Bad Idea: Spamming Your Resume

It’s bad enough to blast the same resume to a collection of potential employers, but buying a spam list to do it takes “bad idea” it to a whole new level.

spam emailsBut one candidate recently tried it. More surprisingly, it apparently yielded some success, according to security researcher Sans Internet Storm Center.

When ISC handler Adrien de Beaupre checked his email, he found a message from a prospective Business Analyst named Jeff, who included a link to his LinkedIn profile to tout his MBA. What surprised de Beaupre was that Jeff had gone so far as purchasing an email list, he noted on the ISC blog.

In a reply, de Beaupre told Jeff his search technique was “inadvisable.”

de Beaupre was floored by Jeff’s response: He said he was “being creative.” But even more surprising is the fact that the technique apparently worked. Writes de Beaupre:

I find it depressing that the spammer appears to have in fact gotten a job roughly four weeks later. Well, according to his LinkedIn profile, so it must be true.

Of course, people have been known to stretch the truth, if not outright lie, in social media, but let’s assume that in this case Jeff’s telling the truth. Does that mean spamming a list of employers is a good idea?

In a word, no. In job hunting, as in anything else, there’s always an exception to the rule. The reality is, managers who are already snowed under by email don’t look kindly on people who waste their time. Chances are, a blind email looking for a job that may not even be opened isn’t a way to make any friends. Whether you’re networking, writing a cover letter or preparing to send in your resume, tailoring your approach to the job is still the most effective tactic to break through the noise.

Put yourself in the manager’s place: Would you hire a spammer?

22 Responses to “Bad Idea: Spamming Your Resume”

  1. Fred Bosick

    I think it’s a cheesy move, but what the hey? It’s not as if conventional methods are working, with companies seeking the “purple unicorn”, and CIO magazine telling us we should be happy to have a job!

    • Nightcrawler

      I agree. I personally would not do this, but I cannot blame those who attempt it. And remember, recruiters routinely spam individuals with job ads. I get emails all the time advertising jobs that I am nowhere near qualified for, often located hundreds or thousands of miles away. If recruiters routinely engage in this behavior, should we be surprised that applicants are giving it a shot?

      • jelabarre

        > I get emails all the time advertising jobs that I am nowhere near
        > qualified for, often located hundreds or thousands of miles away.

        At this point it seems that’s the *ONLY* job leads I get. And it’s all so some recruiter can claim they *tried* to fill a job with an Anerican, just so tehy can bring in yet another H1B.

  2. Unca Alby

    Recognize that spammers all work on the same assumption. Sending spam is virtually no cost to begin with, so all you need is ONE hit to make a profit. TWO hits is like hitting the Jackpot. THREE hits, and you can retire.

    Would I hire a spammer? Absolutely not, but neither will I contact a Nigerian Prince nor buy products to augment my manhood. And I’m not particularly impressed that “Adriana” wants to talk to me based on my non-existent Facebook page. But obviously somebody out there does, and they do it every day, because those emails keep coming.

    The spam must be working. Somebody must be buying. Otherwise the spammers would stop.

    Bottom line, all the things mentioned in this article that make spam a bad idea are going to pale against successfully getting that one hit. OK, fine, 2 million companies now hate your guts, but who cares about them when ONE hit is now paying your salary.

    • Nightcrawler

      My husband and I run a small creative boutique. We occasionally get emails from people looking for work. I don’t know whether they buy our email address off a list or make their own “list” by Googling for marketing companies in their area, the way I did when I sent out hard-copy resumes all those years ago. I don’t have anything to offer them, but they don’t *offend* me, and I don’t consider their emails to be “spam.” I simply cannot see the logic in putting someone who is simply trying to find work in the same category as:

      * Identity-theft thieves from Nigeria, et. al.
      * Ponzi & MLM schemers
      * Porn spammers
      * People who send, like, 4 million bot emails to a particular domain or email in a purposeful attempt to crash it (that’s not really spam; that’s an attack on the company)
      * Those mega-annoying recruiters who send out fake jobs, and jobs for which the people they’re emailing aren’t remotely qualified for

      I’m probably not the only person who feels this way. In fact, I know I’m not. I know a couple of other small business owners who routinely get emails from applicants asking if the company is hiring. They feel bad for them. One guy keeps their contact information in case he has future openings.

      All that said, if someone is going to take this route, it would be better if they sent each email individually, and customized each one with the company’s name, and preferably the name of a specific hiring party. It takes more time, but an individual, customized email is more likely to get a positive response.

  3. Unca Alby

    It occurs to me that if you want to try this, do it now.

    Right now, the Nigerian Princes, Manhood Products, and Friendly Ladies are usually mostly caught by trained spam filters, and resumes likely are allowed through. But after enough people try this, the spam filters will acquire new training, and resumes (even legitimate ones that were asked for) will get dumped into the Junk Mail folder with the rest of the drek.

    Strike while the iron is hot.

  4. Nightcrawler

    Further to my other comment, chew on this: before the days of widespread Internet usage, it was not at all uncommon for job applicants to gather lists of employers and send snail-mail resumes for their consideration. I remember doing this in the mid-90’s. I was looking for a proofreading/editing job. I gathered a list of advertising and marketing agencies from the online Yellow Pages (I got online in 1995) and mailed out a couple hundred resumes. One of them resulted in a job.

    This was not frowned upon; in fact, it was considered a proactive way to tap the “hidden” job market. The company that hired me needed a proofreader, but was not running an ad. If it was okay to send unsolicited resumes via snail mail in the 90’s, why is it verboten to do the same thing via email now?

      • Nightcrawler

        First of all, snail mail absolutely costs money to receive. *Someone* has to be paid to process that mail. It doesn’t just sort and open itself. Your article actually points this out in Point No. 3. (Oh, and if you are going to write an article using the English language, it’s a good idea to be educated in it. That article is riddled with spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors.)

        But following your logic, aren’t the recruiters who inundate me with ads for job listings–none of which I am remotely qualified for–stealing from me? Or is it “different” for them?

        I’d like to know how far everyone is willing to go down this rabbit hole:

        * If spam is “theft,” isn’t sending any unsolicited email “theft,” including sending an unsolicited *non-commercial* email to an individual (i.e., checking up on a friend)? Using the “theft” logic, none of us should ever email anyone.

        * What if the subject of this article had individually addressed and sent each of these letters, instead of using a bot to mass-mail them? Would it have been okay then? And why? After all, theft is theft.

        Actually, if I had a company with an opening that matched this guy’s credentials, I might have hired him. At least he was out there trying everything he could to get work, instead of collecting welfare.

        • Nightcrawler

          And of course that article goes on and on about how the government should “do something,” and devolves into outright hysteria. I don’t like getting spam emails from recruiters, but calling them a form of “organized crime” and implying they’re as bad as terrorists? That’s ludicrous. I could call those recruiters many things, but they’re not criminals. I also don’t want MORE government intrusion in either the business world or our personal lives.

        • jelabarre

          > But following your logic, aren’t the recruiters who inundate me with
          > ads for job listings–none of which I am remotely qualified for–stealing
          > from me? Or is it “different” for them?

          No, I’d *definitely* call it stealing from you. Especially if you’re unemployed and having to report all your job leads. Dealing with all those fraudulent H1B-enabling jobs uses up a lot of your time, using up time you could have spent looking for *real* jobs. You have to wade through them, and since it *did* use up your job-search time, you end up having to log them in your list of “search leads” just to show you were trying to be productive in your search.

          Sure, there is the (extremely remote) possibility one of them could lead to something more promising, but often I them in so I can see whne a particular company/recruiter hits the threshold where you just set up an “automatic delete” on their emails (or report them to their local BBB).

          • I don’t know of anywhere in the US where you have to “report all of your job leads” – maybe you’re in another country? In the US, you have to apply for X number of jobs per week or month, and report those applucations (In Michigan it’s 2 per week; I can’t speak about any other state, but I’m sure it’s similar). “Job leads” i.e., fishing expeditions by recruiters, are not required to be reported.

  5. Guy Newell

    If spam didn’t work, we wouldn’t be getting so much of it. Some of us might be lucky enough to end up working for this guy some day.

    Job hunting is just marketing yourself and mass mailings are an effective marketing technique proven over and over again. Notice that he did get a response from you. Maybe not a positive response, but you did exchange emails with him, did you not? Proof that it works.

    All the horse-hockey about job hunting “no-nos”. Like using electronic resumes instead of hard copy, or keeping resumes to no more than two pages or not using on-line job boards or whatever. Need I go on? All are complete horse-hockey. Any effective marketing technique is fair game in job hunting just as in any other kind of sales job.

  6. What actually constitutes “spam” is a matter of opinion. I don’t see how an unsolicited résumé qualifies as such. Best selling author and career coach Dan Miller recommends doing just that, under the idea that companies do NOT always post job openings to the public.

  7. If the “spam” is well crafted the recipient doesn’t know they are one of thousands. I attended a job search seminar recently that advised contacting hiring managers directly. This is just that, but on a larger scale.

  8. Walter Willis

    But on the other hand, if the position was email marketing – he just showed he knows how to get and use email lists so he would be good for the job. Guess it really depends on what the jobs is whether ‘spamming’ is ok or not. 🙂

  9. Harrison Rose

    Everyone gets massive amounts of email. “Spam” is a generic term with negative emotional overtones, but it only means a large scale email campaign to recipients who have not opted in to receive it. Sometimes, people also use the term for emailings they may have forgotten that they opted into. Yes, of course there is the bad spam as mentioned, but not all spam is bad I get spam from conferences, charities, publishers, and even people looking for jobs. Sometimes I even review them because the reason I am on some list is because I once had an interest in the topic.

    But, lets look at the issue analytically instead of emotionally.

    First, receiving unsolicited email is neither a crime nor theft. It costs essentially nothing in service fees to receive email. We are are decades away from that paradigm. It may take you some personal time to process an email starting with reviewing a subject line your filters allowed through. If you open the message to read it, this is your choice. There is no gun pointed at your head with a commandment for you to do so. No one in hiring authority is annoyed by receiving a job related email. If they are not in a position to hire they will ignore it. If you think anyone is going to remember your email and hold a grudge then you are both Narcissistic and paranoid. After a thousand emails of similar nature, if yours stands out then you should get hired!

    Second, only a small percent of companies are the Googles of the world. They’re not going going to hire you anyway. We know the vast majority of jobs filled are not listed, and the vast majority of responses to job listings are filed without you even getting a response. Finding an opening is mostly a matter of lucky timing — being at the right place,at the right time. Hence, blasting out a personal marketing message to a large number of potentially interested parties begins to sound like a reasonable idea.

    Third, let’s discuss results. He got a job. Sure, it wasn’t with Google or Apple, but they never returned his calls or emails for posted job ads anyway. Was it a great job? He can now pay his bills, when he couldn’t before. Could he do better? Now that he is employed, he is more desirable and may find a better job. As any sales person will tell you, a sale is a long series of “no’s” followed by a yes. Any entrepreneur raising investment capital will tell you how many investors they had to talk to before one wrote a check. How is this different?

    This self righteous crap lumping together proper usage of mass email with crooked is so 1990s. I applaud this creative use of mass mailing. I’d like to know more details about his approach. What was the copywriting in the email that got a response? Where did he find the email list? How did he approach the campaign? Damn people, he got a job! Wait till you run out of cash, no more unemployment insurance, and all your friends are tapped too. Then, you can eat the self righteous attitude, because you certainly won’t be blue to buy food.

    Yes, yes, a little over the top there, but it is just the pendulum swing from those who don’t know how to process their email and think that it is the senders’ fault.

    The key to the process is reaching the right people at the right time. Hence, we are told to customize the emails. But, we’re also told that its a numbers game. Therefore, its the content that counts. What did he write that worked?

    I may try this myself, now that I’ve thought about it logically instead of with an emotional discuss for spam.

  10. Most spam filters will delete spam or put into a separate folder to be deleted. The hardest thing about looking for work is the young work force that is willing to take a cheaper wage with no experience. I have found out that even with a college education and great experience, it doesn’t count for much. Networking is still one of the better bets. Also keep going to functions that keep you current in your field. Most of the companies out there look at the bottom line and don’t care about your experience.

    The Recruiter Game:

    I have asked Recruiters about the things in the job descriptions and the really don’t have any idea what the companies are asking for. Most said they didn’t know or they would find out and get back to me. Getting back to me didn’t happen either. I have had recruiters tell me that they could not tell me who they were recruiting for. This is ridiculous since most jobs are posted with several companies and are listed on several job sites with the same job description, so it makes it pretty easy to find out who they are recruiting for. Today’s Job descriptions don’t have a direction on what they are looking for. I find that they include several or different jobs all lumped into one bad job description.

    I have also received as many as 30 calls in one day or as many as 25 emails, by several people at the same recruiting company for one job posting. It seems that they should have a connecting system to show who they have contacted. Once you go with them, then they never call or contact you again. Some of the recruiters that have left messages on my phone, I could not understand because they were too close to the phone, yelling into the phone, or they spoke to fast and their name and phone number were garbled.

    When interviewing, I had one bad experience when I was interviewed by a panel of people on two different coasts and by the time I was done it was as confusing as to what they wanted I walked away. I have also had bad experience that when I got the job, I found out it was not what I was told or lead to believe in the interviews. It would be nice to just be able to speak to someone who is on the level and is really looking for some to fill a job and knows what the job really includes. With everything done on the web, we have lost our ability to communicate with each other face to face.