Adventures in Sleazy Marketing: Purzue Just Wants A Conversation

Pity the spammers: they are past their prime. Email spam, now decades old, is hopelessly archaic. To keep up, the modern spammer must adjust to new platform after platform, each more limited and ephemeral than the last.

So of course there is Twitter spam.

Purzue is a résumé-building app. Its founders, Davinder Singh and Richard Zeitz, brag that their aim is "to become the simplest (and maybe even fun) way for people to make an awesome résumé." Right now, they do this by spamming people on Twitter. Perhaps you associate spamming with professional job-seeking strategy; I do not.

Purzue's tactic is simple — it uses some sort of bot to auto-tweet in response to key words on Twitter like "job" or "résumé." If you asked them, Purzue's team would probably describe this as "responsive marketing":

Purzue uses responsive marketing with Facebook and Twitter. On Facebook Purzue will often start a conversation and then continue it after someone else starts commenting or asking questions. On Twitter Purzue looks up a particular hashtag and sees who is talking about things like “resumes” or “finding a job” and then responding to them, continuing the conversation.

Let's see what a conversation with Team Purzue looks like, shall we?

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Regrettably, Purzue deleted another conversation — in which it responded to a racist joke with a chirpy comment about job-seeking — before I could screencap it.

Purzue's plan relies on two phenomena: stupidity and indifference to sleaze. Purzue relies on stupidity the same way that those Nigerian Prince emails do; they pester 1000 people to take advantage of the outlying 1 or 2 who are dumb enough to fall for their pitch. In this case, Purzue relies on the stupidity of people who think it is a good idea to load all of their personal information into an online app run by people who market via spam. Purzue relies on indifference to sleaze as well; they use a sleazy automatic tactic to spam thousands, knowing that people are so hardened to online rudeness that some will not be put off by it.

When we're stupid, or when we're indifferent to online sleaze, we encourage more bad behavior. Don't encourage bad behavior. Don't use services like Purzue that employ scummy marketing tactics. And if you get a Purzue-generated resume from a job applicant, throw it in the trash.

Edited to add: Adam Steinbaugh notes a good one:

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Second edit: A reader managed to screencap the racial reference discussed above before they deleted it:

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Last 5 posts by Ken White

Comments

  1. eddie says

    And if you get a Purzue-generated resume from a job applicant, throw it in the trash.

    You have to go further. You have to send the applicant an email saying that you did so, and why, and cc: Purzue. Then make a quick tweet saying "I just threw a resume in the trash because it was generated by the spammers at Purzue." Otherwise there's no disincentive from purely private action.

  2. I Was Anonymous says

    @eddie,

    At which point, you will get a reply from Purzue telling you that they can help you generate a resume!!!

  3. JTG says

    What characteristics do Purzue-generated resumes have that distinguish them from other resumes? I.e., how can one know whether to reject a resume using this as a criterion?

  4. blah says

    How many of these services are there? If there are a handful, you could make a fun game seeing how many spam tweets you get off of a single hashtag-laden tweet, it would probably be pretty fun!

    Double points if your tweet makes sense in context.

  5. Lis says

    @eddie,

    the problem is that this is MORE response than companies give to personally written, professionally reviewed resumes/CVs (I mean, at least in my experience over the past three months / 50-some applications.) Honestly if a hiring agent responded IN ANY WAY to a resume I had, I would continue to use that resume.

  6. En Passant says

    JTG wrote August 27, 2014 at 8:20 am:

    What characteristics do Purzue-generated resumes have that distinguish them from other resumes?

    They're well designed for the modern web, quick, easy, painless, credible, modern, easily distributed and effective. And they help you land that job!

    They said so themselves, so it must be true.

  7. Kilroy says

    Plenty of these types of bots, autobots if you will, out there. Just type "inconceivable" on twitter and see what comes back.

  8. Eric says

    I agree with Lis. Many employers simply don't respond with either a timeline or a final decision, you're basically throwing paper into a black hole.

  9. Matt says

    I dunno, the one in response to the Disney mermaid jobs thing was actually sorta on point :p But, blind squirrels&acorns, broken clocks twice a day, that sort of thing.

  10. JTG says

    @blah said:

    How many of these services are there? If there are a handful, you could make a fun game seeing how many spam tweets you get off of a single hashtag-laden tweet, it would probably be pretty fun!

    I wonder if it would be possible to get them to key off of each other, and start a "converstation" between the different services.

  11. sorrykb says

    JTG wrote:

    I wonder if it would be possible to get them to key off of each other, and start a "converstation" between the different services.

    Purzue seems to be trying to do this with Jobsila, but Jobsila so far hasn't reciprocated. Or, rather, retaliated.

  12. Rick says

    You have to go further. You have to send the applicant an email saying that you did so, and why, and cc: Purzue. Then make a quick tweet saying "I just threw a resume in the trash because it was generated by the spammers at Purzue." Otherwise there's no disincentive from purely private action.

    Errr, you do that and the next thing you know some scum-sucking, bottom-feeding lawyer will be knocking on your door howling employment discrimination.
    No thanks.

  13. DerangedDan says

    Errr, you do that and the next thing you know some scum-sucking, bottom-feeding lawyer will be knocking on your door howling employment discrimination.
    No thanks.

    I'm fairly sure that "users of a sketchy online resume service" isn't a protected class.

  14. Angstela says

    The worst part is that these types of marketeers are so full of themselves, they will argue that they can't believe no one's thought of this before them! At least, that was the argument I got from a coworker when telling him not to advertise to random strangers on Twitter… that and "Some of them thank me for the information!" It's nausea inducing.

  15. naught_for_naught says

    Purzue's plan relies on two phenomena: stupidity and indifference to sleaze.

    Hey, you bastards! That's my plan.

  16. Robert says

    " A reader managed to screencap the racial reference discussed above before they deleted it:"

    They musta missed it, cause there was no mention of race in that tweet.

  17. Rliyen says

    @Kilroy

    Plenty of these types of bots, autobots if you will, out there. Just type "inconceivable" on twitter and see what comes back.

    I didn't know that the Autobots were so hard up for Energon. Clearly, this is a Deception trick. Probably the work of Spaminator.

  18. Rick C says

    @Kilroy: "Plenty of these types of bots, autobots if you will, out there. Just type "inconceivable" on twitter and see what comes back."

    I like to imagine that results in a bot quoting Mandy Patinkin.