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Recently, I've received e-mails from tech recruiters inquiring about whether I'd like to interview for job interviews. The main problems I have with these emails are:

  1. I'm a college student, and nowhere have I indicated that I want a full time job, but all these opportunities are for full time work.
  2. The position descriptions are so vague that they could apply to many, many people.
  3. In addition to #2, most of the e-mails seem to be machine generated, and I am wary of people who just send out mass emails.

I don't want to disable the "receive emails from others option" and I don't have anything against technical recruiters, but I don't want to apply to the position and I definitely don't want to send my resume to them. In this thread on establishing relationships with unsolicited recruiters, there are a lot of negative points made about recruiters, and this especially stood out to me:

P.S. I once very unfortunately established "relationships" with two spam centers called computerfutures and progressiverecruitment and haven't been able to get my data out of their systems ever since. They periodically spam irrelevant ads and ignore all my requests for data removal and compliance. That's not a relationship you're seeking. :)

P.S.#2. A piece of advice. Whenever you decide to publish your CV in the wild, a good idea is to remove your phone number from there. It will effectively stop phone drones who depend on being able to harass and squeeze you on the phone hunting for colleague names and references. They however prove to be not inclined to waste time and engage in long email exchange with you preferring to just move on to the next target. This will lower your manual filtration efforts and save you hours of your phone time.

It seems like talking to recruiters is a waste of time and potentially a big hassle, but I don't want to just ignore emails either.

How should you go about politely declining a recruiter such that you can contact them when you want but won't have to worry about being bombarded by them? Is that even possible, or is ignore and forget the best option?

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closed as off topic by Michael K, Thomas Owens, ChrisF Aug 16 '11 at 16:32

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up vote 14 down vote accepted

Thank them, and politely decline. I often use something along the lines of ...

Regarding the job opportunity you sent me, I would like to thank you for thinking of me/considering me for the position. However, at the current time, ...

(Substitute/insert as appropriate)

  1. I do not think that my skills/interests would be a good match for it.
  2. I am presently doing xxx for yyy and am not presently looking to move in the near future.
  3. I am presently doing xxx, and would like to complete that before accepting yyy.

Should I think of anyone I know that may be a good fit, I would be happy to forward their resume to you.

Sincerely ...

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The trick is separating the good from the bad; ignore the bad until they leave you alone (their automated systems will eventually remove you, so long as you don't respond), and maintain a cordial, if distant relationship with the good.

Ignoring The Bad

Most recruiters who hit you up are going to be a waste of your time. All recruiters are in the game to make money, but you can (usually) instantly tell the bad from the quality of their emails, the professionalism (lack thereof) of the people contacting you, the company web site, etc.

Any one of these is a severe enough red flag that I don't even acknowledge the contact. Why? Nothing will come of the contact, probably nothing ever will, and its not like these types aren't a dime a dozen. Here's the latest recruiter ad in my inbox from just a few minutes ago - I typically receive three to four a day that escape my spam filter.

recruiter email

Its pretty obvious that this guy has no idea who I am. He found my email somewhere on a tech site and plugged me into the database. These guys don't care - they cast such a wide net that they're bound to catch a few desperate fish.

Ignore it, and don't let it bother you. Good recruiters will show their good colors quickly with a personal, intelligent communication that shows they are serious about working with a candidate to find them the right position and they're equally serious about handing quality candidates to their clients - the employer.

Cultivating the Good

There are some excellent recruiters out there. Finding them can be a little like trying to find good developers! They're diamonds in the rough, and you don't see their ads and emails plastering every available surface.

However, a good recruiter becomes obvious pretty quickly. He's done his research, knows a little about you, knows what you're doing currently, and more importantly: knows your skill-set. He has a specific job in mind with specific requirements from an employer and he's not going to try and match you with a Python job if he hasn't discovered anything Python-applicable about you.

These are the recruiters to reach out to, even if you aren't necessarily on the market. You might be, some day, and when you are its good to have a nice Rolodex of reliable contacts. Send them a response, thank them for their interest, politely decline, but let them know you're open to future contact. They won't call or email you once a week - you'll only hear back if they have another good fit for you.

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create a "thank you for the offer but I'm currently not looking for a full-time position" type mail and reply with it to those that aren't machine generated

those that are clear spam/too vague just ignore them

and get a new email address to distance yourself from the spam centers

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Once a week I receive a message from a recruiter via a business oriented social network, about twice a year a phone call. The first I can ignore easily, the latter will need some attention from you for a refusal.

First of all I would recommend to stay polite. No answer is better than a rude one.

Second I would try to filter serious offers from spam-like-offers. Since a recruiter does not know you personally, it is very likely that an offer for a concrete job is received by a lot of other people.

  • Serious recruiters will try to interview you before they make you a concrete offer: They will ask for your interests (preferred programming platform and skills), if you are willing to move to a new location, if you like to travel etc. Depending on your answers the recruiter may or may not offer you a concrete job which might suit you. These kind of recruiters are worth to stay in contact with, since they can find you attractive jobs and are interested in your personal development over a large time span.

  • Less serious recruiters try to contact as much persons possible, which fit into a job profile according to publicly available information about you. Vague description of what I actually have to do on such a job is a strong indicator that they do not really know what you have to do, but you appear to have some skills, so you might be a candidate. I decline these answers politely, despite you really need or want this job.

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