Advice to Recruiters

Like many tech workers, I regularly get inquiries from recruiters. Lately, these inquiries seem to be coming to me via LinkedIn for the most part… and let’s just say that the quality of most of these leads is extremely dubious. Judging by feedback I’ve received on Twitter, my colleagues in the tech industry are just as frustrated by this as I am.

When I suggested trying to educate recruiters to help them do a better job, my friends pointed out to me that recruiting tends to be a high-turnover business. We could spend a significant amount of time educating one batch of recruiters, only to have to do it all over again later. So I thought I might jot down some notes to recruiters here on my blog, if only so that I have to say these things just once.

It’s not just about matching keywords. I’m known for my Perl programming and I have the keyword “Selenium” on my LinkedIn profile. But even a casual glance at my profile would tell you that I’m not interested or a good fit for a Senior SQA position on your decades-old Perl-based web framework. Similarly, it’s clear from my profile that I’ve been an independent consultant for 15+ years, so I’m unlikely to be interested in full-time employment with your gigantic software company.

Do your homework. Please respect my time, and take a moment to really understand the position you’re trying to fill and the people you’re trying to put there. The best recruiters I’ve worked with understand their own business and the industry they’re working in, and are looking to build relationships for the long haul.

No job description = no response. If you contact me about an “exciting” job opportunity with your firm, but don’t include the job description (or link to one), I’m just going to assume you’re trawling for resumes. I need to evaluate for myself if I think the opportunity is “exciting”. To expect me to respond sight unseen is again disrespectful of my time.

If you just want to leverage my Rolodex, tell me. I get it. I’ve been in the industry a long time, and do work that tends to bring me into contact with lots of different people. And I’m perfectly happy to refer interesting jobs to friends who I think the position is suitable for. But don’t play games with me. Be up-front and say, “This job isn’t right for you but I was hoping you might know somebody who it is appropriate for.” That’s a reasonable and professional request. And I will honestly consider it, and try to fire it off to my “network” of friends, and let you know that I’ve done so.

I’m not going to do your job for you. But if you keep coming back to me over and over again for referrals (especially for positions unrelated to my fields of expertise), or keep bothering me for follow-up after I’ve put your opening out to my network, I’m going to start blocking your messages. If I wanted to be a recruiter, I’d be doing it right now. Again, respect my time. Say, “Thanks for the referral!”, and start following up on those leads yourself.

I believe recruiting is an honorable profession, and a benefit to our industry if done well. Many of my colleagues would love to build a relationship with a recruiter who could help them through all phases of their careers. So please consider the advice above in a constructive frame of mind. I welcome feedback from both recruiters and candidates (and employers!) in the comments.