You’ve been on my mind all weekend. Not in a creepy stalkery way, I promise. I hated making you mad. I keep thinking that you don’t understand me. I want to make it better but I probably won’t get the chance. In your eyes I did a bad thing, and so I am not worthy of your trust. I’m sorry you were offended, and I hope I get a chance to make it up to you. I realize I probably won’t.
It doesn’t happen all that often, but once in a while people get really mad at me for reaching out to them at work.
I know that many people don’t understand what a recruiter does. Many folks think we wait for people to decide to make a move from a position and then, once that decision has been made, we offer up a buffet of opportunities, which is one way we work. The other way is that we catch the eye of someone who is good at what they do, who is also happily ensconced in a position and we plant the seed that something better might be out there. The first way we work is passive. The second way is active, muscular – and it risks rejection and offense. But I am at my best when I am a verb – when I carefully, respectfully, interrupt people to offer them something they may desire, when I “recruit”.
That means I have to reach out to people who haven’t signaled they are ready. Often the only way to do that is to call or email at their job. I am discreet. I always ask for better methods or times to talk and the messages I leave would never signal to anyone else that you are looking for a new job. Because you aren’t, at least not yet.
The people that I annoy by reaching out at work are a small but vocal percentage. They may think recruiters should wait to get called. They may not realize the power of the network, or that we are all vulnerable to the whims of the marketplace. They may not have had they life shaped for the better by a perfectly timed call.
The fact is, most of my initial contacts will be via a work email or phone call. That is how it works. I often get names from folks I speak with, confidentially – yes that happens. The only thing I know is that they work at a specific company. Every day I spend time mapping out what specific talent lives where, and then figuring out how best to reach them. I study how companies construct emails and I pay attention to default commands for different types of voice mail systems. I do this because I want to tell people about opportunities they would only hear about from me. So I send emails to your job and I call you on your work number.
I’ll reach out to a prospective candidate and they say, “How did you get my number?” or “How did you get my email?” Sometimes the answer is I was referred to you and I was given a way to reach out. That is easy. But often the answer is “I guessed.” I do these things because the positions I choose to represent are some of the best. My clients do good work and treat people well. They solve interesting problems and I want to find them the people they need. My clients depend on me.
So I offer my apologies to you, anonymous guy that I was told was a super bright guy I with whom I should speak. I am sorry you felt I crossed a line. I’m sorry you got mad or offended or whatever made you write me that terse email. It made me a little sad.
But I am not sorry I did it. I’d do it again.