Job Search: Invite someone to connect on LinkedIn?

October 27th, 2011 | by Jason Alba |

Check out this (slightly edited) email I got from a buddy:

I am looking for a job and want to leverage LinkedIn? If I find someone that works at a company that I would want to work for but I don’t know them, should I invite connect with them? Assuming so but give me some advice on this.


Definitely no.

Too often we get invitations to connect from people we don’t know, and after a connection is made, there is no communication.

Or the communication is “I’m interested in working for your company, here’s my resume.”

That’s what too many job seekers are doing today.

It is impersonal, and close to spammy.

The person on the receiving end is thinking things like:

  • Who are you?
  • Why should I pay attention to your job search?
  • You are one of a hundred who have sent me the same thing…
  • So what….

Think about it this way. Sending a LinkedIn invite like that is like going to a network meeting with a receipt book.  Instead of talking to people and establishing a relationship, you just walk up to them and ask them for their credit card, so you can fill out a receipt.

Stupid, right?  No one does that.

Why do you do it on LinkedIn, then?

This happens all the time.

Let’s take the analogy further… once you fill out the receipt, and give it to them (they didn’t give you their credit card, but you tell them to “pay later… not problem!”), you go away.

And they never hear from you again. You don’t deliver whatever it was that they “bought.”  You are just GONE.

You go off and brag about all of your sales that you’ve made.

But they don’t know anything more than that you are a NUT.

See the correlation here?

Before you invite someone to connect, think about your relationship with them, and ask yourself if you want a professional relationship or if you just want a LinkedIn connection, which will likely go nowhere if not founded on a real relationship.


  1. 9 Responses to “Job Search: Invite someone to connect on LinkedIn?”

  2. By Muskie on Oct 27, 2011 | Reply

    The opposite happens to me. I apply to a company/job not through LinkedIn but any number of websites and the recruiter immediately adds me to their LinkedIn network. So far I’ve deduced I should accept even though it makes more information about me available without them having to even give me an interview.

    I can’t say it has worked, but recruiters who haven’t hired me have later added me to their LinkedIn network but multiple times in the last 12 months I have applied to jobs and that day the email address I sent the application to or the person I addressed the cover letter to has added me to their LinkedIn network.

    LinkedIn is a two way street, but not everyone lets contacts see who their other contacts are. I have some valuable contacts and I don’t subscribe to the theory that anyone you meet at a networking event and exchange business cards with you should immediately invite them to LinkIn. I’ve been burned badly by people I trusted so I am careful who I LinkIn with and have even pruned people I ceased to trust.

    What do you think of this behavior, hiring managers who LinkIn to candidates who apply before even interviewing them?

  3. By Will Kintish on Oct 28, 2011 | Reply

    For me, linking is with strangers means you give them access to your ‘little black book’. It is like a complete stranger comes up to you in the street and says
    “We don’t know each other but I believe you are well connected and highly networked. So I want to look at your contacts in your smartphone in case there is someone there I might want to meet”

    I guess we would all look for the nearest policeman!

  4. By Jason Alba on Oct 28, 2011 | Reply

    @Will, I respectfully disagree with you.

    As a LinkedIn trainer I’ve had to recognize that you have clients with different needs, and who use the tool in different ways.

    Some people use it as nothing more than a prospecting tool, to do searches (example: recruiters, bus dev people).

    I doubt that most people, even if they say they want to look into my network, or doing anything more than a superficial search, and even if they find someone interesting in my network, are not reaching out to them.

    There is still a lot of confusion about (a) how to find people (even if trying to find people in my network) and (b) how to reach out to them.

  5. By Davide Scialpi on Oct 31, 2011 | Reply

    tremendously true! but based on your experience what is the right way to introduce own self to someone that is in condition to hire ?


    Davide Scialpi

  6. By Jos Essers on Nov 17, 2011 | Reply

    I connect to strangers. That’s how I met my wife. That’s how I meet very interesting people.

    That’s how serendipity can do its work, what it is supposed to do: bring up the unexpected opportunity

  7. By Allen on May 6, 2012 | Reply


    I consistently find potential contacts in my LinkedIn “People You May Know” section. These contacts are hiring managers or recruiters affiliated with companies that I have submitted applications/resumes online. They do not appear in the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile?” and do not reflect any associated degrees.

    What are your thoughts on sending an unsolicited request to connect when it is most likely there has been some review of my account? Thanks in advance…

  8. By Morthon on Sep 9, 2012 | Reply

    Hi everybody,

    I have a practical question: when you want to add someone on linkedIn but you do not know this person and none of the following options applies: “colleague”, “classmate”, “we’ve done business together”. How should I do to invite them?

    At Will, I see what you mean but I do not share your view because Linkedin is a tool for people who do not know each other to be able to connect and build a relation. When I invite someone I do not know it is because I am interested in that person, not in its connections. And as Jason Alba said, I hardly look at my connections’ connections. I might look at “people you may know”, that’s all.

  9. By Jason Alba on Sep 10, 2012 | Reply

    @Morthon, I just choose Friend. I think that part matters very little. I’m sure LinkedIn disagrees, but their system is flawed to begin with (ie, normally it isn’t any of the options), and Friend seems to be the option with the least amount of friction.

  10. By Jason Alba on Sep 10, 2012 | Reply

    @Davide – are you talking about someone you want to hire, or a hiring manager? Either way, it’s all about conciseness and honesty…

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