Best Practices for Recruiters Emailing Job Candidates

Posted on February 18, 2013

Job Search

Being on the wrong end of the job search can seem like a sick and twisted never-ending cycle of rejection and disregard. It’s a ruthless place to be and can quickly become what keeps you awake every single night. This is a harsh daily struggle for millions of Americans.

You do everything you’re advised to help you get that interview—complete job application after job application, rewrite and tweak your resume and cover letter, draft up new ways to introduce yourself via email and reach out to new people on Twitter and LinkedIn. When people say that looking for a job can be a full time job, they aren’t kidding. It can be brutally frustrating and exhausting having to nitpick each and every detail of the job search process. The thing is, life itself, especially for families, can already be a full time job. Life doesn’t slow down for anything, not even for the unemployed.

I’ve been there. Not to point fingers, but graduating college in the deepest part of a recession with extremely limited experience isn’t a cakewalk. No matter how I worded my correspondences, my fancy introduction wasn’t going to make up for what I lacked in experience at the time. So much resides in your approach though. As a job seeker, one is expected to spend night and day customizing cover letters, resumes, introduction emails and LinkedIn messages to a recruiter’s exact specifications to get their attention. (Here’s some solid advice on using social media for your job search.)

It’s funny though. Once you get to the other side of the job search, and you will, you start to notice some things about HR tactics. There’s an obvious double standard at play, and the game isn’t always played fairly.

In the past few weeks I have received job inquiries from two different companies. A software company from here in Birmingham sent an automated email (though pre-filled with my name) asking if I was interested in applying for an opening on their eMarketing team. I should mention that this was my wife’s former employer who let her go in the most unprofessional, passive and apathetic way possible. Naturally, I responded with a rejection and kindly informed them I would in fact never subject any of my professional contacts to their company.

Was this a remote incident and an accident? Most likely—I was probably on file from a previously submitted application from years ago. Nonetheless, I was given another reason to dislike the company and lost respect for their HR team. It’s probably good practice to update your candidate files from time to time, guys.

Moving on.

Today I received this gem in my inbox:

Good morning,

[Redacted], an integrated brand management firm located in [redacted], Alabama, has an Account Manager position available.  We are seeking candidates with a degree in Marketing, Public Relations, or closely related field; 3-5 years experience in Marketing and/or Public Relations, preferably in a manufacturing environment; and a working knowledge of social media, SEO/SEM, and digital integration. Qualified candidates are asked to submit resumes to careers@[redacted].com. [Redacted] is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Thank you,

[Redacted], LLC

Let me note. Personally, I’m pretty easy to contact online. You can find about six or seven different ways to reach me by doing about 3 minutes of research. If you were truly interested, you could find out everything you need to know about me (and more) on LinkedIn and Twitter. I don’t hide who I am online.

Take a minute, and do some fucking research. An automated email? Really? That shows haste. That shows me that I was simply on a list, and your approach was about as genuine as a pop-up ad. If you show that little effort in your search for a candidate, I can guarantee you that my resume will never show up in your inbox.

I can’t even tell if this company actually expects a response from me. However you found my email, recruiter person, you had access to my name as well, and you should have used it. If you found me on LinkedIn, you had the opportunity to connect and message me right then and there. If you found my resume on my website, then you had access to my phone number. Use it.

I’m aware that HR is about much more than hiring people. There’s just not enough time to be personal, right? It’s inefficient. The ratio of job seekers to HR professionals is something like a million to one. How can the process not be automated? Customizing emails to candidates would be incredibly time intensive and may not be worth the extra effort in the end. Efficiency is of the utmost importance. Blah blah blah…

Recruiters, it’s quite simple. Follow your own rules:

  • Do your research. You know how you despise those emails addressed to you as “HR Department”? Not quite sure what makes you think I’m going to respond to your inquiry that addressed me with “Good morning.”
  • Spell out the job opening and sell your company. Candidates need to sell themselves on why they’d be a good fit for the position and your company, right? If their response falls flat, they don’t stand a chance against the delete button and/or recycling bucket. Don’t forget to tell me what your company does, who your clients are or what I would be expected to do at your company. Remember, I don’t know who you are either. And don’t give me the canned BS that every other company dishes out either.
  • You’ve got 6 seconds of my attention. Use it wisely. Your work inbox isn’t the only one that gets swamped leaving you with acute inbox fatigue. Keeping a tidy inbox takes a lot of effort these days, and just like you, I don’t have time to read every single word of every single email. Have a point? Get to it. Be brief. Be witty and unique just like you require of job seekers.
  • Connect with me. Many professionals, especially in marketing and advertising, have an active presence on either Twitter or LinkedIn. Lucky for you, I have both. Find me. Follow me. Connect with me. And most of all, talk with me. Use these channels as I would as a job seeker. Check my previous tweets for the past month or so, see what I think about marketing or certain events and hey, why not mention it in your email? You may even find out through my tweets, bios or LinkedIn updates that your company culture and I might not hit it off after all.

I suppose this post was written to partially vent the struggle I experienced two years ago in beginning my career only to be treated the exact opposite of what recruiters required I do to get their attention. If you choose to target and reach out to a specific candidate, use the advice above to win their attention and interest. Otherwise, expect the delete button.

Best Practices for Recruiters Emailing Job Candidates by

2 Replies to "Best Practices for Recruiters Emailing Job Candidates"

  • Barb Youchah
    February 20, 2013 (8:11 pm)

    This post so resonates with me! I work in Sales and these points all apply to the sales/selling process as well. I think it may span all professions, some people are terrible at connecting with others. It doesn’t take much effort to spark a small interest that has potential to grow into something much bigger. Glad you vented. Be happy that you are one of the people that “get it”.

    • Zack
      February 22, 2013 (5:21 pm)

      Thanks for the comment, Barb! Looking back, I totally agree that the points can apply to other areas and professions as well. Despite human desire to be as efficient as possible, you have to add that human touch every now and then. If you can’t be sincere in whatever you’re trying to communicate, you’re just spewing. Automation has its place, but not when you’re trying to persuade or make a lasting impression on someone.

      Hope your b’day rocked, lady 🙂 Thanks for dropping by!

Got something to say?

Some html is OK

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.