You Know The Digital Ad Industry Is Desperate For Talent When...
Subject: Urgent Requirement: Vice President, Engineering
I found your profile on the web. I love your background! I am looking for a VP-Engineering located in xxxxxxxx. If you are interested or know someone else who might be qualified to fill this role, please contact me at (xxx) xxx-xxxx or simply reply back to this email.
...yada yada yada. But wait! When I responded back to this recruiter and suggested that I knew the person she was trying to reach, but that she mistakenly blasted me in her LinkedIn campaign, she said:
Max---my bad! please, please, please forgive me. you are obviously NOT xxxxxxx...any interest in this opportunity with xxxxx? if so, please fwd me a copy of your resume.
Nothing against this recruiter, I know she has a tough job. She's in a competitive industry with a low barrier to entry, and those who succeed must be smart, witty and really know how to hustle. She knows the ins and outs of recruiting far better than me. But it's startling that just as easily as she misfired her pitch to me, she seized the interaction as an opportunity to redirect the pitch back at me... again, knowing very little about me, and obviously not doing her homework. It was a total shot in the dark, and a clumsy moment became downright awkward.
Why is this significant? First, for the good of the agency client who this "vice president of engineering" is intended to serve, I have no business being considered. And neither does the person the recruiter intended to reach in the first place; that would be a massively irresponsible hire.
Beyond the client, this less-than-desirable interaction was a key touch point and memorable moment between this "savvy digital agency" and me. The agency presented itself as sloppy and undiscerning, and the event reflected a culture where knowing your audience has no relevance and looking stupid has no consequences. Moreover, there was complete disregard for my attention and the value I place on keeping my Gmail inbox clutter-free. I've already forgotten the recruiter's name, but I now have this agency forged into my mind. It makes me wonder: how many other people do you think were included in this haphazard outreach?
To be sure, I'm not ranting about this single event, annoying as it may be. No crime was committed, and it wasn't out-of-the-ordinary; it was trivial at face value. But in the big picture, these incidents are chronic and growing, and they don't reflect well on the digital agencies that commit them, nor the larger industry they represent. Such mistakes look bad in the eyes of agency clients, potential clients, partners, investors, employees, prospective employees, spam blockers and, ahem, me.
Our hiring crisis is reflective of a service industry flooded with more opportunities, work and dollars that it can possibly manage, and one that can't say no when it reaches its capacity. But the writing is on the wall: something is terribly wrong when your talent search becomes nothing more than a negative advertising campaign about yourself and your industry. And for an industry that sells itself on benefiting clients through advertising, that paradox is simply unacceptable.
What do you think?