The other kind of headhunters

17 February 2014 11:07

I’m not talking about these kind of headhunters: courtesy of Herb Roe, taken from Wikipedia, licensed� CC-BY-SA)

No, the kind of headhunter I’m talking about is a recruiter, someone who works for an acquisition firm, trying to get people to switch jobs so they can cash in a "finder’s fee". More specifically, I’m talking about the kind of headhunter that spends his or her day going through LinkedIn profiles and sending contact invites to strangers (I think the official term is "Social Media Recruiter", but I prefer "LinkedIn Troll").

If you haven’t figured this out yet, I don’t really like these people. With so many unemployed eager to work, why are there people bothering those who already have satisfying jobs?

Like many people with some form of higher education, I have a profile on LinkedIn. I created this profile in 2007, during an internship while I was still attending the University of Twente, and have since used it mostly to see what old classmates and ex-colleagues are up to these days. I keep my profile fairly up to date, and a significant portion of it deals with writing (my Publications section is bigger than the Experience section). My summary states both my programming focus as well as common themes in my writing. Getting such a fleshed-out profile didn’t happen overnight. I’ve had this profile for over 7 years, and gradually added stuff. I didn’t need to write all this down, but it felt sloppy to leave so many fields empty.

But apparently, a well fleshed-out profile means something else to recruiters. They equate spending time on making your profile look good to wanting to be noticed. Okay, well, I like being noticed, but the next step in their thought process is completely wrong: that the reason I want to be noticed is because I want a new job.

Let’s take a step back here. I’ve been at my current job ever since I graduated in 2008, and I absolutely love it. It’s a job with plenty of challenge and responsibility, our office has a great location and I work with great people. Sure, I’ve got my minor annoyances, and it’s not all rainbows and unicorns, but I’ve never been dissatisfied enough to even consider another job, let alone look for one. And besides that, many potential employers look like a step backwards, though not always for the same reasons.

Now, I know that LinkedIn has certain profile settings that allow you to indicate what people may contact you for, and that it’s fairly easy to mark it as "don’t send me job offers", but I haven’t. Why? Several reasons:

  • Vanity - It’s nice to know people think you’re interesting
  • Knowledge - I’ve learned about the existence of a dozen companies I had never heard about through LinkedIn
  • Entertainment - It’s rather funny to watch recruiters jump through hoops to try and get me interested

Up until today, my profile used to say "you CAN send me job offers, but it’s unlikely I’ll be interested". This is meant literally, I haven’t felt the slightest bit of interest for ANY of the offers I’ve received through LinkedIn. But for some reason, recruiters interpret this as "I’m looking for a very specific kind of challenge". No, you idiots! It means it’s virtually impossible to beat my current employer. It simply has too many advantages, and besides, the only career switch I’d even consider is writing full time, and I’d need a hell of a lot more sales before that becomes a realistic option.

As a result, I’ve changed my profile to state:

I’m not interested in hearing job offers, though if you like to grovel or are a glutton for rejection then please don’t let that stop you from sending a message (and not a contact invite). But something tells me that even that won’t be enough. Which brings me to my final point: contact invites. I’m reasonably certain that LinkedIn has a limit on the number of non-connected people you can send messages to. Recruiters try to get around this by sending you a contact invite - something you generally do for people you’ve worked with. It annoys the crap out of me, as that is pretty much the only thing I still have e-mail notifications for. My profile states, no less than three times, that people I don’t know shouldn’t send me contact invites. Which is why I’ve now added the following: Contact invites will either be ignored, or responded to with creative hostility. Let the games begin!