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Automatically detecting and replying to recruiter spam (waleedkhan.name)
121 points by jlund-molfese 5 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 106 comments

I don't understand the attitute that most software engineers seem to have with recruiters.

My early years as a software developer were in locations where opportunities were not like they are in your big tech centers. In those years, recruiters would get you a foot in the door and you were grateful for any opportunities that came. Even in big tech centers, until you build your own network, recruiters will likely be an important source of opportunities.

It's ugly to see senior engineers' sneering attitute towards recruiters in front of their junior colleagues (at lunch or whatever). I'm not sure what they're trying to signal when they do that but to me it signals insecurity.

Be kind to your recruiters. You never know what the future holds.

These days, receiving a third-party recruiter email has a very weak correlation with skills or ability to get a good job. Even FAANG recruiters frequently email me about roles I’m obviously not qualified for, and ignore me if I reply back to ask about opportunities which align with my skillset.

First-party recruiters are usually fine. They’re how I got my first industry job, and they can guide you through the application process and add a human touch.

The reason software developers get annoyed by third-party recruiters is their invasive, persistent tactics. My email address and phone number aren’t on LinkedIn, because I don’t want to be contacted outside of the platform. But that doesn’t stop spammers from figuring out my Gmail address based on my name [1] and sending me several spam emails every day. In one case someone went so far as to call my personal cell number during working hours.

If I acted like that, cold calling and emailing a hiring manager, it would obviously be inappropriate. It’s the same for the recruiter who sends me “opportunities” to leave my current job which I like quite a bit in exchange for a 3-month contract role using technologies I have no experience with whatsoever.

[1] https://www.uplead.com/find-emails-on-linkedin/

I routinely get cold calls from recruiters, several a month these days. It's exceptionally rarely anyone I actually want to talk to with a position I'm even slightly interested in. They're reliably talking up a "great opportunity" that offers uninspiring hourly pay on an unimpressive contract-to-hire and requires I relocate myself to somewhere I have no other reason to want to be. Probably a third to a half of them are, based on the quality of the connection and speech patterns, calling from body-shops in a much poorer country.

I strongly suspect that there's a whole industry out there running on what amounts to amortized lottery odds. Since they're working from some place where people and calls are very cheap, they just throw more cold calls at everything.

The problem with some recruiters is that they play a numbers game. They send you off to interviews you're not a good fit for, because it's more expensive for them to carefully understand candidates and roles than it is to spend longer understanding the requirements, and sometimes they actively mislead. Both the candidate and the company can end up spending 10x or 100x the time the recruiter "saved".

Earlier in my career, with 4 years of experience, I turned up to an interview with a CTO who told me within five minutes that I was a great candidate, but they were looking for someone with 10+ years of engineering experience to lead a team. We tried to work out why I'd been sent there, and discovered the recruiter had edited my resume to remove all the dates, and had removed the years of experience and leadership requirements from the job description.

Frustration with bad recruiters isn't an excuse to be cruel to the good ones, but that's why it happens.

Somewhere between your first job - where recruiters feel invaluable - and your tenth things start to change. You go from having a bit of contact with a few recruiters to being daily contacted by a huge number of cut-rate recruiters who want you to take this "GREAT OPPORTUNITY" to make $15/hr without benefits across the country. You get spammed by people who think you want to be a junior Java engineer for some poorly organized startup because your LinkedIn says you used Java once, fifteen years ago. They're mostly agency recruiters and you will learn that these are very often overselling how much they can actually help you.

Later on, you find out that they think they're clever by working hard to avoid telling you how much the position pays. They say they care about your background and you're a great fit before asking questions that they should already know the answer to.

They're salespeople and generally working leads with minimal effort. Being nice to them rarely pays off, and I've found humoring them with kindness and empathy to disturbingly often be a complete waste of my time. More often they seem to be doing the thing salespeople do where they set out to prey upon my basic human desire to be kind, compassionate, and empathetic.

I humored one literally yesterday. They had no idea how much the position paid. They knew nothing about the company I hadn't learned from five minutes on Google. They claimed to have read my LinkedIn and asked questions that showed they clearly had not paid attention in any way to the last four years of my career. If this is who the company wants representing them, I'm not sure I want anything to do with them. All told, this was an above-average recruiter (emailed first, responded to email, scheduled a call, kept an appointment, a few other things), but still pretty terrible.

I expect this recruiter wanted me to be excited for the great opportunity to work for a growing global company with great funding and seasoned leadership and exciting new technologies in a growing market or some such thing. Selling the sizzle rather than the steak. Most recruiters seem to bank on that.

What did I get from humoring them? Twenty fewer minutes from my day. Nothing more.

There are some good recruiters. But the problem is that recruiting is like being a real estate agent or rental agent: there is a big payoff for each transaction (up to 20% of 1 candidate years salary), and low barrier to entry. So there are an awful lot of people whose model is to 'drum up business' by hassling engineers.

This. Some are really good and actually filter opportunities and call back only when there is genuinely a good match... they put in effort, and it's pleasant to with with these folks.

The rest are parasites.

THIS! It's also why there seems to be just as many good recruiters when times are good or bad; the barrier is so low that people move in and out of the career easily. It's the worst example of "hussle without any tech skills" in our industry.

There are channels where I am open for contact and channels were I am not open for contact. I notice many recruiters email my github contact address to ask about stuff on my linkedin for example. I'm not sure if they've personally scraped my commits or just bought a database of "developers in Europe" to link the two together. They could use LinkedIn, or the contact email I put on my CV (including the public copy on my website, which is linked from linkedin, and then it gets categorised appropriately. But it just seems kind of cheeky to route around that, like cold sales calls.

Quite often, it's easier for recruiters to get at your email address from GitHub because it's increasingly difficult to scrape contact details off LinkedIn.

That doesn't make it an acceptable reason to do so. They could probably google my home address easier than get LinkedIn to disintermediate themselves, but a barrage of recruiters at my doorstep would not be appreciated.

The truth is they probably don't know. These days the process of guesstimating an email address behind a LinkedIn profile is highly automated. Very often what a recruiter see on their dashboard is basically a list of potential candidates' LinkedIn profiles, paired with a list of plausible email addresses for each of them (with no indication of how the bots got them in the first place).

Automating a behaviour I disapprove of doesn't make me disapprove of their actions less.

There are (at the highest level) two kinds recruiters. Those that work for a company filling that company's internal roles, and those that work for a body shop filling the roles of whatever companies agree to pay them a commission.

The former are usually pretty good. They have an idea what the teams need, even if they don't know the specifics of the individual technologies. They usually have very close relationships with the team managers -- especially at smaller companies where there may only be one or two recruiters and a small number of development teams.

The latter are, by and large, worthless if you're looking for a good tech job. They're salespeople who simply aren't incentivized to learn more than the bare minimum about what they're selling. Especially in the current climate most of the folks getting jobs through them are either extremely junior, or can't get jobs anywhere else. By extension, the only companies who have success using them are getting by with extremely junior or extremely bad developers. This is why I, as a developer with ~12 years of experience in back-end development and distributed systems design get an email or LinkedIn message every 2-3 weeks for a junior or mid-level React or Angular job.

> The former are usually pretty good.

From the other side of this: as a developer who is required to _use_ in-house recruiters as part of hiring, my experience has almost never been good. I don't know if the incentives are bad, or if we just have a _much_ lower bar for hiring recruiters than developers, but our recruiters can't be depended upon for simple things like sending prep emails to candidates or telling us what position a candidate is interviewing for. I honestly think we'd be better off cutting them totally out of the process.

I keep getting the same unsolicited inquiries from Amazon internal for roles that aren't a great fit in a city I don't live in, respond accordingly and never get any type of response again, until the next internal recruiter (with the average tenure of < 12 months). This is no different from the second type of recruiter you highlight.

Amazon is hemorrhaging talent right now so that might be kind of a special case. Or it might be FAANG? Admittedly I've only worked in companies nobody's ever heard of so maybe it's different at those smaller places that only hire 15-20 developers at an absolute max (and usually like 3-5).

If we're fair, you not knowing why recruiters often but not always suck, is in a sense a status signal itself. Recruiters suck because most of the time, they literally don't do anything useful, nor do they even usually have direct contact with a hiring manager. Quite literally, most of them just accept a CV, then give you the HackerRank test you'd get anyway, if they actually work for the company. If they don't, you get to pass every line of communication through them, maybe even letting them modify your resume so it obscures your own contact details, before you get that automated test.

That said, some are fine.

I've been working with some recruiters who are REALLY great.

Have you ever been sent countless fake jobs and when you agree to take a call from fake job sending recruiter he purposely wastes 15 minutes of your time asking you about your previous position, who was your line manager, what was your line managers phone number (they're old friends blah blah blah)? If you haven't, then you wont' understand why they are so detested.

The above is something they regularly do to try and fish for corporate clients at the expense of job seekers.

>> Be kind to your recruiters. You never know what the future holds.

I am sorry to all the targeted, respectful and genuinely nice recruiters out there, but your scummy co-workers have peed in the pool and wrecked it for everyone.

You are not talking about the same recruiters as the OP. I get unsolicited email that I'm sure has value to me, but it all gets classified as spam. MY ACID TEST: If you have a recruiter reach out to you on LinkedIn with an opportunity and after you tell them you're not interested and they still reply "OK, I'd love to stay in touch for future opportunities" or something similar, they're likely NOT the time wasters the OP is highlighting. Sadly the vast majority (including internal recruiters from FAANG+) will never reply as you can't do anything for them in their spammy numbers game. It is entirely appropriate to treat these recruiters with disdain.

I recently got my first software engineering job via a recruiter, it was an absolutely wonderful experience that resulted in me getting a fantastic job that pays as much as I've made in the past two years combined. I am insanely grateful for the recruiter that reached out to me and helped me along the process.

However today I got a message about URGENT NEED a Senior Java position (I am a junior JavaScript developer) to which I replied "thanks but I've recently accepted an offer and I am no longer looking for a new job"

About ten minutes later they texted me (idk i guess my number is on linkedin) demanding I reply to their message.

There isn't a single instance of the word Java on my profile that isn't connected to the word Script.

If I get the sense that the recruiter has made any amount of effort and I’m not interested, I will generally respond with an appropriately low effort “thanks, but this doesn’t look like a fit for X and Y reason”. These are rare enough that I know there’s a person who spent more than 120 seconds and maybe 10 minutes looking at my profile and thinking.

Sadly, because of the volume of zero-effort contacts, those slightly personal ones are easy to notice. The zero-efforts get marked as spam (hoping to train shared email ecosystems better) and dropped.

I can name about 5 (and could find the names of probably 10 more) actually good recruiters across a 3 decade career. Most worked in-house.

+1 - I’ve always hated this behavior.

It’s just a status behavior (“I’m so important, everyone wants me”, etc.) that’s wrapped up in pretending this is a problem.

Be kind to people on the way up, you might need them one day on the way down.

Unfortunately often, I've found that being kind to recruiters and generous with my time pays off in consuming more of my time.

I'd very much like to believe that being kind to people on my way up will pay off, be paid back, or otherwise come back to me. So far it mostly gets me treated as a soft touch.

I don't want to feel important. I want people to have some base amount of respect for my time, energy, and attention. Instead I get calls at random hours and generic sales emails from people who don't even have basic information about the job they want me to be excited for. I just wanted to be treated with a little basic respect, rather than feeling like I'm being taken advantage of for human kindness.

Sure - there’s no need to reply to 90% of recruiter emails (I don’t), but that doesn’t mean people need to talk so dismissively and condescendingly of them “recruiter spam” and such.

Just don’t reply and be happy we don’t need to.

How else should we discuss the emails and cold calls? Perhaps in terms of how sincere and how hard-working they are or how much effort the recruiters we don't want to talk to put into reaching us? Or should we simply remain silent, tolerating this behavior stoically because being displeased is a cruel status display?

I increasingly don't reply, but I'm also aware that greeting outreach with silence is a far cry from kindness. I have trouble believing that this is really the best option. I'm really not sure what to tell my juniors - nobody really wants to hear that being bothered frequently by self-interested parties is just part of the burden of privilege.

> [snip] that doesn’t mean people need to talk so dismissively and condescendingly of them “recruiter spam” and such.

What else would you call an unsolicited, undesired, insincere, largely irrelevant, automated message if not "spam"?

Unsolicited Bulk Recruiting, perhaps?

Perhaps some of specifically what the parent mentions is about status, but the recruiter hate starts from recruiters sucking. Recruiters doing something useful for me is actually far less likely than just having a successful application randomly on the internet. At worst through much more of my time is wasted talking to them, because they don't help, and often intentionally obscure details that should be available.

Because they generally form a barrier to entry for no particular reason other than familiarity and a significant part of them employ incredibly low effort and almost heinous practices.

Employers always had the opportunity to just put their job offers out there. If people know where to look and how to look, and employers are willing to cooperate, that cuts down on the benefits a recruiter and their "network". They might get you a foot in the door, but you have no idea what they said to get you in, and any flaw you present is still going to be shown. Meanwhile, they are going to push you, as your success is part of their income.

I say this given my average experience with a recruiter seems to be "anyone with a nice face, and up-n-get-em attitude and a degree can go be a recruiter", and proceeds to follow the same practices the general populace have complained about for years now, across every field, across every skill level. When the role they fulfill is very, very questionable given how difficult it is to get a job still and the alternatives available. There are great recruiters out there who know how to target and present themselves in a way that isn't a nuisance, but they don't make up the majority of experiences.

It's actual spam at this point. It's not like a real recruiter that really wants exactly you for a specific position somewhere.

Yep. Many recruiters trawl LinkedIn for people with tag "Java" or "iOS" or "javascript" depending on role, look them up in contact database, mass email.

I've scrubbed all mentions of specific technologies from my LinkedIn profile for this reason. It's definitely helped cut down on the spam.

I closed my LinkedIn account due to recruiter spam. My account said I wasn't looking for work but I still got lots of messages that were just keyword hunting.

A good recruiter is gold but it's a profession that has a large number of spammy practices.

Yeah it's a bit odd listening to people laugh about having to beat away Google etc recruiters with a stick.

google have recruiters? surely they have enough people applying on a daily basis

I decided to do an interview with Google after being contacted by a recruiter, but I think I applied for something so it wasn’t a cold contact. Not getting me to apply, but getting me though the process to get a job offer.

Google recruiters are also much better than those at Facebook, who were much less interested in getting candidates through.

Many internal recruiters at companies also work in the HR department, typically they are also the first contact for perspective hires and usually are in sync with the hiring manager needs.

Some recruiters do outreach and networking events (most common at feeder schools through job fairs or internships).

You can have people applying, but not the right people applying, so you get recruiters to go out there and persuade people to apply.

Yes, usually trying to get the word out, that their new interviewing process is not as onerous as their old one.

I don't feel spammers deserve kindness. I agree though that the lunch situation you describe is toxic. I'd like people to teach their juniors better strategies of coping, than putting an other down.

I like in-house recruiters, for the most part. If they're emailing me, that's almost a guaranteed interview for whatever company they work for. And, I get to know what company they work for, so, I can access their careers page to read the job descriptions. The only relevant piece of information that's missing at this stage is the comp range, which, since I live in California, I'm entitled to get some information about after I've had an interview with the company. So, at least I have some idea whether I might want to talk to them at all.

Since talking to the recruiter counts as an interview, and they actually want to talk to me, that means after one single phone call, I've got all the information I need to decide if I want to proceed at this point, and an almost 100% guarantee of some sort of followup interview[0].

Third party recruiters, OTOH, will send me bullshit like this:

> Hope things are going well, tried reaching you regarding a Remote Full-time Senior Backend Engineer role with my direct client.


> • A positive, open, and highly-innovative environment and team

> • Competitive Base Pay

> • Full benefits

> • Entrepreneurial spirit with unlimited opportunity to grow

> • Opportunity to work with leading global brands on exciting and impactful projects

... followed by a request to call them or for them to be able to call me.

They've told me nothing about the company they think I might want to work for, except some generic bullshit, and they want me to spend 15-30 minutes on the phone with them to get any real info. Generally there's nothing about any job description, and I don't recall ever receiving any info on salary/comp range from a third-party recruiter.

I used to follow up asking them for this information, but, that generally just gets me ghosted, or, them asking to call me, when I've already told them I'm not interested in getting on the phone without a little bit more information.

I understand why they do it. They're trying to protect their commission. They don't want to send me this information and then have me try to go behind their backs. But, that doesn't change the fact that they give me no damn reason to actually be interested in what they offer in their initial emails.

That's why I generally try to avoid third party recruiters, if at all possible.


[0]: It's pretty easy to get a followup interview after talking to a recruiter, IMO. Just show some enthusiasm and alignment with the job description, and you're about 90% of the way there.

One recruiter was pestering me, and I was ignoring his emails... then he sent this which made me laugh:

  > I can do this all day - it's quite literally my job :)
  > Really though, we are highly interested in your background ...
  > Chat soon?

My profile used to just say "Im a really bad engineer working with technology a, b and c. Also I steal"

I don't think anybody cared about it and I always thought it was funny as shit

Until one day a recruiter specifically called it out. His subject was "looking for really really bad engineer"

Hey, we're looking for to hire someone who does technology A, who also had a penchant for larceny. Interested?

That made me lmao and really respect the tenacity of that recruiter

Well? Did the recruiter's perseverance work or not?

I used to do something similar a couple of years ago, but ultimately, the bot replies became so short it made no sense to pay AWS to run the code.

The last version of the code, which I kept running for over 6+ months, continued replying with things like “Thanks <Recruiter’s Name>. I’m interested.” —or— “Thanks <Recruiter’s Name>. I’m not interested, but I appreciate the invitation.” After comparing the success rate of my interviews with the length of my initial replies, I realized that short messages resulted in better leads.

I dare to say that it never matters if the recruiter is targeting you specifically or bombarding a long list of potential employees. They only need to know if you are interested or not, so writing long emails to accept or decline their invitations is usually a waste of time, for you and for them. If you are interested, say so, and they will quickly set up a pre-screening call to tell you more about the company, the role, the team, compensation package, or whatever you want to know.

If you are not interested, most recruiters will appreciate a simple “not interested. thanks.” and move on.

Actually when I wanted to change teams I cold emailed managers of other teams at my company. I found the same thing: a short 3 line emails have a great response rate.

If you send a message that is too long, you just increase the barrier of responding.

When I receive a long email/message I feel I also need to answer with a long reply, that it would be rude to answer with 2 lines to an initial 20/30 lines message.

Maybe most people feel that way and when they receive a 3 lines initial message they feel confortable answering with 3 lines and they do it right away.

I’m assuming the original poster is not really looking for a new job, but is open to the opportunity if it comes with sufficient upside. So missing on a few opportunities may be an acceptable risk for them.

Honestly, be grateful you receive so much recruiter "spam", sometimes great things can come from it. It's quite a HN thing to complain about receiving too many offers for jobs that are basically in the 99.9 % quantile of the highest paying jobs in the world.

Counterpoint: half of those are based on bots, and thus when you reply, you're automatically ignored because your profile doesn't really fit.

Counterpoint: I really don't want spam in my email. I've got LinkedIn for that. I get countless emails from recruiters because they use some tool that scrapes LinkedIn and guesses my email. Then I get "I have a role for you, pls respond", "Please hear me out, great role!", "Last try, I'll show nice things", and sometimes even then it doesn't stop.

Personally I always yell at recruiters who directly reach out to me. I get many more LI messages from recruiters, but I can ignore those if I want, though quite often I reply and politely mention that I'm not interested. I've built good relationships with several recruiters who have reached out to me via LinkedIn, but never via email.

I agree to some extend but... Yell? How is a recruiter supposed to know you are okay with LI messages but draw a hard line at emails? A text shortener that populates, "I don't use email for recruiting messages. Please reach out on Linkedin. I'll block your domain if you send follow up emails." is direct and doesnt cause someone trying to do their job to get yelled at for not knowing your specific preference...

They should know because my email isn't available anywhere online for a reason. Every time I reply to ask where they got my email, they mention some service that scrapes emails based on LinkedIn addresses. This isn't okay. That's spam. They're clearly trying to avoid LI's platform for whatever reason (probably cost).

It's not just about blocking domains, it's about figuring out what those services are and yelling at them for scraping my data and assuming I want them to hold my email when I've not put those details online.

Ah. At some point you allowed your email to be public. It was captured. And now is served up to paying customers.

You might have taken your email down now but you made it available at some point. LinkedIn scrapers cant make information that wasnt shared available. I'm not arguing that that means you opted in to receiving emails but if you made your email publicly available its odd to be upset when someone uses it to contact you.

The reason people circumvent LinkedIn could be cost but the cost of email tools are much higher than a LinkedIn Recruiter subscription and inmails. The reason people reach out via email is because it allows for easier drip campaigns/follow up emails, email template use, and the response rate is an order of magnitude higher.

I'm not trying to be an ass here. I'm trying to share the viewpoint of someone who is emailing you and why their intentions might not be as malicious you seem to interpret them.

Sure, except for the fact that this specific email is <firstname>.<lastname>@gmail.com and I have only ever used it when I've been directly in contact with companies after I've gone through the whole process, or when I've developed a relationship with the recruiters. I've never connected it to LinkedIn either. In addition, as I mentioned in my previous comment:

> Every time I reply to ask where they got my email, they mention some service that scrapes emails based on LinkedIn addresses.

Again, zilch to do with my email being allowed to be public.

Every time when I've reached out to these spam companies, they've mentioned scraping and guessing emails. I.e. if my name on Linked is John Smith, and they'll add john.smith@gmail, john.smith@outlook, j.smith@gmail, and some other common name formats.

It's ridiculous.

Almost every subpopulation complains about these practices, including people who aren't desired. This isn't a HN-exclusive thing as some here like to perpetuate.

>Honestly, be grateful you receive so much recruiter "spam", sometimes great things can come from it.

Great things can come from getting into an accident and landing in the hospital. Let's instead look at why people dislike these things and how to solve them, rather than recruitment proceeding to do the same thing people hate for another decade.

For example my friend landed a high 7 figure position initiated by a random executive recruiter. I’ve gotten a few great job offers from recruiters. Engineers on LinkedIn are like women on dating apps. Lots of spam but a few interesting leads.

Recruiter spam and job offers are not the same thing

Consider the following: The majority of professionals in ANY field are mediocre at best, given the distribution of talent. Most developers aren't 10x folks. Most professional athletes aren't superstars. Most recruiters aren't insightful, matchmaking geniuses. In most cases, the market seems to work.

In the case of developers, truly elite talent is not compensated anywhere near 10x (or 100x) the standard-issue rate (unless they become founders). Thus, there is a massive incentive to cast a wide net, and hope to land a big fish for whom circumstances have misaligned.

For prospective employees, the best jobs are typically those one obtains through a network rather than a recruiter anyway - leading to a reluctance to engage, thus requiring a wider net.

Bottom-line, a few elite recruiters can and do behave differently. A few elite developers can and do earn more, and for the rest of us mere mortals, this paradigm is probably the equilibrium. Curious if automating responses to automated emails would lead to ever larger/wider outreach?

In LinkedIn I have my first name as my first name + middle initial.

I always know when is a mass message or a real personalized message based on whether or not they include that initial.

Works surprisingly well for me but sadly for LinkedIn that’s a case of an implementation detail totally destroying their value proposition for recruiters.

Some recruiters may think that you want your initial to be included. I’ve seen multiple posts talking about purposefully ignoring communication when there are small spelling mistakes in their names. Missing a whole initial may be one of those red flags for some.

In the US, at least, the 99% of spam templates are using just the first name so you get "Hi, George W.! I am impressed with your work at Arbusto Energy, when can we hop on a quick call?"

Instead of an initial, I'd recommend putting an emoji in the first name. (And putting your last name as your full name). I've been able to filter out most "InMail/auto" when they say something along the lines of "Hi {emoji}."

I learned of it here: https://www.glennstovall.com/the-wolf-test/

A Chinese 囧 works great for emoji first names that will avoid emoji filtering on the other side.

I wonder if a Unicode RTL marker would work? (but what if your name is a palindrome)

Or a non-breaking space?

The issue, I think, is with false positives. If I were a recruiter, I'd pay attention to how someone would like to represent themselves, and that would include not altering the data they gave, so, I'd basically copy-paste the info from the First name field, and act like it's natural to call you that.

Of course if you still find satisfying work with good pay, then your system works well. But I'd like better accuracy in, say, an email spam solution.

I add an emoji to the front of my name. 90% of emails I get are clearly bots.

Anyone who thinks there are majority real people behind these emails is a fool.

Hello, I read your blog post on detecting recruiter spam and we're impressed with your technical skills and would like to invite you to a 6-round interview graduate internship as a content writer

:) :) :) :)

Update on this: since October 4, I've received an additional 17 emails, of which 5 generated useful discussion, and 2 out of those 5 had legitimately interesting opportunities.

Also, despite having set up SPF and DKIM, LinkedIn continues to reject my reply emails.

Thanks for writing the post! I thought it was interesting and deserved a second submission.

I played around with hosting my own email server for a bit, but gave up. It’s too risky that an important email will get blocked because my server isn’t trusted.

Try changing your IP address if you're self hosting the email server. Maybe your IP range has been blackholed in its entirety.

Hosting your own email is hopeless. You need to pay for an email service like SES.

Using Naive Bayes for text classification problems such as spam detection is fine for teaching purposes but:

-it doesn't understand context

-if the spammer uses related words, good luck catching those

-false positives can be quite high

As a recruiter receiving such a wonderful automated reply from you, I would ask you why didn't you use a more suited technique to the problem such as transformer-based attention network, or at least deep learning neural network.

If you got his automatic reply, you wouldn't know what architecture he used since he's not specifying in the email

If he fixes the polish bug and grabbed more training emails from friends it would be even better than 95%. Which is why Bayes works well enough http://paulgraham.com/better.html

It's pretty clear he wanted something cheap and fast to implement and the headaches of getting a neutral net working aren't part of that formula. Honestly seeing how he cobbled together a lot of separate parts into something that works is pretty damn impressive and is exactly the type of thing that would fast track him if I was interviewing him

Not even Naive Bayes would be needed if recruiters would use a "more suited technique" to predict exactly who is going to be interested in a job and only bother emailing those.

There's a much simpler way to identify recruiter spam: put this in your profile: “Please include the word ‘banana’ in your message.”

This is indeed a very good technique. 3 years ago I left the python community and decided to stop doing Python.

All my previous positions are Python dev positions. The first line of my profile is "I am NOT interested in any Python job".

Since then I just filter out Python job positions, I know this recruiter didn't read my profile.

I have an emoji prefixed to my name on LinkedIn so whenever someone starts an email with: "Hi Rickert", I know it's an automated message.

Did this have an emoji when you typed it?

Yeah, I think HN strips emoji

For example, I’m including 5 below:

I clear international freight through customs, my job title is "Customs Trade Coordinator" at least once a week I'll get recruiter email or a LinkedIn message for mechanical engineering jobs.

In the past few months I've also had emails along the lines of " I just came across your profile and was very impressed with your background and what a solid fit you appear to be for this role. " for:

- Enterprise Architecture

- Operations Manager

- Director of Continuous Improvement

- CI Engineer

- Continuous Improvement Engineer

And several others that I can't readily find in my gmail trash.


I advise my users to never reply to spam, doing so proves the address is valid and messages read which will encourage the spammers to send even more crap. I tried content filtering to deal with spam in the past but do not at all these days because false positives are not acceptable to me. If my mail server accepts a message it always gets delivered to a mailbox and never to /dev/null.

The only effective way I have found of dealing with spam is to add the mail servers they use to relay their trash to an IP blacklist and reject future messages from those servers. That means some legitimate mail will bounce, but that is acceptable because those senders are notified of the delivery issue and can try to send again using a less shady service provider.

More often than not, real recruiters with real jobs bother me. I'm OK with this.

The people who don't read my resume / tell me I'm a perfect fit for your entry level helpdesk role, I report and block.

This article is pure FOMO.

Spam rule #1: Do. Not. Reply. (Heck, don't read it either. My filters are usually good enough to not even see them.)

If someone wants to genuinely contact you, it should be a personal message. Every time you give signal to spam, you contribute to it being worthwhile.

And the moral of the story is… don’t try to negotiate salary before the interview.

Seems like overkill? Toying with recruiters or improving productivity by avoiding seeing the spam in the first place? I don’t get many so it doesn’t bother me…

> I don’t get many so it doesn’t bother me…

Lucky you. I get 300+ emails per day and 15-30 phone calls. As a result, I created very aggressive email filters (hundreds of domains go straight to trash) and phone configuration (non-contacts go straight to voicemail and hundreds of numbers are blocked).

Now I only see emails or calls from recruiters in the single-digits per day (and I add them to block lists too).

Having put up with being filtered by shoddy Applicant Tracking Systems, workers are now implementing their own Recruiter Tracking Systems - how poetic!

Sounds like this thread got taken over by salty recruiters haha. Jk. Some of you guys are alright.

I have a question for devs in Germany/Europe. Is it a violation of Datenschutz/GDPR if the recruiter sends a first email with a link to a video/website that tracks whether I clicked on it or not and then they send me a follow up email because they know I clicked on the link from the first email?

You could argue that the recruiter has a legitimate interest in gauging your interest in their offer. This assumes of course that the recruiter is the one actually doing the tracking, and not sharing that data with anyone else.

I highly recommend you exercise your rights and ask the company for your data. Is the privacy policy "complete" enough? Contact the DPO, ask them to explain what data they're gathering, why, and request a full dump.

Just clicking on a link (and them checking if you clicked), it's not Personal Information (logging your IP might be). Only if they asked you for your birthdate or something like that.

Anyway, being Personal Information or not, you can always ask them to delete all the Data they have about you.

Deleted as too negative.

Can you expand on why this is unkindness? I've generated lots of very useful discussions with recruiters, with four serious leads for companies I'm interested in, and also rejected many companies immediately based on compensation. As far as I can tell, it's saving both me and the recruiters a good amount of time. I probably wouldn't have bothered with responding to those emails individually.

Maybe you think that I'm sending the recruiters these emails to troll them, and not actually responding? Certainly not; in fact, I have a policy of always replying to any recruiter who takes the time to reply to one of my bot emails.

The equivalent might be running an automated fuzzing process and opening issues on the relevant repos. People actually do that, and it's generally a valuable service.

Actually, the recruiters are reaching out to me, and I'm replying. I'm not automatically submitting my resume to a hundred resume portals. It would be more like opting into Github's Dependabot and then getting annoyed when they open security issues on my repository.

Things like negotiating compensation up-front are due to several situations where I didn't receive compensation details up-front, then went through their interview process, and got an offer that I wouldn't have accepted anyways. So I've added details like that to avoid these kinds of situations in the future.

Many recruiters don’t bother understanding what they were actually supposed to be doing. You can not be a tech recruiter if you do not understand the basics of the said tech.

I get offers for jobs asa frontend eng, when I am a 100% backend guy. Recruiters need to understand that based on the very detailed information that they have about me.

They clearly don’t care, so why should we care?

> I get offers for jobs asa frontend eng, when I am a 100% backend guy.

for you it might be the difference between "tire guy" and "engine guy" whereas the recruiter just sees a car mechanic.

That's the point of the post you are replying to: don't be in business of hiring mechanics if you have no clue that there are "tire" and "engine" ones.

i too find the "fullstack developer - printer problems" memes pretty funny but i can also sort of understand the other side and to return to the analogy, a tire-guy car-mechanic probably has a better chance to diagnose and fix your car than any bicycle-mechanic.

It would be a good analogy if the recruiter spam also did not contain experience requirements: they are not just looking for somebody to fix their car, they want somebody with 10 years experience if Pirelli and 5 in Bridgestone and there will be a quiz where you will need to identify tires (there are just about 1500 of those) by patterns, Leet Road.

I disagree.

Recruiters who mass spam the emails of folks they’ve harvested from LinkedIn or elsewhere receiving a more or less templated response in kind is anything but mean. It’s awesome!

Imagine a recruiter recruiting for a machine learning role and they got such an email!

The best developers automate the boring stuff and sifting through templated recruiter emails is hella boring.

Curious, would you rate an equivalent non-automated email (but asking the same questions) also as a punch in the face?

It shouldn’t be. This is what I do. I have a set of questions to every ask ok LinkedIn or email that I get. I respond with a thank you and my questions: remote? Salary, total comp, company name, tech stack. And it filters out a lot of things that will go nowhere.

It's a figurative punch in the face - an analogy for hurting someone.

sure, same question. Is the problem that they have a formalized response or that it's automatic? Or something about the specific response?

> If you would like to use my API endpoint, send me an email.

Is this a pun? This might be a pun

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