Some Recruiters Demand Social Network Connections

Some recruiters are instructing job seekers to add them to their social networks if they want help finding work, but some candidates are pushing back.

Facebook Friend“One recruiter said that if I wanted the job, I had to add him to my social network,” recounts Benjamin Weiss, who’s been an Android developer for four years. “That was so arrogant. I already had a good job and I’m good at what I do, so why should I have to add him to my network to get a job?”

Many recruiters protest that attempts at forced connection are the exceptions and not the rule. “It’s a common practice for recruiters to ask to join a candidate’s network, but I’ve never heard of a case where they said they wouldn’t move a resume forward if the applicant didn’t,” says Douglas Roark, managing director at Dallas-based Staff Perm and vice president of the DFW Texas Recruiters Network. “If they do, I think that is a bad practice. You may have young recruiters who are coloring outside the lines, but I’ve never heard of this.”

Still, whether it’s a common practice or not doesn’t matter if you’re the one under pressure. After all, no candidate wants to pass up a chance at a good job. So what do you do?

Sound the Bell

If a recruiter says you must connect, you’ve got several options, advises Roark, who has also served on the board of DFW Texas Recruiters’ Social Media Committee. In sharing his personal opinion on the matter, he outlines four steps:

  • Search the website of the recruiter’s company to file a complaint. Most have a correspondence or complaint section.
  • Call the recruiter’s manager or director to lodge a complaint.
  • Notify the recruiter’s HR department.
  • Reach out to the CEO or an executive officer at the recruiter’s company.

“Sometimes a practice like this can be coming from an individual recruiter and not be the practice of the company,” Roark says. “Sometimes a simple call to an authoritative individual may stop it.”

For the best results, be polite and explain how the recruiter’s demand is an unfair hiring process. “This should get the attention of a senior level manager in the company,” Roark says.

Roger King, CEO of Chief People, a Sausalito, Calif., recruiter for startups, offered another suggestion: “Call the recruiter’s client and complain.” Client companies will likely appreciate learning about the recruiter’s behavior, he says, and, if anything, would like to be given a second chance to provide the candidate with a pleasant experience.

Potential Push Back

Of course, candidates who complain about any matter may face repercussions, notes one recruiter. “You could be cutting yourself off, but you have to consider what are you cutting yourself from,” says the Silicon Valley recruiter, who requested anonymity.

For example, a recruiter working on a retained search has been given the exclusive right to find a candidate for a particular job opening, usually for an upper management or executive post, or for a highly selective search that hasn’t been publicized. A complaint filed against that recruiter could cut you off from the main entry point to a particular job or organization.

A similar scenario could happen with a contract recruiter. “If a job seeker files a complaint against a contract recruiter and it’s for a company they really want to work for, they have just shut the door to that company,” says the Silicon Valley recruiter.

But the impact is likely less if you file a complaint against a contingency recruiter. They usually represent multiple companies on job searches, and often the same job with the same company is being handled by several of them at once. So although you could potentially lose out on having one recruiter place you, other recruiters could still put your name in for the same position.

Have you had a recruiter lean on you to connect? Tell us about it in the comments below.

8 Responses to “Some Recruiters Demand Social Network Connections”

  1. jelabarre

    For my own usage, I like to keep any “social networking” and job searching separate. When I’m dealing with someone in my job search, it’s all about the professional side of my life. Commentary/links about the 50th anniversary of a TV show I watch, or some band from Staten Island I used to hang out with in the early ’80’s has no bearing about my ability to do some job.

    I have also seen a lot of recruiters that will send connection requests for LinkedIn before I have even worked withthem. In my mind, a connection on LI constitutes in some small way an “endorsement” of someone. To add a recruiter would suggest they had found me work, gotten me interviews, or at the very least I had dealt with them enough to get an impression they were a friendly and competent person. Just tossing out connections to anyone and everyone dilutes the value of your contacts, and certainly serves to clutter your contact list with a lot of noise and not much signal.

  2. I think it’s good practice to LinkIn with recruiters. Even if you are not currently on the market, they are more likely to contact you when they have a position that matches your background. I have gotten quite a few leads this way – and I will pass along leads that aren’t right for me to others who may be looking. However, I would probably turn down a Facebook request from a recruiter, as I keep that network limited to family and friends.

  3. I had a recruiter suggesting that I had to add him to my linkedin connections so he could update me on the status of my job submissions, instead of doing so via email. I said no and moved on to work with someone else.

  4. Hank Moray

    I think recruiters ask for connections into your network so they can peruse your contact list for other fish to toss jobs at. In my contact list, I have partners, managers, directors, etc. of software companies. I don’t think they should be abused by having head hunters toss jobs at them – so – I keep the two separate.

  5. I have a standard policy of keeping all my colleagues out of my social networking. This includes very good friends from jobs I’ve already left. If I’ve complained about work online, I don’t need that information popping up on my company’s (or even former company’s) servers because a colleague got bored and checked out my account one day.

  6. Warning: Trolling for corporate information

    As workers put more information about their lives online through status updates, location check-ins and resume changes, employers are more at risk of competitors watching their every move. Investigators at Kroll Inc., the 40-year-old corporate sleuthing pioneer, are known for scanning deleted computer files and monitoring surveillance cameras to help large companies uncover rivals’ secrets. Now they’re trawling the social Web.

    “Social media has become a much more efficient way of getting information that could only be gotten in the past by things like surveillance,” said Kroll Senior Managing Director Rich Plansky.

  7. I try to deal with this by pretty much having ZERO listed about me on LinkedIn. I have my job title and my general geographic location and ONE job listed from my past. I keep my profile entirely private and then I add people liberally knowing that they will be connected to me, but not know anything much about me at all by the connection.

  8. I decided to make everything I do on LinkedIn completely public to everyone. Therefore, anyone wanting to see my LinkedIn profile can, without having to connect. Recruiters who say that you have to connect in order for them to help you are doing so for their recruiting benefit, not just to help you. I agree with Dawn, call out the recruiter to their management team and/or HR Department. If the alert falls on deaf ears, call out the recruiter and the staffing firm on social media and don’t do work with them.