#SourceConLive: How Do We Handle the #RecruiterSpam Problem?

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Nov 13, 2015
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

Editor’s note: Scroll to the bottom to see a video of the entire discussion.

If you source candidates, you’re probably also engaging with them online or on the phone. Candidate engagement has never been more important for us to focus on. We had a lively discussion today on #SourceConLive. In case you missed it, here’s a recap.

The role of the sourcer continues to change. 93% of sourcers today are sending messages to candidates, and the amount of poor quality, irrelevant, inappropriate and/or unprofessional messages continues to grow. It is time for us to take action to resolve the growing #RecruiterSpam epidemic. We need to first understand the problem, and then take action to stop it. We need to raise the bar and hold each other accountable for how we treat candidates.

Recruiters and sourcers are spamming candidates at massive scale, and in doing so, they are repelling candidates away from their company. To many, bad messaging sends the signal that you don’t really care about how well you treat others, that you and your company may lack the knowledge/expertise to deliver exceptional service, and/or that you may not be able to provide the best match between a job and the best candidate.

Recruiter spam also has a significant impact on your employer brand. It hinders your opportunity to showcase your company as a great place to work – an organization that invests time and training into developing their people and showing them the right way to engage others. It can take only one bad message for a candidate to seriously question your culture and core values – and they may never give you a second chance.

Our first step is acknowledging that we have a problem. Once we’ve done that, we can work on a solution.

We need to understand why recruiters and sourcers are spamming our candidates. Recently, we did a poll in our #FightSpam Facebook group, asking people why they think this epidemic continues to get worse. Some recruiters think that spamming works well for them. They have 50 reqs to handle, and think that shot-gunning out messages is simply the most efficient way to work. Sometimes it’s a culture thing – a sourcer’s value is determined by activity alone. If you are a recruiter or sourcer, and the amount of daily or weekly activity is your KPI, you have an extra challenge in front of you: your leader is measuring the amount of activity – not the quality of that activity (or in some cases, even the outcome of your efforts).

Some sourcers, recruiters, and leaders in our space have completely lost sight of the fact that we are dealing with human beings. Not products, not numbers – people with feelings who deserve to be treated with respect. “Butts in seats.”

Many people in this discussion believe it is a leadership problem. Some recruiting and sourcing managers don’t see anything wrong with spraying out bad messages. Or worse, they get it, but fixing the problem is not a priority. They need to get those hundreds of jobs filled, and are willing to take their chances, even if it means offending thousands of potential candidates in the process. Even if they are offered training, they may not offer the training to their team – they’re just too busy.

For us to make progress in our quest to #FightSpam, we need to focus on not only leadership, but new sourcers and recruiters. Most companies may not even teach their new hires the art and science of effective messaging. They aren’t shown how to customize a message to each human being. New hires aren’t shown what the “gold standard” looks like, or what a decent response rate is. They are taught bad habits, from the very beginning. They may have no clue why their response rate is so low, or why their individual brand is so weak. They have no concept of what inbound marketing means, or attracting talent, for that matter. They haven’t been educated, and are not receiving the support they should be receiving. That’s not right. We should be showing our colleagues who are new to our industry how to communicate online or over the phone. We need to inspire and mentor others, if we have any hope to fix the #RecruiterSpam problem.

Overall, our conversation today was productive, and hopefully only one of many to come. We need to move beyond the public shaming. Yes, it is fun to mock bad messages – but we can do more. It is time to move past the sound bites, roll up our sleeves and take action.

Here’s the entire discussion:

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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