Dear Mitch

Welcome back to ‘Dear Mitch’ with the ever candid, Mitch Sullivan. A man many Recruiters will know. Never one to shy away from debate or express an opinion, he’s been a Recruiter since the days of fax. His desire to not have his eyes bleed every time he saw a job ad drove him to start his own Recruitment Copywriting Course.

In this series, Mitch is answering your questions. For every query your boss can’t or won’t answer, you can write to Dear Mitch…

Joe, London: Hi Mitch, I know you’re doing a writing course in recruitment around job ads. I was wonder whether you have a good way to open a conversation on email that will differentiate me. I know email isn’t the best way to start a conversation but sometimes as a last resort it’s necessary. What have you used in the past?

The best two ways I know to increase the likelihood of your sales emails getting read are to 1) flatter the reader and 2) reference something that is important to them.

Unfortunately, both approaches require some research being done on the recipient and/or their company. I say unfortunately as most recruiters prefer sending out 2,000 generic emails than 20 well researched ones.

Nina, Colchester: Hi Mitch. I’ve recently had the same candidate give me the run around twice. I’m pretty sure he’s lying to me but I want to trust them. HELP!

If they lie to you twice, you can’t trust them. Move on.

Ritesh, Dubai: Mitch, how do you get candidates to finish a process when they have other offers on the table?

Big question Ritesh, and one where the answer will vary depending on the situation.

If they literally have other offers on the table, then you’re potentially in trouble unless you can speed up your process – something most recruiters have little control over. I think all you can do is explore whether any of the other offers are what the candidate is really looking for. Then whether the candidate is unemployed or desperate to leave their current employer comes into play.

If someone is currently unemployed, it’s a tough sell to have them turn down an offer in the hope they’re going to get an offer from your client.

Anonymous: I’ve worked for a large company since graduating and I’m doing well but know I could be earning more elsewhere and get approached a lot. As someone with a lot of experience, when’s generally a good time to consider your options?

When you know you could be earning more elsewhere.

They key is identifying what that new job needs to look like. Generally it means moving into a new sector where the salaries and/or fees are higher.

Good luck.

Anonymous: Hi Mitch, really like the article. I just wanted to know your thoughts on how much you should meet people as a consultant? My boss hates me being out the office so it’s hard to push back but I get asked by clients all the time. What you reckon?

I have mixed feelings about client visits. Most of the agencies I met when I worked in-house seem to only see it as a way of getting me to like them and most hiring managers I spoke to about meeting agencies seemed to think the same thing.

I think client visits are only worth doing if the recruiter has a clear idea of how they want to try to move the business relationship forward in some way. Whether that’s making a case for the client to stop working on contingency or spending time in the department where you recruit for to understand the job better so you can sell it better –  there has to be some tangible, provable benefit to the client.

I also don’t think it’s worth visiting a client until you worked on a few of their vacancies first and developed some understanding of them.

If your boss hates them because all that’s happening is a few branded mugs and mousepads are being given away, then I agree with him/her.

Julie, UK: Dear Mitch, I left my role as an internal recruiter to secure an entry level HR role. More than six interviews and numerous conversations with agency recruitment consultants, I’m still struggling to secure a position. My feedback is that I have ‘too much experience’ which I do find a tad frustrating. In your experience, do you think I am wasting my time trying to find a company willing to give me a chance or should I keep applying??

Hi Julie. I think you should keep applying – but try to avoid agencies wherever possible. Most agencies are briefed to only submit narrow candidate types rather than people who could grow into the job. I think you’d get a better response applying to companies direct.

I also think you should be actively networking with HR Managers and freelance HR practitioners (who tend to have large networks of HR people) and spontaneously pitching yourself to them. You need to maximise your chance of selling yourself to the person you’d be reporting to rather than relying on an agency recruiter to do it for you.

The other option might be to get an internal recruiter role in a large company with a large HR function and network your way into an HR role from the inside.


I am now taking direct questions for this series. Want something (anonymously or otherwise) answered? Just email me at mitch@hunted.com – I’ll do my best to answer, no matter how difficult or damning the question. If you’re interested in becoming better at recruitment writing, have a look here.