LinkedIn has become a magic wand for all job seekers; it only helps you to showcase yourself to potential hiring managers but also allows you the scope to get in touch with the employer of your choice. You can actually, message a recruiter personally but you will need to exercise a lot of tact in the process; you have to be very careful of what you write in the message, how much you write and to whom you write.
Ideally, you do not know the recruiter personally, so you have to respect their privacy and not barge into their face, begging for a job. The essential thing, therefore, is to introduce yourself on some other platform of social media, before LinkedIn. For instance, Twitter is an excellent place to follow a recruiter you think is suitable for the purpose; sending a request on this site gives a notification to the recipient revealing your photograph and name. That I reckon is a great way to start the approach.
When you notice that you have been successful in establishing a preliminary relation with the recruiter, then go a step further and send a message on LinkedIn, requesting for a connection. Since the recruiter is already acquainted with you on another social site, there are possibilities that he/she will not ignore you completely. Now, sending a mere connection request fails to create an impact as profound as it would when it would be accompanied by a short message. And by short I mean really short! Keep it as brief as possible, as simple as only an introduction about yourself. You could begin by finding a point of commonality between you both, say maybe the recruiter is currently residing at a place where you were born or spend your childhood. If you have a friend in common, you could ask the same person to introduce you. Next, tell him/her your current status professionally, and that you would be gratified if he/she could give you some advice on how to find a new job in the same field. Do not send automated messages, customise them.
Expecting to hear back immediately after you have sent in the message is not what you should be doing. Do not get impatient. Remember several other people message a recruiter besides you, so hold your peace and exercise your patience. Also, many recruiters do not prefer to answer back to such messages, so you may not receive a response even after a long time, but then you cannot entirely shun the thought that you have not been considered for any job by them. If however, you are lucky to receive a response, then you could talk further to him/her and send in your resume for their perusal, through your email. You can get the email address of the recruiter on their profile from the contact information section.
A follow-up message saying thank you should be your next gesture to successfully carry out the process to message a recruiter. Here is when you can pitch for yourself along with appreciating him/her for responding to your request. Talk about the role you are interested in and what is it that you would bring to the table if given a chance. You will have consequent opportunities, I assume, to speak of other roles that interest you as well. In fact, you may be surprised to find frequent responses from an employer who is equally interested in hiring you.
Hence keep regular contact with any potential hiring manager once a relationship has been established on LinkedIn. They may not have anything for you immediately, but if you do continue to show interest in being associated with them, something may come about in the future.
Having imparted to you on how you can message a recruiter, I must add in a few questions that you should never ask a recruiter directly. They always have a negative impact.
iii. Can you give me feedback after reviewing my resume?
A final piece of advice is, never send a message that just has the words ‘Hi’ or ‘Hello’ when sending a request for connection. Use the first name of the person at the beginning with these words and make sure that it is spelt correctly. Check the message several times before sending it and at all times stay professional in your approach.