Last year, I was recruiting for a very challenging  Interactive VisualDesigner/Coder/HTML5 expert with creative chops. I did all of the things that I normally do - posted the position,  reached out to my network to see if anyone had any referrals, went to Meetups etc.

During the course of my sourcing, I connected on LinkedIn with Dave.  Dave and I were on the high school lacrosse team and we knew each other reasonably well, but I had not spoken to him since then. I noticed on LinkedIn that he was in Digital Marketing so I decided to send him an email to see if he might have any referrals for my difficult designer opening. 

Here is the response that I received:

I was glad to hear from you since we knew each other from high school, but upon reading your note, I have some friendly advice: if you are looking for something from someone, show a little personal interest first. As is, no one comes immediately to mind, but I am far less incented to help you given your lack of personal interest shown after all these years. 

After reading this, I was irate...with myself. Well, I was initially a little miffed at the message but it didn't take me long to realize that he was absolutely right. I did not take the time to re-establish the connection. My first email to him started with, "I hope all is well" but then went straight into my referrals pitch. I have left more personal messages for plumbers.

My response to Dave was, "thank you". I explained that this was not my style (it really wasn't and it certainly isn't now). Simply put, I had slipped into autopilot and just sent out an email without really thinking about it. He could have easily ignored my message, but I am so happy that he offered the constructive criticism.

His advice reminded me to turn off the autopilot and just be human.

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Comment by Kelly Blokdijk on June 14, 2013 at 7:54pm

That's a good lesson, Brian. It sounds like that HS friend did you a huge favor by calling attention to the lack of a personal touch and why they were turned off by your message.

It reminds me of the concept of complaining when you get bad service, bad food, etc., Most of us simply don't say anything and don't return to that business or restaurant and they never know why. Not that speaking up always goes well, but if the management "gets it" they will appreciate the fact that you are giving them a chance to retain your business. 

It frustrates me when I get requests for help from people I know without any effort on their part to be polite about it. I'm always glad to help if/when I can, but some requests are presumptuous and have a tone of entitlement. Not everyone considers the other person's perspective when sending messages. 

~KB @TalentTalks 

Comment by Derdiver on June 14, 2013 at 10:10pm

Old adage...bad service we never tell people how bad it was, good service we just nod.  Here is the thing. Social does not mean you type well.  If it did NO one would talk to me. Sometimes it is nice to say you are you, mean it, listen, and go from there.  Great post!!  Thank you!

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