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What to Do When a Recruiter Contacts You on LinkedIn



What to Do When a Recruiter Contacts You on LinkedIn

Let’s talk about what to do when a recruiter contacts you on LinkedIn. Don’t feel like reading? Listen here!

Has a recruiter on LinkedIn contacted you? Here is what to do next and how to manage the request and relationship. 

It can be flattering and encouraging when a recruiter contacts you via LinkedIn. It can also connect you to someone who could help you land a new job, now or in the future, grow your network, and gain experience working with a recruiter. It would be beneficial to take advantage of the opportunity, respond professionally, ask questions, and see where it goes.

“It is never a bad idea to at least listen to what the recruiter is offering. Responding or speaking to the recruiter doesn’t mean you have to interview or accept the role. But gathering information on what is out in the marketplace is always great knowledge for a candidate to have.”

“Typically, when a recruiter reaches out over LinkedIn, they’ve identified something in your background that matches a skillset that one of their clients is looking for,” says Chris Dardis, President of Interim Solutions, Versique Search and Consulting.

Ask Questions

When contacted by a recruiter, don’t be afraid to ask questions, says Max Dubroff, Manager of HR Solutions for Sandia National Laboratories, a national nuclear security administration research and development laboratory.

The engagement with the recruiter should be a discussion — a conversation about the role and the company. A good recruiter will be open to any questions you have and do their best to provide as much information as possible. These are two good starter questions to ask when a recruiter contacts you via LinkedIn, says Dubroff:

  • Why are you interested in me?
  • What is special or unique about what I have to offer?

“If you have not been looking for a job, but a recruiter finds you and reaches out, keep an open mind and listen for things that interest you,” says Dubroff. “There are some great recruiters who know how to find the right skills, even if the person is not in the same career path or industry.”

when a recruiter contacts you on linkedin

Understanding the Different Types of Recruiters Who May Contact You

There are two scenarios where active job seekers should be especially excited when hearing from a recruiter via LinkedIn, says Tom Welsh. Welch is an Executive Coach and Senior Career Consultant with Right Management, a global talent management firm offering outplacement, career management, and leadership development solutions. Take the time to see if the role is a fit for you if the recruiter is:

  • An external third-party recruiter (headhunter)
  • From an executive recruiting/staffing firm
  • From a specialized staffing service (e.g., specializing in hiring IT professionals if you are a software engineer).

First, review the profile of the person that contacted you. Read their message carefully and start formulating questions. If interested, follow up and be prepared to send in a resume.

If the recruiter has identified you as a match for a specific role, ask these questions, says Welsh:

  • Are they filling an actual role or just gathering inventory?
  • Confirm how they get paid.

The vast majority of third-party recruiters are paid by the hiring company, says Welsh. Not the job seeker. These break down into two broad categories:

  1. Contingency: The recruiter gets paid a percentage of the candidate’s salary (10–35%) when they place a candidate at the company.
  2. Retained search: These firms are on retainer (usually for executive-level roles) and get paid a retainer plus more for each placement.

linkedin networking platform

How to Spot Potential Recruiting Scams on LinkedIn

“If they tell you how qualified you are, but you know that they have no basis saying that, then it may be a scam,” says Welsh. “If it all checks out, connect with them, and maintain a cordial relationship for the future.”

They Ask You to Pay

You should never have to pay to submit a resume or pay a recruiter who says they can “help” get you a job. These are often people with very poor LinkedIn profiles — no picture, limited or sketchy work experience, and few connections. Be cautious of this type of engagement.

In other scenarios, recruiters promise they can get you hired for a fee. Do not pay anyone who says they can do this.

“There are some firms out there that want the job seeker to pay them,” says Welsh. “They say that they assist the job seeker in preparation and self-marketing. They might claim that the job seeker will get a signing bonus, and that bonus will finance their fee. We advise against this.”

They Rush You to Submit

Some unethical recruiters simply contact as many people as they can via LinkedIn and ask them to submit a resume “right away.” They’ll say the position is closing soon, or they need to move quickly and get it to the employer. Be wary of recruiters who focus on what you can do for them. Proceed with caution when you are rushed, pressed to submit a resume and feel like the recruiter isn’t looking out for your best interests.

“Don’t feel rushed to drop everything for an initial phone screen or interview,” says Elliot Lasson, human capital consultant and Professor of the Practice and I/O Psychology Graduate Program Director at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. He adds:

You should maintain your position in the driver’s seat. If the recruiter is overly pushy that might be a red flag that they are not respecting your time. If you have something to offer, they can wait. On the positive side, there have been success stories of recruiters identifying talent and passive job seekers finding their next professional steps. So, like anything else, it’s a viable tool.

If the recruiter is from an employer you are familiar with, or you can confirm they are valid, then connect with them and respond to the request. Ask about the opportunity and why they are reaching out. Ask them to share information about the role and any other details that you may be curious about.

Whether they work directly with a company or for a search firm, a good recruiter will be able to provide this information. They should be excited to answer your questions because they want to find the right person for the role. They are trying to learn if you are a fit, just as you are trying to know if the recruiter/company/role is the right fit for you.

Tell the Recruiter What It Is You Are Looking For in a Job

When candidates ask for advice on responding to recruiters about opportunities that may not be the best fit, Kimberly Tash always tells clients the same thing: Tell them what you are looking for.

finding a job

“I am sure you’ve heard it before; recruiters are incredibly busy,” says Tash, a Senior Career Management Consultant at Right Management and founder of Kimberly Tash Life Coaching, a career and leadership development practice. Her advice:

While most do their best to match a job to a potential candidate, sometimes they are working with limited information. Helping the recruiter by guiding them in the right direction as far as the jobs you’re seeking can go a long way. If this role is not a good fit, future roles that come to the recruiter’s attention might be exactly what you are seeking. By forming a good rapport with the recruiter, you will increase your chances of being made aware of future opportunities that meet your qualifications.

Tash recommends the following strategies on how to respond to a recruiter who reaches out via


  • Respond promptly, expressing appreciation for the time the recruiter took to find and present you with the role.
  • If you have questions about the role presented, ask. You may even suggest a phone call to discuss the specifics of the position.
  • If you’re not interested in the position presented, tell them more about your desired role and aspirations. Tell them you would enjoy speaking with them if roles that fit your specifications should come up in the future.
  • If you feel there is potential now — or in the future — send your resume and any other pertinent information to help them match you up with positions in the future.

No matter how you feel about the position presented, make sure you respond professionally — you never know what positions the recruiter will need to fill in the future.

“You might even consider asking the recruiter to connect and potentially have a conversation to discuss what you are looking for and your unique skillsets and achievements relevant to those roles,” says Tash.

job search

“Next time the recruiter reaches out, it may be regarding the perfect role you were searching for.”

Matt Krumrie
Matt Krumrie
Matt Krumrie is a resume expert and freelance writer whose work has been published in over 200 newspapers, websites, and magazines. He has 15+ years of experience writing resumes for clients of all backgrounds, from college grad, to entry-level to mid-career, executive and more. Matt lives in Minnesota.

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