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A follow up to my Why I Hate HR piece: Recruiters stop spamming

*Update at bottom*

Here is an email I just sent out – names redacted to protect the possibly innocent and stupid. It’s a taste of what I hate about much of the recruiting done today.

Dear whoever reads this and could possibly pass this it on to the powers that be at your organization,

Look, I used to recruit, both as a corporate recruiter and a placement recruiter, so I get how hard it can be. But I have unsubscribed from your list and I am not even in Human Resources anymore. Besides your emails are verging on, if they are not actually spam. They certainly aren’t directed based on my skill set. Theoretically (if poorly titled) one job, if it were not about 80 minutes away (on a good traffic day) *might* be a fit. Though I highly doubt it pays anywhere near what my experience and past pay would warrant. I do love the timing of this though as I just wrote an article entitled Why I Hate HR: An insiders Perspective. Since it has been spreading rapidly, I am considering expanding it into a book. If I do so, I will be including a whole section on recruiting and this sort of recruiting in particular, which is most likely spam. In fact I would say your company crossed the spam line by falling to respect my unsubscribe request. See all I do typically when I see an email from [redacted] is hit delete. Now if I get anything other than a real response to this email, I will simply be blocking your IP and report your IP to as many blacklisting services as I can now that I have unsubscribe and clearly said I do not want these emails that are at best tangentially related to my 20 years of Sr. HR Management and are really nothing more than spam.

Now I get it, emails are cheap and a computer that spits out a list based on keywords then auto delivers, might actually generate some placements, given a broad enough distribution list. Which is why spam is so successful. It's easy to spit out emails at the cost of electricity and hopefully get enough suckers that an essentially automated process can be a money generator. Of course if enough people block and/or report the email and your domain, your IP gets blacklisted and your emails go nowhere. Now for the spammers, they don’t care. An IP and a new domain is a cheap cost of doing “business".  Now I am going to give your company the benefit of the doubt that you are a legitimate recruiting company, following some silly and poorly thought out company policy - see  Why I Hate HR: An insiders Perspective. If I’m wrong, OK, I’ll get another email from you with a list of jobs, report you as spammers and block your IP.  If I am right, and this is just another example of the kind of recruiting I know happens all too commonly, see you in the dead trees and/or ebook world. Now if you aren’t a spammer and you really do want your clients and candidates to trust your brand, stop it! Unlike the spammers that can use lists and black/grey market connections and could care less about their public brand, a true recruiting company will live and die by its reputation. So while yes, to quote P.T Barnum, or more likely David Hannah’s sardonic critique of Barnum and his customers, “There’s a sucker born every minute”  if that is truly your business model, you can go ahead and expect a short term cash win at the expense of the financial game and any chance you have at building a legitimate brand, respect and long term sustainability.

Thank you,
Corey Feldman
And once again, please unsubscribe me from your job list.
A slightly redacted and reformatted version of their email below
On Oct 21, 2013, at 10:03 AM, [redacted] wrote:

10 new jobs for Corey
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Human Resources Manager – Physician Services
Towson, MD
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Business Office Associate
Laurel, MD 20723
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Human Resource Representative
Chicago, IL
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Business Office Associate (part-time)
Laurel, MD 20723
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Retail Associate Manager
Woodbridge, VA 22191
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Human Resources Administrator
McLean, VA 22102
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Office Manager / Medical Billing Manager
San Jose, CA 95116
View Job

TOP PAY FOR EXPERIENCED MEDICAL SENIOR HUMAN RESOURCE ADMINISTRATOR IN NYC.
New York, NY
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Business Office Manager
Mansfield, TX
View Job

Human Resources Generalist
Stamford, CT
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See All Jobs
Please apply online to the opportunities you’re interested in.
Best Regards,
[redacted]
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Update

The organization in question was kind enough to respond to my email. I’ll post it here, again, name redacted.

Corey,

 
That was a very extensive response, and I believe there are a lot of companies who are simply mass mailing for multiple purposes and just “throwing everything against the wall to see what sticks”.  We do not want to be grouped in with that crowd though.  It’s a tough balance.  We send candidates jobs that we try to target to their experience as much as possible, but sometimes that is more difficult than you’d think.  
 
Anyways, just wanted to shoot you a response and let you know that we are real.  We don’t charge for our services so we don’t normally get back to everyone with their requests but you did make some good points and I wanted to clear up that we’re not just an email machine.
 
Best of luck with your article and potential book.
 
- [redacted]
While I am glad she/he responded and I am very happy to hear that he/she does not want to be lumped in with a group of spammers. I honestly do hope that is the case and they take something from my email an eventual response.  As for their current practices I have serious doubts that there was any *human* attempt to target applicants to posistions. Here is why. Of the ten jobs listed, none really match my background and experience.  At best one, but even that I seriously doubt comes close to my required salary and while it is at least in the same state, it is not a practical commute. And I’m someone who spent the last 11 years commuting between Maryland and Virginia in one of the worst traffic areas in the country.  But let’s look at the locations more closely. Of the ten, as I mentioned, the one with closest (in a game of horseshoe) fit, while in the right state,  is not a realistic commute. Five of the ten would actually require relocation, None of which are high enough level positions that they would likely warrant relocation assistance, if I was even open to such a possibility. Now while I can’t blame them for the two Northern Virginia locations since they couldn’t know I hate crossing the Potomac River and my last two HR positions were in Northern Virginia, but when you look at the actual positions, one isn’t even in Human Resources. Nor are the 2 that are actually a reasonable commute by the way.  In fact of the 10 jobs listed only half of them are actual HR positions. Because no, office administrators and managers are not HR Pros (another chapter for my book!). So of those four, basing it on job titles (which admittedly are not always spot on), the positions seems to range from entry to low/mid level with one possible middle management and/or sole practitioner type position. I find it highly unlikely that any of these positions were remotely targeted by anyone who has read my resume. Either this was a computer generated list based on keywords, or the sourcer would have difficultly passing a Turning test.

 

Another thing regarding his/her response “We send candidates jobs that we try to target to their experience as much as possible, but sometimes that is more difficult than you’d think.” That is a load of baloney. First did he/she miss the part were I mentioned I have worked in both corporate and placement recruiting? So I do know exactly how how hard it can be to find the right qualified candidate for a position. But here is the thing, that IS your job. I am a big fan of technology and I can data mine with the best of them. But never once did I email a candidate for a position without at least looking at a resume.  And for sourcing we aren’t even talking about the minute or three it might take to decide if this is someone  you might want to actually interview or bring to the next level. For sourcing it should’t take more than 30 seconds to scan a resume to make sure you are at least in the ballpark. I love technology, and here is where I show just how big of a geek I am.   I have been rolling my own computers since the early 90’s. My fastest Mac is a Hackintosh (software licensee  for the OS bought and paid for).  And yes, I do find the command line often faster than GUI.  Ok if you look at my home office I’m a Mac. Nice big iMac, with iPhone and iPad right in front. Of course my powerhouse is my backup office, where my trusty Hackintosh can triple boot into OS X, Windows 7, and Centos 6.4. I have Android, Debian, and Ubuntu as virtual machines. I do have an offsite mac server, but my other servers on linux based. I can play with all the Linux flavors but prefer Centos for production environments.  I couldn’t count then number of database applications I have built over the years, including one for a government agency as a stopgap until they could implement a larger system. I love technology, but here is the things. Computers are dumb. They will do what you tell them to do, not what you want them to do. We have been promised AI for almost, if not as long as flying cars.  To be honest when it comes to true Artificial Intelligence, I’m not holding my breath until I see real quantum computer breakthroughs. So I don’t care how much you paid for that amazing piece of analytical HR software, real recruiting requires human beings looking for more than buzz words.

And as for “It’s a tough balance” , no it isn’t. If you are basing your business model on taking so many requisitions that you or your company can’t handle the load enough to spend 30 seconds on a resume, you aren’t doing it right. There is this little thing in business called past performance.  That spaghetti at the wall approach might make you a quick buck short term, but you can’t make it work long term in this business. And sorry despite your protestations, the positions I have routinely been sent, clearly were spaghetti at the wall recruiting.  Now I know some areas are harder than others. There can be educational gaps, geographical issues, not enough of x and to many of y. But unemployment is horrendous. It is so bad, that it is starting to look good, as people still can’t find decent jobs, fall of state benefits and stop being counted in the unemployment numbers. But at the end of the day it is just not that hard to find qualified candidates for most positions in most areas.  But if your approach is to sit back and spend your time trying to get a computer to find you the right candidate, when it doesn’t actually understand the keywords its searching for, you blow one of the most important things you can have in this business, trust. Candidates stop trusting or looking at your emails, and other than the lucky hits, eventually your past performance overall will tank.

I am also glad to hear you don’t charge for your services. First off, I personally don’t believe a candidate should ever pay.  It should always fall to the company. Sure, write in a payback clause into their offer letter or employment contract should they not stay a certain period of time.  And while I know some head hunters do charge candidates for high level placements, any anyone that would even attempt to charge a candidate money without least a signed contract/offer letter for a new job, should be up on fraud charges.



Posted from Potomac, Maryland, United States.