Why Internet Recruiting Gives Recruiting A Bad Name, And How To Counter It

A recruiter from a staffing firm recently contacted me to express dismay that I write articles explaining how to do Boolean searches and other hands-on Internet recruiting techniques. In her opinion, “I don’t think I will ever see any software companies release strings of code…This information is valuable, and sharing it so liberally, just does not make good business sense.” She added, “A good recruiter is not threatened by newbies who learned to recruit via the Internet. However, it makes it a bit more difficult when unseasoned, inept recruiters that don’t know client from server barrage potential candidates with job offers that are way out of line with their particular skillsets. It allows bad recruiters to give us all a bad name.” I really do appreciate her writing me and expressing her concern, because it’s probably something many other recruiters think, and we ? individually and as an industry ? need to address it. First, it’s unfortunate because this person read an article of mine that was drastically (and badly) edited from the original version, published without my knowledge in a sister publication of the one to which I originally submitted it. What she read only described the Boolean search technique with little context. This made it seem like all I wanted was to put an atomic bomb in the hands of unsophisticated terrorists. Nothing could be further from the truth. I agree with her that all articles on this topic should put Internet recruiting search techniques in context, reminding that you should follow the relevant rules of “netiquette” (Internet etiquette) when utilizing such techniques. In this case, those rules are:

  • Contact only appropriate candidates: If you don’t have a full resume that lets you determine with reasonable confidence if a candidate is in the ballpark for a position, then don’t email the candidate until you can get sufficient information. And if the candidate is appropriate for that UNIX SysAdmin job, then just mention that position and not all the unrelated Oracle dba and C++ programmer ones.


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  • Give them something of value: You are asking people to give of their time to evaluate your information, so give them something back. For example, include the URLs of a couple of cool Web tools that help improve e-marketing efficiencies or free e-newsletters that cover their field. If you don’t know what they are, do some research and find out. It will make you a better recruiter to better understand the business that your candidates are in.
  • Give them a way out: Despite your good intentions, some recipients may never want to hear from you again. So anticipate that and include a sentence at the bottom of the email like “To be permanently removed from our system, reply with the word “REMOVE” in the Subject line.” And if they do, live up to your word and remove them.

These concepts are certainly reinforced in all of my Internet recruiting trainings, though I wish I could say the same for some of my competitors. Such training firms take recruiters at all levels in their classes and inevitably equip many junior recruiters with powerful tools, who are then let loose on the Internet without knowing the fundamentals of relationship recruiting or the netiquette. But Internet training firms aren’t really the core problem. As the recruiter said in the second paragraph of this article, newbies sourcing online won’t be a threat to well-rounded recruiters and their firms. However, if those unseasoned recruiters are making things a bit more difficult for you by presenting inappropriate job offers to candidates, their ineptness is a product of insufficient training from, and high-quota pressures put upon them by, the firms that employ them. It is those firms’ responsibility to teach recruiting fundamentals, not mine. If you want to address bad recruiters giving the rest of the industry a bad name, that priority should be first on your list: mere information disseminators like me are a distant second, at best, as influencers (and indirect ones, at that) of the industry’s reputation. I shouldn’t have to apologize for writing articles describing Boolean or other search techniques: they are necessary to raise awareness and introduce people to the benefits of integrating Internet searching as part of their recruitment efforts so that they contract my training services. In other words, that’s a core marketing method for relatively small companies like mine, and – in contrast to what the recruiter said near the beginning of this article – it does “make good business sense” for me. And since the vast majority of people have responded favorably to my columns for ERE, my information on these Internet search techniques ? used responsibly ? provides something useful to recruiters in return.

Glenn Gutmacher has been developing innovative sourcing and recruiting strategies, techniques and tools in scalable, cost-effective ways since 2015 at State Street, one of the world’s largest custody banks, focusing on diverse talent for North America. From 2010-15, he was Group Manager, Sourcing Center of Excellence at Avanade, a $2 billion IT consultancy owned by Accenture and Microsoft. He led an online-focused offshore team and junior onshore calling team, plus some global training and talent sourcing initiatives.  In 2009, he conceived and implemented the Sourcing Lab series at SourceCon, which soon became its most popular track. Later, he devised and proposed the Programmers track, which debuted at SourceCon Austin in 2017.

In the 1990s, Glenn created Recruiting-Online.com, a pioneering Internet recruiting seminar which remains the world's longest continuously-running, self-paced online talent sourcing course. He has trained recruiters from hundreds of companies from the Fortune 500 to small staffing firms. His popular "Beyond Job Boards" presentations have helped job-seekers tap the hidden employment market via innovative methods around search, social networking, and personal brand enhancement activities.

Glenn was a senior Internet researcher for Microsoft from 2005-2008, focusing on competitive intelligence and proactive international recruiting, following 2 years in a similar role at IT solutions firm, Getronics. Besides presenting at recruiting industry conferences, he co-founded the Boston Area Talent Sourcing Association (BATSA) in 2014 which he still runs.

A Yale University graduate, Glenn discovered recruiting in 1996 by founding the first newspaper chain-owned regional resume/job board in Massachusetts, JobSmart, which won the industry’s two most prestigious awards in 1998: the EPpy Award (Editor & Publisher) and the Digital Edge Award (Newspaper Assn. of America).