How Technical Recruiters Get It Wrong – Part 1

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