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“Anonymous” LinkedIn Recruiters Need to Grow a Pair

By September 5, 201312 Comments


We’ve all heard before what sticks and accusations the general public (especially the ones in search of jobs, funnily enough) like to beat us recruiters with.  There’s the lack of communication, the lying, the misleading comments and the inability to listen.  No feedback, poor feedback, negative feedback delivered poorly.  Phone calls unanswered and emails unresponded… In fact if you want a full and comprehensive list, check out the comments being made on this article charmingly titled Why Do People Hate Recruiters So Much?


Well this week I heard a new one.  I got chatting to a newbie on my ferry commute earlier on this week and the conversation turned to LinkedIn.  I explained to her how long I’ve been on it and a number of reasons I think it’s a great site for professional networking.  She seemed enthused.  Working in the IT industry, she had only recently joined LinkedIn and set up a profile and was keen to learn more about how to get the most out of it.  Without knowing what I do for a profession, though, she then said:


“The only problem with it is that you’re always getting pestered by recruiters…”


She seemed somewhat chagrined to be told by one of the fellow passengers that I was, in fact, a recruiter myself.  She needn’t have been.  I’m well used to this particular scenario and nowadays use it as an opportunity to dig deeper and understand what the real issue is, and decide whether I should stick up for us recruiters, or (as is often the case, sadly) agree that yes, that was a pretty underhand way to behave, and mutter some form of generic apology whilst entreating that we’re not all like that…


But this time I was really taken aback.  The way she said it I assumed she must be getting inundated with InMails, improper connection requests and unsolicited phone calls.  But, digging deeper, it turned out that she was just purely and simply upset at the fact recruiters were looking at her profile.  That’s right, you heard me, she was complaining that going to the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” area was revealing that her pure, innocent, freshly-pressed profile was being sullied and besmirched by the scavenging eyes of blood thirsty recruiters.


Really, there’s very little point being on LinkedIn if you’re not interested in connecting and engaging with other professionals.  The clue is in the very name of the website.  Her reaction is no different to someone wriggling into some revealing and suggestive clothing, tottering into a busy bar on a Saturday night, and then refusing to make eye contact with anyone in there, complaining to the manager that people keep trying to engage you in conversation.


The supposed solution for all these LinkedIn “stalkers” is, of course, to change your settings so that you appear as Anonymous when others check to see whose viewed their profile.  You can learn a bit more about doing that in this article but my response to that is “why bother?”  A quick check of my own profile reveals that it has been viewed by 23 people in the past 3 days, and this is what it looked like:

LinkedIN Profile Views

I mean seriously, grow some balls people.  Why are you so afraid of me knowing that you’ve looked at my profile?  LinkedIn is a platform that connects people, that starts conversations, that lead to opportunities in business and elsewhere.  It’s not some creepy masquerade ball.


I once received a part-completed “talent map” from a recruitment firm who had asked their recruitment support person to build an Excel spreadsheet detailing all the existing Resourcers in their sector in Auckland.  The instructions I saw printed on it were for the person compiling this list to change their LinkedIn settings to “Anonymous” while checking out people’s profiles, so as not to “alert” them.  I just don’t get it… Doing that is no better than refusing to pick up the phone, hiding behind emails instead.  In fact it’s worse.


For me, when someone looks your profile up, it’s an opportunity to say “hi”, if you so wish.  Social Media used well should just be a digital extension of how you would behave in the real world.  So as a recruiter, who enjoys meeting people, starting up conversations and building contacts, you should regard this as attending a networking function and catching someone’s eye who has nobody to talk to.  If the person is someone you feel might be a good prospective client or potential candidate, then the best approach I’ve always found goes along the lines of sending them an InMail or Connection Request and saying:


“Thanks for stopping by my profile.  I notice from your profile that you [insert relevant comment that connects you, such as having both worked at the same company in the past but at different times]. Do let me know if there’s anything specific I can help you with.”


Is it creepy?  Pushy?  Intrusive?  I don’t think so.  I think it’s just opening up a conversation to explore potential opportunities.  The lady on the ferry wouldn’t agree with me but so what?  If you’re not interested in engaging with people properly and feel the answer is to creep around with an “Anonymous” profile, then you have no place on LinkedIn, or on any form of social media at all.


Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.


  • Adam Napper says:

    I agree totally Jon. I had an anonymous setting for a long time but then came to exactly the same conclusion as you. Why am I hiding who I am? It’s my job to explore the market, know who is who, connect with relevant people and generally get known in the market in which I operate. Our clients would expect us to check out profiles of many people in order to identify and engage with talent and by letting them know you have ‘checked them out’ it may well result in further engagement.

  • Chris Kent says:

    Agree with you both (Adam/Jon) and I also used to have my profile tagged as ‘Anonymous’. By looking at someones profile you’re not taking any of their time or harassing them, potentially if they appear to have the skills/experience you’re looking for then contact may be initiated and if done in the right way shouldn’t be an issue. Personally I think this is a more professional approach than making contact based on an out of date CV. If you’re on Linkedin and not interested in building networks based on business development or career progression then maybe stick to Facebook!

  • Jessica says:

    Funny enough you should be flattered a Recruiter or employer looks at your profile!

    Its like Hollywood – better to be known than not known at all.

    The world is on show now, all of it, if you don’t want to put yourself out there – don’t go on linkedin. Simple!

  • Kevin Chappell says:

    Interesting isn’t it, when people have blatantly on their profile that they are interested in “career opportunities” then decline your “advance” with “not appropriate”! I wonder whether they do the same when someone at a major corporate make the same “advance”… Mind you, I think that you hit the nail on the head. It’s our reputation as a sector and how some renegades have operated that sullies our professional. Bit like the legal and real estate professions. Perhaps we do need a formal “code of conduct” that we voluntarily subscribe to and promote?

  • Murray says:

    I agree too Jon. I liken it to recruiters ensuring their mobile number is not displayed on the receiver’s phone. Most people won’t answer a ‘Blocked’ or ‘Private’ number anyway, and if someone knows it is me and it is not convenient for them to talk to me then they will call back. This is of course better than putting them in a compromising potsition!

  • George says:

    “For me, when someone looks your profile up, it’s an opportunity to say “hi”, if you so wish.”

    I think when one is silently navigating Linkedin for people, you don’t really want anyone to know what you’re up to, and often it is easier to be anonymous than to have to reply to people saying “hi, I saw you looked at my profile ”

    Who looks at who has been looking at them anyway? It is like hitting redial on your phone when there is a missed call, and then saying “hi, I missed a call from this number” – if I didn’t leave a message it isn’t that important!

    • Thanks George, good to hear a differing viewpoint. The thing is I actually DO return missed calls even if they didn’t leave a message. Maybe it’s just me…!

  • Pablo says:

    Blah blah LinkedIn. Is this what recruitment has come to in 2013? I’m moving everything to Snapchat.

  • Lisa Garrity says:

    ‘Like’, guys – very funny.

  • I’m one of those people that does think that messaging someone who’s looked at your profile with a “Hi, how can I help?” message is a bit creepy and/or pushy.

    I think that in itself is a good enough reason to not reveal your identity when browsing profiles. I reckon around 30% of all the views I ever get are from anonymous users and I just assume they’re all other recruiters. Big deal.

    I don’t think people looking at your profile is a good enough reason to start sending out loads of introductory messages – in the same way that you wouldn’t attempt to introduce yourself to everyone that looked at you on the train journey into work or down the pub.

  • Some of those features are put in place to protect user privacy. Many people never upload their personal photos and things of that nature because of their own personal reasons but it is their choice. There are situations where women are the victims of stalking, or harassment so I can see why making your profile anonymous is beneficial.

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