Dear recruiter…

UPDATE – Having emailed the recruiter in question asking whether they wanted to respond to my criticisms, I have received a response I have mixed feelings about. The person is embarrassed and feels a little shellshocked as far as I can tell. They are new to the Australian recruiting scene, but have experience elsewhere. I think that the advice I gave, which was probably a little harsh in tone, has been taken in the right way and I think this person will probably end up being someone we should look for – they’ll be the person who knows about you before they call. I certainly wish them luck as a result.

Given my friend, Nathanael recently posted of his frustrations with some recruitment processes he’s going through, I figured it was my turn. Only this time, I’m fed up with the recruiters. Here’s why.

Today, I received this in an email from a recruiting company with offices in Australia and the UK:

Hi there

I don’t know whether this position would be of interest to you as we have not heard from you in a while and the details that we have may be outdated.

We are currently recruiting for a client that requires an all-rounder who has experience in getting solutions implemented on time and within budget. This company has developed an web-based automated service management system that is modelled on the ITIL framework.

The email goes on to describe the requirements (at length) of a job that’s completely irrelevant to me.

I beg your pardon? You didn’t look me up on LinkedIn? You didn’t take five seconds to Google me before sending me your irrelevant job listing?

Frankly, this pisses me off. And it’s happened more than once in the past. These days, for a recruiter to cold-email me with a role that’s actually completely irrelevant to me is unforgivable. They don’t deserve their job.

Here’s what I sent in reply:

<name removed>

On Wed, Jun 11, 2008 at 9:54 PM, <name and email removed> wrote:
> I don’t know whether this position would be of interest to you as we have
> not heard from you in a while and the details that we have may be outdated.

In which case you appear lazy for not having checked out what I’m doing by a 5-second Google search that will find me on LinkedIn and also find my website. Why not?

It’s made easy for recruiters today – you have a huge ready resource in the Internet and you’re failing to use it. There is a huge, ready pool of candidates in a vast range of industries out there who have announced their readiness for work and you could be tapping into that.

Any recruiting company that doesn’t pre-screen contacting me by:

  • looking me up on LinkedIn to see my history and references
  • going to my company website to see what services I offer
  • reading my blog to see where my head’s at

doesn’t deserve my time.

Do I sound cranky? I am.


Stephen Collins

Was I too harsh? Some will think so, but I don’t.

Any recruiter and recruiting company worth their salt will put some effort into pre-screening contact with a potential candidate before making a call or sending an email. They’ll make sure they have an idea of what the candidate is doing and thinking about by looking at LinkedIn and the person’s company website or blog. They’ll know about their last few roles. They’ll probably even be able to figure out whether the person is an active or potentially passive job seeker by reading between the lines in blog posts.

Just not good enough.

That said, I’ve contacted the recruiter and given them an opportunity to respond with any other information they might like to tell me about why I was approached. I’ll post any response here.

9 Replies to “Dear recruiter…”

  1. These types of recruiters are little more than spammers. They see themselves as being more important to you than you are to them. As you say, “any recruiter worth their salt” …

    Will be interested to see whether you even get a follow-up email/call.

  2. Unfortunately, it’s the few bad apples.

    Okay, well, it’s a lot of bad apples.

    It’s difficult for me to be “not frustrated” by these types. It’s difficult for me to try and give the good ones the benefit of the doubt. It’s difficult for me to even talk to recruiters who blind call to me–and most times I don’t.

    I can’t tell if you received an attachment with a job description, but my typical response to these types of vague things is “If you could forward a relevant job description so that I could have context for a conversation with you, that would be great.”

    It’s usually the dead-end, because then they actually have to do work instead of say things like, “Look, I don’t know a lot about this, but they’re looking for stuff like architectures, system analysis…”


    I could reply for hours.

    So, the good news here is that the same types of jerkwad behavior is rather global and not just specific to the US.

  3. Poor guy. Some recruiters see their job as being like a firehose – you shoot enough emails out and someone will get wet.

    I’ve revamped my company’s emails in the past 6 months. I thought it’d be smart to actually name the companies a prospect has been with, giving context as to why that would make them relevant. Not bad for being in the business 1 year!

    For you execs getting emails from guys like me – nothing loses my respect faster than someone getting angry that a recruiter would dare to call and/or email them. Gatekeeper-secretaries who are rude about it are frustrating as well. Remember, companies go sideways, or get acquired, every day of the week – it’s good to be nice to recruiters during the good times and bad!

  4. Thanks for posting Steve – I think it’s a relatively common situation.

    I’ve received similar emails and phone calls. What is bizarre in my case is that a couple of years ago I made a career change from being a CIO to being a director of a recruitment company. You can only imagine how amusing I find it when I answer calls asking if I’d be interested in !

    Whilst I get a giggle out of it, you’re right to hassle the time-wasters. Don’t forget, however, not all recruiters are bad. Some are “teh bomb”. :-)

  5. I had a call from a global recruitment firm last night. They were referencing a CV that was almost 5 years old and figured they had a job for me.

    Now, the funny thing is that this firm were already talking to me about another role, so one would think they would have an up to date CV on file since I’d sent one through the week before, but I guess not.

    Joining the dots seems too hard for some recruiters.

    I know I used LinkedIn, Facebook and Google when screening for staff here. You’d think that people who do this for a living would too.

  6. I looked for you on and couldn’t find an entry (although entry from your web site works). I looked for you on google and found a bunch of people with your name and it was not immediately clear which one was you.

    Recruiters aren’t industry analysts; they are low paid admin people who try to get a match based on a limited list of criteria they’ve sourced from where ever.

    Quoting from your front page, “My goal is to help you and your business implement new and powerful approaches to knowledge work. I do so by helping find the right approach to web strategy, the knowledge economy and social media.” – huh?

    Sorry but it all sounds a bit wanky to me. You are promoting changes well outside of current business practices and then criticising business like crazy for not leaping up to follow your vision. It’s great to be bleeding edge but I’d ask the question: what is the economic relevance? What you offer is a niche that suits a very limited range of clients.

  7. Great post.

    I think the consultant that mailed you is highly likely to be poorly trained, highly targeted, looking to earn a couple of fees as quickly as possible.

    The internet has had a huge effect on how people look for work yet many recruitment firms don’t grasp just how they can maximise on the opportunity. Most just apply a very basic job board to their offering and off they go.

    My take is this sort of thing won’t continue for too much longer. The days of a contingency recruiter’s database being their selling point must surely be drawing to a close (after all this consultant mailed off the back of an old CV – as you point out, your details are on linkedin and I’m sure a variety of other sites) Information now sits in the cloud, any recruitment firm not grasping that? Well put it this way I’m glad I’m not a shareholder…

    Re getting a response. If the firm was worth their salt then you would have got one. Either from the consultant having been briefed by a manager or director of that firm or by someone more senior getting in touch themselves.

    For recruiters to flourish now, customer service (on both sides of the candidate/ client fence) along with the ability/ skillset to screen and select from multiple channels will be key.

    From this tale I’m not convinced this firm is in that club…

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