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Human ResourcesRecruitment

The Age of Recruiter Spam

By November 7, 20134 Comments

I’m writing today’s post from a car dealership in Glenfield while my car gets serviced.  It makes a nice change, after spending most of my time surrounded by recruiters, to be mixing and mingling with a portion of society regarded by the public with even more scorn and distrust than us recruiters.  There goes Geoff now, lugging out and erecting his flags, resplendent in bright white shirt with a pen-stuffed shirt pocket, awaiting his first ‘victim’ of the day.

Mostly, in the eyes of the jobseeking public, us recruiters are reviled for our lack of communication and feedback around job opportunities, interview feedback etc.  But in the eyes of the internal recruitment and HR departments out there, it is the other way around.  Too much communication, you could say.

I met an internal recruiter in a social setting last weekend.  By “social” I don’t mean LinkedIn or Twitter either….no this was actual real-life eyeballing straight-talking contact, believe it or not.  They had a couple of issues to air with me, as a recruiter of agency recruiters, about the amount of communications, the tone of communications, and the relevance of communications from us on the agency side.

She dreads Fridays.  Why?  Well it seems Friday is often the “marketing morning” for the larger recruitment brands out there.  On a typical Friday morning she will receive five marketing calls, all in quick succession, from five different representatives of the same recruitment firm.  One from IT, then one from Engineering, then one from Office Support and so on… The first three get the same patient explanation that there are no roles currently available for agency involvement, but then the patience starts to wear thin… She also often receives CV’s floated in, for no role in particular, just accompanied by the assertion from the “recruiter” that the candidate would be a perfect fit for the culture of her organisation.

The problem is, when she responds by asking the “recruiter” which part of her organisation they felt the candidate would be best-suited to, she very rarely receives any kind of response whatsoever.

Embarrassing, wouldn’t you say?  Or perhaps you’re still stuck in 2003 and think that the role of agency recruitment in modern business is to plan out and run “Marketing Blitzes” with ironically silly hats, ringing bells and spot prizes.  Maybe you believe that the number of CV’s sent out is a crucial KPI, with no regard to the actual quality or relevance, and have a policy that three CV’s must be sent out for every job order regardless of whether only one is actually suitable.

Earlier this week Westpac corralled half of Auckland’s recruitment industry up on the Executive floor of their funky new digs in Britomart.  The message shared was clear: communicate only with the recruitment team, delete the names and numbers of the line managers… Do you believe this is fair and reasonable?

It’s a tough gig as an agency recruiter these days, that’s for sure.  Of course, communicating is crucial to what we do, and many of us (me included) would suffer some form of muffled implosion should we ever be gagged entirely.  But the key to agency recruitment these days is quality of engagement, depth of knowledge and intelligence of communication.  That’s what industry and commerce wants from us.

Not recruiter spam.

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.


  • As a specialist recruiter in just one area – media sales – this sounds unusual to me but I certainly understand there is something almost antagonistic that can exist with some HR teams and agency recruiters. That said, why would any excellent HR team seek to prevent recruiters talking to the people they recruit for ( the line managers) ? How does that help you understand the culture, the job demands, personality requirements… in short all the concepts recruiters are rightly chastised for if they lack ? I have spent (in some cases) 12+ years building working relationships with my clients and I would not be dropping those relationships on anyone’s say so.

    • I think Mark that, as a specialist recruiter concentrating on one narrow field, you already have a huge head start on the big generalists in the race to remain relevant

  • Paul says:

    Delete the names and numbers of the line managers? Most of them were friends before the internal recruiters came along. But we have to tread carefully because the internal recruiters have new power. Better make them our friends in future.

  • Dani says:

    Jonathan I very much look forward to your witty blogs each week, and this week is no different!
    How unfortunate for some agency recruiters, especially those new to our ‘game’, that we are all now having to get ‘back to basics’ – communication, collaboration and consistency being the key ingredients in our industry and how we achieve long standing careers in what we love.
    I look forward to next weeks inspirational blog!