So, I was surfing the Internet when a title of an article caught my attention. And I just couldn't resist clicking through the link to read what it was all about. The title of the article was: Female CEO Shares the Email She'll Never Forget. Click the link if you want to read the article; but here is the short version.
It’s about a young attractive CEO of a hi-tech start-up company. And you wouldn't believe what this email was about! Apparently, she was trying to recruit this rock star programming dude for her start-up company by sending him an email. The article didn't get into the juicy details of the actual wording of her email, but I bet it was the typically LinkedIn inMail that a rookie recruiter would send to someone that she was trying to recruit. Here’s an example of the typical rookie recruiter email: ‘Hi... I came across your profile and your skills are a perfect match for a position we are trying to fill.... we would like to talk to you about it. When is a good time to reach you? If you are good at your job and your skills are in demand-you will probably receive a few of these emails.
The odds of someone replying to one of these cut & paste recruiting emails are pretty low, but this guy actually replied back to her. And it was with the standard, thanks but no-thanks, I’m pretty happy in my job response. But, here’s where it gets interesting. The rock star candidate made a pass at the CEO in his reply. Yes he did; he told her he might consider talking to her about the job if she went on a date with him and maybe even has sex with him. This rock star must have provided intimate details of what he expected on the date. And you wouldn't believe what this young CEO did. Instead of simply eliminating this jerk as someone she would not ever want to hire, she did what most people on reality TV shows do to get attention-she posted his email reply on the Internet.
This simple story that takes place in the recruiting world went viral and there must have been hundreds of comments after Yahoo took it one step further by sensationalizing it-they adding an Obama video to it. I didn't watch the video part because I suspected they were just trying to get the Obama haters fired-up in order to generate more conversations!
But I did read some of the comments. I was hoping that I would learn something new about how difficult it really is to recruit passive job seekers using today e Harmony or LinkedIn on-line connection model. But most of the comments were not from real recruiters; they were the standard stuff that you would expect to read on Facebook, like he is such a jerk, this is another blatant example of sexual harassment in corporate America, attractive women don’t get taken seriously and some Obama bashing.
After thinking about why anyone would be interested in reading something like this, it became clear to me that this is today’s perception of what headhunting is. It’s no different than what you would expect to see in reality shows and it implies that email is THE communication tool for recruiting passive job seekers.
Here are my take-always:
This is precisely the reason why LinkedIn’s inMail has a very low response rate. Everyone including recruiters and non recruiters is using the same tool, the same method to recruit the same people in the same social networking community. After a while your message of a unique job opportunity is just like another commercial you fast forward through on your DVR. It is reduced to just noise and the people that you are trying to get their attention, will become desensitized or downright disgusted with the daily noise. And the way this rock star programming dude responded is a perfect example of downright disgusted. Not saying that it was the right thing to do, but I've heard of much worst stories of celebrities behaving badly.
But the thing that concerns me the most is poaching talent directly from your competitors (headhunting) is a very mysterious profession, one that is built on trust and executed in a very confidential manner to be effective. Headhunting is not a transparent activity, so certainly this type of interaction should never be shared in public. The fact that this CEO made her headhunting activities public, compromised the integrity of a trustful candidate/headhunter relationship, and it also tainted the image of the one being recruited as the villain. The Leaker is the villain. Leaking this on the Internet sends the wrong message to talented individuals that are not actively looking for jobs, as it will discourage others from responding to future email recruitment solicitations. The fear that they might lose their job because their email thread might end up on the Internet has become real.
They say never send a boy to do a man’s job. In this case, never send a CEO to do the nuts & bolts in-the- trenches type of work of a veteran recruiter. It takes specialized skills (not email) to develop relationship with complete strangers in person, on-line or on the telephone and especially with a rock star who is getting offers every day from people he doesn't know, telling him how wonderful he is. And think about what the young CEO was actually asking this rock star to do. She was asking him to risk his livelihood, leave the people that he knows and go work with a bunch of strangers in a start-up. If she wanted to recruit the best talent to her team, a more realistic recruitment strategy would be to hire a recognizable brand name recruitment firm to do the heavy lifting. Because at the end of the day, a CEO sending an email to a rock star candidate is sending the wrong recruitment message to generate interest!
The recruitment message she is sending is one of desperation. And the end result will be negative publicity that will hurt her chances of recruiting top talent. Would you work for a boss who is known for leaking personal and private conversations to the public because someone she was trying to recruit was happy in his job?
This should be an outrage for the ones that are being recruited and the ones that are doing the actual recruiting for a living!
Great article! When I read her story, I was a little shocked and surprised that it went viral. I mean, seriously, haven't we all had some ridiculous responses before? "WHY would she make it public?" was what I was thinking, which led me to, 'obviously she doesn't do this on a regular basis, because that response isn't all that outrageous', then it led me to, 'she must be a newbie', then I went back and it said she was CEO.
OH DEAR. This is why people say anyone can do our job.......
Thanks, Ken. I think most of f the low response for LI is that you have to OPT-OUT to say you aren't interested in job opportunities, and that's why most people who look like they're open to them really AREN'T. (Imagine if you had to opt-in every 30 days to indicate you're still open.)
I agree with you- keep the CEOs out of the recruiting process- they tend to mess it up in many ways, particualry when they think they know how it should be done.
Ken, many of the top tier talent who read or heard about the leaked email automatically scratched that company off their list (if they ever heard of the firm to begin with) as well as the CEO. The damage she did to her firm would be cause for any investor to demand her resignation or cut off funding.
There are CEOs who have a deft touch when it comes to recruiting top talent. However, most of these are experienced and understand the nuances in this strange new marketplace. They almost reflexively will aim a recruitment firm at their target candidate(s) and simply have the interview team ready.
When she gets the opportunity of time and space, I hope this CEO takes the incident as a learning opportunity and will think like a business person in the future.
Ken ... LinkedIn Recruiter InMail only has a low response rate if the folks using it don't know how to properly craft a message that will get a positive response from a potential candidate ... Also, Startup CEOs with a reputation have no problem recruiting A players .. This was a pure sexual harassment response to an attractive female CEO .. Not sure how that measures whether she has past success on hiring staff ..
Paul, you have a point. If someone is sexually harassed on the job, the logical thing to do is to report the incident to get the perpetrator fired! And that is exactly what the CEO did-she reported (leaked) it on the Internet to embarrass the perpetrator to get him fired. That’s the new recruiting strategy: send a spam email and leak the email reply. The person loses job and will now have to call the CEO to apply for the same job.
@ Paul: No matter how carefully I craft a message, review it with my colleagues, and keep it brief- I've not been able to get above a 20% response rate for large numbers of mails sent... I believe it to be for the reasons I gave- most people on LI REALLY aren't open, even when they say they are.
I usually get great responses from LinkedIn messages that I send. Even if the person I reach out to isn't interested, I usually get referrals. However, I do ask for referrals instead of coming off like I'm trying to solicit the person I am messaging. I figure, if I ask for referrals, they will refer themselves if interested.
Sorry for getting back to this message so late @Keith .. I will be willing to modify your InMail message ... Please send an example of your InMail to firstname.lastname@example.org ...
Thanks, Paul. You are very kind. Lets see what I can dig up....