Recruiters: if you're going to lie, do it properly

07 April 2013   9 comments   Work, Web development

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Being a recruiter is hard work. A lot of pressure and having to deal with people's egos. Although I have no plans to leave Mozilla any time soon, it's still some sort of value in seeing that my skills are sought after in the industry. That's why I haven't yet completely cancelled my LinkedIn membership.

When I get automated emails from bots that just scrape LinkedIn I don't bother. Sometimes I get emails from recruiters who have actually studied my profile (my blog, my projects, my github, etc) and then I do take the time to reply and say "Hi Name! Thank you for reaching out. It looks really exciting but it's not for me at the moment. Keep up the good work!"

Then there's this new trend where people appear to try to automate what the bots do by doing it manually but without actually reading anything. I understand that recruiters are under a lot of pressure to deliver and try to reach out to as many potential candidates as possible but my advice is: if you're going to do, do it properly. You'll reach fewer candidates but it'll mean so much more.

I got this email the other day about a job offer at LinkedIn:
Shaming a stressed out recruiter from LinkedIn

So what can we learn from this? Well, for starters if you're going pretend to have taken time, do it properly! If you don't have time to do in-depth research on a candidate, then don't pretend that you have.

I got another recruiter emailing me personally yesterday and it was short and sweet. No mention of free lunch or other superficial trappings. The only personal thing about it was that it had my first name. I actually bothered to reply to them and thank them for reaching out.


So do LinkedIn ( or in fact all Tech company ) hire a Resulting agency to do that? Last time something like these happen was some clueless recruiters asking DHH for his Rails experience.
Peter Bengtsson
I suspect that a lot of the times, they outsource this. However, some of the big companies have in-house staff who do it. Google for example does that.
"If you're going to do, do it properly. You'll reach fewer candidates but it'll mean so much more."

Spot on! I've been using the same people to help me find jobs for years now.
I actually have no idea which recruitment agencies they work for.
I just know them as people I can contact.
Steve Fink
Exactly the same for me. I have a collection of recruiters who ping me every 6 months or so, at which time I politely stall them off for another 6 months. Anyone who writes a good intro letter gets a polite reply and is added to that (pretty short) list. Anyone who writes a decent but honest letter has a chance of going onto that list, depending on my mood and email load. Anything that smells machine-generated or (worse) poorly human-generated gets dropped or permanently muted. Some percentage of recruiters don't continue to keep going with it, and so naturally drop off the list, which keeps it at a roughly constant size.

I judge intro letter quality fairly harshly, so really about half the list is recruiters who were in-house at places where I interviewed and turned down a job in the past -- they're more likely to keep in touch because they've pre-qualified me, and recruiters have high turnover independent of their quality, so none of them are still with the original company. Especially since most of those companies are long-dead startups.
I am sure your wife is also impressed with your sweetish background. Haha.
Erik Rose
Google has some in-house recruiters but also contracts out.
hehee aahhw this bullshit "professional spam" ...
recently I got invited by someone like this:
"Hi Greg

Your profile caught my attention, as I have been asked to approach candidates of a calibre appropriate for placement at AAA studios...."
He was doing quite well right up until the obvious typos. At least he'd done some minimal research, even if his transcription skills were lacking.
Roy Ruhling
I am a technical recruiter and love to read stuff like this so I can see what candidates "really" think. But I'm also technical and keep up with the goings-on. But on this particular topic I wanted to bring up two points. I was once hounded by a sales rep at a software company that makes software to interview technical candidates. This particular rep was persistent and left me multiple voice mails and sent me multiple emails. In one of the last emails he referenced some pretty specific stuff in my profile, which shows he had done his reading, but he made a mistake and referenced a "GMAT" score when I had talked about a "GRE" score. But I didn't really hold that against him. It's the thought that counts, right? I just had no interest in taking the call so even if he'd dressed up like a clown and knocked on my door I still wouldn't have opened it...
Which brings me to point #2. I once received calls about 3-4 times/week for 6 or 7 weeks straight. A quick Google search of the number told me exactly who it was - a business trying to connect about a product I had expressed interest in. So for the 30 or so phone calls I received from this number, I never once got a voice mail. And I never once picked up their call. I was curious to see when the calls would stop and when they would leave a voice mail. I also just don't like the fact that someone calls me multiple times for weeks and never once leaves a voice mail.

But also, with regards to messages I send and the lack of responses or responses I receive, I think I've come to the conclusion that it's a slot machine at the end of the day. You can have the best message in the world showing you've read every book, done all your research, etc. but at the end of the day it's a "sales call" and some people just don't respond to that. Some people would never even think about taking a job at a place where they don't already "know" someone. Also, as a corporate recruiter candidates are usually responding to the "brand" you work for, not you personally. So I think the best a recruiter can do is get the word out regarding the jobs they need to fill is to write the message, send the message, and hope for the best.
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