James Mayes

Blog: YOU decide how much vitriol this recruiter gets!

In Recruitment, Social Media on January 25, 2011 at 10:08 am

Something slightly different from me today – I REALLY want your input!

As many do, I get spam emails from recruitment agencies constantly. I get cold calls, I get speculative CV’s.  It tends to suggest that in cultural/behavioural terms, they’re still way short on getting the basics right – and as such, shouldn’t yet go near Social Media.  I’ve recently had one which I believe presents a great case study on precisely this point.  I drafted the following, but then I thought I’d crowdsource a response.  Should I send them this and give them a chance to respond? Should I change it? Should I just ignore them and hope they wither and die?

Dear xxx

As I said when we spoke last week, we have no requirement at present. If we did have a requirement, we would first turn to one of those companies we work with as a consulting partner. Again, as I explained at the time, we’re currently talking to your firm, but that’s as far as the relationship goes.

Credit: Getty Images

If we hadn’t had the conversation prior, I would have thought your mail to be spam.  As we’d actually spoken in some detail a week ago, I don’t regard it as spam – I regard it as a clear sign that you in no way listened to, or registered, the information I gave you on that call.

If you’re unable to listen to a prospective client when being given information on the first call, I have no choice but to assume you’re also unable to listen or register information when given a recruiting requirement.

Finally, I have previously unsubscribed from speculative mailers from your firm.  The arrival of your email with three unwanted CV’s indicates no notice has been taken of my previous written communication either.

Please, explain to me exactly why you think I’d ever want to use you as a recruiter?

I have a load of meetings today – the comments are unmoderated, so feel free to speak out – but with due respect. I’ll review late this afternoon and decide how to respond.

  1. James

    I couldn’t agree more and suggest you send your response. I got an email recently thanking me for a conversation I hadn’t had and enclosing the terms we had agreed to – we hadn’t! Its a wonder these businesses survive!

  2. James – it is an absolutely justified responsible.

    More recruiters need to be made accountable for their dumb actions. What were they hoping to achieve?
    The answer is, that they have no clue. They are neither qualified to the job nor subtle enough to understand the complexities of differing client relationships.

    I would fire that off without hesitation. Maybe the recruiter might learn a thing.

    Though I doubt it. They’ll call you a name and do it 10 more times with the same CVs to other unsuspecting businesses.

  3. This is a text-book case of the recruiter not listening to the POTENTIAL client.

    I now recruit internally, prior to this I was a standard IT recruiter for 4 years. I had to leave simply because of the pathetic actions recruiters take in order to get ahead, even if this involves not listening, or affecting a relationship in some shape or form – it’s a risk recruiters take.

    I now work on the ‘other side of the fence’ and have recruiters call asking to recruit for me. I now understand why potential clients often become annoyed with the volume of calls/ emails they receive from recruiters and thus if a recruiter is to contact me, they had better ensure they have researched and be assured they are making the call with an educated voice… or else!

  4. James, I think those of us in the recruitment industry that would like to see a tightening up of, well, basic etiquette, would suggest you send your response.

    I’m not personally a recruiter (I run a jobs board). But I feel I need to defend the industry a little and say that that not all recruiters are unscrupulous. If your reply helps, in some small way, to sort the wheat from the chaff then it will be a good thing for the industry in general and for those involved who do take pride and care in their work.


  5. Absdolutely justified – but I’d also encourage you to go to the top and ask them how their consultants are trained/monitored/rewarded. My guess is that some of their KPIs are down to numbers of calls/e-mailers etc – the behaviour needs to be changed from the top down – or it will never change at all.

  6. I seen this on Twitter .. sadly this is an example of what is wrong with recruitment in the modern world “big mooth, nae ears” (all talk, can’t listen for you non Scots!)

  7. I actually blogged about something similar last week .. http://braescotland.wordpress.com/2011/01/19/is-technology-killing-the-skills-behind-recruitment/

    won’t make me popular .. but with 25 years in the recruitment industry behind me I have skin as thick as a rhino!

  8. Great post James! I’d say you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned that recruiters need to work on getting the basics right.

    There are some excellent professional recruiters out there; however, they’re the ones who have been in the industry long enough to know how to treat people and who understand that what they’re doing is about building relationships to be successful. Relationships with both hiring managers and candidates.

    I don’t mind an occasional “check in” e-mail or phone call, especially if the recruiter actually REMEMBERED what I told him or her during our last encounter but rabid “cold-calling” like that is unacceptable.

    As for me, I would NOT send the e-mail. Nor would I go over his or her head to have their solicitations cause them an issue at work. Why? Just consider the source… is it coming from an inexperienced individual who doesn’t know diddly about how to work with people or build relationships? In addition, I’m a firm believer in expending my energy into positive actions vs. negative actions…but that’s me.

    If it happens again, I would handle it via telephone.

    Thanks again for a great post!

  9. Send it.

    • Everyone’s entitled to an opinion. You keep yours and I’ll keep mine, thank you very much! 🙂

      • I think Gareth’s short response was aimed at my blog question of whether to send the email – rather than a response to your expressed opinions. I know Gareth well enough (I hope!) to assume he wouldn’t wish to cause offence based on you expressing your own blog opinions.

  10. I want to thank everyone who’s contributed. It’s a more negative blog than I’d usually post, but an interesting one nonetheless.

    Having read all the responses, I decided I wouldn’t send the recruiter the email I first drafted. Instead, I sent the link to this post. I really don’t want to beat on recruiters for the sake of it, I want to see the quality of the whole industry rise – so if your comments help to educate even one recruiter, we’ll all have made a positive contribution. Thanks again for being part of it.

  11. James, chances are that this poor soul is on orders from high and that these are the behaviours that many a recruiter is positively encouraged to adhere to. Which is obviously

    However, giving them a dressing down I sense will have little or no effect. Contact the owner / directors of the business. Share your experience with them. Then share what you consider to be a positive customer experience with them. Next time, should you choose to allow a next time, wait to see if your message has sunk in, if the penny has dropped.

    If yes, then consider having played a blinder and educated a rogue recruiter. If not, then consider naming and shaming. Might be the only way…

    • I’m certain from private conversations that the individual is only following standard practice for that firm. I don’t want to shame the person, as that’s just unfair. The company is another matter. I’m due a conversation with their marketing manager shortly, so this may be on the agenda 😉

  12. Possible this ‘follow up’ was sent by a junior member of staff, and not by the person you had the conversation with earlier.

    Whatever, your reply assumes a level of intelligence that is apparently lacking in the recipient, so your effort in drafting would be wasted and may further encourage unwanted communication.

    ‘Don’t call us – we’ll call you.’ Might be better understood.

    • Definitely the same person I spoke to (the name is memorable. I’ve also looked them up on LinkedIn and whilst the job title claims “Senior” the experience most certainly does not.

  13. I want to add this comment, which I just left on the debate this sparked over on LinkedIn:

    “It struck me as an opportunity to let a range of people express opinions, then show those opinions to the recruiter. In future, I can point other recruiters to the same post and maybe some of those will learn too. If the guy had really been interested in me as a client, he’d have been following me on LinkedIn or Twitter and seen that blog. He could’ve commented on why those actions were taken (probably as you suggest, instructed by management) and asked how he could work better. Myself and many others commenting would have seen his details and been impressed with the response – it could have been a business-winning opportunity for him.”

  14. Send it James! I’ve had to a couple of times
    As an ex-agency, now in-house recruiter, I know that many in the recruitment industry work to a high standard with good ethics and good listening skills. Others are less honorable.
    In my current role I have sent a couple of emails like this and found that, not only is it being honest and providing relevant feedback, it also makes me feel better when the quality (or lack thereof) of service and listening has enraged me!
    On the flip side of that, I would say that if you do send it, make sure that you are as ready to provide positive feedback to those providers who are excellent. It’s too easy to get caught in a negative cycle! And goodness knows the agency recruiters rarely get good feedback, even when they’ve done a stirling job

    • As per comment above – I sent him the link. Somehow doubt I’ll get a response though. Very good point ref praising the good experiences – doesn’t happen often enough.

  15. Caught this post a bit late James. I agree with the sending of it. I just doubt they will pay any attention.
    Unfortunately there are too many of these (sounds like) ‘aggressive’ type recruiters.

  16. James – this happens everyday I’m afraid. I’m one of those that would send it and enjoy the sport. I find it offensive when suppliers or prospective suppliers can’t follow simple instructions and to be asked not to do something then to ignore you is ignorance and disrespectful, let alone a disregard for the law  and send speculative CVs. They need to be   educated somehow and it’s clear that their bosses are incapable  of doing so. If this was posted in The FIRM we would name and shame the company. 

    • Thanks Gary. I’ve been around long enough to see it many times – but this time I felt I had the right readership on the blog to explore a little more. Whilst I have no issue with the FIRM undertaking name & shame, I don’t feel it would be right for me on this occasion.

  17. Personally I disagree. Without knowing the specifics of what he’s sent you, I’ll give him the benefit if the doubt that he’s clearly identified your general requirements and sent you details or three actively looking candidates that may be useful to you.

    I’m certain there are a raft of potential employees out there that you would interview immediately if they were available, it’s merely misfortune that none of these three pushed the right buttons.

  18. Hi Richard – thanks for stepping into the Lion’s Den here and defending the recruiter concerned. Regards the three he sent me, they were seemingly random. A PM with no experience of our industry, a BA with predominantly test experience and a developer with technical skills in no way matched to the platforms we run. We hadn’t spoken about what we might recruit because I had no need to recruit.

    Your second comment again rings false for me. We’re a relatively young company and hiring just because someone looks tempting would most likely cause us financial issues. All this is adds up to why I told the recruiter I wasn’t hiring in the first place. Maybe the title of the post should have been No Means No…

  19. The problem is that we’re using different languages, but we’re using the same words. “Recruitment” to some agency consultants is merely high-volume selling and is a, “numbers game,” i.e. the more CVs you send out the more chance you have of someone, anyone, taking the bait. However, “Recruitment” to a hiring company is a relationship thing. The company will want to demonstrate that they are an employer of choice and the sort of people that would be good for them aren’t to be seen as merely numbers. This latter approach is simply not understood by aggressive recruiters who are seeking recognition for their current monthly sales figures. They are not recognised for their long-term relationship building abilities. That’s because long-term potential projections of their figures will only be seen by their management as fiction. Agency recruiters have got to be seen to be “hitting the ground running” every single month and that means racking up the monthly numbers, i.e. calls to clients, meetings with clients, CVs to clients, etc. A Recruiter in an aggressive agency is only as good as their last month’s sales figures. It doesn’t matter who their clients are, or what their relationship is with them, there’ll always be someone else who takes the bait. If you complain to an aggressive recruiter, they’ll only mutter, “Stop moaning,” delete the email and move-on. You’re just a number on their client base.

  20. Charles, thanks for the comment – I think the perception argument you suggest of numbers vs relationships is bang on – and relates to a blog I plan on posting in the next week or two! I may quote you on a couple of points!

  21. As I said, I can’t vouch for this particular agent but I can say you that proactive marketing of candidates is something that is common to most agencies.

    Just this morning I sent a client 3 CVs after he explicitly told me he didn’t want me to send any. As a result of that email he’s booked an interview with one of my candidates…

    In sales, no doesn’t always mean no.

    • Thanks Richard – good of you to respond with a specific example of why agents persist with this. Perhaps client inconsistency is part of the problem?

  22. Well, having told this lowly recruitment peon that you had no vacancies, he really had nothing to lose by sending you some CVs and everything to gain.

  23. Next time you have to deal with someone like this tell them that you need them to fill your “preferred suppliers form” and point them to http://www.recruitmentcheck.com/

  24. James,

    I do something like this quite often. I’m sick of getting spam emails about purchasing a software or hiring social media consultant to help increase my business leads.

    I had some guy last week send me a way to increase my sales through social media via email. I sent him an email back and told him he needed a copy of my book. That spamming someone instead of taking the time to get to know them on social media was much more effective. He actually sent me an email back and told me I had a good blog, even commented on a post.

    I haven’t yet to get any business out of this method but I sure think it will help make people aware that not everyone in this industry is a recruiter or a HR person needing employment law training. Some of our vendors or consultants too.

    Good post!


  25. oops. i meant that talking to someone on social media and doing their homework before emailing me was much more effective. It’s 2 am here. I think it’s time for bed.


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