Tuesday, June 30, 2015

To Connect or Not Connect? That is the Question...

As a LinkedIn Member and as an HR professional,  I would consider myself an active participant of LinkedIn for both recruiting candidates and for networking with other professionals. More recently, as I am the one personally seeking a new opportunity, I use LinkedIn to obtain as much inside knowledge about a company and  their current employees. I call this the "courting phase".
When I am pursing a new opportunity, I want to make sure I am investing myself wisely. This includes research on the company culture, their mission/vision, their products and their internal staff. It's more than just a potential opportunity, it could be the next step in my professional career. This future company that I am researching, may in fact become my "second family" in due time,  so why not take the time to do my due diligence to learn about the company and internal employees.  When I obtain that first interview, I am in fact wanting to learn more about the company,  just as much as they want to learn about me. In a sense we are "courting". In doing so, this means both sides are mutually looking into each other's profile, to determine if this would be a mutually benefitical relationship.
In reflecting on this initial courting phase, the thought occurred to me "how does it look to the employer I am pursuing if I request to connect with the Recruiter or HR Manager before, during or after the initial interview process?"  Does it appear that I am motivated and interested OR does it look like I am desperate if I request to connect before I even have the interview? Does it look like I am truly interested in the position if I ask to connect to the Recruiter/HR Manager after the initial interview? Or how about if I wait all altogether and NOT do anything? Am I playing hard to get?  Does that mean I appear as though I have no interest in the position or company? These questions have been running through my mind, especially since I am the one now looking for a new position.
When I was employed as an HR Director in my prior position, I was impressed when potential candidates requested to connect with me. However,  on an average I had at least 5 requests per week to connect with someone. It may have been an industry leading partner, past colleague, or a potential candidate. In receiving these requests, I  was always particular on accepting random invites and asked myself the question "can this benefit me and my employer"? If the answer was yes, I would accept the "connect request" if the answer was "no", I would not accept. Sometimes, I would just let the request sit there in my inbox until LinkedIn sent me a handful of reminders before I made my final decision. 
In my profession, it is crucial to have a network. I find this partnership to have paid off on both sides of the spectrum time and time again. I will admit when it came to potential candidates, I was impressed during the interview process if they asked me first if it "was okay to connect" via LinkedIn. I was equally impressed if they didn't ask, but later sent me an email request to connect. This spoke volumes to me that the candidate was interested in me as an employer and in the position I was currently looking to fill. With the LinkedIn benefits of "who's viewed your profile" indicates to a candidate (or in this case me) if a potential employer is in fact interested in pursuing things further. During this current job search that I am in, I have been selective on sending out requests to connect to potential employers that I was or wanted to "court". I was unclear on the "protocol" on asking "when" to connect. The thought never occurred to me when I was  the one  doing the hiring, however, now that the shoe is on the other foot and I am the one seeking employment; I am curious as to how other Recruiters and HR professionals view the email request to connect. 
It you are taking the time to read this post, I want to hear from you on this topic! What do you think when you are recruiting for a position? Does it annoy you to have candidates request to connect before you even interview them? Does it impress you if they request during or after the interview process? What is your stance? How do you view the question "To Connect or Not Connect"?
"Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you."
-Saint Augustine
"Our life is composed greatly from dreams, from the unconscious, and they must be brought into connection with action. They must be woven together."
-Anais Nin