I have a friend who’s a recruiter. Yes, that can actually happen. I mentioned to him that I’d been contacted by a really annoying recruiter, and he responded with “Can I ask you a serious question? Are ‘they’ generally all so bad? I’m struggling a little to understand why there is so much bad feeling generally, towards them.”.

I had a think about this, and here’s the reply I sent him. It’s far from exhaustive, but I think it serves to start a discussion.


  • Every email or phonecall contains the phrase “this company is the leader in its field”. Generally…no, it’s not.
  • “This is a fantastic opportunity for you”. This may occasionally be true, but when you see it in every email, it’s hard to shake the suspicion that it’s a template.
  • “We pay a referral fee”. I once suggested someone to a recruiter, and the person got the job. Six months later, I repeatedly contacted the recruiter but didn’t get any response so I asked the company HR person to contact them. They finally got back in touch and said the person was actually suggested by someone else, who they named…and I knew that person. I got in touch with him and told him to collect the bounty, but they refused to pay it.
  • If my LinkedIn profile says I’m not interested in a new position, don’t contact me about one and then say “I got your details from a friend of yours”.


  • Don’t send me an email that’s completely different to my profile. If you’re contacting me, you either have my CV or you’ve seen my LinkedIn profile.
  • Don’t end every email with “Please pass this onto all your friends”. I don’t ask you to write code, don’t ask me to do your job for free (also see Lies#3).
  • Don’t ask for my CV in Word format; it’s obvious you’re going to cut and paste it into some shitty template so the recruiter’s client won’t see my direct contact details. I put effort into designing my CV, and I don’t want you to destroy it.
  • If you want to connect with me on LinkedIn, don’t use the default message. I am not click-bait.


  • As a recruiter, I assume you’re a shark-like parasite. If you want to work with me (by which I mean, cream a shitload of money off me), put some effort into building a relationship.


  • If you don’t know anything about technology, don’t pretend you do. “My client is looking for someone with experience X, which I see you have” is fine; “…yeah, it’s really cutting edge stuff like [some dead technology]…” is bullshit.
  • Don’t make promises you can ‘t keep.


  • It’s a seller’s market. As an developer, I’m selling something. As a recruiter, you’re forcing yourself into the market as a broker. Brokers are plentiful; good developers are not. Convince me why I should use you to broker my skills; preferably, don’t use bullshit during this process.

Finally, two thoughts

  • If I say I’m not interested in a role, it means I’m not interested in a role. Wheedling, begging and threatening (happened to a friend of mine!) will not change anything, except I’ve now blacklisted your name and your company.
  • Developers talk. If you’re an asshole, that piece of news will spread.

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