5 Steps for Recruiting Firms’ Data Security Best Practices

5 Questions for Staffing Agency Managers to Ask:YesNo
Are my employees clear about data security best practices and do they follow those guidelines?
Do my employees have strong passwords in place that include letters, numbers and symbols?
Is my data encrypted for another layer of security?
Is my agency data backed up regularly with an older version easily accessible in case of a damaging virus?
Do my employees know to never use insecure Wi-Fi?

Run through the questions above. Did you answer “no” to any of these questions? Your data security may be at risk. Companies of all sizes and configurations should carefully assess their security in light of Target’s data breach last December. The stolen information exposed data security vulnerabilities facing all companies, even those that are large and have various resources on their side. Hackers gained access to 40 million customer accounts, including PIN numbers and security codes embedded on the backs of cards. Another 70 million people had personal information stolen. Ultimately the breach cost the company at least $17 million, tarnished its reputation and cost both the CIO and CEO their jobs.

Staffing companies may not have millions of accounts, but you may have tens of thousands of records, including tax documentation and bank account information, along with a valuable reputation to protect. In fact, employee error at one Texas staffing agency led to 10,000 records being exposed, which included private data such as social security numbers, medical information, drug testing results and more. Managers should be prepared to implement data security best practices at your staffing firm, from utilizing recruitment software to adding data encryption. Here are 5 steps recruiting companies should take to protect your valuable data.

  1. Data Security Best Practices for Your Recruiting Firm are Outlined in 5 Steps from the Bond Blog.Educate and Empower Your Recruiting Firm Staff. Encourage your employees to be vigilant when it comes to data security. Educate them about ways they can help ensure that human error, a common and entirely preventable cause of security breaches, is minimized. Make sure that you have clear security policies regarding data security best practices in place, including requirements that:
    • Any computers connected to the network have up-to-date security software
    • No security information may be given over the phone, and that
    • All printed documents containing personal information or proprietary data should be shredded.
  1. Require That Your Recruiting Team Uses Strong Passwords. Hackers are skilled at guessing simple passwords, especially when they are able to use automated tools designed to crack them. Stipulate that your staffing professionals incorporate letters, symbols and numbers and never write passwords down. Cybersecurity pundit Tom Hulsey writes on his blog about the increasing problem of hackers from China targeting U.S. businesses of all sizes in order to gain access to larger companies. Your firm needs to have reliable data security best practices to prevent acting as a doorway between persistent hackers and your valuable clients’ data and information.
  1. Make Sure Your Recruiting Firm’s Data Is Encrypted. Encryption is another layer of protection for a situation where, despite your best data security practices, your data is stolen. Ramon Ray, a businesses and technology expert, writes about encryption in 8 Tips to Protect Your Business and Secure Its Data, “[I]f your hard disk is stolen or you lose your USB thumb drive, whoever accesses the data won’t be able to read it if it’s encrypted.” Encryption takes information from a readable form and scrambles the text so that it can’t be understood by someone who steals it or otherwise accesses it. When the encrypted text reaches your recruiting staff member who has the right formula, the scrambled information is reverted back to readable text.
  1. Data Security Best Practices for Your Recruiting Firm are Outlined in 5 Steps from the Bond Blog.Back Up and Test Your Agency’s Recruiting Data. Properly back up data so that if your recruiting firm’s system crashes or is infected with malware, you won’t lose valuable work and information. Employment agency software that is hosted on the cloud can give you peace of mind, knowing that your agency’s data is secure — cloud backup solutions are usually safe from computer viruses. You may opt to set a planned schedule for backing up your data, or choose to work with a software company that performs nightly backups for you as part of your data security best practices plan.
  1. Protect Remote Recruiters. With your company’s recruiters and sales staff on the go, you need to protect their work and prevent hackers from accessing company information when team members connect to your system. Of particular concern is when staff use public networks, since they are not secure. Experts say that someone on the same Wi-Fi as your employee could see their passwords, documents and email messages — all of their business information. Recruiting software can give your staff the flexibility they need, allowing them to access the information they need from anywhere at any time. It also supports your data security via configurable document categories, each with its own security settings. For example, candidate resumes and notes your recruiters take could have a low security setting, while social security numbers, tax information and bank account numbers would have high settings for extra data security.

When even well-respected companies suffer negative fallout after security breaches, it’s an important  reminder to analyze what action you’re taking at your recruiting firms. Managers need to work to protect your recruiting company’s documents, clients’ data and candidates’ personal information. There are many steps you can take and recruiting software you can utilize to improve your data security best practices, while simultaneously protecting your clients’ data, candidates’ information and company’s reputation.

Learn more about the benefits of using the cloud for both data security best practices and to facilitate your team’s workflow by downloading our whitepaper, Five Reasons Why Staffing Firms are Rising Into the Cloud.

Recruitment and Employment Best practice: Blog 2

HRdataIn his second instalment Toby Conibear, European Business Development Director, discusses candidate ‘match-making’, compliance and provides his advice to recruiting the best talent for the role.

Matching the talent

Recruitment in some instances is seen as a ‘match-making’ process between candidate, company and role. Clearly identifying at the beginning of the process exactly what skills and the type of candidate a client requires is an important step. As basic as it sounds, when you put the clear skills profile required by the client and match it with the skillset which has been inputted into the database – you will see improved results and better client retention.

Take care with compliance

With the age of technology comes the age of efficiency. However it also comes at the cost of ensuring that data is being stored in the correct manner and meeting legal requirements, regardless of the system or format.

The nature of recruitment means that dealing with sensitive candidate information is a daily occurrence. With data from Disclosure and Barring Checks System (DBS), and passport information, it is important to ensure you are storing the information in a best practice way. 

Next steps

When embarking on a recruitment drive it is important to remember three things – what, why and how.

  • What is the best way to conduct this recruitment drive and what technology may you need to enable you to achieve good results?
  • Why are you searching for that candidate and why the client requires that specific skillset – outlining these clearly from the offset will improve matches.
  • How are you going to store that information and ensure you are meeting information storage legislation?

Once you have addressed these three key requirements, there is no reason why you will not secure the best candidate for the role.

Keeping Your Mobile Recruitment Strategy Flexible

BondMobileToby Conibear, European Business Development Director, discusses how recruitment companies need to remain flexible when facing the 24×7 demands of the industry.

The recruitment industry is rapidly becoming mobile enabled but what does that mean? From changing the candidate experience to improving client relationships and transforming the productivity of consultants, agencies now have a number of ways of utilising mobile technologies.

Providing candidates and clients with mobile access to the recruiter’s website is one thing – and an increasingly important thing – but that’s just the start. A mobile recruitment strategy needs to encompass both candidates applying for jobs out of hours and recruitment consultants responding to job vacancies. With mobile and flexible working increasingly dominating the industry can any recruitment agency really afford to wait until 9am on a Monday morning?

Today, smartphone penetration has reached 67% according to the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) and tablet penetration has reached 22%; while a new generation is now entering the workforce that has only ever interacted online.  This is changing the way people work and with the recent Flexible Working Regulations, amended on 30th June 2014 to cover all employees after 26 weeks’ service, mobile technologies are essential to support the changing working environment.

Despite the slow adoption of mobile within the recruitment sector and the lack of strong mobile recruitment strategies in the market, ComScore estimates that between 20% and 30% of all recruitment pages are currently viewed via mobile devices. Furthermore, any firm not offering a mobile enabled version of its website could see a demotion in mobile rankings on search engines such as Google.

What are the key components of a successful mobile strategy?  Firms need to consider the best ways to provide candidates and clients with mobile access.  Whether via a mobile website or app, understanding the best solution for you and your candidates is of utmost importance because enabling effective interaction via mobile devices is now a necessity.

Four Tips on “Moneyball” Key Talent Management Metrics That Give Insight to Staffing Companies

In the movie Moneyball, which is based on a true story, the Oakland A’s choose their baseball team roster based entirely on statistics and end up wildly successful. You may not have the vast, intricate data that statistician Peter Brand used, but you can take advantage of talent management metrics to achieve similar wins. Staffing software can highlight trends within your recruiting firm, show results of both recruiters and placed talent, and offer you actionable data to guide your decisions.

Four Tips on “Money Ball” Talent Management Metrics That Help You Grow Your Staffing Company From the Bond Blog.

Image Credit: IMDB

“Big data is supposed to solve the problem of Moneyball and talent. Maybe,” writes Raghav Singh, global staffing and talent acquisition expert at The A-List, in his post Moneyball and Recruiting: The Future of Hiring or Pie in the Sky? “One can only use data — big or small — if it exists.” Well, you may be in luck. The four tips, shown as computations below, can shed light on how your recruiting firm is performing… if you’re tracking the data.


Tip 1: This Quarter’s (Job Placements / Job Openings) [< > or =] Last Quarter’s (Job Placements / Job Openings) = Company Performance.

In Moneyball, Brand used data to determine whether star players were performing as expected. In recruiting, this talent management metric allows you to determine whether you’re delivering the quality of applicants your clients seek. It’s determined by calculating the percent of job requirements that have been met by your applicants during the last month or quarter. Compare that percent to the previous quarter and the same quarter of the previous year to deem if changes need to be made to your recruiting and screening processes.

  • If the percent has decreased, pinpoint areas for improvement for your recruiting team. For example, give your team a refresher course on tweaking candidates’ resumes per job orders. Recruiting software that automatically creates a new resume with your company’s logo and lets recruiters easily edit each resume may speed this task and improve your team’s results.
  • If your applicant quality is the same over the last year, challenge your team to ramp up recruiting efforts. Hold a seminar using LinkedIn to recruit passive talent. Have a training session that delves into how to pinpoint millennial candidates who will best match particular clients.
  • If your recruiting firm is improving the percentage of job requirements met, good work! Analyze changes you’ve made or tactics you’ve started to use so you can build on them. This is a great opportunity to tap into your star performers and have them share their best practices with the rest of the recruiting team.


Tip 2: Number of Completed Activities / Number of Scheduled Activities = Recruiter Performance.

The Oakland A’s worked quietly to use data that pinpointed lesser-known baseball players who had potential. Before placing quality applicants, your recruiting team is hard at work behind the scenes. Recruiting software can track the number of scheduled and finished activities and how they measure up to your staffing firm’s goals. It lets you view a number of talent management metrics, including whether a recruiter is completing assigned communications, interviews, goals for placements and other tasks. If a recruiter is lagging behind, determine obstacles and pinpoint tactics to overcome them.


Tip 3: (Unfilled Openings + Number of Candidates Who Are Placed But Quickly Quit or Are Fired) / Job Openings = Failure Rate.

The Oakland A’s used statistics to pinpoint underperforming high-salary players on the roster who they should trade. For staffing firms, failure rates can be viewed as a source of valuable information that can help your staffing firm improve. Review what went wrong and where mistakes were made.

You may discover that your team needs to acquire more in-depth job definitions from your clients that delve into day-to-day tasks and other specifics. You may need to implement additional screening steps, including skills assessments. Or you may need to be screening candidates for certain traits.

“Coachability is the number one reason new hires fail,” writes Andrew Greenberg, CEO and president of Recruiting Division, in Hiring for Attitude: Why 81% of New Hires Will Fail.  “26 percent of new hire[s] fail due to their inability to accept feedback from those they work with, including bosses, colleagues, and customers.” Greenberg recommends asking candidates about whether or not they’ve been coached and what they think about it and what their former boss would say about them.


Tip 4: Accepted Offers / All Offers = Acceptance Rate.

In Moneyball, the team had very limited funds and sought players who would accept lower salaries. Your candidates need to have clarity about salary so they’re ready to accept a position if an offer is made. If your candidates are making it through the interview process but then turn down the offer, your team has invested a lot of time and effort for no gain. Tracking acceptance rates gives insight about changes that may need to be made. For example, are your recruiters crystal clear about salaries that will be offered, benefits, corporate culture and daily job tasks? Your recruiters may need pointers on establishing salaries and benefits prior to the interview process.

Your recruiting firm doesn’t need the meticulous data used by the characters in Moneyball, but there is valuable insight to gather from metrics. Whether it’s increasing training for your recruiting team or keeping tabs on talent opportunities, talent management metrics give you actionable data to help you take your team and recruiting company to Major League success.

Your staffing agency can access helpful data in addition to talent management metrics. Discover metrics that shed light on your staffing firm’s financial health and sales funnel with our on-demand webinar, Developing Metrics That Drive Growth and Profitability.


Going Back to Basics: Online Training vs Offline Training

WebEducationIn this blog Carrie Roberts, Training Team Leader at Bond International Software, discusses the benefits of online and offline training.

Training is no longer limited to the classroom. With an increase in web-based learning technologies, such as interactive webinars, companies are inundated with different ways to train their team members. Amongst the mix is traditional face-to-face training, which for some learning styles is still the most effective way to train.

With pros and cons for all training formats, mainly depending on the learner’s preferred learning environment, companies need to look at having a blended training approach to ensure that the training available is the most efficient it can be – both from a time and financial perspective.

Technology has transformed training. Where once a disparate process, team members can now be trained online in different continents, through one training session, at one time. With the tools now available online via webinars and live Q&A, trainees are no longer tied to the classroom and can benefit from a flexible approach.

This flexibility brings significant benefits to businesses that want to ensure all team members are trained to the right level, and at the right time. By addressing individual training needs when training an employee, the process is smoother and more efficient as the content is presented in a format that is easy to digest for the individual and will ultimately result in a wider cost saving for the business.

Popular for matching many learning styles, the benefit of online training is that it is interactive and engaging for the learner. With live webinar online training sessions the learner can have the opportunity to ask questions during the session and receive a high level of support from the training team.

Businesses are increasingly focused on the bottom line and after spending time, money and effort in either installing a new piece of software – or alternatively in hiring a new member of the team – focusing on the how, what and where are still important questions to ask when looking at training requirements.

Understanding how the specific team member learns best, whether by a one-to-one, face-to-face or in an online environment, is a wise first step to take. Next, looking at what tool best suits that individual – for example a training session or webinar; and finally where, whether it’s online or offline.

Click here if you would like to find out more on how Bond International Software can provide support and training.

Mobile Recruitment on-the-go with Adapt InTouch

Take the office with you wherever you go!

In these days of mobile and flexible working, the need to deliver functionality securely to users when recruiters are out of the office has never been more important. Laptops have been replaced by tablets and phones, and running a full application on a relatively small screen, even if possible, can be frustrating.

Instead, via our configurable mobile apps, users can be given selective access to areas of the office-based application based on their specific requirements – i.e. serving up just the data and workflow they need. Unlike most products which only have a fixed “one-size-fits-all” app, ours is fully configurable, like every other element of Adapt. So field-based sales consultants can have access to prospect and client data including maps and directions, and can add leads and jobs for office based support teams to work on immediately. Clients cannot fail to be impressed by the ability to run a live search right in front of them and propose possible matches for their requirements on the spot! Naturally all the data is viewed or added in real time straight into the main database, so there is no need for data uploads at the end of the working day. As always, data security is paramount, so measures can be introduced to ensure that your valuable data cannot be downloaded remotely.


The Role of Motivation in Winning the War for Talent

One of the most frustrating aspects of being a recruiter has to be getting to the offer stage only to have your candidate not make a move. We’re all familiar with the scenario where we’ve guided a candidate through every stage of the recruitment process and acted as their advisor only to have it go sideways once the client has extended an offer. We’re also aware of all the reasons a candidate gives us for not moving forward and accepting the offer.

I’d much rather know why a candidate won’t accept an offer up front than after the fact. In any sales environment, the reasons for a lost sale can often be isolated to mistakes made in the beginning of the process. So how can we fix this AND win the war for talent at the same time? The answer is a lot simpler than what you may think. In fact, if you consistently do the following three things as a recruiter, you’ll overcome recruiting challenges and consistently do better than your peers in getting candidates placed.

First, you need to understand your candidates’ operational reality.  Simply put, this means understand why they are looking to make a move. The best recruiters I’ve known were always able to understand every aspect of why their candidate wanted to leave their current role. Understanding the extrinsic and intrinsic motivational factors driving your candidate will be the difference between winning and losing the war for talent. One of the best recruiters I knew was able to create a mental list of external and internal factors driving her candidates and was almost prescient in her ability to predict which candidates were more likely to get “squirrely” during the offer stage. Any “real” candidate will have a good combination of factors driving their move and if you don’t understand those factors up front, you’re setting yourself up for a loss.

If you’ve done a good job in understanding why your candidate is making a move, the next step is to uncover all the other opportunities they are interviewing for. It’s a good idea to build a comprehensive list of all of the opportunities as you are interviewing the candidate, document it within your recruiting software, and use it later when you are trying to close them on your opportunity. While knowing the “other opportunities” is important in order to overcome recruiting challenges, you must also take time to understand why the candidate is interested in each opportunity. This step again ties back into the motivation component. You can gain tremendous insight when you pay particular attention to how the candidate ranks each opportunity and compare that to the reasons why they want to make the move.

Once you’ve successfully uncovered your candidates’ operational reality and the other opportunities they are considering, the rest of the process is just trial closing on your opportunity. At this point, you’re just getting confirmation that all of the factors your candidate mentioned as important are present in your current role. At this stage, it’s critical to learn what factors influence the candidate to consider alternatives or stop the search process.

As the job market heats up, the war for talent is just going to continue to get more intense. As that occurs, it becomes critical that recruiters and firms become adept at understanding recruiting challenges and their clients and candidates’ operational realities. Bond’s 40 years of experience in the staffing space delivering technology has uniquely positioned us as valuable partners in our staffing and recruiting clients’ success. Let us know how we can help you in winning the war for talent.

Learn how to offset businesses that are borrowing recruiting companies’ tactics by downloading our whitepaper, How Staffing Professionals Can Counter Companies That Re-Recruit.

Gorilla Glue: Recruiting Strategies That Help Clients Retain New Employees

Gorilla Glue’s motto is, “Get the job done right the first time.” Apparently most companies aren’t following Gorilla Glue’s mantra when it comes to hiring — according to a recent article on Inc.com, 40 percent of employees who quit their jobs in 2013 left within six months of starting. This presents an opportunity for recruiting firms, who can help clients utilize recruiting strategies to find, place, and retain employees who will stick Gorilla Glue strong.

Recruiters have unique skills, including honing in on a job order’s specifics, discussing onboarding procedures, tracking results with recruiting software — actions that help determine what candidate will be “just right” and stay long term.

Recruiting Strategy #1: Gain Clarity on the New Position.

You’re an expert at delving into what a job will really, truly be like and what it can offer your candidates’ long-term careers. Help candidates clarify if this will be an excellent fit or a “pass” by sharing your expertise on the following:

  • Daily Job Requirements. Before interviews begin, recruiters should know exactly what the job will entail. You don’t want your candidate to begin a job and then discover it is not what they expected. Clients may be tempted to highlight only the best components of the job — but that doesn’t set realistic expectations. Daily job requirements, including the mundane and challenging, should be outlined for candidates.
  • Salary and Benefits. You don’t want to put time and energy into a candidate who goes through the process and then turns down the job due to a lower salary offer than expected. From pay to healthcare benefits, vacation days to tuition assistance, your recruiters should know exactly what the candidate will be getting if they’ll eventually be a permanent hire.

Contract employees or statement of work (SOW) candidates should be clear on how long the contract will last, deadlines, if there will be opportunities for additional work and other factors specific to contingent work.

  • Current Stars. In an article on Inc.com, Sue Marks, CEO of Pinstripe and Ochre House, says that as part of her recruiting strategy she asks clients, “Who are your star employees, and what is it about them that make them such great employees at your company?” If your recruiting team can learn from clients about what makes future stars, it’s a win for everyone, and they can offer candidates who match that profile.

Recruiting Strategy #2: Encourage Insight During Interviews. Recruiters should encourage candidates to actively ask questions and get a strong feel for the company and the position. The last thing you want is for your candidate to leave questions unasked, only to discover later that there are frequent weekends on call for IT, expectations of working late nights or a micromanaging supervisor, and then quit. For their part, clients should hone in on not just what the candidate can do now, but in the future as they grow in their role.

  • Company Culture. Suzanne Lucas, the self-proclaimed “Evil HR lady” who’s an expert on recruiting strategies, hiring employees and workplace issues, recommends asking certain questions to determine what the company culture is and what candidates may be the best fit. For permanent employees, determine the average employee tenure, frequency of promotions, how employee performance is measured and why the position is open.
  • Pace of Environment. Recruiters should provide insight into whether the job is fast-paced, slow, or a “feast or famine” workflow. Candidates should ask about the job pacing during interviews, because some individuals thrive in a fast-paced environment while others would find that extremely stressful.

A recent study found that professionals who have more experience are less concerned about salary and more focused on living a good lifestyle, which includes work-life balance. Recruiters should make sure that top candidates have absolute clarity on the intensity and pacing.

  • Opportunity for Growth. Both the client and candidate should be considering not just the job description but where and how the new worker can grow. Is the candidate happy with the track the job is expected to take? Does the client have clarity on how a new employee could advance?
  • Ability Trumps Resume. One tactic that Lucas recommends for clients is having candidates do a project rather than just answer questions. “[G]ive candidates a real task to complete or ask them to prepare a presentation,” she writes in her post titled 3 Simple Ways to Hire Better. “Throw them problems and see how they solve them. It will give you a better idea of what they really will bring to your organization.”

Recruiting Strategy #3: Follow Up After Placements. As part of your firm’s long-term recruiting strategies, recruiters should follow up with candidates after they’re placed in order to analyze the quality of the placement, hear about onboarding processes and share feedback with clients.

  • Onboarding Process. According to another article on Inc.com, studies found that onboarding directly has a positive effect on employee productivity, retention and engagement during their first few months at work. Placed candidates can give recruiters feedback about strengths or areas for improvement in a client’s onboarding process that can be passed back to the client.
  • Candidate and Client Feedback. How recruiters’ placements feel about the process is critical for improving the performance of your agency. How clients feel about their new employees is of utmost value as well. Recruitment management software can help your team track employee evaluations, dependability, attendance and work quality. That way you’ll know what works and doesn’t and can make future changes as necessary, or know that you’re on the right track to finding your clients employees who stick.

Lucas says that “length of service” data can help both recruiting companies and candidates have insight about a company. “If people are booking it out the door in six months … it’s because … management stinks,” she writes. High turnover is a definite red flag.

Your recruiting team can use your tried-and-true recruiting strategies to help clients find employees who stay long term. From gaining clarity on the position to encouraging insightful questions during interviews, your team can be of true value to clients. Like Gorilla Glue, you can help your clients find candidates who stick — the first time.

Discover more recruiting strategies that your firm should know about regarding the re-recruiting trend in our whitepaper, “How Staffing Professionals Can Counter Companies That Re-Recruit.”

Recruitment and Employment Best Practice

EngagewithWorkIn this two part blog series, Toby Conibear, European Business Development Director, discusses how to effectively recruit and employ talent for your business.

When embarking on a recruitment drive there are many things for recruiters to consider.

Compiling numerous pieces of information into candidate profiles (for example copies of previous projects, LinkedIn information and all previous employment details) can be a time consuming process.

Failing to utilise the correct technology can make searching for talent inefficient and could result in wasting the time of clients and candidates; leaving vital roles unfilled.

Time is money

We live in a 24/7 society. Responses and actions are expected in real-time and the recruitment & employment industry is no different. When you look at the application process today, sending a job application via the post seems like a distant memory.  Actually, it wasn’t so long ago, such is the pace and evolution of the industry.

From LinkedIn’s ‘one click’ job application process to candidates providing important identification documents via a scanning app on their smartphones, the application process is becoming ever more streamlined. Recruiters must utilise a range of technology to remain effective and competitive.

As part of this streamlined approach, it is important for recruiters to have all information and documents stored in central database. Both clients and candidates are demanding fast, efficient processes and as such recruiters need to use the latest technology to avoid being beaten to the finish line by the competition.

Going back to the drawing board

That said, although technology can certainly enable you to provide a better service to your clients and candidates, you still need to get the basics right. Tasks such as drafting job specifications and ensuring skills profiles for all candidates are captured accurately are just as important as streamlining the application process.

In the next instalment Toby Conibear discusses the art of ‘match-making’ candidates to roles, keeping compliant with the latest regulations and further steps you can take to stay ahead.

LinkedIn Request Etiquette – avoiding boring & bland

LinkedIn_Offices_2I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn.

How many times have you seen that as a request? It’s the bland, boring, and standard request message sent by so many of us. In the past 5 months, I have received 18 requests exactly like that.

In the grand scheme of things, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just a little meaningless when the recipient knows that no thought has gone in to it. You simply clicked Connect. Consider an active job seeker who  receives several requests a week from a recruiter. Don’t you want your message to stand out?

What might be a better approach?

In theory, you are requesting a connection on LinkedIn from someone for one of the following reasons:

  • You currently work with the individual, or have worked with them in the past
  • You just met them and would like to follow up and connect through LinkedIn
  • You would like to meet them and think LinkedIn would be a great introduction to do that
  • You have an opportunity or idea that could be interest to them

Sending the generic invite might be OK if it’s a current work colleague whom you have a working relationship with, but even in some companies you might not know every person employed there. Receiving a generic invite feels a little like someone just shoving a business card in my hand and walking off. Rude and impersonal.

  1. Be honest about how you know that person. Don’t say it’s a friend or work colleague if you have never even met. If you get too many people clicking ‘I don’t know’ or flagging your request as spam you could be placed in the restricted zone by LinkedIn.
  2. You have the option to include a personal note, so use it! Remind the person you are requesting the connection from exactly how you met, or reference a person you have in common. What is the purpose for the connection?
  3. Thank them in advance for their time. Provide a ‘next action’. Are you looking forward to meeting them at an upcoming event? Or perhaps you would like to schedule a call in the future? Use that in your request.

How can I avoid sending the generic request?

There are a few ways you could send a generic request without intending to. LinkedIn do seem to be making some changes though, so these grey areas could be removed in the future. Right now, visiting the person’s profile directly and clicking Connect is the best way to be sure you can customise your message. These other ways, not as certain:

  1. LinkedIn Phone App – although there is a way to customise your invite, you could easily miss it. Find the person you want to invite, but then using the menu function, select customize invite rather than clicking Connect directly. Unfortunately, I have tried it and had issues actually trying to send the custom message. Worth checking in to, but test it out if possible
  2. People You May Know – this is a very helpful section in LinkedIn. It suggests people you might know based on other connections or companies you are linked to. It’s very easy to just sit and click Connect, and I have been guilty of this in the past. This feature doesn’t give you an option to customise your invite, so be aware of this.
  3. Outlook Social Connector – if you are using an Add-In for Outlook that allows you to connect and view LinkedIn information for those sending you e-mails, this is another area to stay away from should you wish to send a custom invite. – UPDATE: – this is no longer supported as of March 2015. Link updated to reflect this. 

Should I accept generic requests?

By all means, accept them. It may not bother you when you receive these invites. If it’s someone you know, it makes sense to accept. Easier and nothing gained from ignoring them or marking them as spam. However, if it’s someone you have never met, or just can’t place, there is nothing wrong with sending a follow up message, prior to accepting their invite. I have done this in the past and had some great responses that led to valuable relationships. On the other hand, if it’s truly spam you won’t get any response and can then mark them accordingly in LinkedIn.

Are there any other tips or suggestions you can think of? Share them below!