Aggressive Recruiters

I haven’t written anything for a while for many reasons (i.e laziness), but I’m writing this as something of an experiment.

First, some background:

  1. I changed jobs early this year.
  2. I love my new job.
  3. I barely ever answer my phone if I don’t know the number.

Anybody who’s been doing this job long enough has probably had hundreds of cold calls from recruiters. Personally, I don’t like what seems to be the standard recruitment process for software companies, but that’s besides the point. In any case, since virtually every conversation I’ve had with a recruiter tends to be both a waste of their and my time, I prefer to be contacted via e-mail so that I can reply when I can devote some time to thinking about an opportunity. Occasionally I do pick up, and 99% of the time it’s clear that you have no real idea about what my skills are, what my experience is like, or even what skills might actually be relevant for the job you want to talk about. In addition, I rarely give my personal telephone number to people, except those I’ve met face to face. In short: if I don’t know you, and I’m not expecting your call, then calling me is a waste of time – and that’s when I’m actually looking for work.

My point here is not to sound bitter – it’s actually kind of a relief knowing that there’s so much work out there for somebody who does what I do – but lately I’ve been seeing some aggressive behaviour from recruiters, and so I’m writing this so that I don’t need to explain this on the phone every time somebody manages to get hold of me:

  1. If I don’t answer my own phone, then leave a voice-mail. If for some reason this is impossible, then you can contact me via any of the dozens of channels that are available, including (but not limited to) SMS, e-mail, the contact form on this very website, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc. etc.
  2. Whatever you decide to do, do not do the following: call my current employer.
  3. I understand that you have no control over your fingers, and that picking up that phone is a matter of when, not if, but at least you must surely agree that lying to my colleagues about who you are is right out of the question.
  4. If rule 3 is broken, and unless you’ve engaged in a staggering amount of research (in which case, maybe you’ll have noticed that I’m currently fully employed and also not looking for work), then it is highly likely that you’ve simply invented a name on the spot, and I have no idea who your fictitious character might be. In this case, I will simply ask whoever answered the phone to make an excuse and take a message. There are people who might actually need to call me at work, and you are not one of them, so free up the line. This is your cue to politely leave a name and a phone number, and hang up.
  5. If rule 4 is absolutely impossible to follow because your ego simply cannot allow you to not get what you want, then I suppose, after all is said and done, you might as well accuse my colleagues of lying and demand that I be put on the line immediately because you ‘Can hear me right there’. You might also want to throw in a vaguely threatening line or two. This will definitely get me to accept your phone call and you can then talk at me for half an hour about an irrelevant role for a lower salary in the middle of nowhere.

The worst thing about this is that today is not even the first time this has happened. There seems to have been a sharp rise in aggressive tactics used by recruiters over the last year or so, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person who’s sick of it.

To summarise – if I am not expecting your phone call, then it is my prerogative to take or ignore your call. You do not get to demand that I talk to you, even if you do believe I’m ‘sitting right there’. I have things to do – and talking to you for half an hour about a job that I almost certainly have no interest in is not one of them.

Obviously, not every recruiter is as arrogant and rude as those described above, but this has gotten to a point where the next time somebody does this, I’ll be filing a formal complaint. Irritating me is one thing, but getting aggressive with my colleagues is a whole different kettle of fish.

Recruiters, here’s the experiment: if you honestly think I’m a good fit for a role, then e-mail me about it and mention this post. I’m not picking up the phone to you any more, and if you catch me off-guard, then I’ll be demanding that you remove me from your records and stop calling me. I’m not suggesting that you have the time to read everything every single potential lead has ever written, but then again I don’t know you and I never asked you to get in touch. I’m prepared to give time to people who’ve actually taken the time to do their research, because this shows that you might actually be considering who would be a good fit for a role rather than simply calling any number you can find.