Sign up ×
Programmers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development. It's 100% free.

I personally, always have problems with recruiter's and their constant spam..

I usually get tons of emails for jobs, not related to what I do.

Or they have no idea what I do.

Or they say they have a job in my field, but make me go thru hours of paperwork, only to find out they had no real job lead.

Or my resume contained a keyword, that they searched for, but that keyword is like 1-10% of what I do, not my main job skill set.

My point being is that I want to have a more polite, more accurate, less waste of each other's time.

So I want to come up with a form letter, I can create in gmail to automatically send to all recruiter's, to help inform, educate and train them to deal better with me.

That way, they know exactly what to send to me, so as to not waste my time.

We don't play email/phone tag, just to find out they have no idea what I do, or how to find a job lead that matches that.

I want this to be an improvement in my relationship and experience with recruiters, because honestly most of them waste my time.

They call me at work, not considering I can't take phone call's at work, and they already had my email address.

Mostly they annoy me, but I am tired of having to be rude to get my point across.

I want them to immediately make sure they know what I can and have done, (Have you read my resume?) and have actual leads ready to be hired/interviewed soon or now.

Any suggestions to how to improve the communication, to avoid wasting each other's time.

I certainly hate having to come across as rude or improper, but when they just waste so much of my time, I don't know what else to do.

So thank you for your time.

Just to be clear, I want your help to write a form letter, that I can send to every recruiter that email's me, how to best work with me, and other people in IT/Web careers.

share|improve this question

closed as off-topic by Ixrec, MichaelT, durron597, GlenH7, gnat Jul 4 at 7:19

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions seeking career or education advice are off topic on Programmers. They are only meaningful to the asker and do not generate lasting value for the broader programming community. Furthermore, in most cases, any answer is going to be a subjective opinion that may not take into account all the nuances of a (your) particular circumstance." – Ixrec, durron597, GlenH7, gnat
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Exactly why I would never use a recruitment agency. – Jonathan Khoo Mar 7 '11 at 22:14
"Mostly they annoy me, but I am tired of having to be rude to get my point across." And your question is what? – S.Lott Mar 7 '11 at 22:14
I want to write an automatic response letter to help them learn how to work better with me. – crosenblum Mar 7 '11 at 22:15
crosenblum: see my reply, but you beg the question that they want to work better with you. Mostly they don't, they will just spam everyone in their contact list, and for every nibble they get, they will spam their clients with the resumes, and if someone happens to get hired, take a tidy 50% of the first years salary for their troubles. – Cercerilla Mar 7 '11 at 22:26
I agree with all of you, but that doesn't solve the problem, that is if there is a reasonable solution. – crosenblum Mar 7 '11 at 22:36

8 Answers 8

up vote 4 down vote accepted


I'm kind of in the same boat as you, I seem to have annoyed a lot of recruiters and Glasgow is pretty small, so it's not a good idea to anger too many of them. Their new (well newish) trick is to connect to your LinkedIn Profile so that they can get at your contacts and pester them. I've had arguments with a few recruiters about that, it's very annoying. I've also had one agency that looked up my current employer on my resume, called the office, identified themselves as a recruiting agency and asked to speak to me, so my working environment wasn't all that great in the weeks that followed. I only know a few personally, but from what I know, it sounds like a boring job, scanning resumes all day and phoning people trying to get a bite so they can rake in some cash, so it's no surprise they work in a forceful manner.

The best way to deal with them is to find out what recruiting agencies work best, usually the annoying ones I've identified belong to the same niche, so send your resume in to the ones that have a good reputation. Also, arrange for an interview. Usually I'm asked to come in and meet a recruiter, so face to face contact usually helps when you explain your situation. Also wear a suit to the meeting to show a professional attitude. Don't walk in with torn trousers with socks pulled over them and a purple social distortion t-shirt (you'd have to have been to some of the agencies I've been to in order to believe this..)

At the end of the day, they are a means to an end for you to get gainful employment. Don't rely on them completely. A company loses money when dealing with a recruiting agency, which is why employees are offered rewards for head hunting. No single place is a holy grail, by all means, use agencies and stackoverflow careers etc, but don't rely fully on any particular one.

Good luck!

share|improve this answer
This is exactly why I deleted my LinkedIn account years ago. – crosenblum Mar 10 '11 at 14:36
I just tell them politely that I only link to people with whom I have worked and never to recruiters. I have never had one put up the slightest protest. They all accept that & move on. – Mawg Apr 14 at 13:00
@Mawg - that's pretty sensible. I've only got a few recruiters on my profile, but I usually prune them off after a while. They are pretty persistent in trying to connect to people on Linkedin. I remember one got fed up getting knocked back and tried to connect to my Facebook account. What can I say? it's a cut throat industry. – Desolate Planet Apr 14 at 20:58

I assume your objective is to find interesting well paid work? If so, I would recommend a different approach. First ask the best programmers you know which recruiters they have worked with. Use these recommendations to draw up a short list.

Then work only with the top few recruiters on your list, I would suggest no more than three. Meet them face to face, tell them in detail exactly what you do and exactly the kind of role you are interested in. If they can find you a good role, work with them again. If not try another recruiter on your list.

share|improve this answer
Atm, I am employed part-time, and hoping to find a full time job or get promoted to full time, where I currently am. My main goal is to make it easier to deal with recruiters when they email me. – crosenblum Mar 7 '11 at 22:52
tend to concur, I've built an "inner circle" of recruiters who don't waste my time and the others get ignored primarily... – tekiegreg Mar 7 '11 at 23:30
Very good point - unfortunately there are a lot of used car salesweasel types out there in the recruitment business, so personal recommendations are usually worthwhile. – Timo Geusch Mar 7 '11 at 23:33
Only work with recruiters whom the type of companies you want to get hired at actually have worked with successfully in the past and continue to do so. There are very few of these. If you can't find one of the good ones, working with any of the others is most often worst than a waste of your time. – hotpaw2 Mar 7 '11 at 23:55

Here is how I handle it.

I ask them to forward me the job description and name of the company. If they aren't willing to do that I tell them that I will pass.

It isn't universal, but I have found that this effectively filters out the recruiters who are shotgunning, or working in a call center. The ones that will divulge the client name are much more likely to be higher quality recruiters who actually care if you might be a good fit.

Sometimes, even if they won't give up the client's name they are willing to at least send a job description that more often than not is a copy/paste directly from the careers page on the company's web site. A quick Google search on an uncommonly phrased sentence will generally lead you right to the hiring company allowing you to cut lazy recruiters out as the middle man.

share|improve this answer
Sometimes its ok to hide the name of the company, since many companies spy on each other by sending employees. But, the job description is ok, I already met recruiters that won't tell the job description, and mark their email as spam. – umlcat Mar 10 '11 at 18:37
-1e6 for "...lead you right to the hiring company allowing you to cut lazy recruiters out..." Two wrongs don't make a right. Every time you burn a recruiter this way, you poison the well for the rest of us. You and others like you are the reason that good, honest recruiters (yes, there are some out there) are so often reluctant to provide details about a job, and that just exacerbates the problems that the OP is trying to deal with. Please stop. – Caleb May 21 '12 at 22:08
Since when it is a wrong to directly contact the employer. I don't have any relationship with a recruiter who is spamming me copy/pasted job postings in hopes of making a buck without doing any actual work. I would argue that by doing this to these scummy recruiter types you would thin the herd leaving only the good recruiters who actually do their jobs. – JohnFx May 21 '12 at 22:21
@JohnFx That's like saying that you don't do any actual work -- you just type on a keyboard. Finding employees to fill open positions is the work that a recruiter does; if you don't like how they do it then ignore them, delete their messages, tell them to stop calling, whatever. But if you're interested enough in the position they're shopping to talk to them, they're not doing you any disservice. You said yourself: The ones that will divulge the client name are much more likely to be higher quality recruiters.... Don't ruin that trust and make the relationship even worse for the rest of us. – Caleb May 22 '12 at 0:13
I know lots of recruiters and plenty of good ones. We are talking about the slimy lazy ones here who just pull jobs off monster and spam them to people hoping for an easy commission. You know, the type who contact you about a help desk job because it was on your resume from 25 years ago and they didn't bother to even look at it after a keyword hit came up? – JohnFx May 22 '12 at 0:43

Do not bother. You want to get as much information as possible about the company before going to the interview, mostly in order to figure out whether YOU want to work there. Recruiters do not want you to have this information, even the name of the company. So, they will write (copied almost verbatim) "Hot media start-up is seeking Senior Java Developers. The company is hot! Please send your resumes." Note: resumes, not resume.

What headhunters want is a bunch of good resumes flying their way so that they could get the job off the market ASAP. They will want the company that is doing the hiring see several candidates in order to increase their chances. They will not bother to negotiate the best salary possible for you. they would rather have a percentage of 80k in two weeks than a percentage of 100k in two months. What you want is the best match and the best perks possible. Recruiters do not want that. They want to make a match ASAP. And they want to keep you in the dark.

You do not have to give them more of a business. When you search yourself, you can use StackOverfolow careers, craigslist, or what have you. I stopped using head hunters not because I do not want them to have $5k-$10k, but because I do not want the pressure and the whining and making me accept the first half-decent offer that comes my way.

share|improve this answer
It's valid for recruiters not to tell the potential employer info, sometimes because recuiters spy on each other and go and spam the employer. But, if they recruiter refuse to tell about the job description, (happens a lot of times to me), then the recruiter doesn't matter. – umlcat Mar 10 '11 at 18:35
@user14579, I hope these recruiters are happy with their life while recruiting or going out of business because I do not use their service. Other recruiters spying on them is their problem. If I am about to make a quite important decision in my life (no dramatization intended), then I want to be able to find out as much as possible about them. – Job Mar 10 '11 at 18:49

I think the important thing to keep in mind here is that you have exactly the same relationship with a recruiter as a cow has with McDonalds. You are a product (one of many), and the restaurant doesn't really care how you feel about being made into a hamburger, or even about making the best possible hamburger. The recruiters goal is to put butts in seats, and your butt is the product they are selling.

Honestly, the best thing you can do is auto-delete their emails and block their calls- or take a few minutes over lunch one day to call all of them and emphatically ask them to remove you from their contact list (be rude if you think it helps- they are obviously being rude by spamming you in the first place, and you don't ever want these people 'representing' you for a job anyway).

share|improve this answer
Being rude is not a good idea. It is a small world, and even the lowly recruiters have feelings. – Job Mar 7 '11 at 22:32
Exactly, so I wanted to have a form letter, that explained things to make it easier for them. Because honestly, recruiter's want results, and if they can get results by being more accurate in their searches, then we both win. – crosenblum Mar 7 '11 at 22:35
Job: Generally, I agree that even in these situations professionalism is best, however I have run across one particularly persistent recruiter with whom I finally did have to get rude and bluntly told them that I never intended to accept a position through him if for no other reason that the fact that he had been so annoying. – Cercerilla Mar 7 '11 at 22:43
crosenblum: The problem is that they don't have much incentive to learn. People self-select to some extent, so they mostly only get replies for people who fit the requirements listed, and if a couple of really bad people get through they can use that to their advantage anyway "see how bad the hiring market is now, better give that one candidate you liked (and me) and extra $20k so you don't get stuck with a real bozo". – Cercerilla Mar 7 '11 at 22:45
+1 for the McDonalds + Cow analogy. But as Job said, being rude is never a good idea. Be polite, but straight. – Machado Mar 8 '11 at 15:22

I think part of the problem with recruiters that use the carpet bombing approach of finding candidates is their inability to read any sort of document. That document might be your resume, or it might be a polite, carefully crafted email that explains that the job they're trying to interest you in is in the wrong country, aimed at someone a lot more junior and would represent a 66% paycut.

In other words, find a couple of recruiters you're happy to work with (they're usually not the email carpetbombing types) and stick with them. It'll take time unfortunately, but it can be a mutually beneficial relationship. I had a very good relationship with a recruitment agency in the UK when I was living there and basically didn't need to talk to any other agent - they knew what I was about and I knew that they were looking for the right sort of contract gig for me.

Oh, and anybody who prefers calling me at work over sending me an email instantly goes on my "won't do business with if they're the last recruiters on Earth" list. And I explain to them why they've just blown it. Not that it makes a difference but sometimes I need that "you're fired" type satisfaction :).

share|improve this answer

I can only tell you what I do about this. Delete e-mails on daily basis. Take 3 minutes each day. When someone calls politely tell this is not my area of interest, and store the number as AVOID in my mobile. Don't pick the call next time. Slowly they stop bothering you. No one had called me in the office. But if that is the case, I will tell my superior that they helped me in the past and now bothering me unnecessary.

share|improve this answer
I mostly agree with this. It's pretty easy to catch the recruiters that shotgun you every time you update your profile on a job site, but really the best way to improve the signal to noise ratio is to actually answer the phone when they call, talk to them, tell them exactly what you are looking for, and how much $$ it would take to get you to leave. In my experience the recruiters that stay in contact with you after that initial conversation are the ones who might actually help you get something in the future. – Brandorf May 21 '12 at 13:46

For the most part I agree with what others have said. Recruiters are like real estate agents. While on paper you think that the commission would make their interests line up with yours, it doesn't happen that way in practice. Suppose that they can give you 20% more salary if they spend twice the time. Well for that investment of time they can get a 20% higher commission, or they could get two regular commissions. Guess which option makes them more money?

Given this the majority of the time that they reach out to you, it is spam. You should give their feelings all of the due consideration which they have given yours - namely none. Keep one or two of the nicer ones around so you can get the standard list of jobs if you need them, but don't count on them for anything.

However not all recruiters are the same. There are recruiters who specialize in high end positions. Those recruiters have to switch strategies. They have a limited number of positions to fill, so volume is simply not an option. Now their incentive is to actually find good enough candidates that they can be accepted into those select positions. However these recruiters are hard to get hold of. They don't want to waste time with anyone who they don't think can be placed in those positions. You'll know if you've been reached by one because their introductory letters will make it clear that they have researched you, and why you are a fit. Most of us will never encounter them. They are more likely to try to be placing people for CTO or CEO positions than software development. But I have seen them, they do exist.

So what are your alternatives to recruiters? The first is to develop your personal network. Spend time on community sites. Keep in touch with ex-coworkers. Go to meetups. Use LinkedIn. (My rule of thumb, if I don't think I will remember you in 5-10 years and be able to say something about how you are as a co-worker, I won't connect on LinkedIn. YMMV.) If you're interested in working for a startup, try to meet people who are involved in venture capital and/or angel investing.

What does this do for you? Over half of all people placed are placed through personal connections. If you aren't putting yourself out there, you won't ever hear about those jobs.

Next if you are part of a community, you'll know who is generally hiring in that community, where people in that community look for jobs, etc. Let me give an example. There are about a half-dozen companies that are always hiring for Perl in the Los Angeles area, usually lists something you didn't think of, and lists a lot of likely companies. If you are a Perl developer in Los Angeles and are hooked into the scene, you'll either know this or find it easy to find out. If you aren't hooked in, this won't be easy to discover.

And about the venture capital recommendation, you might naively think that they only matter if you are starting a company. Not so! They generally have a list of companies that they are aware of, know roughly what technologies they have, and know which are growing. This means that they have a list of companies that probably have jobs you won't easily find out about any other way, where you can be introduced to the top of the company. They aren't going to look for you, but is this a resource to pass up if you're willing to live the startup lifestyle? (Which generally means somewhat lower salary, longer hours, high odds of eventual failure, and a chance of striking it rich.)

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.