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Recruiting No No’s # number 2 and little a taste of humble pie for me

Ok so here is my second article in as many days on recruiting no no’s. like the last it is essentially a redacted email interaction from an unsolicited recruitment email in a non related industry.  It seems like the initial email was sent from what I assume is a sourcer and then someone else picked it up from there. Unlike the last one I will do it in reverse order to make it easier to read. I the response and there were some valid points made. But again, I truly believe the approach is flawed regardless of intentions and I hopefully explained why in a clear way, and provided a helpful approach that will meet what I hope is the recruiter’s true goal. – Side subject, I think I have now officially written as many blog post regarding HR, as in the entire time I was actually in HR. At least under my own name and blog…  Ok on to the exchange – bottom to top

Hello Corey,
Your resume was handed to me by a colleague of mine, and I wanted to reach out to you to discuss a fantastic opportunity here in Maryland!
I represent the [Redacted], and I am searching for an energetic, goal driven, outgoing candidate to fill the role of a multi-line insurance agent. This person will be responsible for the procuring new clients, sales and service of new life, disability, property and casualty insurance policies. This is ultimately a self-employed position with the opportunity to create your own enterprise. We provide training and income to get started!
I can be reached via email or cell at [redacted] should you be interested in discussing further.
I look forward to hearing from you!
[redacted]
My response – yes too snarky, not to excuse it, but I am in the middle of a website buildout and have received so many spam like recruiting emails lately, I responded. See below
Just out of curiosity I’m curious why if “someone gave” you my resume, what would make you think I would be a good fit for this position. You might be interested an an article I just wrote on recruiting. Hope it helps you find appropriate candidates.

They responded with some very good points so I did get a bit of humble pie for my snarkyness. That said, I still say they are doing it wrong. They were even generous enough to, I think, pay my writing a compliment. Their response below
Corey,While I can absolutely appreciate your ill feelings towards spam emails, I assure you we do take our jobs seriously and care about those we are able to build relationships with.  You pointed out many reasons why companies do what they do. However, I ask you not to categorize everyone. Don’t forget that we are trying to have a mutually beneficial working relationships in the workplace. We provide opportunity, and they help us grow. While you may view this process or this job as beneath you, I speak with people every day who are down on their luck…from being fired, divorce, some hate their current job, and some flat out just want to find a better life for their families. We try to provide them an opportunity to do that. Sometimes the process can come across as robotic and non-personal however I assure you that I (a former middle school teacher and college professor) find pleasure in helping others through this process.I know not everyone is like me, and I’m sure you don’t want to be classified into categories by strangers either. However, I’m going to do that now.  I will say that you did evoke emotion from your article (I took some things maybe too personal), so I will classify you as a good writer, and I wish you nothing but the best with your book and future endeavors.

Best wishes.

[redacted]

So I responded but I forgot to include that I in no way feel this or any job is beneath me. Quite frankly if it meant feeding and sheltering my family, I’d muck stalls, work retail in holiday season with all of those wonderful self-righteous, and overly entitled customers, and/or pretty much whatever I had to do that was an honest living. 

Below my rushed response, hopefully with out to much of a know it all” heavy handed response. 

I really appreciate your getting back to me and I thank you for the complement.  I also agree that no one likes to be classified especially with little information. If you are interested in a couple recruiting suggestion from someone who has spent a very long time doing it, why not try a more honest approach. It has always worked better for me. Recruiting is sales and it is much easier to sells something that you believe. So one suggestion would be to not start off with an opening like “Your resume was handed to me by a colleague of mine”. See you have already lost me in your opening sentence. Now maybe it is technically true. You could have a sourcer you are friends with that handed you my resume. But it is clearly meant to sound like this was a connection made through networking and/or possible mutual interconnections, when more likely it was scraped or sourced through a resume bank or Linkedin. Now you sound sincere in your response, and actually passionate about helping people. Trust me I know plenty of people that fall into the categories you described. Heck I myself just quit a 20 year career in HR because I hated it. In fact it was the third time I have quit. One of which was to teach. Now I taught HS English lit, but in Grad school I did teach a semester of middle school, so you get extra points in my book for surveying that age group. The problem is, as you know you want to build trust in your candidates. This is especially true in an industry like yours where the salary is likely 100% commission based or at best a draw against commission. Which having worked in the world of placement recruiting I know from personal experience can be quite a scary thing, especially if you are used to a salaried, exempt paycheck. So in your case trust is even more vital. You are probably loosing far more candidates then your realize because most people smart and savvy enough to make a good fit for your position are likely to realize you most probabbly stretched the truth in your first sentence. I would probably use something like (and please understand I am shooting front the hip here and would finesse it) – I came across your resume and see you have a lot of skills that would be transferable to my industry. If you are unhappy in your current position and want to take more control over your financial future, I have an opportunity that could be a great fit. I would love the opportunity to talk to you more about it. – Now if I am truly not interested, you haven’t turned me off, since I feel like you are being honest with me. Maybe even your email will stick with me because of that and I would be more open to future possibilities. Also if I do happen to be in one of the positions your described, you have already started the most important part in the relationship building required for recruiting, building trust. This has always been my approach to recruiting and I have spent years training recruiters and hiring managers the same thing.

I would never suggest a robotic approach. Recruiting is about relationships and relationships are built on trust. Speak from the heart, speak honestly. When you get the bites and the conversation, talk about your experiences, helping people transition from careers they hate, to ones where they had more control over their own destiny. And of course the people you have helped that have been unemployed, going through a divorce or recently divorced, and how you are passionate about helping people turn their lives around. Personally insurance is not for me, but that approach would have caught my attention. I hated HR, I wanted to take control of my life. So an opening like that would have gotten my attention. Even if I knew it wasn’t for me, an open, honest approach like that, would have stuck with me. I would likely have added you to my linkedin connections and when I had someone come to me for career help, which is all to often in today’s day an age, there is a good chance I would have remembered you and sent them your way if I thought it was a fit. Then in their case, instead of saying this amorphous, most likely nonexistent person, sent me your resume. You could say Corey Feldman passed me your resume and thought it would be a good idea for us to connect and see if we can find a mutually beneficial position for you…
My approach to recruiting has always been very successful. The reason is simple,  I was always honest. I sold the real positions, warts and all. Before taking a job my candidates (throughout my career) knew all the positives and the negatives of the job.  Consequently my retention rate was always very high. One of the recruiting accomplishments I am most proud of was very early in my HR career. I was the Recruiter/Employee Relations person, and would even help out as an operations manager. It was a chain with about 250 employees on site. When I took over HR, they were 70% staffed with a turnover rate twice the industry standard. Within 14-15 months the staff levels were never below 95% and the turnover rate was 1/2 the industry standard.  Now early on I got challenged if positions didn’t fill as fast as they had before and I had to educate the powers that be, and thankfully even at a young age I had the confidence to do so (and my only responsibilities were to myself and cat). But in a pretty quick period of time, when it was obvious my methods worked, by the fact the fill rate went from a 70% average to above a 95% average and turnover dropped by an insane percentage, there was no more defending my actions. Yes, I took longer to make a placement, but those placements mostly stayed. So soon when we were well staffed no one cared if I spent an extra week filling a position since we were in such better shape to handle it. This not only helped staffing, but now we had staff that was there for long enough to be true assets to the company. It positively impacted sales, and literally helped put a new face on this location.
Now I don’t know how you are compensated, but I would guess its some sort of piece of the commission based on sales of your placements. You target the right people and make sure they know the good and bad so they can make that informed choice to take the offer.  These are the the ones that stick around and produce, especially if they stay past the average learning curve. Your income increases as well, and you get to help more people and truly help them by find them a position that actually fits them. If that’s not how your compensated, and you try my way, show them the numbers. The production rates of your hires compared to others, the turnover rates, and the reduced cost of training. Even if you are in some sort of salaried position or flat rate compensation approach, if you can demonstrate the positive impact you are having on the companies growth, sales, and profits, so negotiating bonuses and raises becomes a whole lot easier.
My two cents, for whatever it is worth to you.
Corey Feldman
There response 

Hey Corey,

I honestly enjoyed reading your email, and I’ll take your points into much consideration. I wish I had more time on my hands to continue this conversation as I honestly do find it interesting. However, in order to make a proper response I would need MUCH more time than I feel comfortable giving while on the clock.

I wish you nothing but the best, and if you ever change your mind (Which I highly doubt). Or if you find someone who is interested in selling insurance, I’d be happy to talk to them.

My office line is [Redacted] and my cell phone is [Redacted].

Best wishes with the book,

[Redacted]

And my final response 

I just sent you a linkedin connection and I hope you take me up on it. I believe you when you say you’re passionate about helping people. While I think your approach is dead wrong, and you could do much better with mine. I liked your response enough to connect and trust you want to help people so I will send you people I think might be a fit for your industry. In my linkedin request I mentioned that I plan on blogging our conversation. I will of course redact any identifying information. If you do have time later and want to explain why you feel your approach is the right want to start a relationship, I will update the post. And again, I will be happy to refer people to you. Obviously they need to have a comfort with sales and commission based living, strong people skills, but if you have any other traits your are really looking for (since I am putting faith in you that you do care about people and are not a fill a hole at any cost recruiter) let me know what they are and I will keep that in mind.

Corey.



Posted from Potomac, Maryland, United States.

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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
View All Jobs | Modify Job Search Criteria
Human Resources Manager – Physician Services
Towson, MD
View Job

Business Office Associate
Laurel, MD 20723
View Job

Human Resource Representative
Chicago, IL
View Job

Business Office Associate (part-time)
Laurel, MD 20723
View Job

Retail Associate Manager
Woodbridge, VA 22191
View Job

Human Resources Administrator
McLean, VA 22102
View Job

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
View Job

Business Office Manager
Mansfield, TX
View Job

Human Resources Generalist
Stamford, CT
View Job

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.