This Is NOT Recruiting

I recently received an email with a job spec on it. An associate who had received it from a recruiter forwarded it to me because of my feelings on this type of “recruiting.” She (the recruiter in question) was obviously spamming the job opening to her entire email list. The email follows:

Subject: HR Software Sales Executive — MN or Denver


We are looking for an HCM Sales Executive in MN or Denver. If you are interested or know someone worth speaking to, please let me know asap!

Sales Executive — HR Software Company

Location — MN or Denver

Compensation — Base — $100K/Plan — $225K

Our mission is to help employers dramatically improve the employee experience by making “must do” workforce communications more effective, more strategic and less costly. We execute an on-demand, personalized and searchable HR communications application suite that supports the entire workforce life cycle from “hire-to-retire” – and includes solutions for: onboarding, benefits decision support, work/life events, employee policies, total rewards statements, manager effectiveness and HR/Service Center staff.

Our solutions are rapidly deployed, provide a broad range of features for significantly less money than traditional communication venues and are hosted and maintained by providing a low total cost of ownership and allowing your internal HR and IT professionals focus on more value-added work.

Why work here?

  1. You get paid on first year setup, maintenance, & other fees
  2. Working WITH an inside sales rep generating leads
  3. We have a lot in the pipeline; it needs to be CLOSED
  4. Growth was 62% last quarter
  5. We are growing and cash flow positive

Requirements –

  1. Being a hunter, cold calling, and working hard
  2. Very strong selling Software as a Service (SAAS)
  3. MUST be able to orchestrate a deal internally & externally
  4. 5+ years selling HR/HCM software
  5. This person MUST be a awesome CLOSER

Responsibilities –

  1. Carrying a $1.5M first year quota
  2. Covering MN & CO
  3. Selling Software as a Service is CRITICAL
  4. Working with an inside sales person, hand in hand
  5. Strong CLOSING skills — we need a CLOSER

So what’s “wrong” with this method? There are many things that don’t work about this type of “recruiting.” I’ll point out some of them:

  1. This isn’t recruiting. Recruiting is calling and networking with people to “hunt” out quality and qualified candidates for an opening. It’s discussing a candidate’s current situation and interests to see if your job is even what the candidate is interested in. It’s determining if the candidate may be a fit for you. It is presenting an opportunity and creating interest, etc. It’s not sending an email into the webosphere and hoping someone looking for a job contacts you. Hope is never (and I don’t use the word “never” lightly) an effective strategy.
  2. The recruiter copied the top half of the opening directly from the company’s website. She doesn’t work for the company, so why does she use “our” and “we”? She couldn’t even be bothered to put together an email from her. For example, “My client …”
  3. When she gets to the actual job specs she uses the info directly from the spec provided by the hiring company. Now that’s not the issue. The issue is what I read between the lines, which tells me the company doesn’t have the first clue how to determine what type of employee will be successful with them. One of the reasons to work there is that the prospective employee will be working with an inside rep who will be generating leads. Does this mean the rep won’t have to cold call and find his own leads? Will he get to rely on someone else for his leads? What if the inside rep isn’t meeting his objectives? What is the quality of a rep who wants to rely on an inside rep to provide his leads? They also say they “provide a broad range of features for significantly less money…” Are we to assume they’re looking to attract the Wal-Mart shopper?
  4. “Being a hunter, cold calling, and working hard” — I just love this one. Why do they find it necessary to mention they need a hard worker? Big red flag.
  5. The company grew 62% in their last quarter. 62% of 1MM is not impressive. 62% of 10MM is far more significant.
  6. The spec mentions working with an inside rep twice. Hmmmm.
  7. “Covering MN & CO” is not a responsibility. It’s a territory. If you want to list the territory and make it significant, you need to put it in the “requirements” section and say something like, “X years of successful sales into MN & CO calling into new accounts.”
  8. “Strong CLOSING skills – we need a CLOSER.”  Do you think they need a “closer”?

I think you get the idea. I don’t believe any quality candidates will respond to a job like this, and even if this job spec did attract “A Players” it says nothing about cultural fit with the company, hiring manager, or the team the candidate would be working with. Research indicates that nearly 90% of employees fail for reasons having nothing to do with skills and abilities.

But here’s where it really got interesting for me. I was very curious as to the client company’s thoughts about this type of recruiting on their behalf. The purpose of my investigation into this was to provide me with possible evidence of what I’ve been saying for years. Recruiting, by and large, doesn’t work on a multitude of levels. I was able to find out who the hiring company was very easily. I just Googled some of the text she copied directly from the company website. Poof, I had the company. I proceeded to forward the email to the CEO to see what type of reaction I’d get. The CEO called me almost immediately and also forwarded my email to his CFO. I missed the initial call from the CEO, but the CFO was able to catch me between calls. The CFO confirmed my suspicions. He didn’t seem to think there was any problem with this form of recruiting. This type of recruiting doesn’t cost them any money up front. He didn’t seem to think this type of “recruiting” was spam. I wonder if he has any clue to the costs on the back end???

Article Continues Below

Looking further into his background gave me all the information I needed. He spent eight years as an auditor, controller, and analyst for a large, well-known CPG company and then founded a search firm specializing in accounting, finance, and IT. It never ceases to amaze me how people with no experience whatsoever in search are able to be “successful” recruiters. Would you hire an accountant with no accounting experience? Yes, I know, it’s a rhetorical question. This also indicates further that companies don’t know how to recruit. After 12 years in staffing he then took eight years off to be an “investor” prior to joining this HR software company as its CFO. And the CEO … he’s lacking the background to truly understanding the harm this is causing his company. His opinion was to let the “bean counter” manage the process.

As a company, what will you be? Good or great?

Carol Schultz is a pioneer in the recruitment process optimization and career strategy industries. She has built a client base of countless individuals and myriad companies from early stage pre-IPOs to publicly traded companies. She uses 20 years of recruiting experience where she honed her industry expertise and formed an intrinsic understanding of successful recruiting processes and the critical nature of alignment with corporate goals and objectives.

She takes a thoughtful approach to talent and focuses all her time on assessing, analyzing, and deploying recruiting strategies and processes that work. Her consulting and training company, offers a fresh approach to talent strategy and incorporates the executive management team’s core values so they permeate every aspect of the hiring process. As an advisor and coach to corporations, she makes a stand for best practices to attract and retain the best and the brightest.


19 Comments on “This Is NOT Recruiting

  1. It’s not unusual to get one of these immediately after accepting a ‘connect’ request on LinkedIn. Excellent analysis – I couldn’t agree more.

  2. Being ineffective is one thing, but being CHEAP, that’s something else again. 16.5% of revenue as comp? really?

    If they are finding good people to push their wares at those rates, there MUST be some recruiting going on !

    Also email is not SPAM if it complies with the CAN-SPAM act. I am getting sick of my Facebook feed getting bombed with rubbish… (Ahem Bullhorn Reach-Around).

  3. This is an unprofessional approach I totally agree. However, it does reach a wide candidate market and at the end of the day; if it reaches someone who is looking for a job and they are hired from it…then who can complain!!!!

    My view of people who slate recruiters methods do not see what they actually do….THEY HELP PEOPLE TO FIND JOBS and that in my view is wholly positive and really is the only thing that should matter.

  4. What’s interesting is that the CEO went directly to the CFO. This tells you who is holding the purse-strings and most likely the control of their recruiting organization. If they have an internal recruiting organization, I’m assuming they do, it is very likely that they are not letting the recruiting leader take full control of recruiting. The CFO is managing more than just the process. There are a lot of execs out there who believe they know how to recruit because they have hired people into their organizations. They don’t understand that hiring and recruiting are different.

  5. You are right, this is not recruiting. But it is a part of recruiting. Perhaps the message could have bit written and worded better, but utilizing an email like this and sending it out through the recruiters ATS is a common practice and also a very successful one.

    And believe it or not, quality candidates do respond to these types of emails. The power of email is amazing and people forward these types of emails out to all they know. I have filled numerous searches with this method and several of my fellow recruiters had filled searches like this.

    Many recruiters forget to tap into the power of their own ATS and don’t do this method. So while the email can be written better, this is a successful practice.

  6. @Robert: LOL! I actually wrote this over a year ago so I’m not too concerned.

    @Marianne: Thanks for your comments but I must disagree with your view of what recruiters do. Recruiter do NOT help people find jobs. They are tasked with finding quality candidates for their clients/employers. Employment agencies help people find jobs.

  7. I happen to love when a lazy recruiter sends me a requirement like this. When it is obvious they’ve simply cut & pasted their client’s job description, it is usually pretty easy to cut & paste a snippet into google and see who their client is (Enwisen, in this example). If I’m a headhunter, its a good sales lead and if I’m a job hunter, I can skip the middle man and apply direct.

  8. I agree that this was a poor example, but I do think that this can be a useful tool in recruiting when done right. I call it “e-mail prospecting” as opposed to “recruiting”. I try to write concise, compelling e-mails (not pasted job descriptions) that will appeal to my audience and encourage them to share the openings via social media links to post it out to Facebook, Linkedin, etc. It may not have the success rate that a phone call does, but quite often I can generate a quick lead list with e-mails but don’t have the phone #’s without doing a lot of digging. For a really great prospect, I’ll dig. But otherwise a carefully crafted e-mail campaign (with individual non-spammy e-mails to each prospect) has helped generate referrals and additional leads for my reqs. As an internal recruiter with a heavy req load, we’ve got to do what we can to efficiently reach as many prospects as possible.

  9. ISTM that this is what a company should expect using what appears to be a bargain-basement contingency firm.

    These sales folks are very easy to find and the good ones are very hard to get. Therefore, it makes sense to use low-cost sourcing resources to locate potential candidates, and then have internal recruiting reach out, develop, and close. If the internal staff can’t close (or there isn’t one), then it is worth paying a 30% fee to an outfit that can.



  10. I really liked what I thought was the intent of this article, that sloppy email campaigns are not part of a real recruiting process, and that real recruiting is about building relationships with people and developing networks through those people. However, I feel like the end of the article became a little unnecessarily condescending to non-recruiters, particularly for criticizing the background of the CFO. I got ready to send the article around to my recruiting team until I read the end of the article, which wasn’t very professional.

    On the core topic, I am a huge proponent of not throwing out sloppy, blast emails, but I am also a huge proponent of a complete and efficient recruiting process. “Real recruiting” today requires a complete process, which involves emailing, calling, networking, social media, advertising, and putting up posters in a competitor’s bathroom if necessary, to find candidates. Qualifying them for a job is a different phase of the process. Emailing is essential to the process, as many candidates cannot or will not talk on the phone from their current job, but they will reply on the Blackberry or iPhone.

  11. @Lee – right on target with who the company was!
    @DK – Thanks for pointing out the distinction between recruiting and email prospecting. It’s an important one that, I believe, many people don’t get.

  12. @ Aaron – you are so right. Email prospecting is ONE part of an overall recruiters toolbox. It has a long reach and is quick. It can turn over a possible candidate, maybe even two.

    A poorly written email (as in the case above) can do more to harm your efforts than a well written, concise and short email with the basics. Interested parties will demand details AFTER they see something of interest.

    A recruiter has only so much time in a given day, most of that is spent on the phone prospecting, qualifying and making determinations of quality fit for their clients.

    If a good quality informational email will bring in a few more prospects that they can talk to and qualify for their clients then great. You can’t possibly talk to 500 people in a day – but you could send them all an email.

    Now “get on the phone!” 🙂

  13. I agree with Aaron and Jim –

    We call this just a version of the ol’ “post and pray” model that so many weak (I am challenged to even call them recruiters) players use. Outreach is fine, but the connection to the talent you are seeking is where the rubber meets the road. Amen to getting on the phone – What a waste.

  14. @Aaron: Maybe I didn’t make it clear enough my comments about the CFO. The intent was that an controller/analyst decided to start a search firm placing accountants and finance folks. As any quality recruiter knows, recruiting is not simple. Many people feel that because they have experience in an area that they can recruit in their area of expertise. I don’t subscribe to this theory. I suspect that, even after 12 years in staffing, he probably never learned how to truly recruit. Hence, his attitude that he felt this type of email was “recruiting”. Sorry you felt my comments were unnecessary and unprofessional.

  15. I second your comments about how people with no recruiting experience think they know how to recruit.

    When Hiring Managers give me the “I’ve been hiring people for years, don’t tell me how to recruit” speech, I tell them “I’ve been balancing my checkbook for years, it doesn’t make me an accountant!”

  16. I’ve used email prospecting very successfully over the years..I can get my point across in a few sentences, which prospects seem to like and respond to.

    All I want is to see if further conversation is justified

    Sending an entire description like that right off the bat is abusive to the recipient.

  17. Love this article! In my recruiter training programs, I have a term called “Selling Points of Interest” that teach recruiters to create compelling presentations both verbal and written about the company’s culture, job and location. I’m sure I stole that from someone in the industry and should give them credit but I don’t remember who said it first.

    Great recruiters use “classified ads” only as a means to create targeted candidate traffic which is typically active candidates who in turn connect them to passive top performers. The great recruiters know their areas of expertise and have created a continued pipeline of talent relationships within that vertical. Noticed I said “pipeline of talent relationships”. The Lefkowitz and Cahill’s of this industry call these people “Centers of Influence”. Everything about that statement is PROACTIVE. Why is the job order King in our world when candidates should start the process? Own the talent before everyone else does and you’ll own your market. I call that “Sell what you have instead of looking for what you don’t.” (Just another Guelzo-ism)

    Where are you in your recruiting plans? Are you still interviewing “Monster Board” candidates? Are you still interviewing without value? If so, be prepared to always interview average candidates, present average performers and continue to get average responses from your clients.

    If you want to measure your effectiveness as a top recruiter first measure your ability to drive tons of candidate traffic (Face to Face interviews) that corresponds to your strategic recruiting plan (“Like Industry – Like Skill Sets” another Guelzo-ism). Next measure yourself on the valuable connections you receive from the interviews. Then measure yourself on the ability to take those relationships to the next level. The next level provides relations that everyone wants to pay you a ton of money for.

    Do you know where your candidates come from? If your answer is still 90% from classified ads then you need to leave the business. Only 15% of all the candidates we placed last year came from the “monster boards”. 85% of the candidates we placed came from referrals and networking; however, many recruiters still still spend 70 to 80% of our day shopping the job boards.

    Candidate traffic drives leads…
    Leads drive passive candidates, more referrals and job orders….
    Passive candidates motivate Proactive Marketing Scripts
    Marketing Scripts create job orders
    Job orders create send outs…
    Send outs create placements….
    Placements create $$$$$$….

    $$$$ makes the world a lot easier to deal with both at work and at home!

    Just my 2 cents worth…

    Daniel Guelzo

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