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stalking on linkedin

Attending conferences are a great way to network and absorb a lot of new learning, but I’ve always found that some of the most interesting parts of going to a conference are the things you over hear that make you pause, for better or for worse.

At the Annual SHRM Conference in Chicago, I sat in a session called Celling to Candidates presented by Terry Terhark of ADP.  While much of the presentation was geared towards mobile recruitment efforts, there was also quite a bit of focus on building talent communities to change your recruitment process.  It was during this conversation that one session-goer chimed into the presentation that he immediately removes a candidate from consideration if they have not looked at his LinkedIn profile because it shows a lack of interest on their part to not research him prior to a job interview.

No one seemed to bat and eye at the comment, but while my eyebrows raised in disbelief, it was all I could do to keep my jaw hitting the floor.  Had it really come to this?—Immediate disqualification for a candidate for not looking at a recruiter’s LinkedIn profile?

Now, I understand the premise behind the thinking, don’t get me wrong, you want proactive candidates to do their homework.  But sometimes, as recruiters, interviewers, and hiring managers, while very well intentioned, we don’t think things through and can inadvertently focus on the wrong points.

The goal is to get to a quality hire that’s a fit for the role and the company, right?  Shouldn’t the focus be on that and not finding irrelevant reasons to narrow the field.  Shouldn’t a person be removed from consideration for lack of skills or desire to do the job at hand verses an arbitrary glance at a “Who’s viewed your profile list?”

I don’t think the person who made the remark had considered all the reasons why a great candidate might not show up as having viewed their profile.  For starters, LinkedIn does have certain privacy settings that allow you to remain anonymous to browse profiles.  A candidate that shows some discernment for their activities online might have had the forward thinking to select that option. (I’d say that’s a plus in my book for any candidate that learns to use privacy settings appropriately for social media.)

The candidate might actually already be familiar with with the recruiter or have researched them elsewhere via other sites or vetted them through individuals they know personally—not every candidate is glued to LinkedIn the way many recruiters are, and life and the internet are big places with many options to research and network with others.

And, yes, they may very well have just not thought to look at your profile or skipped that portion of their pre-interview preparation.  While it may not help them, does it necessarily qualify for automatic dismissal of their candidacy?  Sometimes we become hyper focused on finding reasons to not consider candidates that we’ve set up a trap in our own thinking.  Shouldn’t the focus instead be to look at every candidate to see why they should in fact be considered?  Why they’re a fit, what skills and qualifications they have, what other efforts they’ve put forward to show their interest and value?

As talent communities continue to grow and we become more engaged online and via our mobile devices, who writes the rules for how job seekers and employers and recruiters interact?  What becomes the appropriate etiquette and protocol for those interactions over time and what merits putting a job seeker’s candidacy into question?

The moral of this tale: candidates be aware that despite all your efforts, you just may never know why you might get un-considered for a role—like it or not, it could be for something as small as not stalking your recruiter on LinkedIn.

For those on the interviewing side, please share your thoughts. And, if you attended #SHRM13 or any other recent conferences or seminars, please share the tidbits, positive or negative, that you overheard that made you stop and think, or just plain wonder…

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