Efficiently dealing with a high volume of recruitment consultant emails using OSX, Text Expander and Services

As a consultant who does a lot of contracting, I deal with recruitment consultants daily. They get a lot of stick, but they seem to be doing a high pressure job in a very competitive market. It’s symbiotic, I need them, they need me.

I average 5-10 recruitment emails a day. As recruiters will probably get me my next job I need to be polite & timely, but I can’t spend half an hour a day replying.

If I’m looking for a role I need to do one of the following:

  • Reply and say the job isn’t suitable, or
  • Reply and ask for more info (pertinent info like location, salary, contract/perm, length is often missing)

If I’m not looking I need to:

  • Reply, saying I’m not looking
  • Capture the recruiters email address for later use
  • Delete the email

How can I do all these things, every day?

Automate the process.

These rules are written for Mac but I’m sure you can do the same thing with a PC using different software.

Step 1

  1. Buy TextExpander
  2. Create 3 snippets called “gotjob”, “notsuitable” & “moreinfo”
  3. Populate those snippets with the email copy you think you need. You can’t include files so I suggest you include links to your CV hosted online. I also include my LinkedIn URL and encourage recruiters to connect. Here’s my ‘moreinfo’ rule for you to look at.

Now, as soon as an email comes in you can hit Cmd-R to reply, type “moreinfo” (or the most suitable abreviation) to expand the snippet, hit Cmd-D to send and... well that’s it you’re done.

Step 2 - the next level.

These steps add a whole new level onto the workflow, I went to the hassle of setting this up because, as I’m in a 6 month contract, I’ll probably run the process 500 times.

As it includes a delete command, it’s built to deal with the ‘not looking’ scenario. If you need something similar but not quite as brutal, feel free to adjust things. Better, leave me a comment and tell me what you do.

  1. Open Automator
  2. Hit “New”, pick “service”
  3. Record the actions you need to take - they are: click into email, hit Cmd-Shift-Y to add the contact to your address book, Cmd-R to open the reply window, type “gotjob” or whatever your trigger is, hit Cmd-D to send the email, finally hit “Delete” to delete the email. You’ll need to delete the “click into email” step created in the recorder, you’ll also need to delete the keyboard strokes that Text Expander performed when you triggered the snippet. Important, leave in the actual snippet trigger!
  4. Or, just download the service from me here.
  5. Adjust playback speed to about 5X. Any faster and the final delete command fires too early.
  6. Save your service.
  7. Open Preferences / Keyboard / Keyboard Shortcuts
  8. Select “Services”
  9. Find your shortcut, give it a nifty shortcut. I settled for Cmd-Shift-FullStop
  10. Find your zen like calm.

All things being well, when an email comes in that you need to deal with, the entire process should take no longer than 3 seconds.

A small note about contacts and groups

I periodically nip into “Contacts” to check up on email addresses added using the above method. I have an existing smart group that filters all contacts that aren’t already in a group, I then drag those contacts into a group called “Recruiters”. Whenever I need a job I bulk email all these contacts with a cheery email, a copy of my CV and an invitation to find me a good job.

Everyone is a winner, the recruiter gets what they need, I get what I need, nobody wastes any more time than they need to.

Thoughts? Improvements? Problems?

Let me know in the comments section below!

Evernote Business & V5 - a Review, sort of.

I wanted to run a quick review of Evernote Business which launched a few days ago but the software and experience is so bad that I'm finding it difficult.

I wanted to change to Evernote Business because I need the sharing functionality that isn't available in EV Premium (**EDIT this is now available in V5 2012-12-18 **) - even though I'm really just using it for my wife and I.If the sharing in EV premium wasn't so badly thought out, I'd still be using that!

My bugs with the user interface are many, I'm using a fully patched new Macbook Pro. Instead of a real review, here’s the list of bugs I found in the first few hours of use:

  1. Business library - I can't right click and change the settings of the notebook. (description, name etc)
  2. I can't drag and drop notebooks in the list of stacks and notebooks under "notebooks" in the sidebar. (**EDIT this is now available in V5 2012-12-18 **)
  3. I can't publish notebooks to the business library in the list view of all notes, I have to hit the confusing sharing icon even though there is a context menu available.
  4. I can't right click in notebooks and just create a new business notebook.
  5. I can't right click a notebook anywhere and publish it to the business library.
  6. Business Library - I click and in takes 5-10 seconds to appear.
  7. I can't click on a notebook in the business library to explore it.
  8. I can't view the business library as a list, with important data like last updated, or date created.
  9. I can't manually reorder stacks, or notebooks in the notebook view
  10. I can't convert a notebook from a personal, to a Business notebook, I have to make a new one & drag and drop notes.
  11. I can't publish a business notebook to the web. I use this functionality all the time.

I want EV to rock my world, I really need it to - but it's letting me down and that makes me sad. I wouldn’t touch EV Business with a ten foot barge pole until these issues are fixed, or addressed in some way.

Follow up on this post - 2012-12-18

As you can see from the comments, I got some good feedback from Evernote themselves, as well as an acknowledgement that things were not satisfactory with the interface.

I'd like to pint out that a number of these issues have been fixed and I have every reason to expect all of the issues to be dealt with in some way. Personally I have moved back to a personal premium account as the sharing issues I had with EV up to V5, have been partially mitigated by the new release.

I still believe the interface has been poorly tested, it doesn't account for the mental model some users have of the system and has functional holes were I would expect frictionless flow.

However I still have hope, and for now, I'm staying on the good ship EverNote.

Comments - please give me your thoughts.

A 3 step guide to putting yourself forward for advertised work

Applying for a piece of work you’ve seen advertised online, or elsewhere is a tricky business.

Too much selling or long, key word stuffed paragraphs gets you dropped in the bin, a single line saying “Hi” gets you to the same place.

Here’s your checklist:

  1. Introduce yourself, give your portfolio address (check the link, I’ve sent dead ones before) and explicitly state your years of experience.
  2. Give 2, maximum 3 examples of feeding key points of the brief back to the potential client, explaining how you can help with that issue and the benefit to the client (bigger business, more footfall, more conversions). 1 Paragraph per point, 2, maybe 3 sentences per paragraph.
  3. Offer to meet or communicate further to discuss.

That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. Think of the clients job as the same as looking through dozens of CVs, don’t give them an excuse to bin yours.

After a week, message them and ask if they had any further questions and if they have made a decision to go with someone else, what feedback they could offer you on your specific application.

Learn from that feedback.


So I started keeping a journal based on the "pick four things" principal of achieving goals.

So I started keeping a journal based on the "pick four things" principal of achieving goals.

Essentially you pick your goals and every day you write about what you have achieved or how you worked towards a successful outcome of those goals.

My goals are:

  1. Be More Focussed
  2. Reach a healthy weight of 95KG.
  3. Pay off the mortgage

I have reasons for each of these goals (which are incidentally stored in Evernote) that detail why I want to achieve them. I review that note every week.

I’ll be writing the journal every day, for 12 weeks. I don’t expect to attain the goals in 12 weeks, some of them, particularly the mortgage, are very long term (5-10 years). However - this is about getting me into the habit of working on those goals, rather than them being far distant, nice to have, nebulous “things”.

I'm using Day One software for the journal itself, written in Markdown syntax. I’ve rigged Day One to remind me once a day to write the post and the journal is accessible from all my devices.

For extra lazy points I’ve written a Text Expander snippet which you can download which asks me three questions, one about each goal.