How To Tell If That LinkedIn Message Is Worth A Response

By Ben Tanis

If I gave you a dime for every LinkedIn message you received from a recruiter with the same pitch, boring information, and spam-tastic tone, I’m sure you’d be richer than Elon Musk.

Unfortunately, I don’t have that many dimes. What I do have, however, is some advice for you about whether or not you should answer those gazillion LinkedIn messages.

As a recruiter, I spend a lot of time trying to find extraordinary candidates on LinkedIn. I spend even more time crafting compelling, personalized messages to them in an effort to show I’m actually interested and invested in their career. It’s a pretty fun thing to do, and if a recruiter who contacted you didn’t take the time, they’re probably not worth an answer.

Here are five key elements you should look for in a recruiter’s LinkedIn message.

The job is actually in your industry.

One of my colleagues worked as a freelance WiX Web Designer just after college. She put it on her LinkedIn account (like anyone would) and proudly included links to the projects she designed. Today, she constantly gets messages from recruiters about coding and web developer jobs.

She tells me it kind of makes her want to rip her hair out. She’s actually a marketing and communications professional. Not a web designer who codes and knows Java or Drupal or any of those other platforms. If the recruiter had taken the time for a deeper dive into her profile, they would have realized that she simply does the aesthetics of the sites, not the coding or development. WiX does all that for her.

If you get similar messages from a recruiter, you can bet they weren’t paying much attention when they looked over your information. Make sure the job they’re recruiting for is actually in your industry and skill set. If not — go ahead and click that little “Not Interested” button and move on.

They highlight your relevant skills.

When a recruiter messages you about a position and gives you a vague: “You look like a GREAT fit!”, you can go ahead and roll your eyes. They’re sending the same message to everyone else with a smidgen of the same skills and they certainly haven’t taken the time to see if you really are a great fit.

What they should be doing is highlighting your relevant skills specifically related to that job. For example, if I were looking for a Windows Architect, I would highlight skills a candidate has which they could use on that specific job like SCCM 2012 design/architecture experience, etc.

If a recruiter has taken the time to look through your profile, sift through your skills to make sure they match the job description, and then talk to you about it — they’re truly committed to getting you the job.

They try to relate to you.

There are things on your LinkedIn profile other than your employment history. Recruiters can pull little tidbits from the summary, education, volunteer, and causes you care about sections to make their message even more personal.

Maybe you both volunteer to walk dogs at the animal shelter, or share an interest in environmental issues. Maybe they know someone who went to your college or have heard awesome things about the school. No matter what they choose — they should mention some of your personal interests in an attempt to relate to you as an actual human being and not a number they’re trying to fill a job with.

They act like a human.

The worst kinds of messages to get from recruiters are the ones that sound like a robot wrote them. It’s so frustrating to know they’re sending the same exact message to 100 other people and didn’t take the time to see if a position was right for you or not.

If a recruiter can message you and hold a conversation like a human — not a robot with a script — stick with them. One of the most important parts of my job is to get to know a candidate beyond what’s on their resume and LinkedIn profile. In order to do that, I have to treat you like a person, as everyone should.

Getting messages from recruiters on LinkedIn can certainly be annoying. Look out for a recruiter who takes the time to compose a personalized message with the elements listed above — if you find one, you’ve got a winner on your hands; respond away!


Thanks for checking out my post on Paper Trail by Corporate Brokers! If you enjoyed the post, please click on the green heart below and recommend it to others. Also, I really am recruiting for a Windows Architect position — if you’re interested, check out the details here.

Ben Tanis is an infrastructure recruiter at Corporate Brokers. He’s, hands down, the tallest guy in the office (by at least a foot) and when he’s not at work he likes to play flag football with the Baltimore Social Sports Club or take his super cute golden retriever, Dexter, on hikes.