The Lies Recruiters Have Been Told About GDPR – Email Marketing


Many of you in the recruitment market will have stopped email marketing, or maybe were about to begin, and stopped because someone told you thatGDPRmeans “no more email marketing”.  This blog will tell what total rubbish that is AND why you should be email marketing more than ever before!

So, if you are a recruiter, recruitment marketer or recruitment leader, and:

  1. want to generate more candidates

  2. need more viable leads

  3. should be attracting more recruiters to your recruitment business…

...read this blog!

The Myth of GDPR

GDPR has caused stupid amounts of disruption – too much disruption.  Myths were created.  Data was deleted. Business stopped… but at least we are all compliant, eh?

Meanwhile, a little regulation called PECR – (Guide to the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations)has almost been ignored.

I’m going to quote the regs throughout so to avoid further myths and nail down facts.

This guide covers the latest version of PECR, which came into effect on 16 May 2016, with some updates to cover changes made by the GDPR from 25 May 2018.  PECR cover marketing by phone, fax, email, text or any other type of ‘electronic mail’.

*I am not a lawyer – I am a mere mortal.  I have read the regs and interpreted them to suit myself and my recruitment clients.  Feel free to get them common-sense checked by someone.

Recruiters Need to Run Talent and Sector Surveys

First – if you are conducting genuine market research (and a good recruiter should!) then:

Genuine market research does not count as direct marketing. However, if a survey includes any promotional material or collects details to use in future marketing campaigns, the survey is for direct marketing purposes and the rules apply.


Routine customer service messages do not count as direct marketing – in other words, correspondence with customers to provide information they need about a current contract or past purchase (eg information about service interruptions, delivery arrangements, product safety, changes to terms and conditions, or tariffs). General branding, logos or straplines in these messages do not count as marketing. However, if the message includes any significant promotional material aimed at getting customers to buy extra products or services or to renew contracts that are coming to an end, that message includes marketing material and the rules apply.

But Recruiters Don’t Have Consent to Mail Clients and Candidates

How about if you want to send a mail / text, without consent? It’s not against the law!

An unsolicited message is any message that has not been specifically requested. So even if the customer has ‘opted in’ to receiving marketing from you, it still counts as unsolicited marketing.  This does not make all unsolicited marketing unlawful. You can still send unsolicited marketing messages – as long as you comply with PECR.

This is interesting – note the word “often”:

You will often need a person’s consent before you can send them a marketing message. 


You must not send marketing emails or texts to individuals without specific consent. There is a limited exception for your own previous customers, often called the ‘soft opt-in’.

Recruiters Now Need to Rely on Being Soft!

Is this a proper “get out of jail free card”?

The rules on electronic mail marketing are in regulation 22. In short, you must not send electronic mail marketing to individuals, unless:

they have specifically consented to electronic mail from you; or

they are an existing customer who bought (or negotiated to buy) a similar product or service from you in the past, and you gave them a simple way to opt out both when you first collected their details and in every message you have sent

Hold on – you mean that if you have been dealing with someone already, they are a “soft” op-in? And you can mail them? Yes – as long as you make it easy to unsubscribe.

The term ‘soft opt-in’ is sometimes used to describe the rule about existing customers.

Existing customers, recruiters!  What does this mean to you?

The idea is that if an individual bought something from you recently, gave you their details, and did not opt out of marketing messages, they are probably happy to receive marketing from you about similar products or services even if they haven’t specifically consented. 

Probably happy! (Yes please!)

The soft opt-in rule means you may be able to email or text your own customers.

Read this:

You can also email or text an existing customer who has bought (or discussed buying) a similar product or service from you in the past – but only if you gave them a clear chance to opt out of getting marketing emails or texts when you collected their details, and in every message.

So Recruiters! What’s the Best Way to Create a Marketing List?

This paragraph had me clapping my hands… According to the ICO:

You may want to compile your own in-house marketing list using details of people who have bought goods or services in the past, or who have registered on your website or made an enquiry. However, you should not assume that everyone is happy to receive marketing just because they have provided their contact details.

So, basically, you can create email marketing lists from people who have not specifically consented!

But have a little think – your goal is longer term to create consent – to create really good email marketing campaigns to get them to say “don’t delete me – I think you’re great!”  Then you can take that engaged mailing list to your sassy clients and ask them to pop that in their pipes and smoke it –whilst you place lots of candidates with them at your rack rate fees!

Now to Start Building an Email Marketing Strategy to Attract Your 3Cs

Recruiters! Candidates, clients, and colleagues (your 3Cs) need to hear from you!  You need to maintain your legitimate interest in holding their data.  You need to give them compelling reasons to stay on your mailing list - and your recruitment marketers have the keys to this!

We deliver coaching to recruiters and recruitment marketers to help them be really effective in email marketing.  Read the above again, get confident and give us a call.

HIIT Us, Recruiters!

Our high intensity interval training - Recruitment HIIT - helps recruiters source, convert quicker, and develop healthy pipelines, and recruitment marketers attract, engage, and retain candidates, generate clients, and colleagues (3Cs).





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