Dear Recruiters: Please send e-mails
During my first steps in freelancing, I’ve come to love your services. You provided me, a guy with skills but without connections, with my first job offers. Thanks to you guys, I have landed jobs in companies that otherwise would have never known I existed.
However, there is something that’s been bugging me lately:
Excessive phone calls. (dun-dun-dunnnnnnn)
Most recruiters that contact me start off in one of two ways: They either call me directly, or write a short LinkedIn message or e-mail asking to schedule a phone call. Instead, I would like to suggest making first contact via e-mail, and giving a specification of the open position(s) right away. And here is why:
The advantages of e-mail over phone calls are:
- It’s not slower - and sometimes even faster
- It’s harder to find a time where both of us are free. Instead of scheduling a call 2 days away, we can progress every time someone has a minute or two.
- It’s asynchronous
- We don’t have to be free at the same point in time. In case we both have a busy week, this will actually lead to an earlier process finish line.
- It’s non-interrupting
- With e-mails, I can wait for a free minute to respond. Calls mostly happen while I’m focused work, which pulls me out of my concentration. People need around 25 minutes to regain the focus they lost due to an interruption. Not a maximum of 25, but 25 on average. Moreover, us data scientists are in the fortunate situation of being in high demand. I know, this is basically an embarrassment of riches, and maybe I shouldn’t be complaining. But these 25 minutes happen more often than not, and can add up to a significant amount of time over the course of a week.
- It’s quiet
- When working at a client’s open-plan office, I can’t talk openly about some things.
- It’s documented
- All information is there for us to check at a later point
- It’s clearer
- I’m an IT guy. Most of us communicate clearer in writing, and prefer having a few seconds to form an answer and make sure we don’t forget anything.
Look, we have fundamentally different styles of working: Your critical factor for success as a salesman is constant connection, while a data scientist’s most valued quality is the ability to focus highly and perform long stretches of uninterrupted deep work. This does not have to lead to a clash, though, since mails instead of calls solve this issue without any disadvantages.
“What I do takes long hours of studying and uninterruptible concentration.”
– Donald Knuth
I believe in failing quickly. This sounds counterintuitive at first, but it’s a time saver without a disadvantage: If the candidate or the position is not right, it saves both of us time to determine this sooner rather than later, and move on to the next opportunity. On the other hand, if the candidate is the right person, you lose nothing by establishing first contact via e-mail. It should also be important to keep in mind that this procedure belongs to the unpaid part of our job, but to the paid part of your job - another reason why we strive to minimize our time for these tasks.
Again: don’t get me wrong. I like you guys. Thanks to you, I am in the fortunate position where jobs come to me. But still, there’s something you guys can do so that I (and many other IT people, like this guy) enjoy working with you even more: Initiate contact via a short e-mail. This first message should already contain as much information as you can get; e.g.:
- The job type (freelance, permanent, temp employment)
- The job specification
- The skill requirements
- Who’s the client? (I know, you’ll hate me for this. But this helps me align your offer with those of other recruiters, as well as my previous jobs and eventual client protection clauses.)
- What’s the range for the hourly or daily rate?
- How many days are planned?
- What’s the range for the desired occupancy (in days per week)?
If the position sounds like it could be a fit, you have my undivided attention and I will happily schedule a phone call.