. Probably older than Chaucer.

        1. boredatwork*

          My “I cannot believe this is happening” was a statement of how fast society has devolved. I 100% believe that this is happening, and I just wish it weren’t.

          1. Shay*

            I’m replying to Penny, in case that wasn’t clear. I 100% understood you weren’t dismissing the issue.

          2. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

            Society hasn’t devolved. Harassment has ALWAYS been around, and it was actually MUCH WORSE in the days when it WASN’T talked about.

            It SEEMS like things are “getting worse” because harassing women is becoming less & less socially acceptable, and exposing harassers more socially acceptable. People are now more aware of the problem, that it IS a problem, and are starting to get an inkling of how widespread it is- and always has been. That is evidence that our society is EVolving, not DEVolving.

  15. RUKiddingMe*

    Gentlemen (hmmm) repeat after me:

    “Linked In is not a dating app…Linked In is not a dating app…Linked In is not a dating app…”

    1. People like shiny things*

      This whole story reminds me of Tom Haverford from Community,…”and then I hit up LinkedIn for the professional shooorty.”
      Not funny IRL

  16. alphabet soup*

    Whyyyy are dudes using LinkedIn to creep on women? There are just so many other websites on the internet more suited to their needs. Is it because it’s a site that doesn’t look creepy in their browsing history? Is it because they’re unfamiliar with the other sites out there? What’s the deal?

    1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Because they’re not getting the responses they want on the actual dating apps (they are presumably getting a low response rate to their creepy messages there, particularly from the younger, attractive, and employed women they are looking for), and they’ve concluded it’s because the women they want to meet just aren’t using those apps, but would totally give them a chance if could just find them. Hmm, where ELSE can they find women on the internet who might talk to them…from their perspective, it doesn’t cost them anything and just might work.

      It’s extremely gross, and particularly problematic because it’s sexualizing a work context.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        It doesn’t cost them anything and just might work.

        Writ larger than creepy guys, this flaw could bring down the information age. When it doesn’t cost anything to add your stream to the firehose, and the attempts to filter true from fake can’t keep up with the sheer volume.

        1. Lora*

          True. Look how many people abandon Facebook, because they are All Set with the MLM sales, the insane rantings from some racist a-hole you met five years ago once, the sheer volume of crap.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t know if they’re deliberately setting out to use it that way (like “I will now go on LinkedIn and message women”) — some of them probably are, but I think a lot of the time they’re there for actual business reasons and then they see young women there and boom, they’re in creep mode.

      1. EPLawyer*

        They just see any attractive young woman in any situation as prey. I mean worth trying to hit on.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          Well it’s a numbers game you know…

          I cant remember which movie that was from but the premise was that eventually someone will respond positively. Also it’s heavily paraphrased.

      2. Yorick*

        Right, this is not their only use for LinkedIn. I’m sure they do very appropriate and helpful recruiting and mentoring of men there, in between creepy perv messages.

      3. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

        Maybe LinkedIn doesn’t twang their wives’ antennae the way Ashley Madison would.

    3. Forrest*

      It’s the Gumption problem. They can’t get what they want by going through the systems or spaces that are designed for that purpose, and they can’t accept that what they are doing is the problem, so they assume that the problem is the systems or spaces and that their task is to cirvumvent the systems and spaces that everyone else is using. They think they’re being clever by disrespecting other people’s privacy and space.

    4. Mazzy*

      The op isn’t saying they are, she is asking. If they are because she isn’t sure they are legit recruitment attempts

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        And the answer is — they are. We know they are because this is a common thing that many of us have experienced, and because middle aged men are not messaging 20something men to ask them personal questions.

      2. alphabet soup*

        I get that, but it seems Alison’s response and the comments (and my own personal experience) seem to indicate a consensus-opinion that creeping is happening.

        1. EPLawyer*

          because it is. That is not to say that LinkedIn does not get used for its intended purpose a lot. But it is an ufortunate fact of life that creepy men will use ANY medium in order to creep.

          1. goducks*

            Exactly. How many women here can attest to being hit on in real life by some dude while at the grocery store, or pumping gas, or filling prescription or visiting a family member in the hospital (happened to me), or any place at all where women are just being a woman out in public.
            That they’re using linked in is just a continuation of the culture of men who believe all women are prey.

            1. Librarian of SHIELD*

              *Raises hand* Got hit on at a grandparent’s funeral.

              I tend to think of LinkedIn like a career fair writ large. At a career fair, there are going to be hundreds of people making connections with people at organizations they’d like to work for, but you’re also going to see (mostly older) men trying to form inappropriate connections with (mostly younger) women. It happens all the time at the face-to-face version, so naturally, it’s going to happen with some degree of frequency in the online version.

              1. RUKiddingMe*

                *Hand up*

                Funeral hone…making my son’s arrangements. They had to physically keep my 5’0” niece from getting on a chair and smacking the 6’+ creep.

            2. Lora*

              Personal all time favorite for Inappropriate Time and Place: when I was burying a beloved pet cat in my yard, in a spot visible from the road, red-faced and weeping, the cat’s corpse clearly visible at my feet. A dude stopped his car on the side of the road to yell at me that I looked nice, did I need some company.

              F’ing oxygen thieves, I tell you.

            3. alphabet soup*

              that’s a very good way of looking at it.

              men who are creepy in real life don’t limit their creepiness in their digital lives, either.

            4. animaniactoo*

              *raises hand* I think my most amazing one was sitting in the back of a car service on the way home and having a guy in the car in the next lane try to get me to go hang out with them. With the offer to buy me dinner.

              No, creepy dude, I am not getting into a car with 3 random guys that I have never met before in my life at 11:30 on a Saturday night.

              I said that after we’d parted ways and my driver was like “Wait, you don’t know them?” – he was totally shocked that I didn’t know them given how persistent the one guy was being about getting me to come hang out.

      3. RUKiddingMe*

        Yes she’s asking because she wants to make sure her perception…that they are in fact creeping in her (they are), is accurate.

    5. TinLizi*

      Maybe I’m cynical, but my first thought was they’re trying to cheat and want plausible deniability.

    6. Ginger ale for all*

      It’s not just Linked In, guys will do it in other platforms as well. I get it a lot in Words with Friends and other online games and I am in my mid 50’s.

      1. cmcinnyc*

        Constantly on Twitter. Cons. Tant. Ly. I’m middle-aged, and the creepers are also middle-aged, single dads, and love Jesus. I’m sure a good 50% of them are some sinister form of bot. I block immediately.

        I need to be on LinkedIn and I need a picture and creeps are par for the course in my industry, but it still surprises me when some random from ANOTHER industry tries to connect with my clearly not-21-year-old self for a date. Maybe I just get the more realistic creeps who don’t like their chances with the young.

    7. AKchic*

      There are many reasons.
      For some of them… yes, they are unfamiliar with the other sites. Part of that is because they are *married* and being caught out on the other sites would damage them.
      There is also the issue of workplace harassment. They know they can’t harass anyone IN-office, but hey, these people don’t actually work in the office, so it’s not a problem. They are doing this after hours, off the clock, on their own equipment, at home, so really… it’s not workplace harassment, is it? Well… except for the fact that it’s being done in the company’s name (even if you lie and claim you’re representing the company and say you’ve got a job for this person at the company, you have brought the company into this). Misrepresenting yourself and the company to harass women isn’t a good look. If I were to find that it was a pattern, I’d be consulting an attorney to figure out if I could get rid of the person same-day.

    8. Treecat*

      It’s entitlement. A lot of men legitimately don’t see women as anything other than vessels for their personal fulfillment. For this type of man it follows naturally that he’d creep on a young, pretty woman who gives him pantsfeelings in any context because in his mind she doesn’t exist for any other purpose.

    9. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Like Alison says, I don’t think it is a deliberate choice to use LinkedIn in this way. They simply have no respect for professionally boundaries or restraint when it comes to encountering someone they find attractive. They probably leer and ask inappropriate questions in all kinds of settings, from supermarkets to PTA meetings – – anywhere they might get attention. There is no distinction between circumstances in which it is or is not appropriate to make an advance.

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        Ugh, this! I witnessed my dad hitting on a young woman while he was waiting in the waiting room with me, his 13-year-old daughter, at my dentist’s office. There really is no situation in which a creeper will not creep.

    10. Booksalot*

      There is sometimes a correlation between cultural norms and the career field. For example, having worked in [tech for] O&G, I can attest that it is a very “man’s man” type of field, and so having that sort of job experience in your profile tends to connect you to that sort of behavior over and over again.

    11. Foila*

      I think it has an element of marking territory, and trying to define the bounds of work space as belonging to men, and indicating that women are unwelcome / not respected. Kind of like street harassment, which says “you think you’re allowed to be in public safely, but this is a space for men, men have the power here”. That doesn’t have to be a conscious thought process, but I do think it’s a power play, and the fact that it’s demeaning and intimidating isn’t really a drawback.

    12. Yorick*

      Because they can’t really use their position or company to trick people into dates if they use Plenty of Fish, nor would they have the plausible deniability of “I was just trying to help your career, you’re ugly anyway.”

    13. smoke tree*

      I think this has more in common with men who harass young female subordinates than it does with men who are trying to start a relationship. They’re leaning on their potential position of influence. And also, they don’t see young women as anything other than potential sexual partners.

    14. JSPA*

      Because they think that hitting on people, regardless of location, situation, and circumstances is a normal default. Like checking sports scores. There doesn’t have to be a reason. And that’s the problem.

  17. techPerson*

    I have a similar issue which has been bothering me.

    I’m a woman and I work in a very large tech company. It’s not uncommon to mingle with people at company-specific education type events (or just social events meant to make us not wanna leave as bad) who might be kind of related to your role but not someone you’re likely to regularly see in meetings.

    I’ve had a few of these men go on to message me on the work IM afterwards. Sometimes they drift into personal convo and I keep it pretty work/professional focussed, which causes many of them to drift off.

    Recently I met someone in a meeting where a bunch of people giving talks were asking for feedback– so absolutely directly as a part of my work day. He IMed me and asked me out before even trying to ask any personal questions, therefore not giving me an opportunity to be professionally cool about it. My job explicitly allows people to go out with other employees- as long as you aren’t in the same reporting chain. Partially because it’s such a big employer in the area and many people in tech like to date others in tech. It makes sense not to be banned from dating someone you met at a board game group, for example.

    But am I crazy to think you absolutely shouldn’t ask out someone you meet as a coworker during work, unless one of you moves on? Like if he had found me on tinder and swiped right, that would be fine, because I’d never have to know he swiped right unless I also did. But I hate having to guess if someone IMing me is trying to network or thinks my work is interesting vs “vaguely attractive young woman I wanna date”. Since this guy outright asked me out, I’ve been having trouble socializing with men who I work with (which 90% of the people I directly work with, if not 95%) without worrying that I was going to get hit on.

    1. techPerson*

      I hope this isn’t too off-topic/derailing. It felt very related to me but I would understand if you wanted it removed Alison.

    2. Czhorat*

      You are one hundred percent right; this in some ways is the “me too” movement; men in business – and tech in particular – need to stop treating professional settings as a dating service.

      1. londonedit*

        Definitely – I think also there are just men who find it very difficult to separate ‘woman is talking to me’ from ‘woman finds me interesting and therefore attractive and therefore would be interested in going on a date with me’. It’s similar to how people often end up thinking that waiting staff and baristas are ‘hitting on’ them, when in fact they’re bright and cheerful and seem interested when they speak to people because it’s part of their job. So you’re there happily chatting about tech with these dudes, because it’s part of your job, and they think ‘Oh, hey, she really seems to like talking to me! I should ask her out!’

      2. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

        Men have always done this. Way back in the 1970’s, men would say all kinds of obnoxious and inappropriate things to me at work. I would often say, “Oh, are we at a singles bar? I thought we were at work.”

    3. Reba*

      Wow, that dude was pretty blunt. Points for being straightforward I guess? FWIW I do think he was a bit out of line, even if not explicitly breaking company rules. Something about using company resources primarily to flirt doesn’t seem quite right.

      Sorry this has got you feeling weird about work. This kind of thing is disconcerting because here you were, innocently thinking that you were relating to these people as colleagues–and it turns out that instead of seeing you as a professional first, they see you as “female, dateable” first.

    4. MK*

      Eh, the distinction doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I would understand if you had a rule against dating people you work with regularly, but, if I understand correctly, you are saying that you think it weird to ask someone you met at work out, while it would be ok as long as first contact was made outside of work? Most people who are willing to date co-workers in general wouldn’t think it odd, I believe.

      Also, this may just be me, but I prefer it when people in such a situation make their intentions clear immediately, instead of leaving you to guess whether this is networking or a co-worker being friendly or someone asking for a date.

      1. techPerson*

        I’m talking about a company where you have thousands of people working in the same city, but you might never speak with or see actually at work. I have met at least 4 people at a board game group who worked for the same company who I have never actually seen at work.

        And sure, I’d prefer a completely cold-shot “wanna go out on a date” to pleasantries first. This guy didn’t do that. He talked with me purely about my work first, in such a way that I thought he could have feedback for my presentation. Therefore, I couldn’t respond cooly to any questions about hobbies or life in general because he didn’t ask them. If I had responded cooly to his questions about my talk, I could have lost out on good feedback for my presentation.

        1. VictorianCowgirl*

          Seems like he knew that. Some info isn’t worth the price of admission and I’m sorry he knew to put a price on it. But you can still respond cooly to his asking you out. You’re not wrong to think it’s skeevy to use a work format. Why would you be? It’s going to happen, so you might as well have some canned responses ready since it sounds like you are good at guiding away from that eventuality but not dealing with it if it happens.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            Agreed. He saw you as a date and used work chat as a way to get you talking so that he could “go in for the kill.” Shady AF!

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            It is worse! Wanna ask someone out? Do it. Don’t use subterfuge. Who would want to be with someone all underhanded and nefarious like that guy anyway?

        2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          Hmm. I’m not sure what I think about this situation. On the one hand, if he gave you actual, serious feedback first, to me that shows at least a basic level of respect for you as a professional. So I could interpret this as him thinking “this person is cute and they are smart and interested in this topic I like, I would like to get to know them”. Which doesn’t seem that egregious to me in itself, given that your industry is one in which people often date colleagues. It is really common in my field, so I wouldn’t be instantly put off by someone asking me out especially if they have only recently met me (and don’t know that I’m not available).

          On the other hand, if he skipped from professional talk to asking you out, without any other pleasantries like asking about hobbies etc. that seems a little blunt. I can also see the argument that using company IM is perhaps inappropriate. But if that’s the only way to contact you that he has I’d be slightly willing to forgive that, provided he doesn’t bring it up again after being turned down.

          1. Close Bracket*

            “if that’s the only way to contact you that he has I’d be slightly willing to forgive that”

            I’m not willing to forgive it. If a borderline (I’m still on the fence about using the IM for this) inappropriate way to contact someone is the only way to ask someone out, well, I guess you have to miss out on asking out this person! Sometimes you don’t get to ask out the person you want to ask out. Life goes on.

            1. RUKiddingMe*

              Exactly. Sometimes we don’t get what we want. We’re grown ups. It’s not the end of the world. Deal and move on.

          2. techPerson*

            He did not give actual feedback. He asked some questions about the talk and my development on it which sounded like it could be a preface actual feedback. Very short conversation, less than a 100 words between us before switching to the asking me out.

            He did not seem particularly interested in the topic itself as he attended the talk, and during the Q&A time he asked a very off-topic and irrelevant “fun” question.

            1. BethDH*

              I think it can be appropriate to ask someone out who you meet via work, but I’m with you that this wasn’t the way to do it. I’ve actually had a very similar post-presentation experience at a conference (in academia), where the opening to the conversation sounded like it would be about work and then was absolutely a bait-and-switch within three sentences.
              The semi-social atmosphere of a conference makes that kind of line even tougher, because “let’s discuss it over coffee during the break” is so normal when the parties involved are professional, and so gross when one of them doesn’t believe in boundaries.
              Experiences like that have made me much more anxious and awkward around academic networking.

            2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

              Ooooohhhh, I see. I totally misunderstood what happened. That completely changes my thinking. I was imagining an actual useful work conversation with a colleague you were previously acquainted with.

          3. Arts Akimbo*

            It makes it worse because the dude has suddenly made it transactional. Here’s a prelude to possible serious professional development comments. Now will you go out with me? Super gross, IMO.

            1. RUKiddingMe*

              Yup. It was a sneak attack. Fine for the French Resistance in WW Two, not so great for work *or* personal/social relationships.

      2. TootsNYC*

        I think it’s weird to ask out someone you met ANYWHERE until you’ve had some personal conversation first, and an opportunity to suss out whether they’re interested.

        being at work, or a work event, just makes it weirder, I think, because you’re sort of stuck in the same community as them.

        Think of meeting someone at a friend’s party, and immediately after you’ve said hello to them, they ask you on a date. That would be really disconcerting.

    5. Close Bracket*

      But am I crazy to think you absolutely shouldn’t ask out someone you meet as a coworker during work

      I have a firm “no dating at work” policy for myself and therefore wouldn’t ask anyone out myself, but I also have known multiple married couples who met at work. IMing you on the work network to ask you out is a little disconcerting. Like, keep the work tools for work, bro. I don’t know.

      1. BadWolf*

        I had a guy IM me at work (on work IM) and ask me out. I politely declined. He said he hope his asking wouldn’t make it awkward if I saw him at work.

        Friends, I did not know who he was. I’m at a large company and he did not have a photo in our online directory and I did not know his name. I took the high road and did not reply, “No problem, I have no idea who you are or what you look like.”

        Fortunately, it did not make me feel particularly paranoid about who this mystery asker was while I walked around the halls.

        1. techPerson*

          Wow! Someone you didn’t even recognize? That’s so much gall.

          I’m glad it didn’t bother you at least! I think I would have been made super uncomfortable.

          In college I did get rando guys emailing me personally asking for homework help when I had never met them before. Thankfully, they always did it like right before the due date so I never had to question whether I would actually help. I just didn’t see the emails in time.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Wow! Someone you didn’t even recognize? That’s so much gall.

            Makes it very clear that you’re only asking someone out because of their physical appearance, and not because you talked and “clicked” or whatever.

        2. Close Bracket*

          “Friends, I did not know who he was.”

          You had never even met the guy and he IMed you to ask you out? O.o O.o O.o

          Guys. The company directory is not a dating app.

    6. AKchic*

      I don’t think you’re crazy. I think this guy was brazen and taking advantage of a lax policy that benefits him.
      I think that you can 100% continue to network and socialize as you always have. That one individual is probably an anomaly. If he continues, escalate to HR, for sure. If other women complain, or if there are other instances, certainly bring it up to HR as something to be aware of.

    7. JSPA*

      This is where the “ask once / be direct / take ‘no’ for an answer” rule shows its limitations. On the one hand it didn’t take 20 exchanges to figure out what was going on–and that’s good! On the other hand, if 20 guys all ask the same female coworker “just once” (each), it’s a lot for her to field.

  18. Mumbsy*

    Would it be too overstepping to contact the organization about flirtasious messages? It definetly reflects poorly on the company even if it doesnt get too raunchy. If I heard my employee who DOESNT do recruiting is messaging people about a position that may or may not exist just to get a date I would be rightfully pissed off!

    And for that matter, should unsolicited, unauthorized recruiting be reported to the offenders company? I work for a family Foundation and if surrounding non profits tried using me to bypass an application system or to hawk me for my insider knowledge, it could spell trouble for future or current professional relationships.

    1. irene adler*

      I say: it is not overstepping to alert companies re: their employees misrepresenting themselves. Such activity puts the company in a bad light.

    2. OP*

      I will definitely look into doing that in the future. They don’t all offer a job necessarily, some of them just reach out and ask what I am studying or what career I want to pursue. I didn’t realize (prior to Allison’s response) that an actual recruiter will start the message with introducing themselves as a recruiter and talk about a job or their company. I think it could still be beneficial to report them as misrepresenting the company if they’re reaching out like that, even if they’re not offering a job.

  19. cheeky*

    I also get a lot of unsolicited follows and messages from older men on LinkedIn. I have never and would never respond to some random message on LinkedIn. I don’t actually find LinkedIn to be particularly useful, and I would not expect any legitimate job offers or recruiting to come out of it.

  20. CoveredInBees*

    Yes. I get random, totally irrelevant messages from recruiters these days. When I was much younger and was months out of law school, I got a few messages offering me the role of general counsel for companies with no internet presence and no registrations anywhere. Never stuck around enough to find out if they were shady in a business or personal sense. Block them without a second thought.

    My husband has a niche, in-demand tech skill, so he gets contacted on Linked in a lot. Still, this is only by actual recruiters. None of whom has ever asked him a vaguely personal question. He’s been contacted a few times by people who had a vague, complicated idea for a business and wanted my husband to build it for them…for equity and nothing else. They got blocked. Even *these* people didn’t talk about anything not directly related to work.

    tl;dr Trust your spidey sense. These guys are being creepers. Honestly, unless you’re in a cross-cultural situation where you might want to check in with a knowledgable 3rd party, *always* trust your spidey sense if someone feels creepy.

    1. VictorianCowgirl*

      Equity as in Shareholder stocks? Good grief.
      I hope OP reads your comment. *Always trust the spidey-sense!!!*

    2. OP*

      Thank you! Glad to know that my spidey sense has been leading me in the right direction thus far.

  21. Veryanon*

    I’ve encountered this too, and I’m 50! In my case, it’s usually random guys from outside the U.S. (I am in the U.S.) who tell me how beautiful I am from my profile pic. They get blocked immediately. Ick.

    1. Weegie*

      It’s possible that some of these are romance scammers – apparently they’re on LinkedIn as well as Facebook and Twitter. They tend to be overseas and to go straight to complimenting their targets rather than starting with business or more general talk.

      Might just be old-fashioned creeps, though.

      1. Veryanon*

        Yeah, they’re probably romance scammers, but you’d think you would be free of that on Linkedin. :(

        1. Weegie*

          Nope – ‘fraid not! I found a few interesting articles online about their presence on LinkedIn.

          I got a lot of it when I was on Twitter – they always purported to be in the US army, and were always pictured in uniform; I expect they had stolen a genuine soldier’s image and were catfishing me, as OrigCassandra points out below.

      2. OrigCassandra*

        “Catfishing” or even “catphishing” is a useful search term here. Hadn’t realized they’d infested LinkedIn too.

    2. anoddonoo*

      Yep! I only get creepers in the “outside of the U.S.” crowd on LinkedIn. I guess it’s because I’m fat and ugly. I wish creepy, old, white dudes would hit on me!! NOT REALLY!

  22. Anne*

    I think this is interesting because I have never experienced this, not even once. I’m also a woman in my 20s, (moderately attractive I guess? is that relevant?), and I haven’t experienced anywhere NEAR the level of harassment that other women face online. I absolutely believe that it’s real and I’m grateful not to have to deal with it, I’m just SO CURIOUS about what the difference is.

    I wonder if the LW would take a second look at her photo to double-check that it’s a professional headshot and not a social-looking picture? I’d be interested to know if that would change the contacts she’s getting – maybe not, who knows

    1. OrigCassandra*

      Do you work in/near an industry known for having an elevated number of creepers?

      If not, that may be (limitedly) protective — you won’t end up on as many creeper-visible “people who looked at this profile also looked at…” lists, for example.

    2. ZSD*

      I’ve often wondered about this as well. I’m a woman who’s been on Twitter for most of this decade, and I’ve never once gotten a harassing DM or tweet. This is also the first time I’ve heard of someone getting hit on (or creeped on) via LinkedIn. Should I be…insulted?

      1. Harvey 6-3.5*

        No. You are probably just lucky that your connections (and their connections) are not creepy. I suspect that if you wanted, you could probably attract creepy guys easily, though you may want to think twice before starting.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        No. You should be glad that your anecdotal experience has not matched other people’s unpleasant anecdotal experience, while not doubting that some people have other experiences or complaining that no one is sexually harassing you. Ick.

        1. Delphine*

          I know you mean well, but this is actually one of the ways our culture affects women, and it’s very normal for women who have been lucky enough not to be harassed to wonder if something is wrong with them. We internalize the message that women are supposed to be appealing to men and we also internalize the idea that men harass women because they’re attracted to them–even if we know both of those things to be false! I went most of my life without being catcalled and always wondered if there was something particularly repulsive about me that stopped men from saying anything when they’d be shouting at my friends all the time (which would always fill me with rage on their behalf). Eventually, a man said something to me and yep, it felt as horrible and violating as I’d always imagined, and it took days for me to forget that feeling. And yet, the fact that it was the only time I’ve ever been catcalled still makes a tiny voice at the back of my head go, “But why?”

          So, no, we shouldn’t be “insulted” that we aren’t harassed, but no one is wishing for harassment…it’s just one of the terrible ways our sexist culture affects women.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            I might have a clue about what it is. I used to get a lot of harassment on the street and it seemed like wherever I was the creepiest, most obnoxious jerk in the room was drawn to me like a magnet.
            That’s why I was so cautious about putting my photo and other identifiers online.
            I didn’t realize at the time I had defeated, self-conscious body language because of how I was raised. I walked around with my shoulders bent, chest pulled in, head hanging.
            As I overcame my bad childhood and my body language improved – as well as my assertiveness to tell harassers to go to hell – and the harassment tapered off.
            Maybe women who get more harassment have more vulnerable body language? Maybe those who get less harassment have less vulnerable, more assertive body language?
            Would that come through in a LinkedIn photo or profile?

            1. BethDH*

              Maybe even just by listing yourself as actively job searching — not everyone who is open to job offers is desperate or something, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it signals a certain degree of willingness to open/respond to messages. Might push you higher in the search results too . . .
              Being recognizably young, certainly — not just from your image, but if you have grad year in your profile or something. The only non-romance-scammer one I got was someone creeping on the alumni network, at a point where I had recently updated my schools attended section.

            2. Falling Diphthong*

              Anecdotally, I’ve heard of this re self-defense classes. Not that you then threaten to beat the person up, but that it changes your easily cowed body language into that of someone who might push back and so would not be worth the effort.

              Successful bullying requires some skill at choosing targets. (Neat finding re emotional intelligence, when teachers’ and researchers’ evaluations of kids diverged–turned out the researchers counted ‘manipulative little snot’ as evidence someone understood and could apply emotions.)

              1. Michaela Westen*

                “turned out the researchers counted ‘manipulative little snot’ as evidence someone understood and could apply emotions.”

      3. writelhd*

        I don’t know if it has to do with how active one is on linkedin as well in the general communities? Like, I don’t use it much, I don’t post articles or participate in much discussions in my industry, I rarely ever go there (mostly because my gosh, who has the time!), only to maybe update my own profile, search for targeted jobs, or reach out specifically to someone I met at a conference for a really specific reason.

        I just went on and looked at how many random invitations from random strangers in random industries I have sitting there, and I don’t have any messages but I do have quite a few people I don’t know at all and are maybe only super tangentially in my industry who asked me to connect. More of them are men than women but there are women there too. I don’t really understand the point of trying to connect to random people you don’t know who aren’t in your industry anyway?

    3. MissGirl*

      I’ve never experienced this either. I work in a field with more men than women but not a lot of creepers luckily. I have a formal shot of myself in a blazer. No idea if that makes a difference.

      One thing I do get is tons of realtors wanting to link up.

    4. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I also rarely experience harassment, and I’ve often wondered why. It must just be that I have managed to hang out in virtual and real life spaces that don’t attract it for some reason, plus I am a fat woman, which might be part of it. Like ZSD and Delphine I’ve wondered what the lack of harassment says about me, and I’ve had the thought that it means I am so repulsive that not even the creeps are interested. But in reality I’m sure it’s all just dumb luck. If I knew why I don’t attract much unwanted attention I’d pass it on to those who do, so that maybe they could reduce the amount of crap they have to put up with.

    5. alphabet soup*

      I didn’t experience any LinkedIn harassment until I did 2 things: 1. I added a professional headshot; 2. I started putting tech experience on my profile and connecting with tech people, as I’m currently trying to shift fields. It’s mostly been tech dudes who’ve been doing the creeping. :(

    6. OP*

      Definitely a professional headshot. I’m wearing a business suit with a plain background and it was a picture I had professionally taken at my school’s career fair. I really don’t know what it is about my profile that stands out but the messages are something that keep happening, even if I change around my profile.

  23. just trying to help*

    I know that there are men who use LinkedIn as their version of AshleyMadison or Tinder. In case the app is seen on their phones, it looks legit on the outside as a professional app. Be careful.

    p.s. – I know this because some guys have told me they do this.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I imagine the ratio of women to men is way better on Linked In than on either of those apps.

      I see a dude asking himself “Where can I find an online connecting service where the women aren’t mostly bots?”

      1. Anon Librarian*

        And guys who are committed but looking for something on the side, or trying to take advantage of a power imbalance (established versus early career) or want to creep while at work or in some other semi-public setting, or a combination of the above. I imagine a married guy in a stable management level job thinking, “My wife won’t find out because it’s a professional app and the women won’t talk because they’ll be intimidated by my job title.”

    2. animaniactoo*

      Have you explained to them that it is a gross and despicable experience for most of the women on the receiving end of their attempts, and why?

      I mean, I imagine they have a better success rate than they deserve or they wouldn’t still be doing it. But that’s a separate issue.

      1. VictorianCowgirl*

        No kidding. Disgusting. I wouldn’t socialize with anyone who admitted this and if I had to professionally, it would color my entire impression of them into a bad one.

      2. learnedthehardway*

        Better yet – because I don’t think this type of person gives a rat’s ass about how women feel – point out that it makes them look very bad, and that using a professional networking platform inappropriately is going to cause them to have a professional image problem – particularly when their messages get forwarded to their company’s PR or HR department.

    3. dumb dumb*

      Men are really freaking oblivious to what is viewed as harassment. I know this because my ex-husband was completely taken aback that I told him that “No, he can’t proposition ex-students in the 20-25 year old range when he’s 40”. His defense was “Well, they are ex-students so there’s no harassment going on because I’m no longer their teacher”. He really didn’t get that this was even a bad thing to do, like he was genuinely shocked.

      1. just trying to help*

        The guys I know who did this with LinkedIn managed to do so not by exploiting a power imbalance, but in a mutually balanced relationship. It was just LinkedIn instead of AshleyMadison. Still creepy, immoral, unethical, and horrible for their spouses. They did get caught by their spouses and are no longer on the platform, and with other consequences as well.

  24. Media Monkey*


    I get a lot of genuine recruiters contacting me on Linked in, and the approach is always directly regarding a specific job or to set up a time to chat about a few opportunities (my industry is almost entirely recruiter/ in-house recruiter led). they never lead with general chit chat.

    i ignore those “looking to build my professional network” people if they don’t work in the same country or industry as me as that alwasy seems super sketchy to me!

    1. Grey Coder*

      I have the same approach — I ignore everything that’s not obviously relevant to me.

      I got my current job through a LinkedIn message from an in-house recruiter. For comparison, it looked something like this:

      Hi Grey Coder,

      I spotted your details whilst searching for a (Tech Job Title) to join our (Company Name) business based in (City Near Me).

      (Paragraph about tech stack and current projects at Company Name, relevant to my work history.)

      If you’re interested in more information, please message me.
      Recruiter Name
      Talent Team at Company Name

  25. Atlantis*

    Ugh, ugh, ugh. Just gross. I haven’t had this happen to me, but one of my friends did with an extremely persistent dude on LinkedIn. He wasn’t even a recruiter, literally just pretending to be so he could hit on women. She showed me his messages, and they were really gross. She was able to block him after realizing what was happening. I went looking for him too so I could block him, and he had changed his name slightly (think Sam to Samuel) and changed his supposed “business”. Just gross. I reported him too when I blocked him because I knew for sure then he was just on there to be a creeper.

  26. The Original K.*

    Been there. Still there, in fact. Got duped into a networking coffee that dude was trying to make into a date. So gross. I have a pretty good creep filter so I don’t respond to those messages now.

  27. goducks*

    I recently learned that unsolicited dick pics are a thing that happens on linked in. Why? Why is this a thing?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      It’s all those romance stories aimed at women that start out “Sabrina checked her messages and discovered that a stranger had sent her a picture of his organ…”

    2. Close Bracket*

      Wait, what? Srsly? Whyyyyyyyyyy…………….

      I didn’t know you could even send pics or attachments on LI.

      1. goducks*

        I didn’t either. I don’t use that part of the system, really, but I recently saw a Twitter thread where someone had received one, and a whole bunch of people said they had, as well. So gross.

    3. BadWolf*

      If there was ever a need for a “forward this to sender’s place of employment” button.

      1. Kiki*

        I used to respond to unsolicited dick pics with picture of Dick Cheney. Honestly, seemed very effective at killing ze mood these men had been imagining

      2. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

        A friend of mine who is an artist with a public presence responds to dick pics with dick pics of her own- namely, googled pics of penises exhibiting hideous symptoms of some disease.

        Stops the harassment IMMEDIATELY.

  28. Czhorat*

    Fellow men – we need to be mindful in terms of both our actions and perceptions.

    First, it should go without saying that you shouldn’t do this; don’t use LinkedIn like OKCupid. IT isn’t there for that, and women aren’t there looking for romance.

    Second, be sure you treat men the same way you treat women. If you encounter a woman at a professional event, ask yourself: would you add a man you met in a similar circumstance? Then it might be OK to add a woman – but more on this later.

    Remember perception? Women become accustomed to being hit on. If you don’t have any other real standing or reason to add someone, think twice. Maybe it’s OK. Maybe it can be good for both of you. Maybe, though, if it’s a tenuous and not very important connection, you should think twice about sending the wrong message. At the very least, don’t open with personal chatter.

    I’ve seen a few “LinkedIn harems” – people who work in male-dominated industries yet have mostly women in their network. This is almost always weird inappropriate behavior. We need to stop it.

    1. Close Bracket*

      “LinkedIn harems” – people who work in male-dominated industries yet have mostly women in their network

      I’m so glad I’m basically unapproachable. Even more glad that I am middle-aged.

    2. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      Also men, do not assume Czhorat is telling you to avoid LinkedIn, or to avoid connecting with women on LinkedIn. (That would violate his second point.)

      Last weekend, I attended a tech conference. After I got home, I accepted two connection requests from men I met there. Both were men I’d had good professional conversations with (one on choosing conferences to attend, and the other on diversity and inclusion within tech).

      The key points here are (1) we all treated each other with respect, and (2) were all using LinkedIn for its intended purpose, which is to make and maintain professional connections.

      1. FD*

        Exactly! There’s a big difference between inviting the three people you had good conversations with at a conference and randomly inviting people because you like how they look.

        I would even say it’s not necessarily improper to add people you don’t know–though in that case, you should explain why you’d like to connect.

        E.G. I’ve accepted requests that went something like, “Hey, we haven’t met, but I’m trying to break into the [x] industry and would like to connect with people in that field.”

      2. Czhorat*

        Absolutely. Networking is valuable and women should not be excluded from it.

        That said, make sure you’re actually networking and not trolling for a date.

  29. Lance*

    ‘Where do you live?’ — Sure, alright; I could certainly see asking, and giving a general locale, depending if one’s not already set and on the basis that the business location might not necessarily reflect the worker’s location.
    ‘How old are you?’ — Going into ‘irrelevant’ territory, but harmless enough (I think) as long as they don’t require an answer (insofar as they shouldn’t be asking in the first place).
    ‘What are your hobbies?’ — Nope. Nope nope nope. Block away, because this is not a valuable professional contact in any respect any more.

    1. Darcy Pennell*

      “How old are you” is not a “harmless enough” question in any professional setting.

    2. VictorianCowgirl*

      Maybe I’m too uptight about security but I don’t see how the first two questions aren’t worse than the third. If they know your age and location, they can do a deeper internet search on you.

      Ladies don’t give these out on the internet to strangers!!!

      1. Lance*

        The second question, I could certainly see; the first, I think, may depend on the wording/context, and still with my added caveats of ‘general locale’ and ‘assuming there’s not already a good hint of such on the LinkedIn profile’. After all, if the recruiter is working for someone that wants a local candidate, then knowing if the candidate is in fact local can help; but anything beyond that, agreed, absolutely not.

    3. Delphine*

      Actually, “how old are you” is really the one that sets off alarm bells in my head, but I find all of them are very suspicious questions for LinkedIn.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Agreed, that’s the biggest offender in my book. You can almost sorta see a recruiter caring about the general geographic location of a potential recruit in terms of placement options, and you can almost sorta see a recruiter wanting a ‘bigger picture’ of a potential candidate. (That’s not why these guys are asking, they want an ‘in’ to suggest meeting up for fun activity that the mark just said they liked)

        But really, age is never, ever going to be relevant in this faux-recruiter situation and is a very gross thing to ask about.

      2. London Calling*

        *Actually, “how old are you” is really the one that sets off alarm bells in my head*

        I have a cast iron (and true) comeback to that one. ‘Old enough to be your mother, sweetie.’

    4. OP*

      In the context, I could maybe see why they’ve been asking where I live. I go to school out of state and have worked both in my home state and my school state, but sometimes they’ve gone further to ask what city and that’s where I usually cut them off.

  30. Anonymeece*

    So timely! I had a middle-aged guy, in an entirely different field from me, request a connection on LinkedIn. He viewed my profile several times. He never messaged me, though, so not sure what it was, but I had the exact same question as the OP: Is this guy one of those randos who connects with everyone, is this a future business contact, or is he just creeping?

    In this case, the questions these guys are messaging you with definitely are suspect. If it is a potential field that you might want to get into, I would try redirecting and see what they respond with. That is, you can say, “I’m not currently looking, but this field is something I’m looking into. Do you have any openings now?”. If they just keep going after your hobbies (ugh, really?), you can just block them.

    I wish LinkedIn emblazoned, “We are not a dating service” everywhere.

    1. FD*

      Before you could block people on LinkedIn, I had a dude I turned down for a date in college who regularly viewed my profile for 5-6 YEARS after that. It was really unnerving to keep getting the ‘[Creeper] viewed your profile’ notifications on LinkedIn. I didn’t want to delete it, because LinkedIn is used pretty heavily in the industry I was in at the time.

      They added a ‘block’ feature later on, and you can now block specific users from viewing your profile. They can still view it anonymously–but at least you don’t have to know who they are!

  31. Environmental Compliance*

    If I had a dime for every time some rando creeper attempted to chat me up on LinkedIn, I wouldn’t have to work. I could stay at home, work in my garden and delete my LinkedIn account. It’d be blissful.

    Seriously, though – I cannot even begin to understand why some people want to use a networking tool as a dating app. I have a relatively strict policy of who I will connect with on LinkedIn. I work with you, have worked with you, know you well in the industry & have met you, know you well in the industry and have a great deal of respect for you though I haven’t met you, or you are very clearly a recruiter in my field. If you are not in my field, 99% of the time it’s a no (and the 1% is pretty much all family. My dad enjoys sharing my posts on LinkedIn for some reason).

    Shout out to the guy who messaged me a “helo butiful how r u” with literally no information on his profile whatsoever. Way to make it obvious what you’re doing so I can block you even faster! And to the guy who asked “but why so short of hair”.

    Also – I do also report the profile whenever I block one. No idea if it accomplishes anything, but if they do get booted out, hopefully that sends a message as well that this is Not Okay.

    1. Czhorat*

      I wonder if you should screen-capture and send it to their employer; LinkedIn is a professional social site, and almost everyone shows a connection to their workplace. If they are hitting on you it could be argued that they are doing so as a representative of the company for which they work.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        If they were overt in it, I’d consider doing that. But I don’t want to waste the time and energy on someone just being creeper-ish.

        1. Czhorat*

          That’s reasonable; it’s not at all fair to expect from you the labor of chasing down the offenders.

    2. writelhd*

      I think what’s depressing to contemplate is how often this behavior just pops back up again despite reporting, because it’s so widespread, and/or it’s intentional romance scammers

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Yup. Especially when if you look up “linkedin is not a dating app” for articles…there’s so many. So many. And then so many articles saying how so many people have found dates! isn’t it a great tool! go forth and message for LOVE! (bleeeeeeech)

  32. CAA*

    How to report inappropriate messages on LinkedIn:

    – Click Messaging icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage.
    – Select the message from the list on the left rail.
    – Click the More icon (3 dots) in the top right of your conversation thread and select Report this conversation.
    – Select the applicable reason from the Why are you reporting this? menu and follow the on-screen instructions.
    – Click Submit to proceed with reporting the conversation, or Back to review your options.

    The person you report is not told who reported them.

    1. PollyQ*

      And given the high likelihood that creepy chuck is working with a firehose-level filter (I.e., none at all), it’s pretty low odds that he’d track it back to you, even mentally.

  33. JB*

    I’m going to add that if any of these dudes get lewd, contact their employer if possible and let them know one of their staff is sexually harassing strangers under the guise of company business. (Provide receipts.) Pervs don’t deserve to breathe air, but if they MUST, I think it’s fair to do what we can to make sure their lives are unfulfilling and miserable.

    1. Polaris*

      I would bet my (nonexistent) fortune that most of these guys make sure to always keep the thinnest veneer of “professional” interest in their messages, the same way that many office creepers always toe the line just enough that you can’t point to any one incident when you want to call them out.

      They should get in trouble for this. But unless they do cross the line into explicit language and imagery, I bet most of their companies aren’t going to side with person they’re harassing.

      If said person then decides to take their screenshots to Twitter and name some names, well.

      1. OP*

        That has definitely been my experience. So far, nothing has outright crossed the line and the questions could be seen under the guise of professional, but my spidey senses are telling me that’s not really what they’re asking for.

    1. goducks*

      I was going to bring that thread up, but for some reason I thought I’d seen it here originally. Must have been Twitter.
      This is why I hate the photo expectation on linked in profiles. It’s fine for white dudes. Especially if they’re even nominally conventionally attractive. For the rest of us, they can work against us.

    2. Princess prissypants*

      I was hoping someone would dig this up and post it. I saw it a few days ago too. The woman is just existing, for fuck’s sake.

    3. learnedthehardway*

      Someone’s manager really needs to be reported to HR – because bringing it up and the language used constitutes sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment. WOW!!

    4. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Side note: the fact that almost every story that I’ve ever read about ridiculous stuff happening to a woman has at least one comment saying “I’ll take stuff that never happened for $500, please, Alex” is a good indication of why a lot of harassment is unreported.

    5. Pebbles*

      Well, she was smiling, so of course that’s how the guy knows that she’s DTF. Why do you think men tell us women to smile more? To increase the pool of women that are DTF. /s

    6. Close Bracket*

      I can’t go to FB while at work (blocked). Would anyone be kind enough to summarize to give me the gist of that article? Some of the comments here are making me curious enough not to want to wait until I get home to read it.

        1. Close Bracket*

          Wow. Just, wow. Man finds woman “insanely hot.” Therefore, woman is DTF and deserves to be sexually harassed. Just, wow.

      1. Princess prissypants*

        It originated on twitter by @sswyrs so you might be able to find it there. But it’s basically a story of a guy who’s mad that a woman (random, doesn’t know the dude) has a profile photo on linked in.
        He says “I don’t get how women can complain about how they get treated when they do shit like this.” The reporting coworker says the woman’s photo was normal, dressed in a play gray shirt, head and neck only, not revealing, smiling, generic photo. The man claimed the photo was “slutty.” When pushed, the man says, “if you’re going to post pictures like that you deserve what you get” and that the woman’s photo was “way over the top sexy and obviously down to fuck.” The coworker kept trying to get him to explain what he meant, and finally the dude just says “Well she’s insanely hot.” The narrator: “A woman has her smiling face on her profile. A man she has never met sees it and instantly feels rage and disgust. He believes she invites and deserves harrassment/assault. All because she dared to be attractive in a public space.” and then “@men, don’t ever ask women why they’re afraid again.”

      2. But Make It Data*

        There’s a Twitter thread describing a conversation between a man and a woman who are co-workers. Dude is looking at a LinkedIn page of an attractive woman smiling in a regular headshot photo. Dude makes a bunch of comments about how “women shouldn’t do that” in the photo. It takes a while, but the woman speaking to him finally gets to the bottom of it – the guy thinks that the woman smiling means she’s DTF.

        I saw it a few days ago so didn’t read the whole thing just now, so anyone else feel free to add more details/corrections.

      3. Pebbles*

        Boss is looking at a woman’s LI profile pic. Nice head shot, she is smiling, wearing dark gray top, pretty generic picture that includes the woman from the shoulders up. Boss asks his report (a woman) why women b!*$h about having it so hard and then go and post photos like THIS of themselves. Report is confused and after boss is done beating around the bush, he explains that it is a slutty picture…because he finds the woman attractive and she is smiling. So of course in the boss’ mind, women who look like THIS are asking to be harassed and assaulted and so forth. Again, because generic, nice photo of woman is one he also finds attractive.

        So many levels of ugh! And his report is rightly disgusted with boss.

        1. Lance*

          I hope the report reported her boss for sexual harassment, in that case… though I wish I could say I was confident that it might go anywhere.

          1. AGirlHasNoScreenName*

            Elsewhere in the thread, the poster responded that the guy was the President and CEO of the company. :(

  34. Woman in tech*

    This is the reason I hate LinkedIn. Creepers, spam, and frauds. LinkedIn ought to do a better job of safeguarding against fraudulent behavior. (They should take some lessons from eBay.) In the meantime, the creeper environment tends to make LinkedIn less useful for women. That is a reason for companies not to use it.

  35. Laura in NJ*

    I think I just found another reason to not use LinkedIn. Other than I find it unhelpful.

  36. Thomas Dalton*

    I don’t think this is necessarily a gender-specific thing. I get a lot of messages and connection requests from random people (including a lot of recruiters – they are clearly just spamming everyone that works in vaguely the right sector).

    I ignore them, so I don’t know what questions they would ask if I engaged with them. Some of the questions the OP mentions do seem odd – legitimate recruiters would never directly ask your age to avoid being accused of discrimination (at least in jurisdictions where that is illegal).

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The hitting-on/creeped-on part is gender-specific. I’m assuming from your name that you’re a man, which is why the messages you’re getting are different than the ones the OP and other women here are talking about. You’re getting routine LinkedIn spam, which is different from sexual harassment.

      1. Thomas Dalton*

        From the letter it sounds like the OP is seeing exactly what I’m seeing. The OP is engaging with them and I’m not, so the OP is seeing a second stage that I’m not. That’s why I said I don’t know what questions they would ask me if I engaged with them. It sounds from the letter like it’s just a minority that ask weird follow-up questions, so I expect the majority are exactly the same kind of people that are trying to contact me.

    2. Princess prissypants*

      Removed because you can’t tell people to shut up here, but I hope you’ll post the “believe the women here” piece of this again. – Alison

      1. Princess prissypants*

        Correction: Thomas, don’t tell women their experiences are invalid. Don’t tell women that because you haven’t experienced something, they can’t possibly have either. Don’t insert your (expletive deleting) opinion where it isn’t helpful, useful, necessary, warranted, or correct.

        And believe women that harassment happens.

            1. Thomas Dalton*

              How does that sentence have anything to do with any of the accusations you made?

              1. Princess prissypants*

                Dude, I’m not required to enlighten you, nor are any of the many other women here who’ve tried to woman-splain it to your pretty little head. You seem to have the capacity to use the internet. Go educate yourself.

                1. Princess prissypants*

                  thankful I can post this here without fear of you sending me threatening rape messages. Thanks, Allison!

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                It’s because you were calling into question women’s own experience that this IS gender-based and IS harassment, and coming across as you think you know better than women about their own lives. Please move on now.

                1. Thomas Dalton*

                  That’s not true at all. She wasn’t saying she had experienced anything gender-based or harassment. She was asking a question. It is you that has jumped to the conclusion that it was gender-based harassment and I am questioning that conclusion.

                  The OP’s question was based on an explicit assumption – that recruiters don’t proactively reach out to people and instead let people come to them. The point of my comment was to show that that assumption was incorrect. It is completely normal for recruiters to reach out to people, both men and women, on LinkedIn.

                  Do you think telling someone that disagrees with you to “move on” simply because they are a man is acceptable behaviour? You should listen to people with different perspectives and different ideas. You might learn something.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  We’re telling her they’re hitting on her because they’re asking about her age and what she does for fun. That’s creeping on her. That’s not something they do to men.

                  You aren’t being told to move on because you’re a man, and it’s awfully disingenuous to pretend that. You’re being told that because you cannot come to this site and invalidate the experience of the many women here who recognize this behavior from their own lived experience. This is your last warning.

              3. animaniactoo*

                Because here’s the information that would have allowed you to draw that conclusion:

                You do follow up with the contact and get the same kinds of questions now and then. This means that a man and a woman are having the same experience all the way through, not simply at the opening salvo.

                However, because you *don’t* follow up, you literally have zero information with which to draw a conclusion and therefore are clearly speaking about her experience based on your personal worldview. As shown, the limits of your experience are not the limits of reality – and you don’t have comparable experience to speak from. This is dismissive and condescending to women in particular in this case, and in general to anyone else that you do it to. You are disbelieving their complete experience and conclusions based on your own incomplete experience.

                In this case, you also have the evidence of several women saying that this is a thing that happens to them and how they have learned to filter it. How many men do you see posting on this thread saying that? Take a look at those facts, and think again about why you would question the assumption that this is a woman being hit on. Why you would *automatically not believe their experience in full*; including the conclusion they have come to.

                1. animaniactoo*

                  Also, based on your most recent reply just above, you’re questioning a woman whose job gives her extensive insight to what behaviors tend to happen more to whom in work and job-hunting related situations. I mean, you are literally at the definition of mansplaining right now.

                  You’re not even questioning in a “Hmmm… what makes you think this is gendered and only happens to women? Can you give more explanation for that?” manner as a question of “Hey, I’m not aware of anything like that, but maybe you know something I don’t – tell me why you think that, fill me in.” You’re stating it as a near-fact that she doesn’t have the information to draw such a conclusion. When, unless you’re leaving something out here, she has far more experience than you do about what kinds of interactions a variety of people tend to have on LinkedIn.

    3. goducks*

      EVERYONE gets linked in spam. It’s just women who get this extra layer of creeper messages. Why is this hard for you to accept?

    4. AnonEMoose*

      Seriously, believe the women here. This is our experience, and you are literally saying “I don’t think it happens this way.” And that’s very much not cool.

      Maybe instead try reading what’s being said and thinking about what it would be like to be hit on when trying to exist in a professional context. And how frustrating and demoralizing it is when on top of that, someone says “It doesn’t happen to me, so it doesn’t happen.” (And whether or not that is what you meant, it is basically what you said.)

      1. Princess prissypants*

        The problem with this reversal is that guys (maybe or maybe not Thomas included) tend to respond to it with something like, “That would be awesome! No one ever hits on me! I would love for a woman to pay me attention.”

        What they don’t understand is the hitter-onner is generally bigger and physically stronger. Any hit-on can quickly turn violent, especially should a woman dare to say no. E-hitting-on turns into rape threats and doxxing. Now the Thomases of the world might imagine that it’s not a happy thing to be hit on, it’s at best mildly annoying and at worst, life-threatening. Then multiply that times thousands of creepers over a lifetime, and add in having to explain how it feels to every Thomas that comes along. Yeah, *that’s* how it feels, dudes.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          All of this. Why don’t women “just say no”? Because we can be risking our lives if we do…and we do not have magical powers that tell us when a guy is going to react violently.

        2. Snickerdoodle*

          To the “I’d love it if a woman paid me attention” types, I point out “What if a GUY did the same thing? A guy a lot bigger and stronger than you? Still so appealing?”

          1. Princess prissypants*

            “A guy who won’t take no for an answer? A guy who’s sure – no matter what you say – that you must return his affection? A guy who can physically block you into a space with as little as an arm against a wall?”

            1. AnonEMoose*

              “A guy who gets into your face, red-faced and screaming epithets, when you politely decline his attention? “

        3. JamieS*

          I think it’s more the novelty or lack thereof. Men rarely get hit on so it’s an ego boost while women are hit on much more often often by men they have zero interest in so it’s an aggravating nuisance rather than a compliment.

        4. Yorick*

          Imagine that a woman who works at your Dream Company and has many connections with other good companies in your field messages you with some professional interest and wants to talk to you about potential opportunities there. Then, you have a weird conversation that doesn’t really get into any opportunities at Dream Company and really just makes it seem like the woman is lonely and wants dates. You’re not interested in her romantically at all. BUT you don’t want to offend her because you don’t want to burn a professional bridge. This is super disappointing, because you thought someone noticed your awesome professional achievement and something good for your career was gonna come from this. So now you’re trying to politely back out of the conversation when BAM! she sends you a gross picture of her genitals.

          1. Princess prissypants*

            And the picture is totally gross and unattractive.

            When you don’t respond she calls you a “stupid ugly whore” and threatens to kill you in an alley.

            1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

              And she wasn’t even trying to hit on you in the first place, you stupid ugly stuck up slut!

      2. Thomas Dalton*

        What are you talking about? What have I not believed? I’m questioning the assumptions about the experience, not the experience itself.

        1. Princess prissypants*

          No, you’re *making* assumptions about all of our experiences, specifically that they can’t possibly be true. Your input isn’t necessary or helpful. You really aren’t required to voice an opinion here. It’s okay to just not.

        2. Close Bracket*

          “I’m questioning the assumptions about the experience”

          That’s exactly the problem. Women have been through the experience. We aren’t making assumptions anymore than you make assumptions about an open flame being hot.

          1. AnonEMoose*

            This. This is a pattern of behavior women tend to learn to recognize pretty early in life. And if someone starts behaving in a way that fits that pattern with no need for tailoring, we’re not obligated to “give him a chance” or anything similar. We’re allowed to say “yep, I know where this is going” and hop on the “no way” train to Nopesville.

    5. Anoncorporate*

      It’s so easy to deny an experience you never had! Trust me, if anything. This happens A LOt to women.

    6. Penny Parker*

      How very parochial of you. How very self-centered of you. You deserve to be piled on. It is attitudes like yours which make life difficult for all victims, and this creeper stuff is very sex-based. Look outside your own world.

    7. animaniactoo*

      I ignore them, so I don’t know what questions they would ask if I engaged with them.

      Pardon me, but did you just say that you don’t respond to the messages so you don’t know what questions you might be asked?????…

      But without that data on hand, you still feel that you have enough information to judge that this isn’t “necessarily” a gender-specific thing? You are literally lacking even a smidgen of the data that would help you draw such a conclusion… and yet feel comfortable drawing a probable conclusion?

      I’d like to suggest that you step back and listen and wait until you have a lot more information – either personal or via other people in your life – before you comment in such definitive ways.

    8. Pippa*

      You appear to be an adult man with access to social media. There have been major public discussions across most platforms for the past few years about sexism and gendered misconduct. And yet here you are, saying that you don’t think a pattern of unprofessional conduct directed toward young women is gendered because…it doesn’t happen to you, a man.

      Bless your heart.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        Well you know all women are just making this shit up. All if them every single time.

        1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

          I mean we ARE a totally different species from men, and a species made up specifically of pathological liars!

    9. Yorick*

      The thing is, these guys’ messages don’t seem like spam. They are often in your field and send you a message that seems to make sense (I have this job opening in your field, I used to work at your company or with your boss or whatever, I saw your article or whatever). It’s only once you start talking to them that you can tell this was never a real recruitment message.

    10. Alice*

      Thank you, random man, for letting us know that you have never been the recipient of inappropriate messages aimed at women.

  37. Princess prissypants*

    Hey men!

    Here’s a homework assignment for you!

    1. Ask a buddy of yours, “have you ever hit up a chick (or whatever your bro-speak dictates) on LinkedIn?” Let them answer, then say, “dude don’t do that, it’s a douche move.”

    2. Don’t be a creep.

    1. Jake*

      Hey princess, homework:

      1. Don’t tell me that I need to suspect my friends of being creeps, thusly assuming me or anybody of my gender has no proper human judgement on who to be friends with.

      1. atalanta0jess*

        I mean…these dudes have friends though. They do. I myself as a woman have friends who sometimes do crappy things.

        Do you only have perfect friends with no blind spots who never screw up? That’s amazing.

            1. Jake*

              It’s not okay to question the OP’s experience, I think we all agree on that, right?

              Why is it okay to question mine?

              1. Yorick*

                I would bet money that at least one man you know (maybe not a close friend, but at least one friendly acquaintance) has been creepy to women on LinkedIn or somewhere.

                1. Jake*

                  Absolutely. I have two men I’d call friends, and I can say unequivocally they are not creepy on linked in.

                  Im sure some aquantinces have been, but I’m extremely selective with friends, so none of those people will ever be my friend. To assume otherwise is no different than the jerks assuming the op is wrong.

  38. Anna*

    I am in my mid-40’s and this still happens to me on a weekly basis. I can usually tell as soon as I get the connection request, because they are almost always not in my field and not recruiters. So people with really no obvious reason to send me a random connection request. Then they usually start with “Hello” and wait for a response. Seriously? There are tons of dating sites with people who are on them for this purpose… LinkedIn is not a dating site…

  39. Anon Librarian*

    I don’t use LinkedIn anymore for a number of reasons (more on that soon). When I did, I was once recruited by someone for a legitimate reason. Ironically, I had already applied for a different job at the same company and was in the interview process. I got that job. I found out that the company gave bonuses for referrals that resulted in a hire. This was fair. They were growing fast and needed people with hard-to-find skillsets. Anyway, when this person reached out to me, the message was very straight-forward. “Hey! I’m so-and-so and I do X at Y company. You would be a great fit for our opening in Z! Let me know if you’d like to hear more about it.” Not a professional recruiter, but the objective was clearly stated from the get go.

    I’ve never been contacted and asked something open-ended. I would be skeptical of that, and I would definitely block anyone who asked random personal questions. Regardless of who they are. Maybe even moreso if they’re established and successful in their field. Steer clear of that.

    I haven’t been on LinkedIn in years. It seemed to be getting used for the wrong reasons a lot. Despite the value of keeping in touch with people, it just seemed to be going down hill and becoming a less professionally oriented environment. I’ll leave it at that. But it’s something to consider. There are other ways to keep in touch with people and have a professional presence online.

  40. Where’s My Coffee?*

    I’ve had good experiences with LinkedIn recruiters. Quality recruiters are usually friendly but extremely busy and they’ll cut to the chase.

    1. Where’s My Coffee?*

      Hit submit to soon…

      My main beef with some LinkedIn recruiters is those who are contact me (and presumably everyone else on my team) about jobs that are several levels below what I’m doing now.

  41. Anoncorporate*

    Yeah – just want to reiterate that it’s not weird for recruiters to randomly message you – it’s weird for them to ask the questions you listed. Usually they send you a description of the job, and then invite you to set up a phone call if you are interested in the position. They don’t ask you about hobbies or anything like that! You are right to be weirded out.

  42. Canadian Attorney*

    I get a lot of random messages on LinkedIn, but they are usually of the “sell you something” variety (“you have been selected as a speaker for a prestigious conference! All you have to do is pay us 20k and the spot is yours!”). I also get a lot of recruitment messages which appear to be for legitimate opportunities but can get a bit old, especially when they have nothing to do with my profile or qualifications. Or the people who “like” everything even though you don’t know them and are constantly congratulating you for things you really don’t care about (congrats for your two-year anniversary at ABC Inc.!). But thankfully, no real creepers. I would just ignore these people unless there is some chance you could have to interact with them professionally, in which case try to politely shut that down (“Hi, I’m happy where I am and not looking to move at the moment. All the best” and then ignore)

  43. Zin*

    It’s fine as well to decide you aren’t sure what’s going on in a specific instance but you STILL don’t want to deal with it. You don’t have the burden of proof for men being creepy. They almost certainly were being creepy but even if they were actually just recruiters but extremely bad at it, you could decide you had no interest in dealing with it.

    Sometimes, my internal response to truly wired situations is “I don’t know what’s going on here, dude, but the very fact I’m unclear makes me uncomfortable enough I’ve zero interest in sticking around to find out “.

    I think for years women have been told they have to somehow “prove” that a guy was being creepy before making a decision about whether to interact. Nah. Do that you need to do to feel safe and secure. You’re not responsible for some random guys feelings.

    1. Snickerdoodle*

      This. And also after deciding to leave a situation. You don’t have to document everything the guy did before you’re allowed to leave, and you don’t have to explain why to anyone.

    2. Booksalot*

      Very much this, feel free to ignore what makes you uncomfortable.

      I just suggested that a fellow alum apply for a specific job posting at XYZ Company’s website, due to her unusual major/minor combo and internship experience. A day later, some guy starts spamming the reply for my attention, aggressively asking “Why isn’t this opportunity open to anyone else?” and trying to get me to personally recommend him. I don’t know you, dude, and the job is literally on the company’s home page. It isn’t like I was speaking in code.

      I debated how to respond to his weird alpha nonsense, but ultimately decided to ignore him.

    3. Anoncorporate*

      Yep – I eventually came to realize that *feeling uncomfortable in and of itself* is enough of a reason to nope out of a situation. As a teen/early-twenties, I was SO accomodating, thinking that I always had to assume the best of intentions, not be judgmental, give everyone a chance, blah blah blah. Not liking someone or an interaction with someone is enough of a reason to disengage.

  44. Lily*

    In my experience, people who try to work via the internet won’t waste their own time with lots of smalltalk. They tell you their offer (either “Job X” or “if you ever need a job, contact us”), use the usual politeness but that is it. If someone makes personalized communication with you and it isn’t you asking questions about their offer then something is wrong.

  45. Polymer Phil*

    The new owners of LinkedIn are terrible – they just want to maximize ad revenue, and don’t care about maintaining the site’s integrity as a professional networking tool. It’s pretty much turned into Facebook now with the discussion threads that have devolved into social chitchat and political debates, and the constant hounding for me to post a damn photo even though I refused the first 974 times they asked.

    1. Anoncorporate*

      I read a lot of industry-related articles on LinkedIn, and the comments are even worse than Facebook nowadays! All the trolls, conspiracy theories, misogyny, racism, etc etc. I’m better off having an intelligent discussion on Twitter.

  46. HCC*

    My experience with LinkedIn creepers –

    In the last year, 3 different middle aged guys who were in management positions at some oil/petroleum related companies in states nowhere near where I live – all 3 contacted me and their emails all started off with asking what kind of work do I do & do I enjoy it (um, my profile pretty much covers that), and quickly went from there into personal questions … one even asking if I was looking to get married. I replied to all 3 in the same way “You do realize that LinkedIn is a professional resource site and NOT a dating site?” and then blocked them.

    I’m much closer to 50 than I am 25, and I’m pretty average to look at … so it’s definitely not just an attractive younger woman issue.

  47. Student*

    One method to decrease the volume of these is to take down your photo from your LinkedIn profile. That is probably how they are targeting you. Another option is to revise your profile privacy settings.

    1. Jake*

      That sucks though because having a photo greatly increases your chances at leisure encounters on the site

  48. Alice*

    I have been ‘actively job searching’ on LinkedIn for a while now. In my experience, legitimate recruiters are busy and cut to the chase. They have a specific position in mind and will ask specific questions, e.g. not “where do you live” but “we’re based in [city], would you consider jobs in this area”. Their goal is to see if it’s worth to set up a phone interview, that’s all. Also, for what that’s worth, not a single legitimate recruiter contacted me while my settings were on ‘not job searching’… Trust your spider senses.

  49. Wade Lynch*

    > I promise you, they are not messaging mid-20s dudes and asking what they like to do for fun.

    Some are, maybe five percent.

  50. Lady Phoenix*

    You all suggest “report this to their company boss/hr/whoever”

    What are the chances these dudes are lying on their profile, so that when you report them, “Sorry, we don’t have a Shinji Matou.”

  51. Darren*

    Given I’m in a field with a terrible gender balance and that’s something I’d actually like to change I have actually considered various options (including adding people on LinkedIn that seem like they would be good fits) one of the reasons I haven’t so far is that I don’t want to give them the wrong idea (nor do I want to come off as creepy) as that would do the exact opposite of what I’m trying to do.

    Right now I’m mainly focusing on what we can do to make the environment at the company more conducive to retaining a diverse set of employees. Once we’ve got that bit sorted we’ll have the much harder problem of tackling getting more of that diverse talent through the door.

  52. Anonymously Me*

    So I just want to let it be known that LinkedIn is a top place where sugar babies/sugar Daddies hang out. So the men who are adding you as a contact and getting a feel for you (in my opinion) 99% want to check to see if you’re in the sugar bowl.

    1. OP*

      Didn’t know that. Thanks for the heads up. I am definitely not interested in anything like that.

  53. Lina*

    I partially disagree with the answer – sure, some of them are definitely using LinkedIn for the wrong reasons, but some might be genuine. The same thing happens to my boyfriend – he is 22, hasn’t even finished his Bachelor’s degree yet and has had a steady part-time job at the same company in addition to his studies, which is shown on his LinkedIn profile. He also has his settings set to “not looking for a job”, but re receives regular emails (I’d say once or twice a month) from middle-aged men asking him if he’s interested in xy position at some company or other. He shuts these conversations down saying he already has a job, and that’s that, so I can’t say if any of those people would ever have asked him what he likes to do for fun (I’d be wary of those), but they might be genuine.

  54. WinnaPig*

    I feel the first comment on the Facebook post of this question is inappropriate to the intent of this page’s commenting rules. It was a comment about sending men to war. I feel not only was it offensive but also could be hurtful. Frustration with being harassed when using career tools can be expressed with anger without calling for death to half the population.

  55. Jessica Fletcher*

    What are you studying, what are your goals, what do you do for fun…

    All questions asked by creepy older men who used to prey on me and my friends in the Saddle Club Books chat room, before reputable sites closed their public chat rooms. It was grooming behavior then, and it still kind of is, with the big age difference, using their power position to make you feel pressured to respond, etc.

    They know exactly what they’re doing. I say block them all. If you notice men contacting you and there is a job listing for their company, maybe reach out to the hiring manager listed in the job post, send a screenshot of the convo, and ask if this person is connected to the hiring process. In an innocent, totally not just unofficially reporting this creep, kind of way. (If they’re gonna pretend to just be nice, why not pretend to just be interested/curious?)

    1. nonegiven*

      Posted this before reading comments, I didn’t realize it had been discussed, already.

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