Is there an expression for the case when someone receives an email from a recruiter with whom he had no previous contact? I am looking for a term other than headhunting, like salesman knocking on cold doors, as it's said in other languages.

  • 1
    I always thought that was a headhunter--that the traditional distinction between a headhunter and a recruiter is that the headhunter focuses on actively seeking out and initiating contact with potential recruits, whereas a recruiter might take a more passive approach.
    – phenry
    Jul 12 '11 at 15:42
  • How about Spamming?
    – Robb
    Jul 12 '11 at 15:48
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  • @phenry - nuh. "headhunter" is just another term for "recruitment agency" etc. No difference. Every recruitment agency aggressively cold-calls people they want to make money from, and conversely, pretty much everyone in headhunting-typical industries has already called up all the headhunters in town. Regarding say top ad agency talent in London in the 90s or whatever, it would be meaningless to talk about cold-calling. All everyone does all day is discuss more lucrative positions with their (many) headhunters.
    – Fattie
    Jul 12 '11 at 16:51

"Cold calling" is the usual term (in the U.S. at least) for an unsolicited contact by a person offering goods or services; the call could be an in-person visit, a phone call, or an e-mail. In the context of mail, the message itself could be referred to as "junk mail" or "spam", and the act of sending it is "spamming". This is usually used in the context of a mass mailing, but even narrowly-targeted messages, if unsolicited and unwanted, can be so labelled.

As FumbleFingers said, the act of "headhunting"; that is, attempting to recruit candidates for a job offered by a third party, is almost always initiated in a "cold" manner; the person doing the recruiting often has no pre-existing personal or professional relationship with the person they are attempting to recruit. So, the term "cold headhunting" is redundant; "headhunting" normally would suffice.


I've always been under the impression that "headhunting" is normally "cold" in OP's sense.

A reasonable definition of headhunting is that it's the practice of approaching someone who is already employed at another company. To my mind, unless that someone has put his name down with a recruitment agency, any approach he might receive is by definition "cold calling".

  • not really. A "headhunter" is any recruitment agency. Very typically, pretty much every say copywriter, is "registered" with, again, pretty much every headhunter in town. (Why would you possibly not want to make more money and advance your career? For what reason would you not have already made yourself known to ever headhunter?) Wall St is just the same as Madison Av. So yeah, when you explicitly say "I was headhunted - cold!" you'd mean that (surprisingly! an unusual sitation) the call from the headhunter came out of the blue.
    – Fattie
    Jul 12 '11 at 16:49
  • When I handed in my notice from my first programming job with the UK Civil Service, both me and my then boss were amused when he contacted an agency to find a replacement; the only candidate offered was in fact myself (I'd gone to the same agency seeking an alternative position). But I was quite flattered to receive an unsolicited approach from IBM a couple of years later after I'd settled into my new job. Jul 12 '11 at 17:02
  • LOL awesome story! A friend of mine who ran an ad agency once had an applicant show a folio. In fact it was a scam, the folio belonged to another person. However in this case: it was the folio of the person the scammer was showing it to!!!! Heh!
    – Fattie
    Jul 12 '11 at 17:17
  • That was back in the 70s, when programmers were rare as hen's teeth and hardly anyone had a relevant degree. Mostly we were English or History graduates, for some reason I was never able to discover. Jul 12 '11 at 17:19

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