The right way for a recruiter to cold email

I’m in the unusual position of constantly looking for talent (chartbeat is hiring!) and yet hating to receive emails from recruiters. These are professionals who potentially have what I want, so much so that I’m willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars for their services and yet their emails are just as likely to end up in my spam folder as anything else. This is because most recruiters make fundamental mistakes in the cold email:

Don’t tell me about your company, solve a problem I have

Most recruiter emails seem to belong to the spray and pray variety. Standard format is:

“Hi Tony, Just checking to see if you have any positions that need filling. RecruitersRus is a national IT consulting firm that recruits candidates and consultants for contract, contract-to-hire, and permanent, full-time positions. In addition to all the resources and tools our team of 25 recruiters has access to, we have an internal database of over 2 million resumes that we have accumulated over the 13+ years we have been in business.”

What is frustrating about this is that the question posed in this email is redundant. You don’t need to ask me if I’m trying to fill positions, it’s right up there on my jobs page! I don’t care if you have 2 million resumes on file, I care about whether you have the right person for me. You had ample opportunity to prove your value and begin a relationship but instead I got a standard email about how great you are. DNW.

In contrast, the recruiter that I’ve been working most with over the last three months didn’t cold email me with a description of his business and how great they are. In fact their company name is kinda tacky and I might have ignored it. Instead he looked at the jobs I had open and in his first email sent me a resume for someone who was (gasp) actually relevant. He didn’t try to get me to sign a contract before he had proved his value, he sent me resumes without a deal in place, knowing that there was nothing stopping me from finding the guy and cutting him out of the process. That kind of trust in his abilities and my ethics makes a huge difference and I appreciated it. As a result he’s on course to make more than 50,000 dollars from me in the first half of this year.

So recruiters, when trying to approach a company you don’t have a relationship with:

– Prove your value don’t pimp yourself. Show me you can find the right person for the job I need to fill in that first email. Send me a resume or help me in some way.

– If you’re good I’ll want a continuing relationship with you so don’t just push me to sign your contract before you’ve found me someone I think could be good.

– Don’t tell me that if a person has been doing pure Rails for the last five years but mentions C in their resume because they covered it in school that they are a ‘strong’ candidate for my Senior C developer position. It makes me think you’re an idiot.

Thank you!

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