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An Open Letter to Recruiters

Mark Mzyk | February 26, 2013

Dear –,

I’m sure you mean well in reaching out. I’m sure you’re just trying to do your job. However, a solicitation like this isn’t going to get me to change jobs. I believe I speak for all technical workers when I say that repeated solicitations like this wear on us. It’s not that you’ve hit me up multiple times, but you’re just the latest. If there is a week that I don’t get at least three to five recruiters asking me about a position I start to wonder if something tragic befell the industry.

I may have even spoken to you at some point. I’ve tried to be nice to recruiters, so occasionally I’ve spoken with them on the phone. I know you’re human and don’t deserve to be treated badly. However, at this point I don’t even bother answering my phone, because I know that if I don’t recognize the number, odds are it is a recruiter. The recruiter will then leave a voicemail and email me. I will delete the voicemail. If I answer the email it is just to decline it. I’ve yet to see a job from a recruiter that I would care to take.

Perhaps I would actually like some of these jobs. The only ones that even pique my interest at all, which isn’t saying much, are from company recruiters where the company is known and I have some idea what project I might be getting into. In emails that I get from recruiters where the company isn’t named, the descriptions are always so bland as to be meaningless. A programming language might be mentioned, but I have no clue what would actually be expected from me in that job. Part of this is because I have no clue who the company is. I realize recruiters don’t want to name companies because then the job candidate could just go directly to the company. If you’re so afraid the candidate is going to bypass you that you can’t name the company, what kind of value do you think you’re adding to the process?

I’ve also frequently seen the tactic of recruiters claiming they want to get to know me so they can better help me, even if they don’t have a job now. This is a hollow promise. What this means is that a few words get entered into a database about me and then I occasionally get job offers for health startups or devops positions or something else just because I mentioned those words. There isn’t any really knowledge transferred because neither side really cares about the transaction.

I’m purposefully very open on the internet. I’m on Twitter. I have a blog. My email address is easy to find. Perhaps it’s because of this that I get a lot of recruiters emailing me. It also means that it’s easy to find information on me. All of my public information is linked. You can find out a wealth of information about me. This should make it easy to tailor information to me when you send me job descriptions. You just sent me one that asks for 7+ years experience. My public resume shows I’ve been doing professional development for 6. That doesn’t mean I might not be a good fit for this job, but you should probably acknowledge that I’m lacking in this requirement and then explain to me why you think that doesn’t matter in this case. That would show that you took some initiative and that perhaps you have my interests and the company’s at heart. Instead it appears you just slapped my name into a form letter and called it a day.

Recruiters can do better. You might not hit up as many people in a day, but I believe you will place more people if you personalize your approach. I know you want to catch people when they are thinking about changing jobs but before they do. It’s hard to know when this is. It’s hard to follow a thousand pepople and develop meaningful relationships that will pay off over time. I don’t think what I’m asking you to do will be easy. But then, taking the action that leads to success never is.

So no, I’m not interested in this position. I’m happy in my current one and it would take an extraordinary job offer for me to change my mind. If you’re going to get that type of offer in front of me and get me to pay attention to it, you’re going to need to try a lot harder.