The job market is booming. Unemployment in the U.S. just hit a 6-year low of 4.4% and there are 150,000 applications chasing just 45,000 available H1-B visas. Whatever the reason, the waters are frothy.
The tech sector in particular seems bent on a hiring frenzy. Our Job and Gig boards are flush with calls for talent. Skillful Rails developers everywhere are reporting full calendars and are turning down offers.
It’s obvious things are a bit crazy at the moment, but that’s no excuse for the rampant, clueless behavior during the recent surge in recruiter activity.
I’ve been increasingly annoyed by the spammy, mail-merged, sugar-laced drivel that passes for “personalized” contact these days. The latest sample came from a major tech company that gave me this spiel:
A colleague here referred you to me as a great Engineer and I wanted to see if you might be interested in exploring job opportunities with us. We have a number of exciting projects in Software Development in locations throughout the world.
What utter laziness. The only two words that are even attempting to be about me are as generic as they come: “Engineer” and “Software Development”. They’re even capitalized in a way that makes you think they came straight off the merge list with my email address. I can vividly imagine this:
David,email@example.com,Engineer,Software Development Jason,firstname.lastname@example.org,Designer,User Interface Design Joe,email@example.com,Sales Person,Sales
At least it said “Hi David”—Jason was recently addressed by the same company as “Hi NAME.” That made him feel real special.
But to make matters worse for this particular pitch: I had received more or less EXACTLY THE SAME drivel just a few months before from the same company. I even wrote the recruiter back to explain why I felt this approach reflected poorly on his parent company. It didn’t seem to matter: The new drivel was at least 25% more spammy and template-y than the first one.
This laziness is spread far and wide. I recently got one from another company for a Rails position because “it looks like you have an interest in this new and exciting framework.” I’ve been hearing plenty of similar stories across my professional network.
Bottom line: The recruiters are making a lot of bad impressions. While the individual recruiters will come and go, the parent companies stay. Their reputations are tarnished. Since the job market is so hot, and so many companies are competing for the same limited talent, each company needs all the polish, shine, smoke and mirrors to look their best. Working with a mail-merge recruiter probably isn’t the best idea.
I’ve walked away with a net negative perception of all the companies that had recruiters target me for their mail merge. While others may just shrug their shoulders and delete the email, it’s still a lost opportunity.
Most people are probably not looking to be hired by a big corp right now, but when the seasons change, and large masses seek shelter in a mega-hire shop, they’ll prime their search with all inputs from prior interactions.
And even if this tactic has some measure of success, who do you actually end up hiring? When all you’re looking for is someone who matches “Engineer” and “Software Development”, you’re going to end up with a lot of warm bodies—not talent.