A Simple LinkedIn Tip To Help Identify Impersonal Messages

It’s common knowledge that few people read profiles before messaging you on LinkedIn, but here’s an easy way to tell if you’re getting a mass mailed message or a genuine personal one.


I do spend more time than I should on LinkedIn. This is, however, not by design. I start out with a quick scan to see what my previous work colleagues are up to (very little, usually), see what jobs are recommended to me (the wrong ones, don’t start me on this one — I’m going to write about this too one day), and generally to see if anyone’s abruptly resigned (don’t tell me you don’t do this…).

Unfortunately, I end up getting bogged down in the endless meme parade of self-aggrandising souls posting (un)helpful tales of how they follow the Agile process (sigh) when planning meals for their cat, how I should most definitely plan to wade through shark infested waters, learn Olympic level archery, and climb mount Everest before breakfast, and also get a slick motorised standing desk to even remotely begin to succeed at my life.


Sometimes, though, I choose to just check notifications. But, then, I inevitably fall down the hole of being suggested to congratulate someone have a ‘work anniversary’ (seriously, who celebrates this? is it just me that’s missing out? do you get a prize?), find out someone is some kind of ‘thought leader’ (what? is this a cult now?), or someone else commented on something that I commented on 7 years ago (did I comment on that?).


More often than not, if feeling especially tight on time, I just go straight to the messaging section. Now, as primarily a software engineering type in the workplace anyway, I get a fair few messages primarily concerned with potential job opportunities.

As you may have noticed, I frame myself as Dr. Stuart, this is because back in the mists of time, many many moons ago, I completed a PhD in mathematics and computing. Although mostly I don’t generally use the title, except when my mother presses me to on the phone (“because you earned it”), I do use it on LinkedIn for several reasons:

  • It does actually attract attention for specific things
  • I’m always open to roles that involve the subject I studied
  • It helps me identify junk mailshot messages (ding ding)

You see, as there’s (still…) no provision for selecting a title in LinkedIn, I, as many others, put the title in as part of my first name.

Officially then, my first name on LinkedIn is technically “Dr Stuart”.

Note: some people with PhDs put them at the end of their name, like
“First Last, PhD”. This, to me, looks a bit “self-help guru book club” type of thing.
Say, a little less
“I did at least 3 years of painstakingly hard research in something difficult”
and a little more
“I’m a self-help guru PHD(sic) who uses the vibrational resonance of crystals and likes to comment on the effect of diet on your psychic pineal gland aura”.

Getting To The Point

So, consider this. Someone who’s sending me a message, personally, by actually having to click buttons, find my name, and then author some prose is far more likely to start it with “Hi Stuart” or “Hey Stuart” then someone who’s running a nefarious piece of software to mailshot unsuspecting individuals based on some low bar peripheral searching. The simplistic (most likely javascript) script will say “Hi Dr. Stuart,”. Awkward or what. Even if you were human and being awfully polite, unless you’re a real grammar pedant, you’d drop the full stop after Dr, right? I digress. Swings and roundabouts.

Of course, there may be people who seemingly like to call PhDs by just their title and first name and there may even be people who really just like being called by their title and first name only, like Dr Phil*. But, from experience, they’re in the minority. Look around you. Really.

Anyway, if you don’t have a PhD (and don’t want to pretend — yes, we all know who you are), you could always be a little more inventive with your choice of pseudo title. Perhaps a Mr, Ms, Lord, Lady, or even Honorable?

YMMV, of course, so have fun, but do please pick one you’re entitled to.
My mother would not be pleased if you were pretending and hadn’t earned it.

*Dr Phil was the only one that came immediately to mind.

Fan Mail from a Flounder

It’s also quite fun to get those verification mails from LinkedIn that start with,

“Hi Dr. Stuart,
We noticed you recently tried to sign in to your LinkedIn account from a new device”

Never gets old.

Worries about the future. Way too involved with software. Likes coffee, maths, and . Would prefer to be in academia. SpaceX, Twitter, and Overwatch fan.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store