Dear Technology Job Recruiters

I’m currently kind-of sort-of looking for jobs. While I’ll admit I’m being pretty selective in the specific industries I’m looking, I’m also being bombarded by contact from recruiters, looking to fill jobs for their client companies, and take home a healthy (I presume) commission. With the frequency of uninitiated contact, I’m noticing some troubling habits and trends amongst recruiters. These are a few of those habits and trends.

Reading is fundamental. Often times, I will get an email out of the blue from someone I’ve never met, telling me that they came across my resume on Dice or some other place, and that they thought I might be interested in a job at $companyX, located in $locationY. Frequently, $locationY is someplace I can’t easily get to from where I live, requiring a 2+ hour commute, each way, or, worse yet, it’s in some area that I have no interest in relocating to. I have indicated on my profile where I live, and I have indicated the three places I’d be willing to relocate. Far too often, it seems the recruiters either have no knowledge of geography, or they are unable to read. And that’s just with the location.

Then there’s the issue of them sending jobs for which I am decidedly the wrong candidate. They see one or two skills listed that match the description of the position they’re trying to fill, so they send me the position, which I then read, and wonder why on earth they thought I’d be a good candidate for a Windows administrator position, since I do not list any Windows experience on my resume at all. I’m a UNIX admin. I have been for almost two decades. It’s not even that I have anything against working in a Windows environment; I’m not a platform zealot at this age. I’m just not the right guy for that job. And you’d know that if you’d actually read my resume, rather than scanning it for keywords. While reading takes time, and you probably eventually get some results with your “no reading, shotgun the position to everyone” method, you might be surprised what you could achieve if you focused your munitions on specific, appropriate targets.

Email first, call second. You’d be surprised how often I get a phone call from some random, unknown number, which then turns out to be a recruiter, asking if I’d received their email about a job they’re trying to fill. The problem is, they don’t send the email out until after they talk to me on the phone. So, no, I haven’t seen the position you sent me, because you haven’t actually sent it to me. Here’s how this should work, ideally: you read my resume, it matches the job you’re trying to fill, then you send me an email about that job. You provide a contact number in your email, so I can contact you, either by email or by phone, at my leisure. If you must call me, you absolutely, positively need to send the job description to me in email first, and you have to give me a reasonable amount of time to have read your email. Believe me, if you haven’t sent me spam, I’ll read it. I’ll probably look you up online, too, and see if anyone thinks you’re a twit, and I’ll look up the company you’re working for, and the client, and make my decision accordingly. But if you call me first, then expect that I’m going to drop what I’m doing to go read your email while you’re still on the phone with me, and then I’m going to immediate let you know how to proceed, you’re in for a surprise.

Don’t try to intimidate me. This hasn’t happened often, but it has happened. I get a call-first, send email later guy, who calls and tells me he’s going to email the job description to me. I ask him who the client is, he tells me it’s $companyX. I tell him I’m not going to be interested in working for $companyX. He tells me I should read the job description, which he still hasn’t sent, first, then tells me I should call him back and let him know how I would like to proceed. I tell him, “Sure, I’ll read your email, just send it. If I feel like it’s something I’m interested in, I’ll let you know.” He insists I should let him know, even if I’m not interested. I point out that I’m wasting both of our time if I make a phone call to tell him I’m not interested. He asks what sort of time frame I can get back to him in, I tell him 24 hours. “Two to four hours?”, he asks. “No, twenty four hours,” I reply. He tells me he really needs me to get back to him much sooner than that. I tell him “alright, now it’s forty-eight hours.” He tells me that 48 hours is even worse than 24 hours. I tell him I’m moving the time frame to 72 hours, and if he keeps it up, I’ll keep moving the time frame back. He’s angry, and hangs up on me. Sweet, I’m free of this jerk!

Naturally, this would be too good to be true. He calls back, and claims he got disconnected. He asks, again, if I could read his email, which he still hasn’t sent, and get back to him as soon as possible. I tell him I’ll do what I can. He hangs up, frustrated at not getting his way. He then sends the email. I wait three days, and send him an email back telling him, as expected, that I’m not interested. I also add his number to my blocked caller list. We’re done here.

I’m not sure if he ever gets results with his strategy, but that sort of thing doesn’t work with me. I’m not desperate for work. I probably don’t want your job. You need me to help fill a position for your client, so if you want my cooperation, it behooves you to not be a dick. And with me, in particular, if you decide to be a dick, you will soon find out that I love the “who can be a bigger dick” game. You won’t win. I’m actually fairly adept at the game.

Pay attention. I had a recruiter call me (again, without sending the email first) to see if I was interested in a position with their client. I told them, overtly, I was not interested in working for that client. They asked if I could please just look at the job description, and let them know. The problem was that I was headed out of town for a 5-day event, during which I would be offline, entirely. No phone, no internet, nothing. I tell him I’ll take a look after I get back online, in five days. I get on a plane, fly to my destination, and while I’m waiting for my baggage, I get another call from someone else at the same recruiting firm. This one wants to know if I would be available for a brief phone chat once I get back online. I said, “Maybe, it will depend on the job description,” which, at that point, still hadn’t been sent. I remind the individual that in mere minutes, I would be offline, and unreachable, and that I would read what they sent me once I got back.

I leave cellular coverage area. I am entirely off the grid. Five days later, I’m headed back to the airport, and find six emails, four text messages, and three voicemails from the recruiter. Each one is increasingly desperate in tone. The recruiter somehow managed to take what I said, and turn it into me agreeing to do a phone interview with the client, which he then went ahead and scheduled for 2 pm on the day I was to be back online. He then just wanted to have a “brief conversation” to go over the plan for the interview which would “only take a couple of minutes”. After receiving no response from me to that email, he began calling, texting, and emailing, insisting that I should call him back right away, so we could “best prepare” for the interview he’d scheduled for me.

Once I sat down at my gate, waiting for my boarding time, I composed a brief email telling him I’d never agreed to do a phone interview with the client, much less agreed to a specified time for that interview, and that when I said I was going to be offline, I meant entirely, literally off-line. I pointed out that he had made a series of mistakes in interpreting the very simple things I had said, and that I had no interest in either doing a phone interview with the client, or, for that matter, ever doing business with his recruiting company, based on the ineptitude they had already displayed in this encounter. And I added both individuals I had spoken with, and their company, to my black list. Done.


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