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Apr 27, 2007: Rude spammer from Heidrick & Struggles


I just got off the phone with one rude spammer.

I literally receive about 15K spam daily, and I take the normal prophylactic measures. But this spammer was different. She sent me a bunch of announcements about the executives she's placed—apparently her employer, Heidrick & Struggles, is a reputable company—and she posted her name and phone number in each message. When I followed her email's unsubscribe link, I found that I'd been subscribed to eight of their lists: I have to opt out of eight Heidrick and Struggles' lists

That seems a bit much. So I decided to call the spam's source, Mercedes, and ask why. After all, she was decent enough to not spam anonymously, and her phone number was right there in the email.

Her response? "I have your resume; we send these to people we've corresponded with before." Huh? I have no recollection of corresponding. And why would I? I've not been on the job market since about 1992. I've been self-employed ever since. I've not sent a resume or applied for a job in all that time. I even double-checked my sent mail folder; nope, no Mercedes of any sort there.

But no, Mercedes insisted that we've been in contact, that my resume was in front of her, and that was that. Then she hung up on me.

Why couldn't she simply have admitted that she'd made a mistake? After all, it's not like she'd gotten me mired in a Middle Eastern civil war.

Why did she feel the need to fabricate a story? Perhaps someone else grabbed my resume from my website—I do have an old CV buried there somewhere—and forwarded it to her. While there may have been something not entirely kosher going on there, she could have gracefully apologized, explained the error, promised not to do it again, and that would have been that.

Maybe it's not Mercedes' fault. Some companies employ unethical business development practices which regularly place their employees in uncomfortable positions. Hey, I was a used furniture salesman once. But you can choose to leave a job if it makes you into a rude liar.

Or does Heidrick & Struggles simply not have a problem with hiring people with rude personalities? Strange behavior for an organization in the "people" business of executive search and placement.

Anyway, that's a lot of questions. I hope that Mercedes' boss, the Managing Partner of the Heidrick & Struggles San Francisco office, has some answers. Let's see if he returns my phone call...

Update (May 3): I did get a nice response from the Managing Partner, promising that I'll not receive emails from his firm again. But I'm not sure they understand the problem here, or if they do, whether they realize that they're probably breaking the law with their opt-out practices. To quote: "I apologize if you felt you were being 'spammed'..."

Note the quotation marks. I wasn't "spam". It was spam, plain and simple, and it's coming from Heidrick & Struggles' San Francisco office. It's completely explicit, as proven by Mercedes' conscious effort to get through my spam filter (she entered the "captcha" that SpamArrest required to remove the block on her mail; perhaps that what she meant by our "exchange"?).

I asked their MP to explain why they're engaging in this practice. An apology is nice, but there wasn't any "we're not going to do this again to you or anyone" reply. In fact, it's been three days, with no additional reply from Heidrick & Struggles. They either don't get it, or don't care. Very disappointing.

Oh well. Over 140 people have now read this posting. I wonder how much that might ding Heidrick & Struggles' PR budget?

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