Whoops: HootSuite sends recruiting email to competitor's CEO

By Cale Guthrie Weissman , written on December 12, 2013

From The News Desk

What's worse than sending out the worst job application ever? Probably unknowingly hitting up the CEO of a longtime competitor with a stock recruiting message. Well, this has happened.

Earlier this week Ragy Thomas, CEO and co-founder of social media management startup Sprinklr, received an interesting LinkedIn message:

Hi Ragy… I was reviewing your profile and you look like someone that we would love to have on our team… Your experience in engineering at Sprinklr is exactly what we are looking for to help us grow our organization... We are looking to add a CTO.
The email, from a Talent Acquisition Specialist at Hootsuite, was correct in his or her estimation of Thomas's expertise. It sadly overlooked his status as CEO of one of HootSuite's top competitors.

'Whoops,' I guess you could say.

Thomas saw nothing but humor in the situation. He wrote back almost instantaneously:

That would be fabulous. Please let me know who I should be interviewing with.
Thomas then posted the message on his Twitter, cc-ing HootSuite's CEO Ryan Holmes of course, and forwarded the message to his staff to let them know about the opening, if anyone was interested. Needless to say, it got quite a laugh. He now frequently receives emails from staff with the phrase, "That would be fabulous."

I reached out to HootSuite for comment and a representative has confirmed that the company is looking for a new CTO. Further, its current one, Simon Stanlake, is involved with the process. It would have been pretty bad if this debacle was what informed him of the search.

While this kind of mistake is just that -- a mistake -- it was perpetrated by a company whose existence is predicated on properly navigating social media.

Thomas believes this to be a good time to reflect on social, recruiting, and how the two can coexist. "Social as a medium requires you to rethink how you communicate," Thomas said. It allows you to have "one-on-one conversations," but it also lets you reproduce them at scale.

Therein lies the problem: it's really difficult to manage that scale, especially for large companies; screw-ups like this can easily occur. Hopefully they are not as egregious.

While Thomas made the message public, he claims he does not want to dis HootSuite. "I know Ryan personally, [HootSuite is] a great company," he told me. "We could make this kind of screw-up, too." But it's always good to remember the power and risk social necessarily has. "It's about cultivating a relationship," Thomas added. "It's not about hitting [people] up with an offer."

So recruiters, beware of frivolously clicking the 'send' button. Also, if a reply starts with, "That would be fabulous," you may have made a huge mistake.