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Why I Hate Tech Recruiters (obsceneart.net)
44 points by renownedmedia 1940 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 51 comments

I hate how recruiters use a lot of words tell you absolutely nothing about the position and make up lies to make you feel like you're special. Below is a boiler-plate message I got from a lame tech recruiter, followed by my snarky response.


My associate forward me your contact info. and the hiring VP of Engineering is interested in your technical background for a senior position.

The company I’m working for is very successful, profitable and well funded by several top VCs. Also can you please email me your current resume in word so I can forward it to the hiring VP of Engineering so he can review it, the resume he has is a bit dated...

The compensation is excellent with great stock options, bonus, 401k and comprehensive package. I can call you with all the details on the position and company, please let me know the best # to call you at.


Let me see if I get this. You're telling me that an unnamed associate told you that an nameless VP of Engineering at an unspecified company thinks I'm great and has a job that pays an uncertain salary.

Please call me at my undisclosed phone number so we can discuss my unmentionable thoughts on this matter.

I wonder if you could send them a resume like

  Your Name 
  United States

     Really relevant degree from a top rated university

     5 years doing excellent work at a company that has
     a strong reputation for this kind of work. I used
     skills that are in the most demand by top companies.
     Responsibilities included delivering really innovative
     products on time and under budget. Received many 
     awards from peers and management.

     3 years as a rockstar engineer with a company that
     made the cover of a widely read technical journal.
     Papers that I wrote were given best paper awards at
     some of the best industry conferences.

     Interned with one of the leading Internet companies
     that reach out to a significant portion of the billions
     of people that use the Internet. Applied the latest
     software development tools and methodologies to the
     companies most profitable product.

I think I am going to start answering a couple of offers this way once in a while just to blow some steam :)

thanks so much for this, I've saved this template as an automatic reply ! haha

I do hope that I'm not alone in taking the opposite position as a default. I love recruiters, the sincere ones at least, and the insincere one's have never been a particular bother to dispose of. What remains, in my mind, is at least a little flattering.

I had a long comment I was making so I turned it into a post. I hope this sort of thing isn't improper on HN, but here is why I love recruiters (and a couple of exampels of the replies I give to them):


(or if you wanted to discuss) http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4434048

I agree wholeheartedly. That there are lazy recruiters should be no more of an indictment of technical recruiting than the current state of iTunes is of software development.

Having been both a developer and a hiring manager, I've come to the uneasy acceptance that recruiting is necessary a lot of the time. However, recruiters that I've dealt with I've personally vetted as being decent folks who don't resort to this type of spam.

I become truly depressed when I commiserate with other hiring types. When I bemoan the general horribleness of the recruiting industry as exampled by these bottom-feeders, the other party simple sighs and goes "yeah, but that's just how it is" Why is this acceptable? Why hasn't this industry been disrupted yet? It's a huge, HUGE market, yet I haven't seen any significant innovation in it except for yet another job site that pops up occasionally.

Here's why it works...

Most companies can't recognize talent from a resume and need someone to tell them someone is talent.

Recruiters do a pre-screen interview and get an idea of whether you can pass an interview, recruiters then tell employers someone is talented, and here is this great persons's resume. Since the recruiter has already checked that the individual has a pulse and can answer questions intelligently they usually get the job.

Most companies could insource their recruiting efforts if they were willing to do more than just throw resumes out, if they paid their HR department 3 months salary for everyone who was hired (like recruiters are) there'd be drastically different attitudes and practices in HR.

Instead HR just throws out resumes that don't match the specs the manager sent because there's no incentive to actually hire people.

It's not uncommon for someone to apply for a job and a month or two later a recruiter calls you for the exact same job detailing how the company can't find anyone to fill the role, oddly enough they then hire you based on the interview the recruiter was able to leverage through their relationship.

Recruiters do a pre-screen interview and get an idea of whether you can pass an interview, recruiters then tell employers someone is talented, and here is this great persons's resume.

In my experience (as someone who was hiring) this is the part that is total bullshit, though. I had candidates openly admit to me that "[recruiter X] told me I should mention Y" while I interview them for a position they are clearly unable to do. The core problem is that recruiters are paid on a commission basis, so I have absolutely zero faith that anything they are telling me is the truth. They want to make a sale. The fact that every single one talks to me as if we've been friends for decades just adds to the creepy factor.

The problem is that disruption generally means automation, and there's no good way to automate the developer recruitment process. To really be good, recruiters need to have enough of a technical background to understand what they're looking for and take the time to do research and personalize each pitch. Sites like Github are the most useful and potentially most disruptive recruiting tools, because they take work that used to be hidden away or scattered all over the Internet and make it public, centralized, and easily searchable. Most recruiters don't know how to use those tools effectively, though, because they can't understand the data they're looking at, and aren't good enough storytellers to make just a few pitches per day and be confident that some of them will land.

Based on the quality of recruiters I've dealt with I honestly think you could automate their job comPletely. They seem to do key word searches to find my resume and have zero idea about development tools, process, and technique. At least a computer would know the difference between Java and JavaScript or that asking me if I prefer VB.NET or ASP.NET is a nonsensical question.

Actual recruiter cold-call question in 2011: "So Rails, is that like Java?"

> and there's no good way to automate the developer recruitment process

Part of the process has already been automated -- sites that test a candidate's ability to solve coding problems.

Algorithm? Design? OOP? Functional? what about tricks? best-practices? "Tell me more why you choose approach X over Y"? what about "write me unit-tests".

Sites you mentioned probably a bit of an upgrade from certification :)

It is the classic spam problem -- there is no/little penalty from just shooting millions of emails out. The real cost is carried entirely by the recepient, but he has no way to out-out.

The solution is judicous fines, atleast as great as those for copyright infringement. If each recruiter was fined 100k for each email, it would quickly stop being an issue.

And frankly, if you cannot hire without these people, you need to become more involved in the local tech meetings, conferences, etc.

If you already have a job, or have no problem finding work given your experience, this is not a problem. Ignore it and move on.

If you are in that same position and are advocating change in the industry, you're trying to involve yourself in a fight that isn't your own.

People new to the field rely on these roles to get their foot in the door. Hell, I did, and I wouldn't be where I was without it. I'm not going to start a revolution against recruiters though, because I am now unable to join the fight as a professional.

If recruiters fuck you off, block them and ignore them. Don't find ways to deprive others of the same opportunity.

We are trying to disrupt it, starting with talented local freelancers. We're not going head on with recruitment... just yet. There may be rockstar recruiters out there that could beat any algorithm solution.. but the first goal is to cut out the vast majority of recruiters who simple shovel resumes around and rely on mass mail or linkedin spam to find candidates. http://dragonflylist.com

I imagine it is in the process of being disrupted, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coursera#Business_plan.

My company has been using a recruiter to try to fill two openings; one for a Rails developer, and one for embedded work. Weeks passed, and they hadn't sent us a single résumé. They claimed they were just being really thorough at screening out unqualified candidates.

A few more weeks without résumés passed, and we finally confronted them about the lack of candidates. They explained that despite their best efforts they couldn't find any embedded device developers who were also senior Rails developers.

I don't want to live on this planet anymore.

I probably get 3-4 inquiries a week from recruiters. About 2/3 from LinkedIn. I suspect that most software engineers in the Bay Area (and other hot markets) share my experience.

I usually politely ignore them. I changed jobs a few months ago and during that process I talked with a few. Not surprisingly, there are good ones and bad ones. That's the final word on it I think. Not all recruiters are idiots and scumbags. Not even most of them.

The worst ones, to me, were the ones that just spammed me with any remotely-related job instead of curating and sending me what I'm looking for. I also loath it when they give me pep-talk style, "Just be on time and don't sound too arrogant or cocky." Seriously? I'm a professional with a decade experience. This is a highly paid job. You're not talking to a University Career Fair candidate.

For some, I cut off contact. For others, I told them to remember me and contact me if they had anything that matched very specific job descriptions or outlandishly high salaries. Others I worked with pleasantly.

The best, to me, were internal recruiters and recruiters working at VC firms. Both of them have a deeper interest and better connections.

I've got what seems like a good solution. At the very top of my resume and on Linkedin I have a link titled 'Note to recruiters'. It is pretty trivial to tell if the recruiter actually read it (after all the majority are clueless/useless). I also add their domain to my email server blocklist. (After all if the recruiter is unable to recruit competent recruiters - its own industry - then why would I trust them for anything else?)

The content also helps ensure I am the right person for good recruiters - for example it points out I only want to work for small companies/startups and why.

Some of the things I put down are that I want the company names (so I can google them), I'm not sending a resume in Word format, phone calls won't happen until there are enough details, and including long details about industry concepts that can be googled (eg virtualization) is useless. http://www.rogerbinns.com/recruiters.html

SPELLING PEDANT IRONY: you (rightly) upbraid recruiters who use sloppy spelling, but you misspell "hustle" in the same letter.

You are the first person to notice in the many years that has been up. I am of course ashamed.

You should have posted your question in an attachment labeled 'resume'. Hopefully then he will have read it.

If instead he blindly sends it to the client you won't have to worry about him much longer;<).

He definitely read those mails. He just doesn't care, in the slightest, if he happens to annoy you. So he sees no reason to respond.

And worse if they told you the source then you would figure out how to make that source stop giving our your information and might even tell your friends and a that would make his life less fun. Clearly the OP isn't actually interested in the job so not responding is the best strategy.

I've found that it's more blatant than that. Often their "source" is LinkedIn or Google.

On the bright side, you have a skillset that is highly in demand. There are worse problems to have than being bombarded by job offers :)

Recruiter spam != bombarded by job offers. Far from it, in fact. The majority of third-party recruiter emails I receive are for openings that have very little to do with my actual skillset[1]. Even the ones that do match never worked out for me.

Getting bombarded my emails from internal recruiters at major companies is a different story, but still far from being offers.

[1] I'm particularly tired of the ones who were sending me 6-month contract Django developer openings just because I put Python on my resume.

The worst recruiter experience I ever had was in 2000-- admittedly the height of a very tight labor market. The recruiter sent me a pile of resumes. One of them was the resume of a person we had recently hired.

I don't know where the recruiter got the resume. But he wasn't aware that we had already hired the guy. Recruiters used to do things like that-- hang on to your resume and send it around even if you aren't looking for a job. The results could be embarrassing. I think social media has at least helped them avoid that mistake, but it tells you a lot about how much they care.

I used to always say, avoid the recruiter and ask for a signing bonus. If you don't come from a recruiter employers can afford to pay that fee to you. I think everybody knows that now.

How does one avoid the recruiter?

There are few things you can do:

* don't leave your CV (especially in word format) in any job board

* send your CV directly to the companies/startups via email

* buy a twilio number, setup call forwarding on that and use it as a disposable phone number in your CV. After you've got a job, you can delete the number.

i got 99 problems but recruiters spamming me with job opportunities ain't one.

given the economy and the unemployment rate, i'm thankful for what i've got.

just a bit of perspective

I can't stand recruiting houses like this, but I love working with in-house recruiters. The times I've worked with a recruiter who's actually employed by the company I'm interviewing at, they have:

- Asked intelligent questions - Followed up in a timely manner - Helped out when flights were delayed traveling to an interview (arranged hotel) - Been unfailingly polite and helpful

On the other hand, I have never once had a good experience with a dedicated recruiting firm. So maybe all the good ones are working for tech (or other domain) companies?

tl;dr: While not all recruiters are bad, I was better off just directly applying to companies and avoiding recruiters as much as possible.

A couple of months ago, I was interested in what the SF market had to offer, and I started responding to some of the emails coming my way.

Over the three month period, I've probably been approached by 3 retained recruiters and 10 contingent recruiters. All the retained recruiters (i.e. internal company recruiters) were thorough, thoughtful, and curated the opportunities to my career goals. Not only did they make sure that I was a qualified for the job, they made sure from the get go that I'm a good cultural fit and the position aligns with my personal goals.

Contingent recruiters, on the other hand, rarely asked what I wanted to do. Every single interview that they'd supposedly set up for would fall through, either because they didn't double check the position's needs or that they had communication problems with the hiring company. Additionally, the recruiters' coworkers would call me in the middle of the day several times a week to tell me about some new opportunities. I was still working at the time, and it was annoying to constantly step out of the office to hear nothing substantial. The whole process left me feeling like I was just a piece of meat.

In the end, I had a much better experience just getting a list of companies that were hiring from the recruiter and directly applying with the companies I was interested in myself. When the HR asks how I was referred, I'd usually mention the recruiter out of karma. If I were to do it again, I'd probably avoid the recruiters altogether and go directly for the companies I actually care about.

When they answer this question, my experience is that the answer is "it's a trade secret."

Even when you start with, "look, the only way to get this number is by scraping it from my online resume --"

"I'm sorry, that's a trade secret and I can't tell you where--"

"No, look, I don't care, but take me off your list."

"Oh. Right."

This sort of thing is exactly why we're creating matchist (matchist.com). If you've ever worked as freelance developer with a recruiter to help you find gigs, you've probably had the recruiter propose some Java work because you had Javascript on your resume.


My personal favorite is the recruiters that don't seem to go past the skills section on a linked in profile.

"I noticed your profile - you have a nice background in software engineering, specifically in core production environments. I have clients looking for Senior Engineers who know the cutting edge technologies, and have a passion for making great software."

I'm graduating next year, my last job was an internship, and I do mobile development (seriously everything on my resume is an app or mobile website). Its like they don't spend more than 2 seconds on your profile.

I recently a got from a recruiter asking me if I had 8 years of Android development experience. I laughed so hard on the phone, she got offended

1607 E. Big Beaver Road, Suite 250, Troy, MI 48083

Good old Big Beaver Road, coincidently, Exit 69 off of I-75 :)

Mee too, but this is nothing, recruiters spam call me at Office phone at the middle of the day :(

I LOVE recruiters. They are working hard to get ME a job. Do I talk to them? All the time.

I got some of my best jobs through recruiters.

The recruiter "spam" is not to try to con you out of money. They are trying to get you more money.

Seriously what is wrong with you people.

I've found recruiters often use Domain Tools to look up historically available WHOIS information. I'm not sure if it's legal for Domain Tools to cache that stuff if it's been removed by the owner.

Boo hoo, someone didn't reply to you within 6 working days during holiday season. Obviously they are idiots!!

Their emails (and by extension yours) are probably getting picked up in their spam filter.

You need to call. Recruiters are verbal. Reading? Not so much.

Oh, they read, quite a lot. The problem is that they're not only devoid of any sense of ethics, but almost completely tone deaf to how they actually come across to the target audience they're allegedly trying to recruit for something or other.

Basically, their thought process seems to go about like this:

"Hmm, slow day. I think I'll just go spam 3,000 inboxes of random developers in an attempt to fill a position in some faraway state most of them not only don't live in presently, but would never consider moving to in a million years. They'll be so glad to hear from me! And it will make a great impression not only for our firm, but especially for the Client we recruiting for."

Recruiters want to get you on the phone because it's in their tactical interest, not because they are illiterate.

Actually, my personal, unscientific, experience indicates a fairly high correlation between being a recruiter and not being able to send an email without spelling or grammar errors (unless it is a pre-existing template, in which case it'll be damn obvious cause they are so poor at adjusting the font of the mail merged part appropriately for it to not blatantly show.)

Recruiting : The one industry in dire need of disruption.

My bet is on LinkedIn

I'm not convinced. To me, LinkedIn is exacerbating the problem rather than providing any help. Instead of trolling Monster and spamming anyone with a resume out there, they're doing keyword searches on LinkedIn and spamming anyone whose name shows up.

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