How to Manage Email Overload When Hiring People

Andy Mowat
December 28, 2022

This week at Gated, we hired a brilliant Head of Engineering, Allen Hartwig. A search for top talent is never easy, as you evaluate the skills and energy that someone will bring to your team. These days, it feels even more difficult.

We struggle against the automation, even dehumanization, of the recruiting process. We compete for talent across an increasingly wide landscape of remote hiring. For companies and candidates alike, hiring feels less like a chance for personal connection, and more like a production line.  

During the hiring process, your inbox may also feel less personal, less human, and more cluttered. Hiring is a common trigger that leads to email overload.

Finding your engineering leader – or other top talent

In today’s hiring market, you’re constantly communicating across multiple channels. You’re fielding messages from multiple senders that might be helpful – or not.

Take a look at just some of the points of communication I used during our most recent search:

  1. I proactively pinged over 200 engineers and subsequently had 40+ in-depth conversations.
  2. I posted on AngelList, which drove an impressive number of applications and a wide variety of quality.
  3. I created a formal job posting on LinkedIn, to which Gated Advisors and supporters could drive qualified candidates
  4. I publicly shared materials with applicants explaining our product market fit, advisor roster, and vision to change the email marketing industry (as part of the hiring process, I always share our company values and personal work style; you can read more about my approach).
  5. As a non-technical founder, I leveraged several of our Advisors who are CTOs to help evaluate talent.

And with this flurry of public activity and increased communication, the inevitable barrage of junk mail arrived.

Hiring means you’ll hear from a lot of unknown senders

When I posted our job on LinkedIn and AngelList, I was immediately swamped by people trying to sell us IT outsourcing. Here’s what I received in the first week:

The breakdown of unknown senders spamming Gated CEO's Andy Mowat's inbox, LinkedIn Messages, phone, and job listings
The breakdown of unknown senders spamming my inbox, LinkedIn Messages, phone, and job listings (source: Andy Mowat).

The theme of the messages was the same: people trying to sell me outsourced IT services, which was something I wasn’t looking for. I read lines like these over and over again:

  • "Are you looking for a tech team?"
  • "For your CTO…"
  • "Tech partnership with Gated..."
  • "Hey! Let’s see if this suits you."
  • "Have you received my previous email?"

There were likely some strong candidates, or even an alternate outsourcing idea, hidden in the flood of emails.

But as a busy founder and CEO, I don’t have enough time or attention to wade through them all.

While larger companies have recruiters on point to screen candidates, I am overwhelmed by inbound cold solicitations every time I post a job online.

Focusing on the messages that matter with Gated

Luckily, Gated stopped these messages before they got to me and parsed out which were worth my attentionEvery unknown sender received a challenge email that allowed them to make a small donation to Headstrong (a charity that provides mental health services to veterans) to reach me.

Headstrong, a nonprofit dedicated to providing mental health support and services to veterans.
A donation to Headstrong gets my attention (source: Headstrong).

I knew that those who took the time and cared to make a donation were people that I could spend time getting to know (Sidebar: When candidates who messaged me directly from AngelList received a challenge email, they were easily able to indicate that I was expecting their message and skip the donation).

For the candidates themselves, Gated provided a way to stand out from the crowd andbuild an authentic point of connection with their potential next employer.

The Gated folder label as seen in Gmail.
Standing out in the inbox, for sure (source: Andy Mowat).

Out of 104 initial inbound inquiries, Gated helped me focus on just 7 that were worth my attention. And from those, we feel truly excited to have hired a perfect match for our company...

Welcome, Allen!

As you wade through the quagmire of hiring, consider how Gated might help as a solution that helps you focus your attention on what – and who – matters most.

Get Gated for your inbox to better manage the recruiting and hiring process!

Originally published: August 4, 2021