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I'm currently employed with what is basically a startup company, I took the job to gain more experience on the platform I want to work on. I want to entertain options for possibly moving into a new position with a more stable company but have had some issues when posting my resume (I seem to get a large volume of contact from recruiters, etc) including

  • lots of messages from people recruiting for jobs out of my area which I have no interest in
  • people recruiting for jobs that are not what I am looking for (for a different language, etc than I currently work on, which I have no interest in)
  • within my metro area, people recruiting for jobs that are still far away (its a very spread out, suburbanized area) to where the commute is simply too far for my preference.

I've made a few attempts to "put myself out there" to open some lines of communication but then I start getting a lot of calls to where I can't reasonably even answer the phone during the day or I wouldn't get much work done.

What I am asking is what steps I should take to narrow down the amount of people contacting me, I figure I could try taking out any keywords for other languages form my resume (even though I had them in there originally to show a diversity in previous experience) and specifically stating my preference on location, commute, etc but I am not sure they will actually read this to heed my expectations.

I've taken the stance that I'd like to be able to talk to them via email first just to narrow down whether this is even a position that makes sense for me to pursue. They always seem to just want to get me on the phone without providing any info upfront, sometimes they will leave a phone message then email me later (after I don't call them back). Should I just email them back basically with a few initial questions and say that I'm not able to talk on the phone until I know if its even a possible fit? I'm rambling a bit here but I guess I am wondering how not to turn off the people who may have good opportunities but also be protective of my time because there seem to be a lot of recruiters who are just taking the "contact as many people as I can" approach

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closed as off topic by Yannis Mar 7 '12 at 5:40

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Warning: please do not feed wild headhunters. –  Job May 17 '11 at 22:06

5 Answers 5

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I understand your pain. I have made some experience with recruiters which was stretched over 4 years, having 50+ agencies and 100+ (perhaps 200+) recruiters. As you can guess most of them were useless. I was getting ads for technologies I was not experienced with, for roles I was not qualified for, for locations I was not interested in, for other countries I don't even have a work permit for and written in a language I don't speak.

Some facts:

  • Most won't take the time to carefully read your CV
  • Most don't care about what limitations you set
  • Most don't care about what you're looking for
  • Most will scan for keywords and bombard you will tons of irrelevant ads
  • Most will want to call you immediately and talk you into something without giving you proper time to process it in you head
  • Most don't have any position to offer but are only harvesting CVs from around

It basically works like a spam model. Mass-sending of ads to hundreds-thousands of people delegating the work of match check to them.

There is little you can do to change their ways but there are steps to protect yourself from their attacks and filter out the most clueless.

  • Remove you phone number from public. If they see this contact will involve some written interaction time, most will drop off.
  • From those who do engage into written communication request the details of the position in question - company name, location, salary the company is ready to offer and the basic details of the contract (short-term, long-term). State firmly you won't proceed unless this information is provided. This will cut off those who don't really have any position to fill.
  • If you publish your CV in open, make sure it is a PDF protected from copy/paste and editing. Absolutely state in the document where it was originally published. When you're giving your documents to a recruiter, do the same and specify who is the recipient of that copy of the document. These measures will protect your documents from unwanted modification and prevent them from unregulated circulation around. Hint: if a job site does not accept that PDF, publish there a skills summary with a download link for your protected PDF.

Like I said, I've dealt with a lot of recruiters. Though there were a couple of intelligent people capable of professional work, none was able to provide me with a quality position and the market level of money. Sometimes I wonder how it is possible that companies do find extra money to pay recruiters (about 30% of your annual salary), but not to pay the market level to their new hires. Who's going to be doing the actual work? Anyway, I'm personally leaning towards putting a permanent ban on all recruiters. The remote chance of getting something from them is just not worth that much effort of interacting with them.

On a side note:

  • Naturally do not send your applications to openings you find yourself but which go over recruiters. These are just a bait to harvest CVs.
  • Consider that it is generally a warning sign if a software company hires programmers via recruiters. It usually means they are unqualified to do hiring themselves or put value on the wrong characteristics (certificates, degrees, papers) to evaluate candidates because this sort of things can be checked for by recruiters while performing a correct assessment will require someone with a proper background. Naturally you won't want to work in a team comprised of people selected by recruiters.
  • If you're using public email services of Google or Yahoo, do a community service and mark as spam those messages that do look like an unpersonalized or totally irrelevant mass emails. Google and Yahoo learn from users feedback and with time they will automatically mark messages from those recruiters as spam. You will help others in your situation. :)
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good advice, the PDF thing won' work for job sites though because they put it into their own format, where presumably copying and pasting is allowed (encouraged?) :) –  programmx10 May 17 '11 at 20:42
In that case just publish a short summary of your skills and include there a download link for your full PDF. –  user8685 May 17 '11 at 20:48
good idea :), I will try that –  programmx10 May 17 '11 at 20:49
One trick if you just don't like recruiters but find a good position: Copy a distinct line of text from the ad and search for it. Often you'll find the same ad on the company's website, and then you can apply directly. –  Ethel Evans May 17 '11 at 22:04
I disagree that using recruiters is a bad sign. Morale went up in my company once we quit making the PMs and top devs spend hours a day sifting through resumes, mostly poor-fitting with certs and padding but no real experience. The recruiters cut out the 90% that was crud that didn't match what we wanted and we got more candidates for phone screens and on-sites who were generally qualified per week when we started working with the recruiters. –  Ethel Evans May 17 '11 at 22:05
  • Don't answer the phone, listen to messages
  • Don't post your resume if you want to avoid calls from all recruiters
  • Avoid applying for jobs postings by recruiters (they often mention "their client" or sometimes no indication at all)
  • Research the posted job's company before applying to be sure they are not a recruiter

Personally I avoid talking to 3rd party recruiters, however I still post my resume online. This is because larger companies staff internal recruiters and I look for this keyword when filtering my emails/messages.

I avoid recruiters because I am a pessimist in this area. They never have your best interest in mind and will jump on any opportunity to make you feel less valuable.

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good advice, I never thought of doing the filter by "client" but that is true, I will have to try that –  programmx10 May 17 '11 at 20:29
Yea, I have a similar distaste in recruiters who are hiring for 'their client'. I get why they do it (so that you don't just go straight to the client). For all I know, it could be the company I'm working for already... or a company that I've already weeded out of my own search because I don't want to work there. What do you mean by "... less valuable"? –  Steve Evers May 17 '11 at 20:32
by "less valuable" he means they try to make it seem like you are worth less than you are, I know exactly what he means, for example when I was pretty new to dev I said something about needing to make at least $50,000 a year (I already had some exp) and then the idiot recruiter lady says, "well would you take $40,000?", I had already mentioned I was actually making this much already, they try to make you take less money because I believe it gives them a higher commission –  programmx10 May 17 '11 at 20:35
@Rick - Its not that recruiters obtain a higher commission by driving down your cost (usually its the opposite). Its that the recruiter has a wider array of jobs to which they can submit a person with a low salary requirement as opposed to a high. Thus, they are more likely to close a sale and make a commission. –  P.Brian.Mackey May 17 '11 at 22:08
@P.Brian.Mackey I've actually had some experiences to the contrary, especially after you've interviewed. If the recruiter knows the client likes the candidate they smell blood and probably go for a higher commission. If there's a budget involved you can guess where that extra commission is coming from. –  shiznit123 May 18 '11 at 13:54

I guess those recruiters haven't seen your acceptance rate on programmers.SE ;)

All kidding aside, if you don't want to be contacted over the phone, don't include your phone number in an online CV. Force recruiters, to contact you through e-mail, and then you can read through them whenever you want to. If a recruiter is contacting you for a job that you're not interested in, sometimes it can be helpful to list specifics at that point (willingness to commute, etc).

Only list languages that you are fully comfortable with. I used VB6 when I first started programming professionally, but I wouldn't list it as I'm not using it daily. Generally speaking, if I read a resume with a specific language list, I fully expect that person to be able to walk me through details of the language, and be able to whiteboard with it (obviously syntax errors are overlooked for the most part when whiteboarding).

Being contacted by random recruiters in random areas is only to be expected when you put yourself up on the interwebs.

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I suppose if you've ever given a job site (monster.com, careerbuilder, etc) your phone number they probably keep giving it to recruiters no matter what, so I should probably create a new acct on those sites and be careful not to give it –  programmx10 May 17 '11 at 20:45

Having held a number of development related jobs, I have never taken a job from a recruiter. They are often a waste of time if you are any good, but there are a few exceptions. It's hard for them to find what you want and it's not often worth their time to spend a lot of time with you since you don't pay them, the employeer does.

There are a few recruiters out there you can pay to work your side of the field but I'm not sure if that's worth it or not, never tried.

  • Get involved in your local community, user groups, tech events, start up events, etc - building your network is hugely important
  • Go to job fairs but just listen to what companies are looking for - you can always reach out to them afterwards if you are really interested
  • Scour the 'tubes for job postings and send out targeted letters; job sites aren't always useful since most of them are posted by recruiters, it's find companies that are local and see if they are hiring on their websites. Sometimes just flipping through the phone book and googling company names will get you somewhere.
  • Understand you will likely send out 100s of resumes if you are really hardcore search. I do this every time and to be honest, it's only panned out once. Every other good job I've gotten has been through relationships.
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good advice, but I think just posting resumes online can get you somewhere, its actually how I've gotten all programming jobs I've had, but, granted, they were not from recruiters (the companies contacted me directly, all were small companies), anyways I'm sure I could be doing more to find better opportunities and your advice is helpful –  programmx10 May 17 '11 at 20:59
Glad I could be of service. Recruiters have value in filling seats. Those most of are uninteresting positions that have little in terms of growth potential. The really exciting stuff you have to find, it doesn't get dumped on your lap. –  Travis May 17 '11 at 21:04

Agree with most of what has been said but wanted to offer one piece of advice that hasn't been said yet.

If I'm simply browsing and not really eager to leave, I'll buy a throwaway pay as you go phone and publish that number. That way you can continue to use your phone during the day and pick up any messages from recruiters at night.

If I'm seriously looking for another job, I take two days off after posting my CV somewhere and take calls from a few dozen recruiters. The first sign of any bull from any of them gets them on my list of recruiters I won't deal with and I make that clear up front. Despite having made it clear, this usually narrows it down to 2-3 worth working with.

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You could always get a google voice number you planned on ditching in the future. The transcription feature would leave you at least moments of enjoyment when it doesn't even come close to what was said. –  Travis May 17 '11 at 22:27
not suprising the transcription would be bad given how some of my messages sound, a lot of "recruiters" with heavy accents or who talk really fast, etc, I've actually considered calling back some who actually sound presentable on the phone just based on that because so many don't, not that I'm saying I'm a great orator or anything, but its not my job to be and with a job like theirs it should be part of theirs –  programmx10 May 17 '11 at 23:47

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