Why I Don't Connect With Other Recruiters on LinkedIn

Like almost every agency recruiter out there, I've been using LinkedIn for a while now. It has become an integral part of our business model here at Sun Recruiting and while we don't rely on it - it is certainly one of our more important tools. Back when I started using LinkedIn several years ago, I put some thought into how I wanted to use it. I understood how it worked and had a pretty understanding of the benefits we could derive out of it from a sourcing standpoint. I specialize in placing chemical engineers so I figured my best course of action was to be very selective about who I connected to, so as to increase the power of my niche network.

This got me thinking about connecting with other recruiters on LinkedIn. A few key things happen when you 'connect' with someone. A) You can see all of their connections (unless the person you connect with has that feature blocked), B) that person's activity starts showing up in your news feed, and C) all of their connections become 2nd-level connections of yours. To me, the most problematic of those, as it relates to having recruiter connections, are items B and C. Allow me to clarify.

I consider the people who I recruit via LinkedIn to by my candidates...but what if the only reason I found them was because I was connected to this other recruiter? Or how about we flip the tables? Say you are 1st level connections with this stellar candidate and some other recruiter you are connected to sees you connect with that candidate via their LinkedIn News Feed and then goes and invites that person to connect with them and consequently claims that candidate as their own? Do you see where I'm going here?

When you, as a recruiter, connect with other recruiters, you are inviting this scenario, or some version of this scenario, to happen over and over again. I trust all of the recruiters I work with on split business, and I'm sure that they are very ethical people, but I also want to prevent temptation where I can. I don't want that kind of temptation for myself either...so that is why I don't connect to other recruiters on LinkedIn. It makes the waters too muddy and doesn't help me achieve my ultimate goal of creating a niche network of candidates.

I would be curious to know the thoughts of other recruiters out there. I know we don't all do business the same way and that some recruiters out there connect to other recruiters on LinkedIn all of the time. Has this been a concern for you? If not, why? Have you experienced some benefits from connecting with other recruiters?

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Comment by Noel Cocca on May 21, 2014 at 4:10pm

I am sure, no matter what they say, many share your point of view.  The "loss" mentality though can create problems for you however.  You never know who is going to be your next split partner, next employer, or maybe partner...Screen in...not just out.  

Comment by Adam Krueger on May 21, 2014 at 4:39pm

Noel, I understand that perspective and can appreciate it. With that being said - I view LinkedIn as more of a candidate source. There are other sources aside from LinkedIn that I can use to source split partners and employers/job orders without compromising one of my candidate pools.

Comment by Amy Ala on May 21, 2014 at 8:02pm

This only works if you're the only recruiter connected to said candidate. I'm connected to tons of recruiters, it's never affected my game one little bit. I've never needed to troll another recruiter's connections for candidates either... I don't get it.

Comment by Amy Ala on May 21, 2014 at 8:33pm

Can you break down this line for me? I consider the people who I recruit via LinkedIn to by my candidates What do you mean by that? If you've connected with them, are they in your mind "tagged" for your use only? Do you move them to an ATS / screen / present / interview them? What makes them "yours"?

Totally serious question. I'm not facetious my face just looks like that. ;)

Comment by Ryan Leary on May 22, 2014 at 7:08am

This is a good post that has been debated on the site since LinkedIn was launched. I am a firm believer that the "who do I connect with" and do I "make my connections" public conversation is a PITA. This is a good post but I am anticipating the wave of ridiculousness to come from the conspiracy theorists on the pros and cons.

Connect with whom you'd like, I do not have an opinion on that so much as to say that the point made in B is valid. Connecting in a non targeted manner will indeed confuse your news feed creating obvious unwanted distractions.

I think this calls for a new t-shirt:

A big fat LinkedIn logo on the front and the slogan: "LinkedIn, Connect Responsibly"

Comment by Robye Nothnagel on May 22, 2014 at 8:48am

Interesting...you can take this in the reverse too Adam. If you connect with another recruiter YOU GET THEIR CONTACTS TOO, so perhaps it's a win/win. What is the chance you would be competing for the same job? Slim, It think. If someone wants to take the time to search thru all my contacts - go ahead. I rarely have time to do that for myself.

Another way to look at this in a more positive way, is that perhaps a person looking for a job will get a job from your connection. I know we're in recruiting for the money, but I also like helping people find jobs! A way to pay it forward. I'm all about karma - what goes around comes around, so maybe one of YOUR candidates that you can't place will get connected to someone else. Just a thought.

Comment by Jerry Albright on May 22, 2014 at 9:29am

 We can all "find" everybody on Linkedin anyway.  

Comment by Ryan Leary on May 22, 2014 at 9:50am

Amen to that Jerry. It's a bad debate and to be honest, LinkedIn is becoming an over-sized Job bard with incredibly inactive people.

Comment by Jerry Albright on May 22, 2014 at 10:05am

If I were to take this position - I'd be more concerned with connecting directly with my clients (HR/Talent People) thereby "giving them" direct connections with the very people I'm hoping to recruit for them.

Comment by Adam Krueger on May 22, 2014 at 10:56am

Some good discussion here - thanks everyone. @Amy - yes, I do move them to an ATS, it's not like a proprietary thing, I of course know that everyone else in the world has access to these people, but the situation I don't want to be in is going to figure out whether I have 'candidate x' purely as a result of my connection to another recruiter.

@Robye, the chances that I would be competing with another recruiter on the same job is actually higher than you'd think - the chemical engineering market space is a lot smaller than say, healthcare or IT. There are not many of us recruiters who specialize in chemical engineering so if I connect to the other recruiters who do, the chances we compete for the same talent, or on the same jobs, is high. I liked what you had to say about helping people find jobs. That's good stuff.

@Jerry, good point, I go back and forth, but this post was pretty much an encapsulation of how my thinking is currently.

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