December 11, 2000, 1:30 PM — "REVERSE THE AGING PROCESS 10-20 YEARS!"
"LOSE 30 POUNDS IN 30 DAYS, GUARANTEED!"
"MAKE $10,000 A MONTH STARTING NOW!"
Do you open emails with subject lines like these? Or do you just delete them or
filter them out? Every time I think I'm making progress in eliminating unwanted emails
that promise (and don't deliver) solutions to my ills, newfound wealth, or the secret
to bypassing my cable TV encryption system, another dozen messages (ALWAYS IN CAPS)
manage to get through my filter. I'm still waiting for the one that says, "ELIMINATE
ALL UNWANTED EMAILS INSTANTLY." That one I'll open.
'Joe job agent'
Lately, there is another type of spam email clogging my in box -- spam from job sites.
Instead of "unwanted" emails, these are more in the "I thought I wanted it and stupidly
asked for it" category. Yes, I opted in, but I didn't get what I expected. This isn't
the "give us your résumé and the employer will search and contact you"
pitch. Instead, I'm speaking about the wonderful offer many job sites have, the one
were they'll "push" job matches directly to your desktop via an agent. Unfortunately,
Mark and I are beginning to believe that this ubiquitous "Joe job agent" is no
cybersleuth working on our behalf. Its promise to send only jobs that match a
candidate's interests is beginning to look like all the other spam -- more sizzle than
steak. Despite the opt-in nature of these potentially valuable services, job seekers
are turning off and ignoring or canceling messages that don't deliver.
Maybe its just that we are in the midst of reviewing thousands of job sites. More
than half offer their visitors an option to register. Mark and I have been submitting
our interests and creating a profile of a typical job seeker. Sometimes we register as
a sales rep looking for a job anywhere in the country; more typically, we pretend to be
an IT professional with specialized programming skills and an interest in a position in
a major technology center. Unfortunately, we've found that the typical job site has
more in common with a used car salesperson than with the career counselor that these
sites typically compare themselves to.
Most sites with job agents claim that the operation of those agents are:
- Convenient: "You won't need to search the job database over and over."
- Easy: "Just answer a few questions about yourself and we'll take care of the
- Accurate: "Only the positions that match your interests will be sent to you".
- Confidential: "They will never know who you are."