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How To Handle Recruiter Calls (dweek.ly)
17 points by dweekly on Feb 28, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 17 comments



Politely inform them that you're not looking right now. Ask them to e-mail you a job description so that if you happen across anyone who meets the requirements, you can put them in touch.

There's no need to go nuclear on them. After all, they might be able to do you a favor one day.


I disagree. I get 4 phone calls a day from recruiters trying to sell me "talent" for my startup. They refuse to get off the phone when I politely tell them we have a policy of not using recruiters, follow up by email, and then of course they call again next month. My phone going off causes a distraction, causing me to fall out of the zone and waste a few minutes as I try to figure out why they're calling and try to politely get them off the phone.

Really, they are absolute fuckers with no consideration for anyone but themselves, and going nuclear is long past due.


This is exactly my experience as a hiring manager with cold-call recruiters too.


How about not answering the phone unless you recognize the number?


Unfortunately, that's completely incompatible with being the CEO of a growing company that prides itself on support and puts its (that is, my) phone number on the website.

Also, this is a bit blaming the victim. My phone is for productive conversations I want to have, not a direct line into my soul for parasites.


wow, i thought my experience is bad as a developer… man you guys on the other side got it way worse!


Oh, it gets worse still, because I get calls from both sides! Want to work at Apple? LinkedIn? A funded SV startup (I already do, thank you)?


I don't understand why you would ever refer someone to a job through a cold-calling recruiter. If you know someone good who's looking for a job, just help them find a job directly.


I haven't. It's a polite brush-off.


The problem is that the retaining company doesn't receive black marks for hiring bad recruiters because the companies are anonymous until the candidate shows strong interest (and this were happy to receive the call.)

I can think of two healthier payout structures. One is for the recruiting company to pay regardless of results and better instruct the recruiter what to do and not do (this would be followed more closely since there would be little incentive to spam.) The other is to retain the firm and pay an earnout for every candidate hired during that period regardless of source, with the understanding that the recruiter must identify the company that is hiring.


I appreciate this article for taking an angle I'd never thought of, actually getting recruiters to stop by punishing them. But if you're not going to actually take those steps, I wrote up a different set of tips. https://medium.com/tony-stubblebine/cda0c5da9c8e

Recruiters can be infuriating, so the true cost of the call is the 10 seconds it took for you to hang up on them plus the 15 minutes it takes to calm down. As an example, I hung up on someone yesterday who called right back with this line, "Are you that fast will all your women."

They're relentless.

Anyway, the TLDR; version of my trick in the Medium post above is to have a script that's very happy but which leads to you hanging up no matter what response they give you. Somehow that lets me imagine that I'm having a polite conversation regardless of how they try to trap me.

I'm usually super calm, but these calls used to get under my skin and distract me. I can't have that.


I find it amusing that most companies are irritated by recruiters (Yes we can be annoying) trying to sell them their services. Have you ever stopped to think that the organisation you are in, or work for drives people mad trying to sell it's products also? 90% of companies use cold calling as a mechanism to generate sales.


Recruiter here. I've written on this topic before (notably here http://jobtipsforgeeks.com/2012/09/17/disrupt/), but a major part of the problem is the incentives built into the contingency recruiting model. It's a competitive rat race that is the reason behind both the incessant cold calling and the barrage of resumes sent to companies hoping that one will stick. It's an industry with no barrier to entry with huge potential payoff. I don't think most engineers realize how much good recruiters actually make.

I make relatively few cold calls now, as you shouldn't need to once you are established, but that takes time. The problem now is that there are simply too many recruiters in the marketplace (again due to low barrier to entry and high payoff), and contingency recruiting firms are more than willing to pay recent liberal arts majors from mediocre schools pennies to make calls all day (I'm qualified to say this with my Bachelors in Econ from Delaware).

Companies that farm out their work to 20 contingency firms fuel this fire. Find 1-2 good firms, pay them some money up front and make them earn the rest. My fees are much lower than contingency firms, because I'm willing to take less if my client is willing to absorb part of my risk. Contingency firm had 100% risk, retained firm has 0% risk (some variation) - find somewhere in the middle with a recruiter you trust.

If you are a company hiring manager or startup founder, tell recruiters your company works with recruiters at 10% fees - they should stop calling to solicit your business (but may start soliciting your employees, because in a world with finite talent resources, if you aren't a potential client you are a potential source).

If you are being called with opportunities, that is tough to solve, but making a reference on a LinkedIn profile that you are not interested in recruiter contacts should help. I make few cold calls, but always honor that request when I see it. Keep in mind - when I got into the business in 98, before LinkedIn and when you had to really hunt, many people were somewhat rude when called. A few years later when the market went south, these people became much more friendly. Recruiters don't control the job market by any means, and they are having less and less overall influence as an industry every year it seems as technology makes them a little less necessary. Be nice to them the first time, maybe take a second to tell them what they are doing wrong, set a guideline with them (you can ping me every n months)and if they pester you after that, do whatever feels right.


I don't like LinkdIn (I don't like to put up my profile on any social media platform because they are all alike). How do I circumvent this personal preference and still be out there looking? How do I satisfactorily answer that I have no interest in sharing LinkdIn with you?


Not sure I follow. You don't have a LinkedIn, so you have no LinkedIn profile to share. There is no reason to tell someone you have no interest in sharing something that doesn't exist, is there? Maybe I am misunderstanding. If you want to be out there looking and be in touch with recruiters, it looks as though you are going to have to find them if they are unable to find you.


It is as if the whole professional world is on LinkdIn and I am resisting alone. The pressure is too great and I am looking for ways to circumvent the pressure. I am sure there must be others out there with this kind of mentality.


How can they earn that much? Most of them are useless as professionals and worthless as human beings. Real mystery for me.




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