Professional Social Networking Cuts Both Ways

Having an online professional presence means that anyone can find you ... and offer you a job.

OK, I'll admit it. Today's post is a direct result of some recent, repeated experience with local recruiters glomming onto my LinkedIn profile. It seems an Austin-based company has a 12-month contract writing position it needs to fill. It's been open for at least two-and-a-half months now, and I think I know why.


The hourly rate for the job is $30, and it requires commuting to the heart of downtown Austin, with no additional benefits nor even paid parking. In short, it's something that might (or might not) appeal to somebody fresh out of college, or who's trying to break into technology writing work.


Alas though I qualify on neither of those fronts, I've been contacted by half-a-dozen or more people working for the same recruiting company. They're obviously using LinkedIn's reasonably capable search tool to find professional writers in the Austin area, and blanketing them with information about this job.


Approaching Social Spam Behavior


The first time one of these people contacted me, I responded by asking for more information about the position they sought to fill. Although I was pretty sure it wouldn't be a good fit for me, I know a lot of local writers. Depending on the parameters, some of them might actually have been interested in what was on offer.


But as soon as I nailed down the three big parameters — $30/hr, no benefits or parking, and downtown commute — I knew this was out of bounds for my network. I responded to the first interlocutor with a link to my rate sheet, a PDF document that lays out my basic charges for writing, consulting, and so forth. I opined that I was far too expensive and intent on maintaining my work-at-home status to be a suitable candidate for the position.


Since then, I've gotten more or less the same form message via LinkedIn from another six people, all of whom work for the same firm. To me, this says they're not doing much to manage candidate information or to keep their staff from duplicating their recruiting efforts. Understandable in a firm that probably also underpays its recruiters and seeks to make up in volume what it loses in quality.


You have to watch out for this kind of thing on professional social networks in general. That admonition goes double (or more), however, if you put yourself out there on job posting sites, even including top-quality sites like the ones I use for my annually-updated Top 5 cert surveys at BusinessNewsDaily. Those are SimplyHired, Indeed, LinkedIn Jobs, and Linkup.


Set and Manage Parameters and Expectations Up Front


Whether or not you're on the job market, either overtly or covertly, it's important to understand how to deal with recruiters when they come sniffing around. First things to establish are:


? General ballpark for salary, benefits, and other forms of potential compensation. By itself, this will fend off the most aggressive, or least sophisticated data analysts in the recruiter pool.
? Limitations on location, commute time, expected work week commitment, and so forth.
? Preferences as to corporate culture and ethos.


Having an online professional presence means that anyone can find you ... and offer you a job.

You can add these things subtly to your social network presence in any number of ways. If you're going to post a "general r�sum�" for public consumption, adding a section to that document entitled "Type of Position Sought" probably makes sense. For a 34-year-old male team lead data analyst looking for work in a big city, it might read something like this:


Seeking a team lead or entry-level technical management position in data analytics, big data, or data warehousing where I can put my technical and people skills to best use. Given my 7+ years of related or directly relevant technical experience, and my desire to live in a Top 25 SMSA U.S. or Canadian city, I'd expect an annual salary of no less than $150K, with benefits (health, dental, vision, 401K with employer matching) to match.


Stock options are always welcome, but not as a trade-off against direct compensation. The kind of company I hope to work for values diversity, and understands that supporting professional growth and development for its employees pays dividends all around. I enjoy working in busy, active urban environments as long as the employer recognizes that commute time counts as part of the workday, and is willing to help support transportation/commute costs and permit occasional work-at-home days.


This is just an example, but hopefully something to give you some ideas. This will steer the smart recruiters away from you if you're not a good fit for the positions they're trying to fill. There's not much you can do to fend off the recruiters who don't bother to read such stuff closely, or who don't seriously try to pre-qualify candidates they reach out to.


For those folks, a polite refusal is about all you can provide. For the case that spurred this blog post, my now-canned response reads: "I understand your position pays $30 an hour. This is too far below my normal hourly rate to merit my consideration. Please consult my rate sheet at <URL>. If you find any positions that fall within its various ranges, feel free to contact me again. Thanks."


You can always cobble up something similar for your own situation. You'll probably need it.


Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author

GoCertify's mission is to help both students and working professionals get IT certifications. GoCertify was founded in 1998 by Anne Martinez.