Job Hunting 101 | LinkedIn and third degree connections


Job hunting took longer than I’d prefer. And I’ve learned a few things in the process. Since contacts keep calling me for advice, I’m posting some of those lessons here.

I love LinkedIn. I love my LinkedIn connections. But people don’t understand how third degree connections work.

You -> your contact (1) -> mystery contact (2)-> your target (3)

Frequently, when I request an introduction to a third degree connection, my contact says, sorry I don’t know that person. And then I explain how third degree connections work. The lightbulb goes on.

Save yourself that learning curve. When you ask for an introduction to your target, be sure to explain that you know that your contact doesn’t know that party. There’s a mystery connection between your contact and your target but you can’t see the name.

I often send an email outside of LinkedIn to my contact with a link to the target’s LinkedIn profile. And I ask my contact to check to see how s/he is connected to that party. Is that in between connection someone that might forward me along to his/her contact? If so, can I forward my resume and cover letter directly as a pdf to that contact or is a formal LinkedIn introduction preferred. It limits confusion and allows the in between party to set the terms for introductions.

2 Comments for “Job Hunting 101 | LinkedIn and third degree connections”


Thanks for reading, Eva.

Usually, the response is either in the affirmative and taken care of right way or the person has so weak a connection that s/he doesn’t feel the other party is enough of a known quantity to ask. It never hurts to ask.

It’s not a guarantee of an interview by any stretch of the imagination. Let’s say that 1/2 the time your connection can forward you. About 1/3-1/4 of the time the recipient gets in touch. But that odds are still vastly improved than when applying into the blackhole of online application systems.

It’s easier to pursue an introduction to a connection in a different department when the company is smaller because that individual might have dealings with relevant parties. Larger companies are trickier, but if your mutual connection is strong, you may find someone that is willing to check the internal job listigs to see who your resume should be forwarded to and then do so.

When it’s a more tenuous relationship between the job you want and the connection’s job, you’re relying more on the strength of your mutual connection’s relationship to that person.

I’ve had complete strangers forward me along to a hiring manager after a brief email exchange and I’ve had people ask me a few questions over the phone to make sure I”m sincere and qualified before forwarding me along.

You need to make it your mission to get your resume on a hiring manager’s desk. And do what it takes to get that done.



Hi Andrea,

thanks for the clarification. I am curious how your request of an introduction is generally received, and what your success rate is in getting one. I was also curious about another thing: Say you are a sales person, interested in a sales position at company X. You have a third degree connection in that company, but he/she is in a completely different field, for example Interactive Technology. Will you still pursue an introduction? What is “the angle”?