May 9, 2011
This article is part of a series called Opinion.

I recently received an email with a job spec on it. An associate who had received it from a recruiter forwarded it to me because of my feelings on this type of “recruiting.” She (the recruiter in question) was obviously spamming the job opening to her entire email list. The email follows:

Subject: HR Software Sales Executive — MN or Denver


We are looking for an HCM Sales Executive in MN or Denver. If you are interested or know someone worth speaking to, please let me know asap!

Sales Executive — HR Software Company

Location — MN or Denver

Compensation — Base — $100K/Plan — $225K

Our mission is to help employers dramatically improve the employee experience by making “must do” workforce communications more effective, more strategic and less costly. We execute an on-demand, personalized and searchable HR communications application suite that supports the entire workforce life cycle from “hire-to-retire” – and includes solutions for: onboarding, benefits decision support, work/life events, employee policies, total rewards statements, manager effectiveness and HR/Service Center staff.

Our solutions are rapidly deployed, provide a broad range of features for significantly less money than traditional communication venues and are hosted and maintained by providing a low total cost of ownership and allowing your internal HR and IT professionals focus on more value-added work.

Why work here?

  1. You get paid on first year setup, maintenance, & other fees
  2. Working WITH an inside sales rep generating leads
  3. We have a lot in the pipeline; it needs to be CLOSED
  4. Growth was 62% last quarter
  5. We are growing and cash flow positive

Requirements –

  1. Being a hunter, cold calling, and working hard
  2. Very strong selling Software as a Service (SAAS)
  3. MUST be able to orchestrate a deal internally & externally
  4. 5+ years selling HR/HCM software
  5. This person MUST be a awesome CLOSER

Responsibilities –

  1. Carrying a $1.5M first year quota
  2. Covering MN & CO
  3. Selling Software as a Service is CRITICAL
  4. Working with an inside sales person, hand in hand
  5. Strong CLOSING skills — we need a CLOSER

So what’s “wrong” with this method? There are many things that don’t work about this type of “recruiting.” I’ll point out some of them:

  1. This isn’t recruiting. Recruiting is calling and networking with people to “hunt” out quality and qualified candidates for an opening. It’s discussing a candidate’s current situation and interests to see if your job is even what the candidate is interested in. It’s determining if the candidate may be a fit for you. It is presenting an opportunity and creating interest, etc. It’s not sending an email into the webosphere and hoping someone looking for a job contacts you. Hope is never (and I don’t use the word “never” lightly) an effective strategy.
  2. The recruiter copied the top half of the opening directly from the company’s website. She doesn’t work for the company, so why does she use “our” and “we”? She couldn’t even be bothered to put together an email from her. For example, “My client …”
  3. When she gets to the actual job specs she uses the info directly from the spec provided by the hiring company. Now that’s not the issue. The issue is what I read between the lines, which tells me the company doesn’t have the first clue how to determine what type of employee will be successful with them. One of the reasons to work there is that the prospective employee will be working with an inside rep who will be generating leads. Does this mean the rep won’t have to cold call and find his own leads? Will he get to rely on someone else for his leads? What if the inside rep isn’t meeting his objectives? What is the quality of a rep who wants to rely on an inside rep to provide his leads? They also say they “provide a broad range of features for significantly less money…” Are we to assume they’re looking to attract the Wal-Mart shopper?
  4. “Being a hunter, cold calling, and working hard” — I just love this one. Why do they find it necessary to mention they need a hard worker? Big red flag.
  5. The company grew 62% in their last quarter. 62% of 1MM is not impressive. 62% of 10MM is far more significant.
  6. The spec mentions working with an inside rep twice. Hmmmm.
  7. “Covering MN & CO” is not a responsibility. It’s a territory. If you want to list the territory and make it significant, you need to put it in the “requirements” section and say something like, “X years of successful sales into MN & CO calling into new accounts.”
  8. “Strong CLOSING skills – we need a CLOSER.”  Do you think they need a “closer”?

I think you get the idea. I don’t believe any quality candidates will respond to a job like this, and even if this job spec did attract “A Players” it says nothing about cultural fit with the company, hiring manager, or the team the candidate would be working with. Research indicates that nearly 90% of employees fail for reasons having nothing to do with skills and abilities.

But here’s where it really got interesting for me. I was very curious as to the client company’s thoughts about this type of recruiting on their behalf. The purpose of my investigation into this was to provide me with possible evidence of what I’ve been saying for years. Recruiting, by and large, doesn’t work on a multitude of levels. I was able to find out who the hiring company was very easily. I just Googled some of the text she copied directly from the company website. Poof, I had the company. I proceeded to forward the email to the CEO to see what type of reaction I’d get. The CEO called me almost immediately and also forwarded my email to his CFO. I missed the initial call from the CEO, but the CFO was able to catch me between calls. The CFO confirmed my suspicions. He didn’t seem to think there was any problem with this form of recruiting. This type of recruiting doesn’t cost them any money up front. He didn’t seem to think this type of “recruiting” was spam. I wonder if he has any clue to the costs on the back end???

Looking further into his background gave me all the information I needed. He spent eight years as an auditor, controller, and analyst for a large, well-known CPG company and then founded a search firm specializing in accounting, finance, and IT. It never ceases to amaze me how people with no experience whatsoever in search are able to be “successful” recruiters. Would you hire an accountant with no accounting experience? Yes, I know, it’s a rhetorical question. This also indicates further that companies don’t know how to recruit. After 12 years in staffing he then took eight years off to be an “investor” prior to joining this HR software company as its CFO. And the CEO … he’s lacking the background to truly understanding the harm this is causing his company. His opinion was to let the “bean counter” manage the process.

As a company, what will you be? Good or great?

This article is part of a series called Opinion.
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