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The Difference Between Recruiter Spam And Making a Genuine Human Connection

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Recruiting is a people business, but you wouldn't think so given the lack of care that some recruiters take over their outreach.

Seriously - there are entire websites and twitter feeds dedicated to "spam" messages that recruiters have sent to candidates. It's getting so bad that companies are even creating guides to help candidates block emails from recruiters.

The 3 signs of recruiter spam

You only have one chance to make a connection with a candidate, do you want to waste it with a generic template or a botched mail merge?

Every "spam" email damages your brand. Candidates will be less likely to apply and will probably just screenshot your message and pass it round their friends.

If you've ever wondered what negative publicity a misplaced recruiting email can generate, look no further than Microsoft's attempts to snare interns (below).


These are 3 signs synonymous with recruiter spam:

1. Emails with badly automated personalization

Mail merge needs to be handled with care. Do you think a candidate is going to read an email that greats him "Hi --FirstName-- or calls him by a different name entirely.

2. Emails that are badly targeted

Do you think emailing a marketer about your latest DevOps role is a good plan? Often these messages come through LinkedIn where a candidate's role and expertise are all too clear.

3. Generic, templated emails

A well thought out template can work, but not all templates are born equal. Some are terrible. We all know what the bad ones look like.

Hiring is the most important thing your company does. Why would you ever risk your ability to communicate with the most important candidates by sending them a generic, irrelevant message?

If candidate outreach is an important part of your recruiting strategy, you need to focus on quality not quantity.

What a human connection looks like

There's no real mystery to making a human connection with candidates. It should be the goal of every recruiter.

These are the 3 rules to follow to avoid recruiter spam and establish a human connection:

i) Be Personal

A good recruiting email is about the candidate, not your job. Why are _they _specifically a good fit for the role that you're hiring for.

Is it because you like hiring sales people from a particular company and you think they have a great sales culture? Is it because you've looked at their blog and you love it? Is it because of their open source contributions?

If you're going to reach out to someone, there has to be a reason _why _- if not, why are you reaching out in the first place?

You don't need to mention that you've been "researching" a candidate, this can come across as "template-y". It also should be a big part of your job - most candidates would be upset if you didn't research them!

ii) Be Relevant

Personalization's twin sister, relevance is also essential for recruiting email.

Obviously, only contact relevant candidates when you have a new role (i.e. only contact salespeople about sales roles). This is simple but often ignored.

If your role is location based, make you either contact candidates that are actually based in or near that location, or make it clear that re-location is part of the package.

Try to refrain from sending roles to candidates that have literally just moved jobs. It can be frustrating when you find someone that looks perfect on paper and started their new job 1 week ago, but try to hold back.

Instead, drop them a short message to tell them that you think they're great (say why) and that you'd love to stay in contact. Get this right and who do you think a candidate will message if they become disgruntled? Sometimes it's a long game...

iii) Be Helpful

If you're concerned with building a talent pool for the future, some of the messages you send might not be related to a particular role.

You could call these "nurture" or "relationship focused" emails.

There's often no immediate call-to-action here so, to avoid spamming candidates, you need to make sure these emails are helpful. They need to add genuine value. If you can't think of something to send, it's best to keep your finger off the trigger.

Here are a few examples of the kinds of messages that are effective to send to candidates that are in your talent pool:

  • Major company news. This has to be relevant, but it's a nice way to restart a conversation. For example, you might have raised a recent round of funding or your sales team might have smashed targets.
  • Articles or research. Content that is genuinely useful to the candidate. As an example, we recently sent candidates our State of Talent Acquisition 2017 Report because it provides a lot valuable insight into where our industry is headed. Bonus points if it's your own content but it doesn't have to be.
  • **Events and employee stories. **Do you run events for candidates? Are there opportunities for people to read more about your employees or even speak to them? Great nurture opportunity.

General company newsletters can work, but you need to choose the content carefully. Ideally, they should have custom content based on the persona that you're sending them to. This will generate much higher engagement.