A friend of mine is a Senior Java Developer in the midst of a job search. He recently posted his resume on a major job board confidentially and allowed me to study the responses he received for the purposes of this article. I wanted to look at these email responses through his (the job seeker’s) eyes–and I was surprised at the results. As a way of background, my friend has over seven years of experience in IT, with over 3 years in the development of object-oriented applications using Java, C++, and myriad other technologies. He has a Masters in Computer Science, and also stated that he was willing to relocate. In other words, he is what every recruiter seems to be looking for in this technology-driven marketplace. He only left his email address and first name for people to contact him. It has been over 40 days since he first posted his resume, and in that time he has received 58 emails altogether. Of the 58 emails, only 9 were directly from companies. The other 49 emails were from executive search agencies. Only 8 of the 58 emails stated the responsibilities and details of a specific position. The other 50 emails gave no details on the position! Most of those emails looked like this: “Hi. I am looking for strong Java developers to work in Boston. Are you willing to relocate? If so, call me at…” or, “I NEED JAVA PEOPLE! If you have those skills, please call me at….” My favorites were two automated emails from Sun Microsystems thanking him for applying to their company! On the first day of his resume being posted he received 13 emails. The second day of posting he received 12, the third day 7, the fourth day 6, and by the fifth day and thereafter a sporadic 1 to 2 a day. Overall, my friend was not impressed. 75% of the emails were not personalized to his first name and most were garbled or clearly mass email contacts. There was really only one shining star in the group, which was a personalized email directly from the hiring manager of Amazon.com explaining the department, position, and the manager’s excitement about the direction they’re headed. One out of 58 email contacts is not the best of success ratios, but could easily have changed if recruiters had heeded a few basic contact strategies:
- Recruiters are not searching their subscription databases. I know that more than 9 companies who subscribe to Monster.com are looking for Java Developers! Yes recruiters are busy, but why purchase the tool (at a premium price) if you’re not going to use it? If recruiters had fewer requisitions to fill, they could afford to spend the time needed to search and contact candidates directly–and save their companies in search fees. If you subscribe to a database, use it!
- Be more informative in your contacts. Most of the emails were quickie, “give me a call…” type contacts. What is the purpose of email if you’re not going to use it to save time by giving more information up front? Focus on information that you would want to see as a job seeker, like responsibilities, salary, benefits, etc. One email we liked went into detail about what made that city special, “…located in Denver (great weather, beautiful mountains, four professional sports team and inexpensive living).” Give the candidate a reason to respond to you by giving them more information about what makes the opportunity exciting. Too many emails gave us information about what they were looking for but nothing in regards to why we would want to respond.
- Be real! Personalize your email and contact people in the way you would like to be contacted. Approach your contact emails as a job seeker, and ask yourself if you would respond back to those emails. Add some pizzazz and just be real.
- Take heart! Candidates are not getting bombarded by emails and contacts like we thought they were. If you put some time into your contact emails by giving specific information about the opportunity and by showing a little personality–you’ll be amazed at your response rate!