Dean Jarley is a prolific blogger.  One of my favorites that he did over a year ago was about LinkedIn.  He was tired of people “endorsing” him for skills he didn’t have or didn’t need.  PowerPoint was his example.  I’m not going to comment on his mastery of PowerPoint, but I will say that college Deans really don’t need it as a top skill.


Before I get too deep, understand…I think LinkedIn is one of the most powerful tools available to job seekers and business people, when used appropriately!  Emphasis on the word “appropriately”…

Most of the time, people complaining about misuse of LinkedIn will attribute it to immaturity or lack of professional savvy.  Users are curt or presumptive in their outreach.  Their profile is incomplete or their pictures are sloppy.  They post inappropriate or personal content better suited to Facebook or Hipstergram.


Last week I received a note from a recruiter.  I like to tell my students that recruiters are LinkedIn masters.  They wield special “professional” accounts, can construct Boolean search threads, and have secret stalking techniques coveted by creepy old guys living in their mom’s basement.  Well….most of them, anyway.


The note I received was well written and professional and came from an actual recruiter.  Here’s what it said:


I found your profile in LinkedIn and wanted to send a quick note on your way. How are things at your current job? Not sure of your short and long term career goals, but we have an opening for IT Subject Matter Specialist II in San Antonio, TX that might be great next step for you. Please let me know if you’re interested to hear more about the position, you can contact me at <phone number> or email me at <email address>


<Link to Job Posting>


If not interested in the position or if now isn’t a great time for a move, just let me know if I can help in future. Please forward my email to anyone if you think he/she is qualify for this job or looking for a job. Thank you so much for your time.


There’s one glaring problem with this note.  I no more have the IT skills and qualifications appropriate to this position, or ANY IT position, than I have the skills and qualifications to be a college Dean (though I’m not bad at PowerPoint!)  Additionally, and this is where I question this recruiter’s mastery, I don’t have IT skills or experience anywhere on my profile.  Whose profile were they looking at?


When you are reaching out to someone on LinkedIn, you are not only trying to make a contact.  You are trying to establish a professional connection with someone that could become mutually beneficial.  You are demonstrating your competency to this potential contact by the way you reach out to them.


A great way to do that would be to actually read through their profile when you make comments about their background and experience.  Yes, they went to UCF.  What did they major in?  Look further to see what Groups they belong to.  What accomplishments do they list.  What other information can you find.  It’s the difference in just reaching out to a UCF alumnus, and reaching out to a PERSON who has skills and experiences you want to learn about who happens to be a UCF alumnus.


I am happy to give my students the benefit of the doubt.  They’re learning.  So I hope they’ll read this lesson and get something from it.  Tailoring your outreach is a good thing.  Just make sure you’re tailoring it to the actual skills and experience that the person has and not some made up “alternative skills!”