The smell of e-mail

I have written before about recruitment agencies and their sometimes underhanded tactics. Something today made me want to write about them again today and I wanted to share it with you. I warn you before you read any further that might be a bit long and it may contain some very sweeping statements. I don’t want to suggest every recruiter is like this but as with everything it only takes a few to spoil the reputation of many. I think over the years I have been dealing with these people I have managed to acquire a skill for knowing when they are just fishing for information. Today is one of those instances, I’m not going to name names but I am going to happily mention that this person works a recruitment company called GLGlobal. Let’s start at the beginning with this one and I’ll point out exactly where I see the signs I am talking about. His mail to me reads as thus.

Hi,

I have just been briefed on an extremely exciting PHP Web Development opportunity based in Central London and feel that you would be a great fit!

Please find attached the job spec for the role – If you are still looking for new opportunities or know anyone who is, get in touch asap on for initial discussions as they will be holding interviews next week!

Okay so first of all, just ‘Hi’, no name, no nothing, recruiters will often start e-mails in an overly friendly manner in my experience. The lack of name either tells me he has probably not gone to the trouble of creating a mail merge document or in fact he does not know (or care) who I am at all. Continuing on from this the next problem which is the overused exclamation mark. There are blog posts out there that mention the now common overuse of the exclamation point, I must admit I have fallen into this trap once or twice myself. Here our jolly recruiter wants us to get engaged with his excitement, he (as I know he was male) is trying to tell me that he thinks I will be a great fit, surely if he did that he would of gone to the trouble of putting my name next to the ‘Hi’? He picked me specifically after all, god forbid that this is some sort of mass mail he just sent out, if your detecting a note of sarcasm there give yourself a pat on the back. Let’s set his writing style aside for the moment because the next thing that draws my attention is the job title and location, these are so generic that they may not as well be there. Our recruiter has so far told us nothing about the position nor why he thinks I am a great fit and by now you might be able to see now where it’s all falling apart. He then goes onto telling me he has attached a spec to the e-mail, we will deal with that in a moment. There is a false sense of urgency implied in the e-mail. According to him the company will be beginning discussions and interviews next week now if this was the case would you not include more details to speed up the process?

Typical Agency e-mail

Above is an image that you can click on to view full resolution of the attachment that I was sent. The attachment was a word document which tells me that the document is nicely formatted and the recruiter does not want that lost. This normally means that the document is all style and no substance and this attachment is no exception to that rule. Your average person may be initially impressed by all the logos that have been placed in the document but look past that and into the actual content. The text itself tells you nothing about the company you are applying for or the job itself; it lists a very basic set of required skills which are very generalised, nothing too specific. They want the reader to be curious and respond to the mail so they have not been specific about requirements whereas an actual job would have a lot more specific requirements. The images are basically a bunch of buzz words that are used in technology today and again it is supposed to show how ‘diverse’ the potential company is to make you excited. All of this put together make this e-mail smell bad, I am convinced that there is no job and they are trying to get something out of me so I decided to challenge it. I responded, which I guess is what they want but my response was slightly insulting and had some suggestions, below is a copy

Hello <name>,

Your e-mail is interesting, your attachment uses a lot of images, I guess this is supposed to impress me? But in this you tell me nothing about the actual company, in future this kind of information is really helpful. It would enable me to do some research and consider if I want to apply for the job. If you get back to me with more information I will take a look and let you know.

Okay I admit the initial sentence is overly aggressive, I need to work on that. I do however point out that he has told me nothing about the actual company and inform him that it’s usually helpful to include such things. Yes I admit I am a sarcastic bastard but I am literally telling him how to do his job here. In some ways yes I am goading him and yes I do want a response. I actually want him to supply some more details because as of this moment I don’t actually believe that the job even exists. He responded….

Hi Chris,

Good stuff, what would you like to know?

We have made some impact. This time he actually used my name, I see this as progress but it seems as though we only took a small step before hitting a brick wall. “What would you like to know?” he asks, now let’s think about this. I asked him to provide some more details which proves he actually read my response (or some of it). I was not specific because I thought it was obvious what might be needed, his job is to try and get me in the job so you would think he would be prepared to send more information. I read this short but concise response and burst out laughing, they say you can lead a horse to water and all that jazz but this particular horse wants me to spoon feed it water with a gold ladle. It was at this point I knew for sure there was no job, I have no doubt in my mind that any job existed, he has been told to go and find anyone who is looking for work for some reason so I replied one more time.

Well you know.. the basics (can’t quite believe I’m telling you this). Who they are, what sector they work in, what they do, is it contract or perm, what are they looking to pay, that sort of thing.

I really cannot quite believe I am telling him how to do his job. If I had a pound for every time I had to point out the obvious to recruiters I would have at least enough for a slap up meal with all the trimmings. I expect no response from this mail and I’ll tell you why. This recruiter is looking for people who are going to fall for his plan, I have a few ideas why he is doing this but really cannot be 100% sure, however he is looking to benefit from these people somehow. All I am doing right now is calling his bluff and taking up is time and he has no time for people like me. I know that this post is not going to change anything, my blog is not read or respected by millions of people, I am just one very cynical voice in the vast sea that is the web. However someone somewhere may read this and it may be beneficial to them, or it may make GLGlobal change their approach (I highly doubt it). Let’s see what they have to say (if anything at all) once I alert them to it. I may of just wasted my time telling you this story and having that exchange with the recruiter in the first place, well luckily I like writing and I wanted to post something on the blog anyway so I guess thanks for the free content?

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