Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Dear Google Recruiting... (daemonology.net)
82 points by cperciva on Jan 27, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 116 comments

I don't understand why it bothers people so much to be contacted by recruiters. I just send a quick reply that says "I appreciate the interest, but I'm not looking for new position right now.". It takes me about 10 seconds to type that sentence and hit send. It takes me such little time that I probably would not remember if they contacted me again a year later.

I'm always grateful to have skills that are in demand. I have friends in other fields that are not so lucky. No need to be the girl that tries to tell everyone how attractive she is by complaining about the attention she receives from guys.

> I don't understand why it bothers people so much to be contacted by recruiters.

It likely depends on how big your online footprint is. I've been on the Internet publicly since 1989 and hence you can find me all over. That also means recruiters do. I have no problems with the ones who are good at their jobs, but about half are below average, working on commission, and their tactics are the same as spammers (spread yourself indiscriminately far and wide). Many are downright scammers such as taking resumes off the net and then pretending to represent those people, or scraping job postings off websites and then pretending to represent those companies.

At the top of my resume I put a "note to recruiters" that makes it clear what I am good for. It is very clear then which recruiters have made even that miniscule effort, versus just started spamming right away.

I'd say I see about one good recruiter for every 20 spammers. And that is what is bothering. Even worse the lack of response or saying no doesn't deter the spammers so you have to do something about it. I made a blocklist in the end.


> but about half are below average

> I'd say I see about one good recruiter for every 20 spammers

These two seem contradictory, but the second statement strikes me as much more true than the first. Recruiters in this industry seem to be more parasitic and less knowledgeable than even real estate agents, and I say that with great hesitation. Any job where the attracting principle is "ooh money, and I don't even need to know anything!" is probably not usually a service that's worth a damn.

I make it clear I am only interested in small companies and startups (and detail why). Consequently a good recruiter for a medium/large company won't contact me at all. OTOH the spammers depend on volume.

Statement 1 is tautologically true.

No. Consider the sequence (2, 2, 2, 10).

The "average" is not a technical term in statistics. It's a shortcut in everyday speak for some measure of centrality. What you're referring to is (probably) the arithmetic mean, but the average can be any other measure (for example, when you talk about "average speed" you're not using the arithmetic mean, but the geometric one), including the median.

Also, in this case the mean and the median are probably close to the same thing since recruiter skill is likely to be normally distributed, but that's a different story. </nitpick>

I find recruiters to be a piss poor annoyance -- but that's because they call me at least once a day despite the "seriously, no recruiters" advertisement on our company's site. And because they don't understand that if I'm looking for someone with web MVC experience I probably most likely just-kinda-sorta want someone that knows HTML too.

That being said, I wouldn't be that ticked if someone from Google contacted me once every three years. It sounds like the author is just humble bragging.

I got annoyed, but mainly by the volume and persistence of a few bad recruiters. Many recruiters poorly represent their clients. The one that caused me to close my LinkedIn account spelled "projects" as "progects" three times. He worked for Reuters. The problem is gone now, for better or worse. I wish it wasn't something that came off as a humblebrag. Recruiters and head hunters can be legitimately predatory at worst and incredibly thick at best.

I've experienced that too where a few recruiters bombard my inbox with low quality jobs ("Entry-level Java .NET developer needed immediately for six week contract in Frostbite Falls, MN! Up to $40/hr. DOE!"). I just use Gmail to filter those messages into the trash. Protip: Spammy recruiters hate it when you politely decline in response to a LinkedIn message because LinkedIn only charges them when someone replies.

I am the guy who always follows-up with recruiters. But even I can tell you that many of them are quite disrespectful and rarely have something to offer other than the brand of the company they represent.

Just month ago some Google recruiter emailed me to "see what I've been up to". He is not taking emails for an answer, he wants to schedule a phone call at some weird hour. Of course he wants me to submit some paperwork. I say fine, then he cancels at the last moment, another recruiter contacts me to reschedule and forgets about it.

I just hit the archive button :(, but now that I think about it, I should really just draft a canned message.

When I'm absolutely not looking for a job or not interested, I just ignore cold-call recruitment emails. I don't see this as being a negative at all, and I've actually worked with a recruiter after ignoring her for years and it didn't seem to be an issue -- I think they expect it, and because they almost certainly are shotgunning their email out to many people at a time, they aren't crying about you not personally responding.

That aside I've never been contacted directly by Google :( Amazon spams me all the time though. I've never interviewed at either one.

Eh, it just gets grating after awhile. Inboxes are cluttered enough already without getting 10+ emails a day from recruiters, you know?

It's also annoying to try and hit "unsubscribe" from a mailing list only to find out "unsubscribe" does nothing.

Dear Colin,

You're extremely lucky to have talents that are highly sought-after and well paid. I know many talented architects and designers with experience who just scrape by. Just ignore Google's recruitment advances and move on :)

Just ignore Google's recruitment advances and move on

If I thought I was the only person being annoyed by them, I would probably do this. But I've spoken to lots of other developers who get similarly annoyed by Google recruiters despite their attempts to tell Google Recruiting to stop contacting them -- so I figured it was worth writing a "ha ha only serious" public piece in the interest of getting Google's attention and maybe saving a lot of developers that same occasional irritation.

> I've spoken to lots of other developers who get similarly annoyed by Google recruiters despite their attempts to tell Google Recruiting to stop contacting them

It might have been worth mentioning this in your post.

As it stands, the faux-formal structure, slightly melodramatic tone and repeated references to your cushy career situation make it read like a classic humblebrag.

He doesn't need to be humble. Google would be extremely lucky to have him. Let's stop wasting time pretending that he's lucky to be contacted by them, or that he needs to be careful about how he presents this. He's at the top of his field. Get over it.

I'm not questioning his ability or professionalism.

I take issue with the fact that the stated intention of his post - to get Google's attention and prevent similar incidents in the future - is at odds with the tone of his writing. That's all.

The intended tone of my writing is "funny enough that someone at Google might notice and do something about this problem". Sorry if that didn't come through.

It comes through just fine. It's possible your detractors have just had the good fortune of not experiencing the 'pesky recruiter' problem, Google or otherwise. You can take heart in the near certainty that, if they work in the technology field at all, they will.

Read the thread 'tlrobinson showed you. Like, carefully.

No-one needs to be humble. Still, humility is an admirable trait, and immodesty is not usually worth rewarding.

Being at the top of your field outweighs the negative connotations of being immodest, but that doesn't make humility undesirable.


I see you're new here. Let me refer you to this classic HN thread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=35068

Wow, please remind me if/when I succeed beyond my wildest dreams never to use my accomplishments as a rhetorical weapon to beat people with.

I've always been a fan of Colin from the little that I've been exposed to his work, but that thread instantly made me like him less (though this post tempered the feeling some: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=35096)

And yet I'm more of a fan of Richard Sherman (in the NFL) than I was two weeks ago, in spite of his unapologetic bragging. I can't explain the difference.

It's weird reading that thread and coming across a comment written by my 6-years-younger self on the very day that I founded my startup and thinking "Man, I had my head screwed on better back then. The 5 years I spent at Google just makes me a blowhard. I hope I have the opportunity to be small again."

I love that pg says that it was the greatest comeback of all time.

> it read like a classic humblebrag

What about this did you feel was humble?

That's the whole point of a humblebrag.

repeated references to your cushy career situation

What references are those? I only mentioned Tarsnap once at the very end. Based on everything else I might have been unemployed.

classic humblebrag

Being repeatedly contacted by Google Recruiting is hardly something to brag about.

> Being repeatedly contacted by Google Recruiting is hardly something to brag about.

Do you have any idea how many people would love to be contacted by Google Recruiting even once? That's fine if you have no interest in working for them, but please don't pretend Google isn't one of the most desirable companies to work for.

> Do you have any idea how many people would love to be contacted by Google Recruiting even once?

Tell them to put up a LinkedIn profile and wait a few months. The recruiters aren't making offers, they don't have that authority. They're trying to shove as many people through an interview grinder as possible.

Developers are annoyed by hundreds of companies and professional recruiters who try to recruit them constantly. To single out Google reeks of nothing more than "HEY GUYS LOOK AT ME I'M TOO COOL FOR GOOGLE!"

The only company whose recruiters bug me on a regular basis is Google.

Google's also the only company I know of which flies the same guy halfway across the country every year or two for interview processes that always end in rejection. (This is the primary reason I've stopped even responding to their recruiters. I don't want to get caught in the same cycle of anticipation, terrifying interviews, and rejection.)

Their recruiting department seems to like wasting everybody's time and their employer's money.

I'm not singling out Google. They're the only company whose recruiters keep on ignoring "DO NOT CONTACT".

You are not alone, and you're right that it can get very annoying. But I think one day computer programmers will look back and wonder how we ever had it so good.

Its not just Google..

Amazon has the same problem..some low recruiters working for Amazon spamming devs

My solution was to contact Amazon dev advocate and state that I would not upload my android apps to their appstore unless the recruiting spamming stooped..

That worked for awhile, it no longer works

I flew to Seattle for an Amazon interview two years ago. They declined to extend an offer yet still hit me up on LinkedIn and send me emails every six months.

I'm not sour about not getting the job (I totally blew that interview—100% my fault), I just don't get the dissonance they send out.

Heh. I read the title and knew immediately what the contents would be.

Recruitment isn't the same thing as a guaranteed job, though; it's more like an invitation to submit a resume than anything else.

Dear Every Recruiter That Has Called Me In Last Couple Years,

I know you think you can help me find awesome Rails programmers in the Chicago area or whatever kind of developer it is you think you're great at sourcing, but all I can think of when you call us to pitch your services is that my company's name is going to end up in a blog post like this.

Go to hell,


Given Google's emphasis on quantifying every aspect of recruitment, I wouldn't be surprised if the reason is because their numbers show that contacting people who previously rejected offers was more likely to result in a hire than contacting people who never interviewed, and that they decided that ignoring "do not contact" instructions was worth it after some time. Basically, kind of an retargeting strategy but applied to hiring. I understand why this may be annoying to you, but your case is probably rare enough that they decided to go along with it -- I would think that most people do not care enough about being contacted by companies they do not want to work for to complain. I do not condone this but the assumption that you may not feel as adamant about not working at Google as you did two years ago (during which a lot can happen) seems perfectly understable to me.

With that said, your post does come across as really obnoxious. Asking to have an "ON PAIN OF DEATH" mention added on their file? Really? I dislike having my instructions disobeyed as much as the next guy, but if I counted properly this is 6 emails over more than 7 years. Surely one could live with receiving one unwanted email every year or so? It's not like it's that hard or time consuming to just ignore a message or to decline politely -- after all, a lot of people do it multiple times on a daily basis, and I'm sure you do too.

This is too bad, because the tone of your post distracts from the perfectly valid (but IMHO, minor) point that this policy does imply things about Google they view themselves.

I like being contacted by Google. I'm not really interested in interviewing with them ( long process, doubt I'd pass, would have to move ) but it makes me feel good that the top tech company (YMMV) in the world is interested in hiring me.

This isn't a knock on you - I was contacted last summer. Had a long chat, but didn't pursue it, as I'd have to move. That wasn't the only reason, but a primary one. To me, I had about 5 minutes of feeling valued, then the cynic in me started thinking that they must be scraping the barrel to contact me. I don't mean it in a self-loathing "i suck" sort of way, but... they must be tapping out 'locals' already to be reaching out across the country. They really can't find anyone else within driving distance who's at least as qualified as me?

Disclaimer: I used to work at Google and have some incidental knowledge of Google's recruitment practices but am not an expert.

Many of Google's recruiters (especially the sourcers who are looking for candidates) are temporary contractors.

These contractors generally have a tenure measured in weeks and they are vying for one of very few full time positions. This high turnover, low institutional knowledge, and desire to distinguish themselves would be my best guess at explaining why the "Do Not Contact" note is not being respected.

This is what I figure as well. Sourcing and incentive structure Google has in place for recruiting naturally gives "do not hire" note won't be respected. It's a problem that needs a systematic solution, but probably not worth the cost to fix it.

Get an agent, if you're that in demand you can hire somebody else to handle your recruiting and opporunitites for you?

Dear OP

Yes you have the right to not be contacted by Google if you don't want so.

But may I advise you to not get pissed by the fact that your labour force and intellect is being greatly demanded. Disturbance apart, you should be thankful.

I don't mind recruiters contacting me. I mind recruiters contacting me when the file in front of them tells them that I've specifically asked them to not contact me.

I understand being annoyed that they ignored your request, but would it really lessen your recruiter spam by an appreciable amount? I get such random requests, eliminating a single company wouldn't make much of a dent.

I've just gotten good at hitting shift-3 or e (depending on my mood) in gmail the second I sniff recruiter in an email.

It's not the emails which bother me; it's the fact that they're ignoring explicit instructions.

How do you solve this for recruiters other than Google? Surely you must be getting a lot of traffic from them too....

I can't think of any other company which has had recruiters continue to contact me after I've replied "nope, not interested".

You could have just solved the problem by taking a job at Apple, Adobe, Intuit, Lucasfilm, or Pixar!

Dear Google... ignore these dilettantes. I'll bend over as far as you want. Holla.

I also turned Google down after interviewing [1]. They contacted me every six months to see how I was doing. Eventually, I asked them not to contact me again, and they haven't.

Other recruiters haven't been so nice, but it's important to remember that recruiters are people too. Their jobs can be very stressful, since much of their compensation comes from successful hires. I ended up writing a rather conciliatory post, and I link to it whenever a recruiter contacts me: http://geoff.greer.fm/2013/10/23/dear-recruiter-please-do-no...

It has been quite successful. Replies from recruiters have been understanding and pleasant.

1. One cool thing about Google: They asked me to do a post-mortem to talk about out why I turned them down. I met a manager at a coffee shop and discussed my reasons. He also wanted to make sure that the interview process had been enjoyable for me, and asked for feedback on what they could do better. I was impressed by their thoroughness.

They asked me to do a post-mortem to talk about out why I turned them down.

I had the same experience, although for me it was a web survey rather than a face-to-face interview (probably because I wasn't local). Whether they actually paid attention to what I told them, I'm not sure; 99% of the problems in the interview process were due to my recruiter screwing things up, but she got promoted a few months later.

I totally understand why this is annoying and can sympathize. However, it was probably a mistake to write a blog post about it and put it around. Not because of any backlash against your future prospects or because you're now missing out on some opportunity, because that's not your problem.

I just think that by writing this in the way that you have, you've tarnished your personal reputation. If you're fine with that, then no big deal. But from this article and reading up on you, I know objectively that you are very intelligent and extremely accomplished in your chosen field, have a skill-set that is in constant demand, and are somewhat foolish.

If I were to complain about a problem almost no-one in the world shares, I would do it privately. This public complaint is particularly worthless since your complaint is likely not going to have an impact on whether or not some temp recruiter at Google will try to hire you in 3 years.

So, it doesn't accomplish much for you, and it convinces a whole bunch of people that you don't appreciate what you have.

The problem isn't _that_ uncommon. Google recruiters truly carpet bomb the market (as defined by LinkedIn, it seems) with introductions.

I only got them off my back after stating (twice) that I have a life and as such won't move ~10 timezones for a job.

What a jerk. I thought once of using Tarsnap.. now I know there's no way I'll ever use or recommend this product. Ask a support question about Tarsnap? Bam, blog post about you annoying the shit out of him with your question.

If you are not interested in an e-mail, it takes about a third of a second to press "!" in gmail.. that's a free way pass to the spam folder. But the person sending the email, the recruiter, won't know it. So a quick: "No thank you. I'm more than busy right now and not interested in new job opportunities" would do wonder.

And FYI, the last time a google recruiter tried to recruit me, we had a very nice chat about my own startup (Hacking Health) where we pair technical talents with health professionals to find innovate solution in healthcare. These guys are very well connected and can introduce you to so many people.. So, if you think it's okay to be jerk to them, then realize that you're closing the doors to great opportunities by doing so.

Ask a support question about Tarsnap? Bam, blog post about you annoying the shit out of him with your question.

Only if I send you repeated requests to stop contacting me first.

And now we know how much your recommendations about secure backup software are worth. Thanks for sharing.

>> secure backup software

The software isn't the problem - it's probably great - it's the service that I wouldn't recommend.

I don't even understand what you're trying to communicate anymore. "The software's great! But don't ever use it!"

Well that was aggressive.

I wish I had problems that resembled this. :(

I doubt the time it took you to write this is less than the amount of time it would take to simply ignore their emails.

Said every spammer ever.

They seem to cast a wide net as far as their recruiting efforts goes. I kinda wish they put more effort into identifying unexperienced hires as well, as I remember expending quite some effort to try to get hired by Google after I left graduate school, but to no avail. Now I have shown my quick ability to learn (which was already proven by my education) in the world of development and now I get contacted...and I don't know whether I want to work for Google anymore.

I deeply question their talent identifying apparatus. Even worse for them, if they did a correct analysis, they probably would have saved a lot of $. It would probably take over 2x what I am making now to woo me over, and that's not necessarily guaranteed.

Why didn't you just apply? I imagine that a recommendation from a current employee would boost your chances, but I don't think a recruiter contacting you changes anything over just a resume submission, at least not at most companies.

I did before - multiple times.

When google asked for my resume (which... oddly enough, they already had because that's how they said they got my contact info), I told them to bing for it. Haven't heard from them since. Perhaps that'll get them off your back in future.

This guy is so full of himself

It's very rare I say this, but he has every right to be.

Hmm, I've had variable experiences with Google Recruiting.

I had one experience which was very good, with a Google Engineering team - I didn't end up passing through - but they made the experience fun (good questions), and they were very gracious hosts.

I had another with a Google Sales team in Australia - where they made me do some four-page online assessment, answer more questions - then booked me in for a phone interview at 09:00 - then emailed me at 17:00 the day before to cancel.

Their reason - oh yeah, the years of experience we required has changed...

It's just insulting when recruiters don't do basic research on the people that they contact. Yeah, it's not the worst problem to have in the world, but I get the feeling that a lot of these people are just spamming anyone they can find in a particular keyword and then expecting those people to do the recruiter's job for them.

as a girl on okcupid, I fully understand this.

People seem to be missing the crucial point here.

It isn't that they keep ignoring the "DO NOT CONTACT", it's why Google wants his services so badly in the first place. What does Tarsnap do?

Think about it. Google wants to be bullet proof. Probably internally at first, but then maybe roll out the benefits to other services.

I highly doubt any of the recruiters who have contacted me know what Tarsnap is.

I can't see a good reason for posting the names of the recruiters in this post, and can't see why this is that "special" of a case. Maybe if they called that many times, it would be legitimately annoying. But a few spam emails? I don't know many people who would emotionally react like this.

Imagine a world in which Google recruiters have a profile of you on their desk of likes, dislikes, likely life goals, and potential avenues to woo you into joining them. I imagine Facebook has a dataset that could be applied to make such a thing and soon (if not already) so will Google.

Why's this post even up? He just needs to get a bigger inbox and learn to use the archive button.

Is Google unique in this? Or is this a generic tech company/recruiter problem?

Google is the only company I've found which seems to be unable to take no for an answer. I get lots of recruiter spam from hedge funds, but I don't think any of them have ever re-contacted me after I've told them not to.

so google contacts you every couple years. must really clog up your inbox...

Eh, I've been contacted by them too. Probably a large portion of the HN audience has. It's called throwing out a big net, it's not like they're personally begging you.

I was contacted by a Google recruiter recently and have a phone interview set up now after a phone screen. Until I read this I was feeling pretty pleased with myself :(

WoW you are publicly complaining about Google trying to recruit you?

Have you read how people treated this guy http://valleywag.gawker.com/startup-stud-hates-homeless-peop... or this guy http://valleywag.gawker.com/happy-holidays-startup-ceo-compl....

IS your goal to be label yet another arrogant/ignorant tech douchebag? That just might now happen!

on the bright side: enduring the unimaginable suffering which this horrific indignity has obviously caused you, will strengthen your character.


Now you can ask them to add a link to this post. "DO NOT CONTACT but if you still think you should, please check this link".

as a front-end engineer I have just been abducted to work in a hiring war room at my company (30 FTEs in 30 days is the mandate)

seeing and having to do what sourcers do for the last week has been eye-opening. identification, assessment, and engagement of skilled candidates is super hard and very time consuming.

I have nothing but sympathy for these people now...

If only Steve Jobs were around, he would put the industry cabal back in place and fix this problem for you pronto.

Isn't this spam you can report because it's illegal? If not what's the difference?

Every considered working for Google? I hear the perks are great!

so obnoxious

I think about my friends from high school and college who are struggling to find meaningful work when I read things like this. I try to imagine what it be like from their point and it comes off like an entitled prima donna is complaining about being recruited by what one of the coolest companies on earth. Honestly I think as an industry we should try to keep some perspective here.

To me it comes across as the reverse of sour grapes: "Oh woe is me, I'm being solicited by diamond salesmen to add extravagant adornments to my golden palace. Can't they just understand that my platinum plated safe contains more diamonds than they could ever offer? Why is life so hard?"

see also: #humblebrag, #whitegirlproblems

The odds of a job coming out of contact by a Google recruiter are nearly indistinguishable from 0. They constantly carpet-bomb everybody.

That doesn't change the fact that tech folk are unique in being so lucky in the current economic climate to be complaining about getting asked about job opporunities. I know plenty of people in other skilled fields who would be happy to hear back from any of the many companies they ask about jobs at

I don't think you fully understood my comment. Contact by a Google recruiter does not constitute a job opportunity. It constitutes a waste of time on a massive scale. Replace them with automated spambots and the effect is the same.

And I don't think you fully understood mine. Regardless of the effectiveness (or lack therefore) of their recruiters, Google is still has over a thousand open positions (look for yourself: https://www.google.com/about/jobs/search/). None of my civil engineer friends are getting spammed by companies.

No non-Google tech employers are spamming people over and over again either. You're trying to turn a Google discussion into an industry discussion, which is just silly. This is about a Google problem, not an industry problem.

They very fact that we are now treating being contacted by recruiters as 'spam' shows the attitude of how we treat opportunities.

When being contacted for a >$100K an year job looks like annoyance you know we have lived too much in luxury and have no clue about the kind of problems ordinary people face.

> They very fact that we are now treating being contacted by recruiters as 'spam' shows the attitude of how we treat opportunities.

No, it shows that Google's recruitment practices are broken and annoying. They contact a huge number of people who have absolutely no chance of being hired.

> When being contacted for a >$100K an year job

Again, that isn't what's happening here. It's not even how Google hires at all. When you're contacted by a Google recruiter, no matter what that clueless recruiter might say, there is no specific job you're going to be interviewed for.

If I'm looking for a job, I might interview once at each of half a dozen companies and get two or three offers. But I could easily go through half a dozen interview processes just with Google, never getting an offer.

This discussion isn't about tech recruitment. It's about Google recruitment, which is uniquely broken. Their recruiters go after any warm body they can find to throw into the grinder, qualified or not, good candidate or not.

Cool to see you speak elegantly on the problem.

The author who many here say he is a genius isn't much so when it comes to trying to convey his 1 percent problem. More so, with the tech elite current events being blogged about frequently.

Had he phrased it as you did above then it wouldn't have inflamed readers and the overall tech elite issue going on.

Us tech folks geniuses or not all have a lot to learn!

How about companies they specifically asked not to contact them?

Privileged people hardly ever realize they have any privilege. A bit like those rich kids who reject presents they don't consider expensive enough and then brag about it in front of their poor friends. Its likely some body from their group doesn't even have proper clothes to wear.

Either way it doesn't matter. Making statements as to what you can reject, is in reality a statement to give others an idea of what you currently have or are capable of getting.

An example of kids being ungrateful for their christmas gifts.


Quick Sam Biddle take a screenshot of this and write a hit piece on highlighting the disgusting arrogance/ignorance of yet another tech douche!

I am fortunate to get similar attention and I live on the opposite coast. I am very flattered/honored to receive constant job offers. I've worked hard to get to this point, but it could all go away tomorrow. Nothing is guaranteed.

This is beyond a First World problem

How about a "First Percent Problem"?

While I agree with the sentiment, I also agree that if Colin is repeatedly asking the company not to recruit him, they should respect that (and should have the first time, too).

Perhaps if he puts a time limit on it, that will make things more clear (e.g., "Do not contact me for 100 years").

Zero World Problem?

Almost sounds like a comic book series. OP could be the superhero -- the ability to be contacted by Google, no matter what [bad economy, career goals, whatever].

I claim 'Rock star problem' as the term for problems that most first worlders might wish they had, except for the ones that have them.

I like to call these "First World Annoyances".


Applications are open for YC Winter 2022

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact