Tag Archives: job hunt

Beware The New Age Of Job Spam

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Lately I’ve been receiving a lot of phone calls and emails about job opportunities, and I’m not alone according to my friends. I’ve begun to realize a lot of this is due to technical changes and business changes – ones that it’s important as a sort of Geek Career Person to warn people about.

Now before I go into just what I found, a note that this isn’t bragging. I’ve been in IT for decades, my resumes have been sent all over the country for twenty years, and I’m in a ton of databases. I’m also in my 50’s, where people are experienced, start to retire (less competition), or die (also less competition). It works in my favor – except for that whole “aware of my own mortality” thing.

Now, onward – let’s walk through what happened and what I found.

THE SITUATION

So last six months or so I started getting hit up by a lot of recruiters. This wasn’t like previous experiences where it appeared to be people “raiding” California for talent that got tired of paying rent so high you could buy a gaming rig once a month. This was the usual combined with lots of samey emails, odd calls, and weird inquests that didn’t always seem to relate to my skillsets, often from companies I never heard of.

I didn’t think about it much, until some caller noted she was in a different time zone – one that didn’t fit the area she was listed as calling from.

So I began digging a bit and looking into all those emails.

WHAT I FOUND

First, the emails I was ignoring anyway looked real spammy – cut and paste jobs, search and replace issues, and sometimes repetitive. On top of that there were mostly companies I didn’t recognize.

Secondly, the emails didn’t seem to give a damn where I was. I mean, yeah I’ve seen people try to raid Silicon Valley for talent, but this didn’t follow any identifiable pattern. Previously I could note trends in what states were hiring, but this was more incoherent.

I also began looking at how to unsubscribe from them, and that was the real revelation. A lot of the unsubscruibe links sent me to the same kind of software setup – clearly different companies, but all using the same mailing list software.

Finally, I recalled how many people had mentioned they had me in a database, or saw me on Dice, or LinkedIn.

That’s when it came together for me.

WHAT’S GOING ON?

At the most basic, it’s a helluva easy to set up a consulting type company, get requests, spam out inquiries, and try to get people. So now plenty of people are doing that and outsourcing globally, at rate I’ve not seen before. And it’s annoying.

Specifically it looks like:

  • A company get set up anywhere in the world then route calls through a phone number in other countries. That explains the weird time zone issues I was getting from calls.
  • A company can use existing software out of the box to set up all sorts of HR and mailing systems. Then you can easily mail things out to people without thinking.
  • There’s all sorts of databases out there, and companies can fill them or just purchase data. Pretty sure some of my old resumes from fifteen years ago are sitting around somewhere in digitized form.
  • Dice and Linkedin and other sites are easy for dedicated people to scrape, especially if you have settings that allow people to see you’re looking, show information, etc.

So we’re now at the stage where you can basically spin up a consulting company or modify an existing one to pretty much run as a spam system. Sure, it sounds like it’s inefficient, but if you can throw out leads to a ton of people, you only need a small percent of responses. It’s pretty much like advertising.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

So what’s the takeaways from this for my fellow job seekers? I have a few.

  • First as always I recommend people always ask what the next stage of their career is. It may well be “more of the same,” but a review now and then is good. I evaluate my skills and plans once a month.
  • If you’re at all concerned about job stability, you should have a regular job search going on, from once a week to once a month.
  • Job searches by now are going to need to be selective. So be aware of who you’re applying to.
  • If you’re looking at temp or consulting companies, research them before applying. Build a list of reliable companies over time (and share them) so you know when trustworthy leads come in and you build good relationships.
  • If you have specific companies or organizations you want to work for, then I’d apply at their websites specifically. Now and then, do a “deep dive” and go back through listings to apply to past jobs, not just new ones.
  • Be careful how you set yourself up on job sites, LinkedIn, etc. You might be accidentally asking to be spammed.

Hope that helps. Let’s see how this evolves in the future, because I’m sure there’s more changes to the job market and technology to come . . .

Steven Savage