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Recruiters Wear Out Welcome in Social Media

Some recruiters are wearing out their welcome on social media. In fact, it has gotten so bad that there is a discussion thread on Quora entitled “How can you block recruiters from contacting you on LinkedIn?” From what I’ve heard, far too many recruiters bombard potential candidates with impersonal Inmail requests. Frequently, those headhunters come off as amateurs. They have nothing interesting to say. Why would any self-respecting successful executive or technologist respond?

Truth be told, dashed-off communications that slide into our InMail inboxes can be exhausting.

We headhunters are inundated by candidates seeking their next opportunity. Most of the time, it is clear that they know nothing about our search practice specialties. They haven’t taken the time to look. It is also pretty apparent that there is no intent to build any kind of meaningful business relationship. They are seeking a transaction, pure and simple. (Hint: I don’t do transactions.)

Often candidates and recruiters both end up feeling used.

That could explain why we’re hearing corporate recruiters complain that they’re not getting the enthusiastic response they’re used to getting online. It may also be the reason why Intellerati has seen an influx of business from employers for help. They want a recruiting research practice capable of engaging with highly sought-after candidates. Moreover, they are eager to recruit candidates who are not actively marketing their wares on LinkedIn.

Who Are These Connections?

Maybe it is that what started as a place to connect with people we really know and people we’d like to know has turned into a place where we’re getting incessantly marketed to — not just by companies but by human beings who are attempting to be their own brands. I get that that is what executives have been told to do in book after book on how to optimize their careers. But, not everyone deserves to be a brand.   

Sharing the Unsharable

Moreover, the “too much information” overload is exacerbated by jarring commentary from those with whom we’ve connected. We learn things we wish we didn’t know that an acquaintance inexplicably feels compelled to share online — like the time a friend uploaded gory accident aftermath photos of his own injuries or the time a family member made overtly racist remarks about our Nation’s President.

Writing the Unreadable

And then there are Facebook friends whom we absolutely do not know —  a friend of a friend of a friend — whose self-indulgent updates take over our feeds with the mundane details of their existence. I get that they are trying to share.  I just wished they could write. In the end, we are left wondering who are these people?

Personal Data Sold

Social network users are getting increasingly twitchy over privacy concerns. I know that embedded in the fine print of most social networks is legalese that says they get to do pretty much what they please. Moreover, there’s usually a clause that asserts they can change the rules at any time.  I didn’t mind sharing my interests with the multinational corporation that happens to be my social network in exchange for getting content more aligned with my interests. But I started getting creeped out when I saw details gleaned from my social profiles aggregated, marketed, and sold elsewhere to anyone who “googles” my name.

Where Did MyLife Get My Info?

A serious line had been crossed when companies like MyLife popped up in search results, offering to serve up my personal home address and age in bold print. It didn’t really register at first until I had an intriguing conversation with the former CTO of Stanford. He told me that the University recently stopped using the year of graduation in the email addresses of its alumni. It made the change to its email naming convention after actors and other people of consequence had complained: those with a predilection to ageism simply do the math.

Time to Opt-Out

I don’t know how MyLife and other sites like it got my information. Moreover, I don’t know why it kept telling me someone had been searching for me  — a name they’d share if I’d only sign up — when apparently that never happened. (A lawsuit has been filed alleging that was a complete scam.) I do know this year a critical mass of weirdness had been reached. I spent the better part of a weekend opting out of places like MyLife because, to my knowledge. I never directly opted in.  (I’m pleased to say the instructions I followed actually worked.)

Anti-Social Behavior

Still, removing personal information from the Internet is a little like whack-a-mole. You can can lock down your social network privacy settings, and still, you’re left with the sense that it might very well end up in someone else’s hands. LinkedIn user passwords were compromised back in June and the privacy policies of the all the leading social networks seem in a constant state of flux. LinkedIn was going to use member photos in advertising, turning users into shills, until a backlash taught the business social network it was not so smart a move.  And, in case you didn’t notice, social networks are making it harder for users to find and change their privacy settings. I understand that social networks need to monetize their businesses: they just don’t have to do it by being sneaky.

A Matter of Trust

That we are all connected, that we are given a voice, that we can do amazing things — together — online, that remains the promise. But there’s a reason marketing communications professionals have noticed a decided decline in the responsiveness of the average social media user. It may be social media fatigue, but I suspect that lately it is more a matter of trust.

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