Are you a clueless recruiter?

You know what they say about first impressions?

Do you ever wonder what people think of you based on the emails, InMails, voice mails, LinkedIn group posts, and other messaging efforts you undertake to make an initial contact with potential candidates?

You should.

Do you think they feel that they can get a sense of your competence as a recruiter from your messages?

I do.

In fact, I know they think they can, and the scary part is that they might be right more often than not.

Unfortunately, when crafting messages, many sourcers and recruiters never take any time to think about exactly how their outreach efforts will be received and perceived.

Although unacceptable, to some extent this makes sense.

The people who would likely have the worst reaction to your messaging efforts are the ones that won’t take the time to let you know how poorly your efforts were received. So in the absence of any feedback, it’s all too easy to assume everything is okay. After all – if no one tells you your messaging stinks, how would you know?

Unknowingly poor messaging is no doubt perpetuated because the consequences are rarely felt, let alone seen.

Wouldn’t it be great to know how your messaging efforts were perceived by all of the people who’ve never responded to you?

I think I have found an interesting example.

I am fascinated any time I come across content from people who are on the receiving end of recruiters’ efforts. A while ago, I stumbled across this interesting blog post on in which the author of the piece asks “Why are technical recruiters so clueless?”

Now, don’t dismiss the post and the message if you’re not a technical recruiter – the essence of what the author has to say has nothing to do specifically with technology – he is complaining primarily about the obvious lack of research the recruiter failed to perform prior to reaching out to him. I will guarantee you that there are people of every profession and industry asking the same question of the recruiters that attempt to make contact with them on a regular basis.

Ouch, right?

Unfortunately, this is how a great many people feel about all types of recruiters – not just I.T..

We all know how critical first impressions are in life, but most recruiters I encounter fail to realize that the majority of the first impressions they make are forged from their messaging.

While you can’t stop human nature – people will always make snap judgments about you in your first interactions with them – you CAN heavily influence the impressions they get by thinking more critically about your messaging content and approach.

I strongly encourage you to read through all 149 comments (at the time of this post) – you will be treated to an entertaining mix of content from recruiters and their quarry. You might even be inspired to add your $.02.

If you’re wondering why David had such a strong reaction to the email, do some quick research to find out who he is.

So why did David think the recruiter who sent him the email above was clueless?

Primarily because it was painfully obvious that the recruiter didn’t take the time to find out exactly who David was.

If she had, she would not have sent him an email about the Ruby developer position she was looking to fill. If she sent him any message, she should have taken a completely different angle – not reaching out to recruit David, but to network with him because he would no doubt know of some talented Ruby developers. Even then, she would have had to bring her “A” game with some world-class messaging to earn a response from him.

The main point is that not only was it apparent that the recruiter sent him an email for a position he was clearly overqualified for, but also one that he would never be interested in.

If you don’t know why I can say this, do your research and you’ll learn why.

Don’t be a Clueless Recruiter

Make your first impression count.

If you have to source and recruit passive candidates, 75% – 95% of your first impressions are likely to be made from your messaging efforts.

The good news is that you have 100% control over what they receive from you.

So how can you ensure that the people you’re reaching out to in an attempt to recruit them don’t think you’re clueless?

Here are 8 tips to get you pointed in the right direction:

  1. First, think about what you’re trying to accomplish before you message anyone in any way. Are you trying to fill a job, recruit a candidate, or are you just trying to connect with someone? Do you care about what they are looking to do?
  2. Do your research – make sure that your messaging clearly demonstrates you know who they are and what they do
  3. Don’t message people about jobs that they wouldn’t likely be interested in
  4. If you’re pretty sure the person you’re messaging is a passive/non job seeker, be sure to recognize/acknowledge such
  5. Don’t send out email/message blasts. I am still surprised to see and hear about how many recruiters employ mass messaging to unreviewed search results [#fail]
  6. Ask your manager to periodically review your messaging to identify opportunities for improvement
  7. Exchange messaging content and best practices with your peers – I am shocked at how few people share their messaging…could it be that people might be afraid of a little constructive criticism?
  8. Ask the people who respond to your messaging what they thought about it and how it compares to the average efforts they receive from other recruiters, and tell them not to pull any punches

Here’s even more advice from someone who gets a lot of emails from recruiters that make them appear clueless – a great & must read for any recruiter.

If you have a suggestion on how not to be perceived as a clueless recruiter by the people on the receiving end of initial messaging attempts, please share it.

Stay tuned for my next post that will detail how to get a higher response to your messaging efforts from passive and non job seekers.

  • Great article Glen. In fact, couple of weeks ago I received an InMail from a recruiter in top IT Services company about a SAP Banking opportunity just because my profile have SAP , Banking keywords somewhere. In this case, not only I would doubt the competency of recruiter but the brand image of that company may also get negative angle. In some cases, recruiters are so used to use ready-made drafts and use them for mass-emails, they fail to understand difference between sending them to job portals and passive candidates.

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  • Great post, Glen and I agree with 1000%. Here is a UX guy I messaged through LI. I got an awesome response from him after my initial contact with him. Check it…


    Hey, man. Don’t mean to bother you. I know you get tons of messages from douche bag recruiters. I assure you, I’m not one of them. I just wanted to speak to you and see if you knew anyone who would be interested in a Sr. UX Desginer role, internally with our company. I figured you’re pretty well connected with peeps with your similar background. Also, just to throw this out there….Was curious to know what your thoughts were on HTML5 and Responsive design and the impact it has on the mobile movement. Hit me up! I look forward to speaking with you!




    You get points for creativity, I’ll give you that ;-)

    I’m actually looking for new opportunities myself so if you have a job description for the position I’d love to take a look at it.

    Per your request here are my thoughts on the topics you mentioned:

    HTML5: HTML5 is incredibly powerful but it’s quickly becoming the next “Flash.” Whenever a client tells me that they want their site to be HTML5 I ask them what in particular they want it for and usually they have no idea. I hope being a buzzword that non-technical people can throw around to seem like they know what they’re talking about does not overshadow it’s real advantages in the long term. Obviously is very flashy and powerful but I think the most important aspect of HTML5 in the long term is going to be the enriched semantics. Not only does it have a huge impact on search engine crawling but it’s going to be pivotal in having a high-quality experience across multiple devices.

    Responsive design: Right now responsive design is an awesome “nice-to-have” on most projects (obviously depending on your target audience) but it’s going to be a practical necessity in just a few years. Mobile computing is growing faster than desktop computing and in the developing world there are many people coming online now with smartphones that have never owned a computer. Responsive design is going to be critical in making sure that you reach every user on every device, regardless of platform.

    Thanks for reaching out, have a good day!”

    On 1/30/13 8:57 PM, Mike Chuidian wrote:

  • Bob Stoufus

    Mike Chuidian’s laughable sophomoric example does nothing to communicate professionalism or knowledge of the technology beyond a title and a few buzz words. Honestly who over 14 years of age even uses the word “Peeps”?