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Ask HN: How to effectively deal with recruiters?
28 points by TXV 14 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 24 comments
I'm a Golang developer based in western Europe with around 5 years professional experience. I frequently receive unsolicited messages from recruiters, mostly on Linkedin, introducing this and that amazing job opportunity. Right now I'm happy where I am, but I won't mind hearing them out if said opportunity is especially compelling.

I'm not sure how to engage with them in an effective way. My goals are basically two: 1. avoid wasting time 2. avoid coming across as arrogant - they are doing their job and their time isn't worth less than mine.

To know if their opportunity is compelling I need to get some key information upfront, e.g. what's the client's budget. I don't want to even start discussing anything if it turns out that the client pays 25% less of what I'm making today. Of course money is not my only concern, but it's still a very easy way, and a very relevant one!, to filter out jobs that have no chance whatsoever to fit my definition of compelling. Another deal-breaker would be a company that doesn't allow any form of remote work. Also some of them absolutely want to talk over the phone and I don't feel comfortable with that.

So what's your strategy for dealing with recruiters? Do you demand employer information upfront? Do you ignore them? How do you interact? Thanks!




My advice:

1) Don't ever interact with MPC recruiters. These are recruiters who do not have a contractual agreement with a client in place and want to use your resume to sell their own agency to new clients. 100% wastes of time.

1a) Don't do a lot of legwork (background checks, reference checks, official documents, etc.) before they even submit you. This is a way of filtering out MPC recruiters who are vetting you to become sales material for THEM, not for the job.

1b) Send them your resume in PDF, not DOC form. If they insist on DOC then this is a sign that you may be working with an MPC recruiter.

1c) If they insist on knowing what your current salary is, say you'll tell them if they reveal their bill rate for an equivalent candidate for this client. Again, this is another way of filtering MPC recruiters who will have no way of answering this because they don't have any clients.

1d) Build up a good spam filter to filter out MPC recruiters you've identified. They all share tactics and templates, so they're pretty easy to spot.

Essentially, just be a nice person and avoid MPC recruiters.


What are MPC recruiters?


"Most placeable candidate". It's just the insider term for the strategy I described above where you find a good candidate and then use them as bait to dangle in front of clients.


what stops these people from downloading mine or anyone's resume off LinkedIn and use that for their purposes? they wouldn't even need to bother contacting me first


Nothing. And they do already convert your PDFs to Doc for editing, often destroying part of your layout. At one job interview for a frontend developer position, I was very embarrassed to learn that the idiot recruiter had done that to my CV. My interviewer jokingly showed me how my CV looked all messed up - wrong alignment, missing icons, mixed up fonts, weird borders. All this because the recruiter wanted to remove my email address from the document...


Well, one could print the PDF on paper and then scan it as image, it will probably loose some resolution/detail, the layout will stay, unless the recruiter uses OCR, and then you will have, besides a messed layout also several typos ...


literally all recruiters ask you about your salary, does that mean they are all MPC?

His point here is if they're MPC they won't be able to tell you their compensation from the client for filling the role.

I don't ignore them, but if I'm not looking I wait a week to get a batch of messages and then answer with a short copy-pasted reply. I don't think they mind, since they do it themselves.

If you're considering depending on compensation, I'd be upfront and tell them that. Ask for salary and if it's a remote position in your reply. Tell them you're busy for the phone but give them your email.

About talking on the phone, unfortunately my experience is that the ones with the best opportunities want to interview you themselves before referring. A recruiter from Germany even asked me technical stuff about my GitHub projects, and after that she decided to refer to an even better company.


If you don't mind - What sector are you in/is your recruiter working in? Really good recruiters (such as yours it seems) are really scarce. Would you mind sharing the contact of her on LinkedIn/Xing (Here or per mail (see my profile))?

I politely tell them where I am at in my career, what I would need from a position to make it worth discussing, and ask them whether they believe the opportunity they had in mind makes it worth talking to each other.

I don't share details about my salary - I just say I'm paid above market and would still need a raise. This weeds out most run-of-the-mill recruiters just looking to fill your average coder job. The ones who really have a good opportunity will tell me so and we'll talk. The one who don't usually still appreciate being told where I am at, so they know when I would want to talk.

I usually also tell them that if the current opportunity isn't a match, call me again in 6 months anyway, just in case my current project doesn't go well. This gives me a nice safety net if my job changes, and over time builds up a decent network of recruiters that I can just write back to if I ever were to want a change.


I think nothing wrong in polite initial reply about the budget/pay/salary upfront with a firm notion that without that information no further conversation is going to take place.

This will weed out flakes and save time for everyone.


Has that worked for anyone here? The most I get after answering a cold email/LinkedIn message with my salary requirements is something along the lines of "that's doable," and finding out later the client had an appetite for a senior with the budget for an entry level.


Don't give the number first, insist of getting the number or no further reply.

Typical recruiter (or any saleman for than matter) wants to drag you into personal sales dance conversation - the key is to avoid wasting your time until they open the cards.

Just plain ignore typical "it depends on level", "lots of upside", "super competitive", "willing to match" or whatever they come up with and wait until specific reply upon your specific request.


Never give a number. Insist that they give a number and whatever it is, reject it.


My company is expanding an paying recruitment bonuses. So I try to recruit THEM. I mean our recruitment dept. is hiring too! Fantastic opportunity, signing bonus, etc. And it's all actually true too.

How much are you making? I can double that!

I've made a couple good checks and a the rest stop bugging me.


It sounds like you have an idea of what opportunities are interesting to you. Refine that some more and come up with a copy paste response for recruiters. If they do not reply with useful information, then just end the conversation. Most recruiters are terrible at their job, the ones that aren't will engage you meaningfully.

Also, yes many will try to engage you on the phone and there's not really any way around that if you're starting a relationship with them. They need to get a feel for you before they can submit you to clients and phone screens are just an efficient means to do so.


Talk to them, briefly. Don't burn bridges, but also don't waste your time (and theirs). When you identify a good one, hang on to their contact info.

How do you identify a good one? Well, I once got called by a headhunter, whom somebody gave my name to. One question he asked is where I was currently working. I told him. He said that he couldn't recruit me, because his company placed people where I was working. A recruiter with ethics? I put his name in my permanent file. If I decide I'm looking for work, he's getting a call.


I simply don’t deal with them anymore. The few times I’ve actually taken offers from them, the role has been misrepresented or ended up being in a rushed org that torpedoed their own culture.

More recently, I had a recruiter sabotage my interview process by telling me an interview was “non technical” (it ended up being 100% technical) and another time deliberately setting salary too high and pissing away a good opportunity.


Don't be afraid to speak your mind to them and ask them whatever you want. They only treat you as a resource so why not treat them the same? Chances are it's some former waitress with 2 months experience in recruiting that learnt all the buzzwords and is trying to test you even though she has no idea about technology and is just trying to make her commission.

> they are doing their job and their time isn't worth less than mine.

Is that second part really true, though?

As a thought experiment, suppose we're talking about scam-running telemarketers rather than recruiters. Would you still consider their time as valuable as your own?

If not, then what's the critical distinction between them and telemarketers who spam everyone that matches some LinkedIn query?


> but I won't mind hearing them out if said opportunity is especially compelling.

ASK them to forward you a full and complete Position Summary including company name, reporting relationships, and compensation structure-- for your review.

If there's a match-up you'll be happy to engage in further dialogue or provide professional referral.


If they don't tell me up front who they're recruiting for and how much the client is paying, I email back and say, "I appreciate your interest, but I am content with my present engagement."


ignore them




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