LinkedIn – Now Spamming Employees at a Company Near You (Yours!)

Kris Dunn HR Technology, Social Media, Sourcing

If you don’t use LinkedIn as a HR Pro, you probably want to check it out sometime soon.  It’s a useful tool you need to know how to use.  But today, it just got downgraded on my "juice" scale.

LinkedIn started spamming for candidates.

LinkedIn used to be different.  A service to allow people to network professionally – and recruit.  No ads, aLinkedin_2 great free service with the option to upgrade to a paid model with better tools via enhanced search and contact options.  The only real problem was what I will affectionately refer to as the "promiscuous" LinkedIn user, a person looking to get as many contacts as possible to expand the power of their network, regardless of whether they knew you or not.

Today, a member of my team received a broadcast email from LinkedIn touting generalized IT positions open at the banking giant Wachovia.  Clearly a purchased list enabling spam through the network.  Other posts on the web suggest that LinkedIn is doing the same thing for its own open positions.  What’s next?  Nigerian inheritance emails from LinkedIn?  From a NYT blog:

"DeWitt Clinton, a programmer at Google, said on his blog yesterday that he received a recruiting pitch from LinkedIn, the popular networking site for professional types: “From your LinkedIn Profile, we thought you may be a good fit for the LinkedIn Engineering team.” Mr. Clinton is a LinkedIn member, but not because he is looking for a job. In fact his profile on the site, which is visible to other members, specifically states, “Sorry, no recruiters, please,” and he has turned off the flags that would indicate to searchers that he is on the market.

Jason Shellen, who recently left Google, and another current employee chimed in on Mr. Clinton’s blog to say they had received similar notes, and Mr. Clinton later added that it looked as if LinkedIn had “spammed everyone at Google.”

Mr. Shellen, who is not a programmer, said in an e-mail that the message from LinkedIn annoyed him because he expected the company to be better at targeting potential hires, “not to mention that I don’t remember opting in to receive direct offers like this from LinkedIn.”

I get that LinkedIn has to find a way to monetize its product.  Previously, this was done by selling professional subscriptions, which allowed recruiters like me to look beyond their personal networks and see talent that might match across LinkedIn.  The catch?  You can’t spam hundreds and thousands of users at a time using the professional subscription.  You have to do it one at a time, which means you choose who you email very carefully.  Recipients of your email also had a chance to rate your inquiry, a form of user feedback designed to prevent spamming.

Apparently, the same doesn’t apply for the big corporations with deep pockets.  It may just be an experiment, but if it becomes the norm, LinkedIn will start seeing current subscribers walk out the door.  And if they are recruiting your employees, the spam filters won’t be far behind…