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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.

> THEY OFFER,

> • 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.




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