Recruiter Methods

Main Thread 3 min read

As a software engineer you reach a level where recruiters contact you daily. As flattering as it is, most recruiters aren't much different than bums.

I understand it's a recruiters job to pursue talent. I can't fault them for doing their job. But I can fault them for their methods.

Let's take a closer look.

Method 1: Crappy Emails


Need an experienced PHP Developer. This is an iterative, startup development process and culture, with the comfort and security of a big business.

[random bullet points]

If this doesn't fit you, can you suggest someone else?

[long email signature]

Craft a better email.

Do some research recruiters. Say that you found me on StackOverflow, LinkedIn, or read my blog. Breaking the ice with a personal touch could be the difference between opening your email or marking it as SPAM.

If you don't have the time, then admit sending me a mass email. I can tell anyway. Given your honesty I may at least look at the job description.

Method 2: Catch-all Job Descriptions

  • Over 7 years experience programming in Language X, Y, Z
  • Strong design principles.
  • Solid on coding fundamentals e.g. Object-Oriented design, data structures, and dependency injection.
  • Experience in enterprise-level integration technologies including X and Y, in Z
  • Hands-on experience in widely used third party frameworks

[several more]

  • The candidate must be highly self-motivated confident and mature, well developed analytical and problem solving skills with the aptitude to learn as well as a flexibility to adapt to change.
  • Team player and proven ability to work under pressure and meet project dates

That's not a job description. It's a catch-all list of qualifications.

Tell me about the job - without all the buzzwords.

[company name] is looking for a senior PHP developer to join their web app team. You'll help complete development on [some awesome project] and report directly to [some impressive title].

If I want more information, I'll reply. If you must include more information, list it after telling me about the job.

Method 3: Resume Doctoring

Recruiters want your resume in Word format.

Never send recruiters your resume in Word format.

First, Word come on. We're developers. Our resume is in Markdown, HTML, or some other plain text formatting syntax.

Second, recruiters want an editable format so they can easily doctor your resume. I've seen my resume after recruiter doctoring. It wasn't pretty.

I understand the need to present the best candidate. But don't doctor my resume. Instead ask me to cater my resume for the position.

Method 4: The Pitch

Similar to resume doctoring, recruiters pitch you to a potential employer. Words like expert and rockstar get thrown around with reckless abandonment.

A recruiter once pitched me as a .NET developer. I haven't written a line of .NET. I proudly admitted that in the interview. Fortunately they had another developer position open. Until we discussed that position it was the worst interview of my career.

Recruiters, don't say I'm someone I'm not.

Method 5: Salesman

If you receive an offer get ready for your recruiter to always be closing. They'll say anything to close the sale.

A recruiter once told me my current employer didn't give bonuses. My employer outlined a bonus when I started the position. However, I believed the recruiter and in turn accepted the offer. The bonus was awarded two days after I left.

The point is, a recruiter will say anything to get you to accept. Remember they have no affiliation with your current employer or new employer. Take what they say with a grain of salt.


To a recruiter you're meat, and they're the butcher. Realize they'll chop you up and sell you to whoever might be interested.

Unfortunately recruiters are often the gatekeepers to better jobs. Their connections get you in the door when otherwise you're just another resume in the inbox.

In the end, the relationship should be mutually beneficial. You get the job you want and they get a commission. Make sure they earn it.

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