The Best Recruiters Ever

The best recruiters I’ve ever met are the ones that make me forget that I’m talking to a recruiter, usually very quickly.

It’s easy to be a lofty software developer who has jobs pitched to him every day by email, Twitter, LinkedIn, blog comments, and give all of those reach outs the same treatment: “Meh.”

Developers, I’m talking to you: Have you ever tried reaching out to a complete stranger while attempting to pique their interest in something? It’s hard! Just try and write an email to some stranger and make a role as a Senior Software Developer at AdBird17 LLC sound appealing. I bet you’ll come out with something like:

Hey X!

My name is Y, and I’m looking for talented developers to join the team at AdBird 17. They’re a bunch of awesome guys, they just got funding, and they’re looking to grow their engineering department.

Your background looks really interesting. Do you have any time to talk by phone this week?

- Y

TechCrunch article on AdBird 17: http://techcrunch.com/2012/08/22/adbird-17-goes-to-awesome-town

Great! You did it. You wrote pretty much the exact same email every other recruiter in the world wrote to that guy. At some point, you realize that even you wouldn’t respond to something so generic.

So you decide to spice it up and give it some personality:

Hey X!

I was reading your blog post on the future of evil robots, really good stuff!

[Begin generic portion of email] I just wanted to reach out and see if you might be interested in a Software Engineering role at AdBird 17. They’re VC-funded and growing quickly. Do you have any time to talk this week?

They were recently featured in TechCrunch: http://techcrunch.com/2012/08/01/adbird-17-founders-call-out-adblock-for-foul-play

- Y

In all seriousness, a recruiter called me in the middle of writing that last bit.

The best recruiters go farther. They provoke a conversation. They get you to reply. And from there, the conversation begins, and trust begins to develop. They’ll write something like:

Hey X,

I was just reading your last post on the best recruiters ever. You’re dead on. I guess my question is, why do all you developers think you’re so high and mighty?

-Y

And then Y writes something like:

Hey Y,

I wouldn’t say most of us really think that. A lot of developers are elitists, but a lot of us are nice too :)

See?

I think it’s that we get so many emails, that it becomes a burden to reply to each one. And there are certain buzz-phrases that freak me out, like “touch base”, “reach out”, and “ping” that sound so generic and recruiter-ish that most of the time I figure I was #1,254 on the email list for that day, and it’s no big deal if I don’t reply.

- X

From there, Y can take it anywhere. He/she can mention some postings they’re working on, offer a friendly invite for beer/coffee sometime, or just leave something in the way of, “if you’re ever looking for something …”

The last part works. I have in-fact called on recruiters I had a casual, email or phone-only relationship with to poll them on freelance gigs, etc.

It’s not easy to be a recruiter like that, because it takes time, and you sort of have to be a real, genuine person to be effective. But the ones who achieve that are the best recruiters ever.

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But what about the worst recruiters ever? The worst recruiters are definitely the robots (or humans trained to act like robots). You know them, the ones that come across like:

Job candidate:

You may or may not be qualified for the role below;

10-15 years COBOL;

Mastery of CustomWareDB++ 87 REQUIRED;

Work with Babbage engines desired;

If you are qualified, reply with an attached resume in TXT format only and stand by until you are selected. Else, kindly forward names and email addresses of contacts who meet or may meet qualifications.

- Watson

Recruitment emails like that kind of exist. The most outrageous part of it is that lines like “you may or may not be qualified for the role we are sending below” are not an exaggeration. I’ve got half a mind to call out some big shops that do that. What level of quality is being hired through spam like that?

My only guess is that the need for the specific position is so hard to fulfill, that you have to unleash an army of robots to have a chance at finding a matching human.

Ok, that’s all for now. And lastly, here’s a real evil robot recruiter in action:

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  • http://twitter.com/sbook Skye Book

    LinkedIn hasn’t helped the “spammish” problem at all.  I was reading the advertising for their PRO program recently, turns out that if the recipient doesn’t reply then they don’t pay for the email.

  • katzgrau

    Yea definitely. And most of the time people try to connect with you first and use the small message textbox to give you their copy-paste pitch to avoid the whole InMail thing.

    It’s weird, I’ve been on the other side recruiting for a startup, and I understand how hard it can be from their end. I think being genuine is the best strategy though.