Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Shit recruiters say

Just today, I got my 1,000th recruiter email in the last ~4 years. I know this is the number because I'm slightly obsessed with organization and have added a specific label to each and every recruiter email I've gotten in my gmail account. Let's see: 365 days per year, minus 104 weekend days and, say, 10 vacation days, gives us roughly 250 working days per year.

That means that, on average, 1 recruiter emails me every single business day [1].

There are a few take aways from this:
  1. Being a software engineer is awesome [2]. We don't apply to jobs, they apply to us. 
  2. If you are a recruiter, you're up against some serious competition.
  3. I've seen recruiter emails from every tech company you can think of. Some are comically bad.
In this blog post, I'm going to share snippets from a few of the bad ones. Enjoy!

[1] This doesn't even include the sketchy recruiters who track down my phone number and call me. If you do this, everything you say is shit.

[2] I suspect that if kids had any idea how amazing it is to be a programmer in Silicon Valley, all of the problems US schools have with math and science would vanish overnight.

Subject: Follow up

Hi Yevgeniy,

I’m not assuming you’re looking for a new roll right now but I wanted to follow up and gather your feedback.

Wrong! I could totally go for some sushi.

Subject: Opportunities at XXX

Hi Yevgeniy,


We are challenged every day, moving very quickly, and recruit only rock stars.

Man, I really wish I could join your band.

Subject: Quick question (Developer opportunities)


Good day. Hope all is well.

I am reaching out to you because of the recent severe reorg and layoffs at your company I read about.

Wow, that escalated quickly.

Subject: Hello from XXX

Hello <name>,

My name is XXX -- I'm the Director, Engineering of the Growth Team at XXX.

Yes, this email literally said <name>. Umm, no thanks <company>.

Subject: Full time Scala opportunity

Hi Yevgeniy,

Currently, we are looking for an, "Engineer" to help deliver a range of new products. High-performance, high-scalability, high-traffic, heavy Scala, etc. Any interest in having a casual chat about this role...a few minutes...you have an interesting background?

This email from a, "recruiter", has, an interesting... way, with words?

Subject: principal java software engineer

Hi Yevgeniy,

happy valentine's day!
hope this new year has provided time for some fun activities.
our family started off the new year attending a terrific concert a couple of weeks ago. the performance reinforced the experience of music as a true combination of four creative forces (composer, conductor, musician and audience) in communicating ideas, thoughts & feeling. we were fortunate to hear pieces from Wagner, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Leonard Bernstein to Holst. an awesome introduction to the symphony for kids!

if you might have time for a quick chat, i'd like to share a principal-level swe opportunity:

Worst valentines day card ever.

Subject: looking for a great technical dev manager!

Hi Yevgeniy,

I think this role may not be exactly up your ally, but I am hoping you can recommend some great folks for us!

I don't want anything up my ally, thank you.

Subject: Getting back in touch. Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia portfolio companies.

The portfolio company that I'm most excited about is financed by Greylock and Reid Hoffman who founded PayPal and LinkedIn, which as you know is one of the high-profile IPOs of 2011.

Ah, yes, Link-ed-in... I may have heard of it.

Subject: Stealth startup

The service will be disruptive and impact billions of technology users.



Matt Doar said...

I had one from a recruiter asking me for a job the other day

necroskiss said...

You should make this an open discussion...I know of so many disaster recruiter emails.

One I got just today:

We currently have fulltime/permanent opportunities for the role of Technology Lead/Technology Architect for User Interface Engineers, based out of Cupertino/Sunnyvale, CA. Your profile seems to be a strong match for the same. Please revert back if you would be interested.

Natalie Fay said...

Oh wow... I've recruited for nearly a decade and this had me laughing out loud :) These recruiters don't make it too long! Loved the Valentine's Day card one :)

Cyril said...

I actually couldn't resist creating emailsfromrecruiters.tumblr.com a couple of weeks ago... My friends are lame and won't submit, but feel free :)

icodestuff said...

I got that first one as well (well, with my name). Thank goodness for form letters gone wrong, they make for the best entertainment.

chx said...
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chx said...

"I would like to chat" -- this, in itself, kills it. If you use these words, you can be fairly sure I won't be interested. First, you don't want to chat, you want a phone call which disrupts my flow. Second, I do not idly chat. If you have something to say, write it down in a bloody email and don't waste my time. Once I have an idea of what this is about, then we can begin a conversation.

Adam Horvath said...

This is actually quite sad - while in Silicon Valley there is a fierce fight for skilled engineers, other places around the word they just can't do anything with real software engineers.

Here in Australia we don't really have any interesting stratups so you don't have too much chance of getting hired into a real energetic company. Converting PSD into webpage jobs? Working for banks? Sure - if that's enough for you.

I wish we had such a buzz in IT and the biggest problem would be to filter out recruiters...

Dentistry Redefined said...
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Harinath said...
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Tricity said...
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Liz Sellier said...

Awesome post! 2 immediate reactions on behalf of decent recruiters:

(1) Thank you! It's illuminating, and (at the risk of sounding arrogant) makes me feel slightly better about what my recruiting team is up against.

(2) I'm sorry. Outreach like this is affront to your time and intelligence. I'm astonished by what kind of outreach you receive. At least it makes for a good story, an ego boost for you, and some chuckles from your blog readers.

A note on the boilerplate messages that aren't personalized and say : it's awful, and I'm NOT justifying it, but this totally has happened to me before. Sometimes we just can't manually input individuals' names, and ATS's like Jobvite are notoriously buggy, so I have yet to find a work around. And please know it's HORRIFYING when you realize messages were sent out this way. I cringe just thinking about it.

Yevgeniy Brikman said...


To be fair, of the ~1000 recruiter emails, I've listed < 10 that were memorably funny. That means that the vast majority tend to be fairly reasonable.

Also worth mentioning: I've gotten my last two jobs from a recruiter reaching out to me through LinkedIn.

So, when done right, it's certainly effective. When done wrong, it's at least amusing :)

lena chuby said...
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