In the July 25, 2017 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a seasoned reader recognizes job spam and deletes it.
I just received this URGENT OPENING from a recruiter I don’t know. I’m in Silicon Valley with a real job. The contract position is in North Carolina. Now I realize how many hours I’ve wasted over the years, responding to job spam, filling out forms, doing phone screens, even showing up for interviews — when I should have realized I was being jerked around from the start. (I even got scammed on an airline flight I paid for without getting reimbursed.) The worst of it is the anticipation and wasted energy expecting something to happen! But these e-mails keep coming, with barely a few legit ones every now and then. You must have some way to quickly pick the ones to ignore. I’d love to hear your tips!
You can save lots of time (and frustration) by checking those e-mails for the tell-tale signs of job spam — also known as drive-by recruiting. Don’t become just another victim by responding when you should hit the DELETE key.
Thanks for sharing that e-mail. I’ve redacted the names so we can take a look at it. I’ll show you want to look for. You’re not being recruited. You’re being asked to apply for a job.
This is not a recruiter.
A real recruiter or headhunter comes after you specifically. He knows who you are and why you’d be a good candidate, or he would not get in touch. Here are the tip-offs that this guy is wasting your time. (See Why do recruiters suck so bad?)
1. He “came across your resume” and is polling you “to see if you or someone you know is interested” in an “opportunity.”
A real headhunter doesn’t “come across” you. He already knows this job will appeal to you, because he’s studied your background and is confident he’s got something that will get your attention. He will usually drop the name of someone you know and respect — because they recommended you –, to get your attention and to establish his own credibility. (See How to screen headhunters.)
But this is not a recruiter.
2. The second tip-off that this is job spam: The sender wants you to “read the Job Description.” Say what?
This guy wants you to do the work of matching yourself to the job! He has no idea whether you’re a match, or whether you and his client have any reason to talk! He has sent this mail to hundreds if not thousands of people.
And if he found your resume online, why does he need “an updated MS Word version?” If he’s coming after you for this job — that is, actually recruiting you — then he doesn’t need another version of your resume.
He’s sucking you in by making you take an action while he does nothing at all. In case you don’t realize it, this e-mail has all the impersonal hallmarks of a mail-merge from a database. This guy doesn’t even know he sent it to you! If you respond, next you’ll rationalize why you’re wasting your time sending him even more information and filling out job application forms that a real recruiter does not need. Then you’re hooked. Then you’ll write to ask me why you’re not getting responses to your follow-up e-mails.
3. He’s not really a recruiter. When a recruiter or headhunter tells you he’s going to “help you” with “positions,” run. He’s telling you he’s a phony.
Real recruiters and headhunters find people for specific jobs. They don’t help you find a job. (See Headhunters find people, not jobs.) While a good headhunter may remember you for a job that comes along later, this come-on is the classic sign of a quack trying to get you to respond to spam.
Read our database.
4. You’re a number. Just like the “Job id” in the e-mail, you are a number in a database. A real headhunter would never say he’s recruiting you for “Job id-CRNGJP00011964.” How impersonal is that?
When you ask someone on a date, do you say, “Hey, Babe — Wanna join me for some WYPF94006 at LOCATION: Hickory, NC?”
Gimme a break. The purpose of this mail is not to recruit you. It’s to make you read a database record.
A real headhunter contacts you to entice you. To cajole you. To inspire you. To convince you. To sweet-talk you into talking with him about filling this job. (See How to judge a headhunter.)
This guy has no time to discuss the job with the 2,000 people he’s sent this spam to. He wants you all to read it while he has lunch. I’ve cut off the rest of his solicitation — but it’s 469 more words he wants you to study and check off before you bother him.
Now we get to the insult.
Do my job.
This guy needs to fill a job fast to make a buck, and he’s made that your problem. Er, “opportunity.” So sit up and beg, and do it fast.
5. “Hurry up and do my job!” He’s got a deadline! Did you ever ask anyone out on a date — and tell them they have to decide “by CLOSE OF BUSINESS TOMORROW?”
A real recruiter is worried he’s going to lose you. He’s not going to threaten you — not any more than you’d threaten the person you hope will go to dinner with you!
But the real tip-off that this is a worthless drive-by recruiting e-mail is in what it doesn’t say. There is nothing personal in the closing. There is no effort to demonstrate a sincere interest in you.
This is a cheap salesman telling you to apply for a job. You can do that on any job board without being insulted.
This is job spam.
Now for the piece of resistance, the drop-dead, in-your-face, no-question tip-off that this is junk mail — not anyone recruiting you.
6. This is job spam. We know it’s spam because of the opt-out section at the end that’s required by the CAN-SPAM Act. When’s the last time you saw this at the bottom of a legit e-mail?
Please: Get real!
Desperate job hunters want someone else to find them a job. They engage in wishful thinking — and get suckered easily by spam like this. There is no recruiter behind that mail!
A real headhunter will call or e-mail you (I’d call you — e-mail is too non-committal) and say something like this:
“Hi, Steve. I’m Nick Corcodilos — I’m a headhunter and I’m filling some key positions for Big Buzz Systems. Sharon Jones, who worked with you at Superfluous Technologies, suggested I talk with you about a design engineering position I’m working on at Big Buzz. This job could get you into the project management role Sharon tells me you’ve been working toward. Please call me at (800) 111-1111. Thanks — I look forward to meeting you, Steve.”
That’s it. Would you call me back?
That’s not what those e-mails say to you? Please. Get real. How many hundreds of hours will job seekers waste responding, sending information, filling out forms, waiting for feedback from junk mail? It seems you have finally figured it out. My compliments, and many thanks for sharing this example of cheesy “recruiting.” I hope these tips wear out the DELETE key on everyone else’s keyboard before thousands or millions of hours get wasted on job spam!
How do you know it’s not a real recruiter? What tips you off to job spam? And what kinds of embarrassing time-wasters have you fallen for? Don’t feel bad — please share so we can all learn how to avoid getting suckered!