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Hey Tech Recruiter, Here Are Some Tips from a Developer

I wrote a rant to LinkedIn in the summer, summarizing a couple of tips on how (not) to contact me and similar stuff. Since then, I've been thinking about writing a blog post about this topic, and here it finally is!

I've had good experiences with tech recruiters over the past years, but unfortunately, there have also been bad experiences. And this blog post comes from those occasions.

Here's the original rant:

Dear tech recruiter, here are a couple of things I'd wish from you.

  • ✨ Please don't call me. Even though you can find my number somewhere, it's not an open invitation to call. I hate speaking on the phone, so you calling me unsolicitedly makes me anxious. And I don't want to work for your company or your client if you make me anxious.
  • ✨ Please don't call me many times. You know, the seventh call within three days is just too much. (The first one was too, but… seventh. C'moon.)
  • ✨ If you say you're a tech recruiter, you really should know the difference between frontend, backend, and devops. And you should look at my profile at least just enough to know I'm a frontend developer - and not contact me with backend / devops-positions.
  • ✨ Oh, and a tip: Java and JavaScript are different languages. Me having JavaScript on my profile does not mean I have extensive knowledge on Java.
  • ✨ I won't answer "Hey I have this mysterious client you would be lucky to work for"-type of messages. Sorry, I know you always can't disclose the client, but I want to know where I'm getting into if I take a call with someone.

And a ✨Bonus Tip✨: Oh, and if your company's/your client's website has these fancy animations/auto-playing things that make me literally sick I don't want to work for you or your client. I know I'm an accessibility specialist who could come and fix these things, but from the messages I've received, you're not looking for that. You're looking for a backend developer. So… no.

Yes, it's been one of those weeks.

Source: LinkedIn

These tips are written from my perspective, and someone might disagree with them. But from what I've discussed with several other developers, they have agreed with me on these tips.

If you find yourself or your company from these examples, I don't assume you're doing it because you want to be evil or something like that. I don't think you're a terrible person because of that. I just wanted to say that. And now we can get to the tips.

Don't Call Me

Really, unless we have agreed in a conversation (which was in written form) that it's okay that you call me, don't. I don't like speaking with people I don't know on the phone. Also, due to some issues related to memory, I'd rather have everything written than try to remember details like who that person was, what the company was, etc.

And definitely don't call me multiple times. I won't answer you. I use search engines to find the number, and after I see that the number belongs to a potential recruiter, I write "Don't answer" as a note to it. And you know, seven calls within three work days is just way too much.

Know The Basics of Tech

If you're a tech recruiter, you should know the basics of tech. I don't mean that you should learn how to code - even though it is fun! No, you should know the difference between frontend, backend, DevOps, mobile, and other similar concepts. You should also have a basic understanding of programming languages at a level that you know that Java is different from JavaScript.

I get these messages fairly often that say, "Hey! We are/our client is looking for someone with extensive knowledge on Java to work with backend." Did you check what my LinkedIn profile says about my skills? I mean, it talks about frontend technologies, accessibility, and JavaScript. Not Java. There's no Java anywhere.

And I know that that is a tactic just to send many messages out there and hope someone answers. However, for every message I receive that's like that, I add the recruiter and company to my mental list. I don't want to work with companies that don't have a basic understanding of tech because it already tells me a lot about the culture.

Give Me All the Details

I receive many "I have this mysterious client in this and that sector looking for someone"-messages. Sometimes I might even bother answering and say that I'm not interested in starting a recruitment process with a company I know very little about.

And I understand that it's not always possible to reveal the name of the company, but I'd like to question the whole concept - why it needs to be like that? Having as much information as possible is best for both parties.

Knowing what I'm getting into (even if it's only the first interview or a call with a recruiter) is essential. It's a stressful situation, and if I go in without almost any information, I can't prepare. And I don't like that feeling. I need time to process my answers, and if I don't have any time to think about them before the interview, I will fail, and it's a waste of time for both parties.

Be Honest About the Process

Over the years, I've had several experiences where I agreed to have a meeting to "get to know each other and casually chat." And when that meeting started, the first question was something like, "Why do you want to work at this company?" Like, hey, I don't know if I want to! I'm here to find it out!

And don't get me even started on surprise technical interviews. If the information about the meeting is that we'll casually talk about technical topics, a live coding exercise is not okay. And neither is being a dick about not doing that exercise. (Okay, that was not a recruiter.)

The information and agenda of the meetings need to be known beforehand. I need to prepare for them, and if the agenda is something other than what was agreed upon, I can't prepare. And I feel shitty about that. And if I feel shitty... I probably don't want to work at that company. I am just saying.

Do What You've Promised - And Communicate If You Can't

When a tech recruiter says they'll contact me at a certain time, I assume they'll do that. But I can't even count the times when I've been told that a company would get back to me at a certain date, and there was nothing. Just silence. And when I asked about that, they either ghosted me or treated me as if I should be thankful that they even answered.

It's okay if some things take time. Sometimes people deciding about the next steps are unavailable, and that's life. Sending a short message like "Hey, I know we promised to get back to you today, but I am sorry, [insert reason for the delay], and we'll get back to you [insert new timeline]." shouldn't be too much effort.

And yes, things happen. And it's okay - if you communicate about it. Sending that short message mentioned in the previous paragraph shows respect toward the candidate.

Treat Juniors and People From Minorities in Tech with Respect

I know we are in an era where everyone wants a senior developer, and there are just not enough of us. And there's the fact that white men are often seen as more competent than others. But if you only treat the ones you would like to hire now with respect and not, e.g., ghost them, it will bite you back.

You know, those juniors will be seniors one day. And those people coming from minorities in tech are as competent as, well, white men. And as the tech scene is small, we also often tell about our experiences to others - seniors as well.

I have many examples where my being treated poorly led to someone more senior than me refusing even an interview with a company because of my experiences. And as I've become more senior, I've also refused to interview because of those experiences.

For many, this is a no-brainer. But from my experience, there are a lot of companies and/or recruiters who don't get that.

Check Your Website's Accessibility

On Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2021, I got a call from a recruiter. They told me from which company they were, and I opened their website. I was on my computer and had a large screen with a browser in full-screen mode, so everything was big on the site. It contained some pretty wild animations, which triggered my symptoms. I felt very disoriented and tried to get away from the call (I'm too nice to hang up).

I tried to keep it together just enough to explain what had happened - and honestly, I have no idea if I succeeded. After the call, I needed to lie down for over 30 minutes, and I couldn't continue working for a while.

That is my reality with all those fancy parallax scrollings and other effects. I need to be extra careful when going to a new site. And I'm not alone.

Also, there are lots of disabled people who you might want to hire. But if your company's website is not accessible, they either encounter similar things as I do, or they can't use the website at all if it's not accessible. And let me tell you - you probably won't be able to hire us.

Check Your Website's Representation

Looking at some companies' websites, the wanted employee consists of these attributes:

  • Man
  • Plays video games
  • Drinks beer
  • Has a technical master's degree (and from a certain university)

And you know... I don't fit into that. I'm a woman; I don't play video games because I didn't have the opportunity when I was a child. Nowadays, I get frustrated because everyone else is so much better at them.

I don't drink beer (I rarely drink alcohol at all), and I don't have a technical master's degree - after all, as a developer, I'm self-taught.

And I don't mean that if I don't fit in, then nobody who's from a minority wouldn't. But only some people fit into that. Even if the actual culture inside the company is something different, we, the potential recruits, won't know it. That is if the websites and job advertisements give a one-sided picture of the company and its culture.

So, check the imagery of your company's websites and advertisements. Does everyone in the pictures look the same? Or is there diversity in these images?

Another thing to check about the imagery is that it doesn't echo the idea of white men being the seniors and POC, women, and other minorities in tech as juniors/trainees. I can't count how often I get targeted ads where senior roles have a man in the picture, and for the junior position, there's a woman in the advertisement.

Wrapping Up

This blog post might feel a bit sharp-tempered, and you're right; that was the point. I wanted to write these feelings out. I am frustrated with certain types of messages (and calls) I get from recruiters.

However, only some recruiters are like that. I've had many good convos with fantastic recruiters who clearly respect the (potential) candidate and their time.

If you found yourself or your company from one of the points, here's the good news: Now you can learn and do better in the future! It's the best place to be - without learning, we never can get better.

Top comments (19)

canro91 profile image
Cesar Aguirre

I can relate to this. All of it.

the first question was something like, "Why do you want to work at this company?"
Or asking for professional references or CV.

I'd add: not to ask candidates to fill any forms or sign up to the company candidate portal, when we don't even know if we want to work there or even start the process...

eevajonnapanula profile image

Yes! That's a really good addition. And this has happened to me a couple of times - I guess it has something to do with EU and GDPR, but the way to handle it would be first discuss and if the both parties want to continue, then it's time to save some data. Which is exactly what some companies do, luckily I've had some good experiences too 😄

koire profile image
Koire • Edited

the first question was something like, "Why do you want to work at this company?"

"because I want a new job? and you're offering something I can do" or "because you pay more" just don't seem like good answers.

I've only found a few companies that aligned with my values and were generally giving something good to the world and they didn't offer me a position :( Most everyone is just selling something and wants me to make it easier to sell things.

sdedrov profile image
Seth Dedrov

You mean to tell me people are really out here running companies for money?

moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair • Edited

The recruiter who got me my previous-but-one job is very good... but I had a missed call from him during the interview he set up. I mean, come on.

eevajonnapanula profile image

🤦🏻‍♀️ Oh come on. Luckily he was otherwise good!

janaina2020 profile image
Janaina Behling

Fantastic for all services and professional bad process!

leob profile image

100% to all of this, and it's baffling that there are so many recruiters who haven't got these simple basics right - it's called "professionalism" ...

None of these issues are 'evil' (they're just clumsy and inept), except for one: the disrespect for juniors or minorities, that one is particularly galling - maybe time they took a course on creating the right company culture.

oraclesean profile image
Oracle Sean ♠️


My favorites are variations on:

I reviewed your LinkedIn profile and it's very impressive! I think you'd be great for this position I'm trying to fill, because it:

  • uses technology ABC, which, despite my "careful review," I failed to notice is completely absent from your profile.
  • involves database Z, and while you work with database X, a database is a database, amirite?
  • is a junior role that should really excite someone with 30 years experience.
  • is entirely unrelated to your skill set but happens to be in the same state you live in.
shybovycha profile image
Artem Shubovych

Agree to most of the things.

Just one pain point for me are the messages like "(mysterious company, #1 in the world, as always) please send me your CV / fill out this application form if you are interested"... on LinkedIn.

I do understand most of those recruiters want a CV as a file on their hard drive (which they won't hesitate to share with others, apparently), but come on, have you even read my LinkedIn profile? My uni block is times more detailed than your cold message! Just click that "download as PDF" button in the page header if you want that file so much.

koire profile image

I loved this post!!

I'm a more or less a full-stack developer, as in, I transitioned from Java/PHP to the front-end (mainly React, but I went deep into HTML/JS/CSS because, basically everyone used to laugh at front-end and I'm a contrarian and I kinda like JavaScript). I still do a little on back-end, but it's more cookie-cutter stuff.
Anyway, my resume is like 10 years ago PHP/Java, and starting about 5 or 6 years ago all front-end. And I get so many messages about back-end!! Also, I went into an interview for a front-end position and had to discuss the differences between SQL and NoSQL databases with regard to ACID and when to choose which one...

Java != JavaScript, and if you see on my application that I'm applying for a front-end position please don't ask me to describe databases or do a code challenge (please no 3 hr code challenges in general) where I have to choose a back-end language (node.js is back-end though). ... I'm ranting.. sorry. I have 14 days to do a 3hr coding challenge from codility and my choices are C++, Go, Java 8, Kotlin or Python, and Java 8? isn't it like version 19?

Anyway, back to the point, Thank you so much for a great article!

nstoker profile image

And there's the fact that white men are often seen as more competent than others.

In my experience, non white/ non cis-men are often more competent and can communicate better.

I've just had a thought. I should put a (c) on my CV that (in theory) would make it unlawful for the recruiters to transfer my details into their "better" format.

jackedwardlyons profile image
Jack Lyons

I love this. I also wrote a post about this a while back because it's just so frustrating when tech recruiters spam me and have no idea what they're talking about

raibtoffoletto profile image
Raí B. Toffoletto

Yeahp I think this sums up all my frustrations with recruiters. I dealt with nice ones in the past, but the majority should really read this post.

glenn_miller_860ba12ffbf7 profile image
Glenn A Miller

I made the mistake of posting my resume on Dice.

I was deluged by recruiters in India. It's all automated, I think. I went dark on Dice, but it was too late.

Never post a resume there. It's nothing but trouble and time wasting.

ldrscke profile image
Christian Ledermann

I let cold calls normally go to my voicemail, which says:

"Leave a message and a damn good reason why this could not have been a text, or an email"

orenyosifon_73 profile image
Oren Yosifon

Spot on

cassette88 profile image

This helped me feel sane after some recent experiences. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

marcello_h profile image

I don't mind if a recruiter calls me, but it would be nice to have an email, or some form of message upfront: "Hey, when is the best time to call you"