No matter how awesome my day happens to be, as soon as I open my personal e-mail, it’s pretty much guaranteed that it’s all downhill from there. Seriously, nothing pisses me off – or depresses me – quicker than simply opening my own inbox. I should know better by now – after all, the important stuff goes to my business e-mail, anyway – but for some reason, I’m still a glutton for punishment after all these years.
As soon as I open my inbox – no matter what time of the day (or night), I’m inundated with recruiter spam. That doesn’t make me unique – after all, recruiting junk mail is as ubiquitous as those ads for cheap imported Viagra or getting hit up for a bridge loan by a Nigerian prince – but as a recruiter, it makes me a little depressed. It’s also infuriating. Don’t believe me, ask pretty much every job seeker out there.
If you’re in recruiting, or even tangentially touch the employment industry, please, from one recruiter to another, I have one simple request. Please stop sending out bullshit e-mails about employment opportunities. They’re not only obnoxious, they also keep good recruiters from good jobs from getting through to good candidates because they’re pretty much preconditioned to immediately disregard any e-mail even alluding to job opportunities.
Why Do I Have To Write About Recruiting Spam Again?
Let me be clear: e-mailing prospective candidates is obviously an inevitable, and integral, part of any sourcing or recruiting strategy, so I’m not saying never to send job related e-mails. And if you’ve got to automate them, that’s OK too, provided you have the right system and relevant opportunities.
The ones I’m referring to are the ones that are the recruiting equivalent of “Hey, You Won A Million Dollars” or “A Loved One Has Died and Left You Money.” The kind you roll your eyes at, mark as spam and wonder who the hell is dumb enough to even open those things. Like, seriously.
But I get the same kind of spam from recruiters pretty much every day. Take this one I just received from CyberCoders, one of the worst offenders, who feels the need to shoot me one of these recruitment crapvertisements at least once a week. In this case, I screwed up and e-mailed the recruiter back to request they remove me from whatever lead list they bought this month. Big mistake.
Trying to unsubscribe from these job-bots is like fighting a hydra – you cut one spam account off, and two more pop up in its place.
I mean, I should feel bad for the recruiter whose branch manager (or whoever the hell happens to be in charge over there) forces them to send out this BS as part of their process. I’m sure they have no say in whatever the company tells them to do to present opportunities on their behalf to generate candidates – even if, assuming they’re not an idiot – they know that the only response they’re likely to get is pissing off their lead list.
This is verbatim, if you can believe it.
“I am a recruiter here at CyberCoders who specializes in placing Lotus Notes Developer Candidates as well as similar positions in Reston, VA and other locations nationwide. I am e-mailing you in case you think you would be a great fit for the position listed below. Please check out the link and apply if you are interested in hearing more about the job. :)”
Uh, last time I checked, it was your job, not mine, to determine whether or not I’d be a great fit for the position – that’s what they pay recruiters to do. Second off, there’s no way I’m clicking any link that’s sent via Spambot – I’m not an idiot. And the little smiley face? That’s the icing on the BS cake.
Of course, I actually get these spammy job related e-mails from PEOPLE I ACTUALLY KNOW.
Here’s a perfect example:
“General Dynamics IT Seeks a Principal Contracts Manager with TS/SCI and Poly
General Dynamics Information Technology seeks to hire a Principal Contracts Manager (TS.SCI with Polygraph required) in Herndon, VA qualified candidates must possess a minimum of 8 plus years of experience, and full knowledge of working contracts in the IC.
To view the full job description, please click on the link below.
Also – If you refer a friend I end up placing at any of my open jobs, I will give you an iPad for the referral!
This position is for a Lotus Notes Developer in Reston, VA.”
Yeah, I received this little ditty on a Friday – and it kind of killed my attempt to finish the week off on a high note. I’m keeping the perpetrator’s identity anonymous, since they’re a “friend” in the industry. Of course, a real friend would never show such a disgusting lack of professionalism or ingenuity. I know this person – they’re better than this. But is it their fault? Should I blame them? If not them, who?
I decided to find out what was going on.
Who’s Really to Blame for Recruiting Spam?
Like I said, I know this cat, and thought that there was no way in hell this was a tactic they’d ever consider using themselves. So I replied to their e-mail from my personal account and pretty much told them as much. Of course, that ironically went directly to a junk folder (their spam filter is apparently better than ours), so I did something shocking for a recruiter: I picked up the phone and gave her a all.
She was a bit taken aback, and when I spoke with her about it, she seemed taken a little off guard. But her surprise paled to mine when I heard her response. You know what she had to say for herself? She said, “Sometimes one slips through. Most people just ignore it.”
Lovely. So this is where we’re at now? Automation and scale have completely replaced personalization and relevance in recruiting? Have our systems and processes become so dependent on these SPAM campaigns that major organizations and mom & pop shops alike have diluted our profession and eroded our value – and experience – at finding the right resume or fit for a job?
Now, it’s just keyword matching and volume – throwing shit to see what sticks, more or less. Hey, if you’ve got the right word in your resume or social profile, I guess that means you could be qualified, right?
Nope. That’s not even close to the truth. Instead, this response from a former manager (and current friend) to the spam he consistently receives from lazy recruiters really hits close to home:
“Recruiters fill up my LinkedIn inbox, my email, and my phone voice mail trying to fill a position without knowing anything about me or even speaking to me. No matter how you want to put your neat little spin on it, recruiters deal in volume and I would venture to guess the vast majority do a poor job at assessing skills necessary for a position.
Mention you have maybe a couple of years experience working with Java on your resume (but if the recruiter did their due diligence and read the thing, they would have noticed it was 10 years ago), and you’ll have them contacting you for a “Senior Java Developer Position”. Say what? I don’t really do Java anymore. Didn’t you at least read the whole resume. No you didn’t.
Don’t misunderstand this to mean I don’t like recruiters or don’t use them, because I have in the past and may in the future. They are necessary to turn to when I am ready to make a change because the few I know really well and trust have their finger on the pulse of the current job market for our industry and will help me make that change or move into that new opportunity (a.k.a., they will help me find that next job).”
Seriously, this was one of the best responses I’ve ever read. #TrueStory
Recruiting Spam and Reputation: What’s At Stake
My point is this: if you’re part of the recruiting spam problem, then you’re doing it all wrong. And you’re not just killing the reputation of recruiters everywhere, but you’re killing your own professional reputation, too. After all, your name is attached to every one of those lazy form e-mails you use to fish – and likely that link bait will come back to bite you someday. I wouldn’t want to be remembered that way, and I’m pretty sure that with a limited pool of qualified candidates and connections, that’s not how you want to be remembered, either. No freakin’ way.
Nope. I want to be remembered for engaging candidates the right way. I’m not interested in wasting their time simply because sending out automated e-mails and hoping for the best is easier than actually rolling up your sleeves and doing some real recruiting. Sure, it takes more time – and more effort – but then again, everything worthwhile does. And if you’re a recruiter, then nothing is more worthwhile than connecting with the right candidate.
I know that this will fall on deaf ears – it’s false hope to think that somehow, recruiters are suddenly going to become less lazy or that the spam will cease (or even abate, a little), but maybe, just maybe, it will at least hit a nerve to make someone have pause – or pangs of guilt – right before hitting send on their next campaign.
Of course, I wouldn’t count on it, but hey, a guy can always dream, can’t he?
About the Author: Derek Zeller draws from over 16 years in the recruiting industry. The last 11 years he has been involved with federal government recruiting specializing within the cleared Intel space under OFCCP compliancy. Currently, he is a Senior Sourcing Recruiter at Microsoft via Search Wizards.
He has experience with both third party agency and in-house recruiting for multiple disciplines and technologies. Using out-of-the-box tactics and strategies to identify and engage talent, he has had significant experience in building referral and social media programs, the implementation of Applicant Tracking Systems, technology evaluation, and the development of sourcing, employment branding, military and college recruiting strategies.
You can read his thoughts on RecruitingDaily.com or Recruitingblogs.com or his own site Derdiver.com. Derek currently lives in the DC area.