What’s Wrong with My LinkedIn Request to Employers?

082210-jt-daleDear J.T. & Dale: What am I doing wrong? Everyone tells me to network in order to meet new contacts. I hear constantly from fellow job seekers that they’re having a lot of luck with LinkedIn. So, I reached out to more than a dozen people I thought would make good contacts, and got totally rejected. Not a single one responded to me. Here’s what I’ve been writing:

“Dear X: I’d like to connect with you and send you my resume so I could get feedback on what’s wrong with it. I’ve been searching for a job for 12 months with no luck. Will you help me?”

— Luisa

J.T.: I have to be honest…I wouldn’t respond, either. First of all, you don’t give any reason why they should connect with you. You don’t explain how you found them or why you respect their opinion enough to seek their help. While I’m sure you didn’t mean it, your wording makes you come across as self-absorbed.

Dale: Well, Luisa, when J.T. goes negative on you, you know you’ve really gone awry. Personally, I wouldn’t call it “self-absorbed,” but I would describe it as a kittens-in-a-box appeal, which has the same result: People look the other way, not wanting to get involved. So, how do you get someone to feel you’re worth taking the time? By showing them that your message is personal, not a spam-ish, generic e-mail. You have to show them you took some time if you expect them to spend some time on you.

J.T.: Just step back and review how you network in person, and then apply the most successful techniques to your online persona. Making online connections requires the same social etiquette as in-person connections — aka, “netiquette.” You need to be positive and engaging in order to EARN attention for your request for help. Craft a kinder, friendlier, more respectful intro, and I think you’ll see good results.


Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, jtodonnell.com, and of the blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com. Please visit them at www.jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

© 2010 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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