I regularly receive emails from various recruiters and companies seeking developers or other IT personnel. While understandably these individuals are just trying to do a job, a lot of these cold-calls and cold-emails are enough to make me cringe. So I figured I’d post this to give recruiters a little advice.

According to EconomicModeling.com, on average there are approximately 115,058 monthly job postings for software developers and only 33,579 monthly hires. This just goes to show the disparity between supply and demand in the software development industry. Due to this, recruiters and companies have resorted to some interesting tactics.

The “Rock Stars”

It seems like every start-up, and even some more established companies are really trying to push various unconventional titles. Rockstars, ninjas, jedi, guru, among many others are frequently thrown around. I don’t know about you but when I hear “rockstar” I think of one of two things:

  1. You’re looking for someone that can play an instrument very well and may want to have regular meetups to play at local bars after work.
  2. You don’t really know what you want. Your looking for someone that can possibly take on multiple job roles while paying them for the lesser role that they’re assigned to.

Look, I get it. Companies need to make money and cut costs, but if you expect me to be a developer, devops engineer, DBA, and customer support you’re not going to be paying me $50k. As Matthew Mcconaughey said “bump those numbers up, those are rookie numbers in this racket”.

If you know what you’re looking for then just say it. Fancy titles, and fun things are fine and all, but they don’t tell us anything. In fact it gives a negative connotation that you’re looking for someone to slave away 24/7 and completely ignore their family for you. I’m sorry but that’s not going to happen.

Life History Recruiter

As I stated before, I get tons of cold-emails from recruiters. This past month I’ve been averaging about 30 a day. It’s quite literally gotten to the point that now my email service automatically puts all recruiter emails in their own little folder. Pretty much just so I can delete them all at once.

The worst ones, however, are those that want every little personal detail about me while providing minimal information about the position. Take a look at an email I received 5 days ago from a recruiter.

Can we also have your first born child?

Now, I know the text may be a little small but let’s take a look at just a few of the items they are wanting me to send them:

  • Copy of Driver License (or green card)
  • Name
  • Location
  • Telephone Number
  • Email
  • Skype ID
  • Date of birth
  • Last 4 of social security number
  • Passport number

And that’s just a couple of the things they are wanting. I’m sorry but as a recruiter you do NOT need that information, and I will not provide it. This is a fast way to make it onto my list (more on that later).

In all honesty I’m surprised they don’t want my credit card and bank account information too (although one did want to know what bank accounts I had but I’m sure that wasn’t an actual recruiter). The sad part is, I receive a few of these a day.

“Register Here!”

I don’t get many of these but sometimes I do. Every once in a while I will get a basic job description and be asked to register at a website to apply. I’m telling you now, if I have to register to a website to apply for your position, I will never consider it.

Job ads that ask us to register somewhere are not job ads, they are website ads. These are just hanging a job out in front of us to use as bait to get us to use their product.

Any job ad that asks you to sign up somewhere else is throwing you bait in order to get you signed up on their actual product. 


Not my skills

This is another issue I have with a lot of recruiters. Many times, in fact most of the time, I get sent emails for jobs that in no way fit my skills. All of these recruiters have a copy of my resume (that’s the only way they got my email) and clearly did not take the time to even look at it.

Let’s take the “life history recruiter” email above for example. No where in my resume does it list experience with Java, or even a desire to work with Java. As for other recruiters the same goes for Rust and GoLang, but you would be surprised the number of job postings I get for these languages. In all honesty, when I receive these they are immediately deleted. If you can’t take the time to at least see what my skills are before contacting me, then that leads me to believe that you are fairly incompetent at your job. If you are an incompetent recruiter I am not going to waste my time with you.

As a recruiter you basically have one job. To find candidates and make placements. If you are just throwing anyone at these jobs, I am going to be very suspect of your abilities and motives. I get that you don’t get paid unless they get hired but here’s the thing, if I were to get into a position that I am not fit for, I’m going to be fired and put my entire family’s lifestyle on the line. No thank you!

Unclear Salary

Ok, so this one I can’t think of a good way of wording it, but I believe Ryan Donovan did an excellent job in his article along these same lines. So i’m just going to copy and paste what he had to say on the topic:

It’s a great idea to put salary ranges in job ads. Setting expectations up front is a solid play for everyone involved. But when that salary has “up to” something pretty ridiculous, then you’re flagging your post as a potential bait-and-switch. Candidates will be wary of commission-based compensation or with other hoops that an employee has to jump through to get close to promised number you held out. Anything that far outside of what a candidate is seeing on other job postings is going mark your post as suspect. 

Set expectations, sure, but be realistic. We’ve found that even our job posts with lower than average salary information do better than those with no salary data. If you want to know what realistic salaries look like, check out the data we gathered in the 2019 Developer Survey

On the flip side of this, candidates may skip your ad if you ask them to provide a resume and expected compensation. Most candidates know that you already have a budget scoped out for this position. By asking this question, you’re telling them that you’re looking for the cheapest qualified candidate that you can find. 

Ryan Donovan

The List

I know I’m not alone on this one but I do know many other developers that have their own version of “the list”. The list is fairly simple, it’s just a list (imagine that!). But this list is composed of various companies and recruiting firms that I will NEVER work with, and I have even told a few recruiters during cold-calls that I would never do business with their company. Oddly enough though, some still keep calling.

Here are a few for me:

  • NLB Services
  • KForce
  • IDC Technologies
  • E-Solutions Inc
  • Diverselynx
  • Pyramid Consulting Inc
  • Panzer Solutions