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How Technical Recruiters Get It Wrong – Part 1

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I’ve recently seen an increase in the number of unsolicited emails I receive from technical recruiters, and I decided that rather than putting up with it, I’m going to try to put an end to it.  One recruiter at a time.  If the position was even REMOTELY something I would be interested in, these might be welcome advances.  More often, however, it’s clear than my LinkedIn profile matched a term in their search query.  No other effort was put in to assessing my compatibility with their “opportunity.”

Pro tip:  If the primary function you perform in your job is to search a public database, YOU might want to be looking for a new career.

I used to do it politely.  I would write or even call the recruiter back, explaining that they’ve missed the mark on this one, and here’s how they could have improved their chances with me.  I know hundreds of amazingly talented developers, and if they were open-minded and understanding, I might even offer to pass their “opportunity” along.

That was when I was getting a couple “opportunities” a week.  So, from here on out, each and every search engine “opportunity” that crosses my inbox will be posted here, with my commentary.

Recruiting is supposed to be about relationships.  Someone needs a talented developer, and you know the perfect person to fill that role.  What it has evolved into, however, is about as ethical and misguided as the guy selling memberships to your local gym, or a subprime mortgage lender.  The recruiter is chasing a commission, and if you think you’ll ever see them again after you start your new job, you’re sorely mistaken.

(As a side note, I know some amazingly talented recruiters as well.  LinkedIn is something that KEEPS them connected to people, not something to CREATE those connections.)

With that, here’s today’s excellent example, courtesy of Ryan Smith.  I will not post his company’s name, contact information, or any other link-based data because the last thing I want this post to do is benefit this person.  This specific example came via LinkedIn, and ironically, he was at one time working for a subprime mortgage lender.  According to HIS LinkedIn profile, he’s had 4 jobs in the last 5 years.  Sounds like the perfect guy to help me advance in my career.

From: Ryan Smith
Date: 5/18/2011
Subject: Silverlight Development Opportunity
Dear Jeff,

I hope all is well.  [If you actually looked at my profile on LinkedIn, you’d have noticed that I just recently tore my ACL in my right knee.  Everything I post to Twitter is listed right there in my profile.  Instead of hoping, how about reading?] My name is Ryan Smith and I’m a recruiter with [redacted]. I came across your profile online and I’d like to speak with you regarding an exciting opportunity [What makes it exciting?  You’re about to tell me it’s in financial services.  Nothing about that is exciting to me.] with a leading provider of financial, banking and credit solutions.  [I understand that you’re not mentioning the company because you want me to come to you rather than going to them directly.  That’s the only way you get your commission.  However, your company is based in Columbus, OH, and there’s a HUGE JPMorgan Chase campus here.  Am I wrong in thinking it’s them?]

They currently have a need for a Silverlight Developer and based on your profile, it looks to be a great fit! [I’d be interested to know how you define “great fit”.  I think that your “great fit” is my “you matched my search query on LinkedIn.”  Nowhere in my profile do I indicate that I am looking for a position as a Silverlight developer.  In fact, I specifically state that, if anything, I’d be interested in an executive position guiding technical strategy and decision making.  You missed another opportunity to read, Ryan.]

I would value the chance for us to speak in detail. [“In detail” in this sentence means, “so that I can actually verify that my spam made it to the right person.”  How disappointed would someone be if this was ACTUALLY a position they were interested in, and they called you only to find out that they’re not even remotely qualified?]

What is the best time and number to reach you at to discuss this position in detail?  [In other words, please let me call you so that I can screen you, and shove any number of commission-laden “opportunities” in your face.]

Thanks again for your time and if you know of anyone else that may be in need of assistance, I would love to chat with them too.  [P.S. Since I’ve done such an amazing job of impressing you at this point, would you please tell anyone else that I’d like to score a commission off of them as well?]

All the best,

Ryan Smith


53 responses to “How Technical Recruiters Get It Wrong – Part 1”

  1. Alan Barber Avatar

    I’ve seen a pretty big upswing on the number of these emails too. I’m starting to think that they’re just automated bots scrapping info out of linkedin…

  2. Chris Slee Avatar

    Wait a minute, Ryan Smith told ME that I would be perfect for that job… Seriously.

  3. Ruairi Avatar

    Very funny but true. I made the mistake of putting my CV on a few job sites. I got a job now but the amount of recruiters still contacting me is crazy. I think I have to change my email and phone number, and maybe get plastic surgery.

  4. Bob Avatar


    I did not know you were looking for a new opportunity. If you are, I am always willing to grab lunch and talk with you more. – How is that I am always looking for constructive criticism. One of the recruiters who still tries to build relationships.


  5. Nancy Avatar

    Totally great; I am passing to my recruiter friends. I am also experiencing what Mark is experiencing with people on linkedin trying to link up with me and I have never met them before or heard of them. I am an HR Mgr. so I think the opposite is also true– people are trying to let me know about them so I can consider them, which I’m not.

  6. Gregory A Beamer Avatar

    Agree wholeheartedly. But, if you consider it from their side, since recruiters can make money without actually recruiting, why should they invest time doing it right? There are a few I know who actually invest time to do it right, but when you can make money doing it wrong, with far less effort, why spend the extra time to do it right.

    1. David Lindsley Avatar
      David Lindsley

      I agree completely. This is a cultural problem. If so many companies’ hiring process wasn’t broken with respect to tech workers, these hucksters would be out of business. We’re relying on buzzwords and “bots” for too much information in the recruiting/hiring process. Obviously you want to make sure a candidate has the right skills; but problems-solving abilities, how well someone plays in a team environment and/or whether they can take something and run with it — these are the really important questions.

      And even with technical skills, IMHO a candidate’s level of craftsmanship — does s/he care about quality? does s/he have a good understanding of OOP/D/A, SOLID, design/architectural patterns etc.? — are more important that experience with a particular technology stack or component.

      IMO this obession with technology buzzwords indicates an unwillingness on the part of the employer(s) to form long-term relationships with their (prospective) employees. Given that … why would we expect recruiters to behave any differently?

  7. Dan Moyer Avatar

    Thanks for destroying my dreams, my aspirations, of using my development skills to become the best damn spamming technical recruiter ever.

    But I’m not giving up yet. I’m changing my online CV to highlight my aspirations to be the best damn spamming technical recruiter and see how many job opportunity postings for technical recruiters I get from technical recruiters.

    In serousness, if I could, there’s days I’d like to kick some of these guys. But my foot might get stuck in their behind and I hear that’s the 2nd most common way to get a torn ACL.

  8. Alex Moore Avatar

    You’ve hit the nail on the head. I’ve noticed the upswing in recruiter emails, and have been filling them to see what fun patterns emerge. Good stuff!

  9. Allison Avatar

    This was hilarious, but also sad. One of the contractors in my network, who I did put to work and never made a dime off of because the client never paid us (he still got paid in full), sent this to me.

    Thank you for providing more than enough information to make it really easy to find his Linkedin profile (you might want to watch out for that when you’re trying to be discrete about where someone is from; I got it off a 4 word Google search). I’m happy to note that I’ve never heard of that agency, which means they’re probably local and not very well known.

    Honestly, as a technical recruiter, all the other firms that operate like this are a pain in the a**. They annoy the engineers and just make it harder for the recruiters who are good; who do network; who keep in touch before, during and after the assignment.

    I’ve been doing this for over 5 years and have been in the top 15 recruiters out of over 300 at my company for the last three of those years. So, I usually only add new contacts when they’ve been recommended by the contractors in my network. If you want a good recruiter, ask your friends who they keep in touch with and if that person is good.

    For those of you who post your resume on the internet, please keep in mind that it is open to anyone who is willing to pay for a subscription, that most companies drop your resume in a database, and that you will get calls for the next ten plus years. If you don’t want to deal with increased spam or if you don’t want to talk to recruiters who call once and never give feedback on the job they called you about, then you might think twice about doing it. Posting a resume should be a last resort.

    As for whether recruiters deserve to get paid for getting someone a job, look at it this way, we’re networking because you’re either incapable, don’t have the time, or prefer not to. If you find the job on your own, don’t pay us. Otherwise, you should be grateful that we’re willing to spend our day doing what we do.

  10. patbob Avatar

    Are you sure you don’t have your solution of ridculing them on your blog backwards? By stripping the contact info, you help him not get any responses he doesn’t want. Perhaps you should do as he says, and pass along the job requirements and contact info to the hords of unemployed.

    Think about that letter — all that’s required is silverlight. Sure, its for a finnancial organization, but nothing says finnancial domain knowledge is needed. It doesn’t even say they won’t move people, nor that they won’t consider international candidates. Everyone who’s unemployed should send him their contact info. Sure, he’ll benefit, but at what cost. And some lucky unemployed person will no longer be unemployed. A win all the way around.

  11. Jay Reidy Avatar

    On the other hand, I once got turned down because the advert asked for five years of C++ experience and the recruiter said my having 10 didn’t match the reqs.

    Oh Duh!

  12. Michael Horn Avatar

    I know, when they ask me “Thanks again for your time and if you know of anyone else that may be in need of assistance, I would love to chat with them too.”, I will send them YOUR email 🙂

    Naw, that would be too cruel.

  13. Sean Fowler Avatar
    Sean Fowler

    Don’t forget that the job may not even exist, it could be bait to get you to get in touch so that they can put you forward for the dozens of crappy jobs on their books.

  14. Mark Harris Avatar
    Mark Harris

    A little sympathy for the Devil is in order here. It’s a cold call. Ryan could have done better, but just like you and millions others, he’s using as little of his time as possible to cover the maximum potential for success. Cold calls work way more than you think, and even just a few panning out will make up for all the bad responses. If it didn’t work, people would eventually stop.

    You and I both know there are loads of really good recruiters out there to work with, and the quality of a recruiter is in the eye of the beholder. I suspect with the success of Stir Trek and Codemash and the other conferences you’re involved with, there will come far more cold calls. It’s just a fact of life.

    My advice…email is cheap (free) and easy to delete. Personally, I send most of these opportunities to the bit bucket.

    Now, if you can do something about all the cold calls I get from IT hardware and software vendors, let’s talk!

  15. Jonathan Avatar

    Cincinnati area here. At my last FTE position, I was actually contacted by not one, not two, but four recruiters who asked me to interview for a soon-to-be-open position at a local company.

    –It was my job. And now, a year later, it’s still an open position. I was contacted to fill this position three weeks ago.

    I love some of these emails.

  16. Jonathan Avatar

    Love the commentary!!!

  17. Bob Avatar

    David, age has been a factor since the early/mid 90s. After being forced into early retirement, I was able to land a number of contract positions. I kept myself current and took classes on new technology at the local community college. The biggest joke was when a technical recruiter called me in for an interview for a Java position in early 1997 (note the year). I had added Java knowledge to my resume (along with my other experience such as C/C++/Smalltalk/etc. as well as major components of 30+ years of experience at the time). After a “nice interview”, where he said I had great credentials. he told me “sorry, but we really need someone with a good solid “5 years” of Java experience. Before I left, I did give him the name of “Gosling” and “van Hoff”, said they were very experienced Java programmers could be reached at Sun Microsystems. As I left, he asked me if I was sure these two were experienced Java programmers. Of course, I said “definitely”!

  18. Drew Avatar

    Not only do I get frustrated with recruiters who don’t read, but those who don’t listen. I found myself getting a hard sell last week, from a couple of recruiters for two different roles – both of which I wouldn’t have taken due to travelling times. For one, I wouldn’t want to be represented by anyone who gave me a hard sell.

  19. James Avatar

    Hi Jeff,

    I hope things are going well. I came across your blog on twitter and I see that you have a degree in psychology. I have an opportunity working with mentally disturbed prisoners for a leading provider of incarceration services. Some of these individuals are violent, which should make this opportunity very exciting!

    1. Mike Brown Avatar

      That was awesome! I don’t think my computer appreciates the unexpected shower though.

  20. Keith Elder Avatar

    Can I forward you all the ones I get too?

  21. Mark Freeman Avatar
    Mark Freeman

    My profile shows me as currently employed full-time (not with a company I own and not with a consulting firm). My entire work history is in Columbus, OH. Why would I be interested in a 3-month consulting opportunity in someplace halfway across the country? I get at least one of those per week, often requiring experience with a technology not mentioned in my (extremely detailed) profile.

    I also get a lot of connection requests from recruiters I’ve never heard of, at companies I’ve never heard of, asking to connect so we can “keep in touch”. No chance.

  22. Dave Swersky Avatar

    There is one bright side to this- feels like mid-to-late 2002, when the economy started to recover from 9/11. If tech recruitment is a leading indicator of recovery, maybe we’re starting to climb out of the ditch…

    I agree it would be nice, however, to get emails from REAL people. The 15-20 I get per week feel like they come from Nigeria… all they’re missing is the offer of $140,000,000,000,000,000 from [insert fictitious governmental person here].

  23. Jon Kruger Avatar

    I like the inline commentary, suddenly that email is much more exciting to read!

    Not only do I get a ton of these emails, I get tons of random phone calls too. I quit answering my phone if I don’t recognize the number.

    The best one though was when my then-manager at Chase got an email from a recruiter asking him to apply for his own job posting. 🙂 He was half tempted to call the guy back and play along to see how long it took for the guy to figure it out.

    1. Ethan Avatar

      That was a delight to read. Thanks for posting that. 🙂

  24. Dale Moore Avatar

    I’ve been doing this for a while and I’ve seen times when recruiters have lots of spots to fill and times when there are several developers for 1 position. I remember at one point in the mid-90’s where I used to meet recruiters in the computer section of the book store (back when computer books were the only way to learn new technologies). I have to say, I’ll take recruiters contacting me on a regular basis over a recession any day. Don’t be so hard on them because someday, you may need them.

  25. Shocked Avatar

    I am shocked that a person in the technology industry would react this way. In the era of social media – you are offended a Recruiter would contact you this way! Also with a slow ecomony, to be approached with a new opportunity – you should be grateful that someone is contacting you – NOT bitter.

    1. jeffblankenburg Avatar

      Dear Shocked,

      I am never opposed to hearing about a new opportunity. What I am opposed to is getting an inbox full of “opportunities” that aren’t even close to a match for me. All I’m asking is for recruiters to do their job effectively, instead of spamming developers to fill a requirement with their client.

      I’ll completely disregard the fact that your message came from the same IP address as the target of my blog post and next commenter, Ryan Smith.

  26. Ryan Smith Avatar
    Ryan Smith

    It’s unfortunate in a time of extreme unemployment that I am being penalized for reaching out regarding a job opportunity. Do you know how many people would jump at the chance just to TALK about a job? No, you are correct that I don’t read your twitter blogs. I do however look over your profile to determine if it’s worth reaching out to you.

    Believe it or not, not ALL recruiters are in it strickly to “score a commission”, I enjoy helping people find a new career and/or get back to work.

    1. Rob S. Avatar
      Rob S.

      Last time I checked, (good) technical folks weren’t being constrained by this “time of extreme unemployment.” I recently had a consultant job req out, and 7 out of the 10 viable candidates were off the market within a week because they had found another gig.

      In Columbus, it’s a “boom” time for consulting. The pendulum has swung from where it was three years ago.

    2. jeffblankenburg Avatar


      While I will agree with you about the country’s current state of unemployment, I don’t think that we are in a current state of “extreme unemployment” when we talk about software developers. If that were the case, you wouldn’t need to resort to sending untargeted messages via LinkedIn to people. Instead, you’d have a stable of resumes to pick from, and when an “opportunity” arose, you could pick the best candidate for the position.

      If people are jumping at the chance to talk about a position, why are you sending me unsolicited emails? You said that you reviewed my profile, and determined that it was worth reaching out to me. Yet in my “Summary” on my profile, I specifically call out what I would be interested in.

      Finally, you said that not all recruiters are in it to “score a commission,” and that you enjoy helping people get back to work. If that’s the case, I have an opportunity for you. Take your next five commissions, and give them to the candidates you placed. They’ll appreciate it more than you can imagine, and you’ll still get the joy of helping someone.

    3. Billy Howell Avatar
      Billy Howell


      I am a person who doesn’t believe in the hyped unemployment. I even have great-uncles that are said to be in the midst of it; however, when I ask any of my friends who are unemployed if they have had even one job offer, they answer yes. They just didn’t like the number offered to them. While I agree that some of the unemployment is real, some are unemployed through egos and not realizing it usually takes having a job to get a job.

      I do agree with you on not reading through his tweets. His torn ACL is not really important in many tech industry jobs, and you aren’t looking for a new friend. You are looking for a potentional recruit. I also think he went too far in saying that you should have to explain why the job is exciting based on his likes and dislikes in an introductory email. The job may be exciting to some people. Some people love the financial world. At the same time, this did not exonerate you when it came to not reading about what type of positions piqued his interests. He most likely is not a fit for a development role if he says he wants a management position next. There are many in your field that never read the wealth of information I provide in my job site profiles. I see it seems to be the same for other people on here as well.

    4. Matt Casto Avatar

      Calling this a time of “extreme unemployment” is FUD. While there are certainly many people out there that can’t find jobs, this is most certainly NOT the case with software developers. Your claim is insulting.

  27. Richard Cookman Avatar
    Richard Cookman

    That is recruitment agencies all over. My exact thoughts when I recieved said “opertunities” I only wish there was a like button on this.

    I want to see an end to this now aswell. Who ever thouh of providing commissions for hiring others really need to think about what people are doing as they must clearly be an easy source of money if agencies think it is this easy or that people can’t see through their c**p.

  28. Bob Alexander Avatar
    Bob Alexander

    My problem is I get phone calls from these jerks. They find my profile on LinkedIn, look up my company’s phone number, and call to ask if we have job openings.

    This is a violation of LinkedIn’s Terms of Service (they make money on introductions, the same way recruiters do). It also shows they haven’t read my profile which states that I don’t want calls from recruiters and warns them I’ll be rude to them.

    After explaining to them how annoying they are, I start swearing at them until they hang up on me. Some of them put up with a lot of abuse before running away.

    Meanwhile, my coworkers love listening in. 🙂

    1. B-Rad Avatar

      Bob – You may want to think about the possibility of you getting laid off, or fired for the obvious pompus attitude you seem to have, and all the recruiters that you swore at while you were in the workplace. Most likely your name will have carried throughout the IT community as being a complete asshole and your reputation will catch up with you. All IT communities are tight knit, and everyone knows everyone. Believe it or not, IT recruiters have A LOT of pull in the industry and carry plenty of weight in spreading the word on a candidate that isn’t worth talking to because he’s too stuck up his own ass to even have a normal, considerate conversation with someone trying to do their job and potentially offer you a solid candidate or a life changing job change. I’ve recruited in multiple locations throughout the state of OH and you’d be amazed how the reputations of people carry a long way. You may have been fortunate enough to land your current position on your own, or through a friend or whatever. However, people as successful as Jeff Blankenburg have used recruiters in their career to land them outstanding positions which have launched them into the prime of their career. Lets just say we aren’t all “Jerks”.

    2. Donovan Kliegg Avatar

      I feel sorry for non-retained freelances. They themselves would want a better job than spamming grumpy ol’ you, but they can’t get one. Instead they see a sea of unfilled high salary jobs and try to fill them from a labor pool with a 3% or less unemployment rate. Meanwhile, all they get is abuse from the wise guys and desperate pleas from the degree-less, diploma-less poor much like themselves. It must be pretty depressing.

      If you want better spam, you really must conspire to destroy the global economy so that educated people will be forced to take jobs in the fast pace field of freelance head hunting!

  29. Howard Avatar

    @Jon: Since I run a couple of side-businesses with a publicly advertised phone number, I can’t just ignore phone calls from numbers I don’t recognize.

    I’m always nice to recruiters. Even though I don’t really need one right now, there is no telling when I might.

    The current trend is a symptom of a rapidly changing economy. When things are fairly stable, then recruiters can more easily function and even provide some value-add. However, when the economy is rapidly changing, either up or down, recruiters are squeezed out, either because the job seekers don’t need them (job surplus), or the employers don’t need them (job scarcity). So they resort to cold-calling, the most inefficient use of sales resources (because email spam has a marginal cost of nearly zero, it becomes the tool of choice for grossly inefficient cold-calling). I feel sorry for them, since there are obviously too many recruiters for the current demand.

    Salesdroids do cold calling because that’s what their managers tell them to do. Real sales is hard work, and is not something for which most “salespeople” are really suited.

  30. Brian Baker Avatar
    Brian Baker

    A big problem is with Linkedin and the way they have turned a great networking tool into a way to try and make big money. Basically they are pimping out your information to whomever will pay for it. Most people don’t relieve Linkedin is now selling your information to recruiting firms/agencies. You can now pay for an upgraded account, search for a key word and have direct email and contract with people who are not in your network.

  31. Paul Ray Avatar
    Paul Ray

    Thank you for something I have been jonesing to do. I get a dozen or more of these a week. I can relocate from sunny florida to Miinesota to work for a great firm doing something not even remotely listed on my resume. Yes of course, let me find my suit case.

  32. Billy Howell Avatar
    Billy Howell

    Although I agree with the basic idea in your article and some of the details, I believe you want too much sometimes. I personally don’t care if they took the time to find out if I really am doing well. That would only make me think they waste a lot of time instead of getting right down to the business of accomplishing their goal. One thing you didn’t mention that is the worst thing that is happening to me on a regular basis is when they call you or you call them and the person on the other side of the phone does not have a high enough proficiency of the English language to understand a reply that is more complicated than “yes” or “no.” I am automatically turned off from an oppurtunity when they cannot understand, “I’m not actively looking for another position, but I am open to hearing about other oppurtunities.” If you can’t understand that response to whether or not I’m looking for a job, the call isn’t going to go anywhere.

  33. Kgotso Buys Avatar
    Kgotso Buys

    Man, this is getting out of hand, I am in South Africa. And even I get emails about job opportunities in the US and Canada. WTF??

  34. Peter Laman Avatar
    Peter Laman

    Sometimes it’s even more than one recruiters hunting for the same position. In that case I was interested and I applied. From the fact there were two recruiters from different agencies working on that opening, I concluded the company should be quite desperate for someone. Not so. After I got the job, I learned the employer only contracted a single agency for it. So apparently they also sell work to each other.

    You say: “Recruiting is supposed to be about relationships.” I fully agree on that. But in this case one of the recruiter was even fishing with second hand information and they didn’t even have any relationship with the company whatsoever.

  35. Chuck Clifford Avatar
    Chuck Clifford

    80% of the contacts from recruiters are not for actual jobs. Most contacts from recruites have 2 basic objectives – build up their inventory of resumes and uncover managers/companies who might have open positions (FTE or contract). My favorite trash appeals are those which fail the basic QA test – ” … sure, send me the job description, I’ll look it over and get back to you if I think it is a good fit …” That response decrease the pool size down to around 15% – most fail to provide a legitimate job description. Of those remaining, only about 5% appear to be a good match on skill set ( which leads me to the question – why are recruiters attempting to recruit skilled labor when the recruiter is completely clueless about any of the skills in question?). Then, after replying with a copy of my resume I give them no more than 5 business days during which I must have at least a phone screen with the hiring manager/team and an on-site visit if possible (and, of course, the recruiter is unaware of my timeline). If that does not happen then I terminate the exchange. Only about 1% can actually execute along this timeline, and those who do are the only recruiters worth their commission and worth establishing a business relationship with. Why the short time period? Because, if the hiring manager is capable then they can quickly determine which candidates are worth contacting and are highly motivated to contact them before someone else snatches them up. Time is of the essence in business.

  36. David Lindsley Avatar
    David Lindsley


    (I should note that I’m in Dayton, so I’m looking primarily at the Dayton and Cincinnati markets.)

    I don’t know that we’re in a time of extreme unemployment … but I do know people that have been out of work for a while. I was laid off last year — along with our entire IT department — and while I found something immediately, I know there were a few people who were out of work for a few months.

    I also know several people from other previous positions who are commuting to Columbus because they couldn’t find anything in the Dayton area when they needed to.

    Employability is of course to some extent affected by your skill set; but unfortunately, age appears to be a factor as well.

    1. Herb Taylor Avatar
      Herb Taylor


      Age is most definitely a factor. Just turned 41 and went to school for an AAS in Software Programming. Yes, I know that’s only the beginning, but at 41, with an Associate degree, I am in the entry level market with kids less than half my age. As an employer, who would you pick – A young man/woman fresh out of college or a 40-something man/woman fresh out of college?

      You can say it doesn’t matter to you, and it’s all based on GPA, internships, etc. but you know as well as I do that the fresh “college kid” will be a deemed a better candidate for a couple of reasons; you can pay them less because they don’t usually have mouths to feed, and they haven’t yet been ‘spoiled’ with bad habits.

      Sad but true,


      1. Zubair Avatar

        Hi Herb, I used to work as a developer in a bank for about 10 years and then got bored and quit. Took a couple of months off and then decided to do my own thing and become a tennis coach. It was a mistake. I soon began to run out of money and had to go back to working.

        I now find myself again at that point where I want to start my own thing. But this time, I’ve learn my lesson and will carry on working while slowly developing my tennis academy for children. My wife does a lot of the admin and I’ve found a tennis pro to help with the coaching.

        I guess, the moral of all this is two fold : 1) learn from your mistakes and move on. 2) If you can’t work for someone for any reason, look at all the options you have that will allow you to start your own business.

        This also takes the recruiters out the equation 🙂

  37. karl Avatar


    I think you are way off base with most of your post. I’m an out of work programmer/project manager (57 yrs old) and I would be happy to have such a mail come my way (assuming that the guy does have a job he is trying to fill).

    Remember, the recruiter, like the job hunter is playing a numbers game and he’s using the tools of the trade. He ran a query and got a some hits. Maybe the query gave him 10 possibilities in a tight geographic area. So he sends out an email to see if there’s interest.

    I don’t want to be his friend and he does not have to be mine. I would not care if he knew if I tore my ACL or not. His comment is about him being cordial, not about him having spent the time to dig to find out every fact about you. And for you to think otherwise shows a real lack of maturity on your part.

    Frankly, your comments make you seem like the jerk.


  38. Clamstone Avatar

    I, too, have been receiving multiple job ‘opportunity’ e-mails from various recruiters. I can tell from the sentence, wording, and structure that those e-mails are actually templated. I mean, none of them actually addresses my qualifications and the type of job or position I’m currently seeking and they read (or sound?) pretty similar to one another. Most of them don’t even seem to take into account my job location preference. Even though I’m Canadian, and still have Canada address, I’ve spent almost the past eleven years of my life working at two different INGO’s in Indonesia so that’s where I’m looking for next big ‘opportunities’ at.

  39. Rachel Avatar

    I had a look at the date on some of the comments above, and, just for a second, I thought “you know, this post could have been written this week, not in 1999, because it’s still relevant in terms of how badly some recruiters behave today!”. Then I realised that, from the fact you mentioned Silverlight in your post, there must just have been something up with the date stamp in some of the earlier comments to your post!

    Anyway, if anything, I’d say that the activities of some recruitment agencies *has* got considerably worse over the past decade. There are a lot more cowboys out there now who rely on nothing more than a keyword search and a copy of Outlook to facilitate the ‘service’ that they provide. As long as one in ten thousand of the e-mail recipients they send unsolicited job descriptions to is vaguely relevant, and so long as one in a hundred of them is up to the job, and so long as one in ten of those is what the end user is actually looking for in terms of skills and budgetary fit, BCC is their friend and cowboy recruiters are happy to spam away. It’s getting even worse now, with some of the worst offenders switching to SMS spam, knowing full-well that most developers are now smart enough to set their spam filter to block blanket e-mail messages to which they are a BCC recipient.

    The sad thing is, it’s us – you and me, developers and hiring managers – that are most responsible for having allowed this state of affairs to develop. Companies are so bad at technical recruitment it’s laughable. The job adverts they put out (whenever they can be bothered to actually advertise themselves) frequently reveal that most managers mistakenly believe themselves to be solely in the business of selection, and not also in the business of attracting the right candidates by having something worthwhile to offer in return for what they seek. I regularly attract interest from prospective clients/employers who’ve heard I’m a good software developer, who want to “meet for coffee” in a public place that affords no privacy to the process. When I try to pre-qualify such approaches, to decide on whether I can help or not, I regularly find that, despite having seen my CV, the prospective client/employer can’t even provide a job spec for the role they claim they want to interview me for. Do you think they’d be interested in me if I didn’t have a CV?, or if my suggestion for a meeting venue to discuss our prospective mutually-beneficial business arrangement was during my hairdressers appointment or during a noisy film at a cinema? (both of which activities I find personally relaxing, but am intelligent enough to realise are activities it’s best to keep separate from serious work!). I don’t think that they would be very interested either, so why they think that I’ll be prepared to bellow my private career history and salary expectations, and strain to hear their confidential business needs as they shout above the hubbub in a noisy Starbucks I’ll never know.

    On the developer/potential hire side of the recruitment table, there’s also plenty of blame to go around. As technical professionals, most of us really don’t know how to market ourselves effectively. Most developers don’t maintain a technical blog (which I personally find a rather more effective communication channel to prospective clients/employers than LinkedIn, which is basically the world’s biggest chain letter and of interest only to recruiters and salespeople). I can’t imagine why people maintain a LinkedIn profile merely to facilitate contacts with *people that they already know*. Personally speaking, that’s what my mobile phone is for. Maintaining a LinkedIn profile has only one direct effect, so far as I’ve been able to tell: it increases the amount of spam you get from recruiters exponentially. Also, you will find that every single salesperson for every organisation you ever provide technical expertise to suddenly wants to be your LinkedIn BFF: it’s not you they’re interested in, of course, but your contacts, which is both insulting to your intelligence and yet another activity that we do that encourages and facilitates spam.

    So, bottom line, the only ‘cure’ to cowboy recruiters is to become better hiring managers and candidates ourselves. If you’re in the latter category, get out there and make sure you have a demonstration of your abilities available online; you’ll find that the work then comes to you instead of you having to actively seek it out. As hiring managers, stop letting intermediaries such as HR departments, non-technical staff and cowboy agencies ruin your chance of securing the services of the most marketable and effective developers. Treat the process in just the same way as if you were looking for a job yourself: market the opportunity, describe its benefits, and provide something that the best people can be attracted to. If instead you just sit back and expect technical talent to line up for you as if you were some managerial version of Simon Cowell, don’t be surprised when the best people just aren’t that into you.

  40. Graham Avatar

    Here’s one I received today:

    “We haven’t met yet, but I came across your profile here while doing a search for a client. I wanted to ask if you were interested in hearing about new job opportunities? Can we connect and chat? “

  41. Fredrick Avatar

    Recruiters are nothing more than parasites. Here is one experience that I will never forget and plan on suing!
    Experience 1) I signed a contract with Infotek 2 months ago and gave my two week notice to my former employer based on Infotek’s contract and go ahead to do so. A day before my contract was about to start they told me the contract has been delayed. Another week passed and still they said the contract start date will be delayed. Now they want to cancel my contract and not even reimburse me for any amount due to my job loss or make a settlement according to the new contract. They have threatened me and been very belligerent.
    2) I have been called by every parasite for a job at TD for the past 3 years. I have had 5 interviews at each and every step its been bullshit after shovel full of bullshit. Even after I was told that each interview was very positive I get a call to work in another city 4 hours away. They tell me I have a very good chance because there are no qualified people in that city! ok fine 6 times a charm right. Wrong, I get a response from the parasite saying that I was shortlisted? WHAT? ok if I was the only candidate why was I shortlisted? And finally this was the response. Manager has already interviewed this candidate from a prior req, the manager will pass at this time;Reason: Interviewed but not selected for Hire. So I ask for the managers name and feedback, because you know it helps to know for future interviews. NO RESPONSE> this was just a copy and paste from the parasite to me.
    3) I get a call from another recruiter for a full time role as a Project Control Officer. Ok Then I read the job description and its for more suitable with someone with an MBA who was a CFO. They wanted someone to plan a Global financial program for an IT Department. Now my background is in managing IT infrastructure project especially in Telco. I tried explaining that to the parasite but just because it had IT Department she could not see past that. The job details read for someone coming out of a CMA, CCA and MBA specialist at an Executive level. Again give me some raid to get rid of these parasites.
    4)When looking for other work, while working at an abusive employer the parasite and her parasitic company told me she could not find me another job because I worked for her client even though I wasn’t contracted to her parasitic company!!!
    So basically they dont do any good if you think about all the negatives these parasites are to the oxygen supply.
    a) they erode wages
    b) dilute the work force
    c) block access to full time employment
    d) make money on more ways than one, Submission SLAs
    e) often are subsidiaries of companies to avoid pension, and other benefits,
    f) create a superficial demand in jobs and over supply of job seekers.

    all in all if I had a giant can of raid I would have used it by now. This industry is surpassing the most hated career path in the views of the public. Do something about it. I am working with my member of parliament to legislate controls on these parasites. Its time to stop cock blockers and take back the workforce
    And remember those that cannot recruit!

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