How do you respond to recruiters?

molly_struve profile image Molly Struve (she/her) ・1 min read

Many devs, at some point in their careers, have to deal with pesky recruiter emails and messages. How do you handle them? Are you the type of person that ignores them? Do you have a canned response you like to send? Or do you respond with something more creative?


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I have a template reply saved in Evernote. I just copy and paste it.

The reply is very polite. I tell them "this time" I'm not interested but "I'll let them know whenever I'm open for new opportunities".

Some have come back again but I just tell them "I'm still not looking for a job" πŸ˜†

I used to ignore them but I think is better to give them a reply. We never know when it's going to be our time to be the one waiting to be replied to.


I have definitely found that for most responding keeps them from following up weekly and many will leave you alone for at least 6 months. I really wish more would heed the "I will let you know when I am ready" message bc I have found many dont.


bc I have found many dont

Has happened to me in LinkedIn. Would they send recruitment messages in bulk?

I dont know how recruiters send their messages I just know most dont care how you have replied in the past and will keep hounding your regardless. They are the used car salesmen of Tech in my opinion.

In the course I've my nearly a decade in the industry, I've dealt with precisely one recruiter who's been good. She's found me three roles in total that I've taken (the second of those came to an abrupt end when I was ill my first week, but that wasn't her fault), including the role I've been in for the last two and a bit years.

There are good ones, but they're very rare.


I built a custom resume website for the pushy ones - resume.jenniferwadella.com


I always say "Thanks for reaching out but not interested at this time - will reach-out when that changes on my part" - Something like that so they don't keep reaching out (obviously some do).

My opinions have kind of changed about recruiters. I used to get annoyed all the time at these pesky messages flooding my inbox. But at the end of the day, they are just doing their job. If they are flat out stupid e.g. telling me about an iOS role they think I'm a good fit for, when I'm actually a RoR developer and have no experience in iOS - then I don't bother responding. But I would say 90% have done their homework and tell me about roles I'd be suited for.


You are correct that recruits are just doing their job. I've worked with many, and they are under immense pressure at times.

You can when a recruiter has taken 'some' effort in making sure you are at least somewhat suited for the job. In that case, I normally will respond politely with a standard message.


I have a standard template I if the recruiter appears to have taken some time to see if I'm a candidate for the job. If I think it's a bot or the description doesn't match my skill set at all, I'll ignore it. If I'm on contract, the message usually includes things like:
1) I'm on a contract and not willing to break it
2) The time I'm going to start considering new contracts
3) Kinds of work I'm interesting it.

On Twitter, many people tend to hate on recruiters, but they are just doing their job and are usually under immense pressure. The last few years have been good for developers but there have been bad times too so I always recommend keeping in contract with a small handful of good recruiters. When the market goes bad, and it will at some point, you have a few recruiters that feel you will provide value to their clients (and make them money but in turn, advocate for you).

I've worked with many recruiters and if a trusted recruiter advocates one of their candidates, we definitely notice.


I never reply to them.


I used to go the route of responding with "I am not interested at this time, but thanks!" because my mother taught me never to burn a bridge.

However, that nice reply has caused some recruiters to keep coming back every month and in my frustration, I have started responding with GIFs.

I know it's kinda childish but it gives me a good little laugh rather than making me frustrated about the situation so 🀷


It depends on those messages that are sent by the recruiter. If it's a cookie-cutter type of recruiter message. I would respond very nicely that I'm not interested in it.

If it's a nice non-cookie cutter type of recruiter message, I would usually accept them as part of my Linkedin. I would schedule a call or have a face to face meeting with them. To rope them in to sponsor our local meetup events for the developer communities I'm in. I would also provide a referral or lookout for people they might be interested in.


For me personally, I tend to ignore most of those messages, as they tend to be for positions I am either unqualified for, roles I know from previous experiences I wouldn't enjoy, or would require relocation in some form or fashion.

However, every once in a while I will be contacted by a recruiter with a position that I am intrigued about, but not quite ready to make the move yet. For those messages, I tend to respond with a personal message explaining why I don't feel ready right now, and asking their permission to reach out in the future to see if they have a similar position or if my current skills would fit their need.
I haven't yet gone back to any of those, but I figured that keeping those doors open, while being honest about where I am at in my journey wouldn't hurt.


I don’t get many recruiter messages. I think I ignore most of the ones that go to my personal email address which is listed on GitHub/my blog.

I also do my best to appear unemployable. For instance, my title on LinkedIn is β€œMaster of the Custodial Arts.”


You mop the floors, I'll set the rat traps.


HA, I love that approach!


I originally made it my title because when hiring for my job one of the candidates said it sounded like "janitorial work." Apparently maintaining open source packages makes you a janitor. Embracing that. πŸ˜‚


I try to be respectful while remembering that this is a business transaction. Recruiters want to get me to work at their company/client's company so that they can get paid.

I usually say something like "thanks for reaching out but I'm not looking for a new job". I close out with "feel free to keep in touch for the future".

It works pretty well for me. Most recruiters respond with something more human than their initial message that they probably blasted out. Some even thank me for responding.


It's been quite a while since I had a regular onslaught of technical recruiters in my inbox. But back when I did, I wrote a blog post/page on my site called "my candidate description," listing all of the requirements I had before I'd consider interviewing with a company (a SOLID/clean codebase, remote work non-optional, no algo/data structure/whiteboard interviews, etc).

I'd send them the URL, politely ask them to read it and consider whether the company met my requirements, and follow up accordingly. Sometimes I'd mention that I would end a phone interview or in-person interview on the spot if I learned any of my conditions weren't met, but only if I got the sense that they'd fib to get me to take an interview.

If I recall, it was more effective than you'd think it would have been.


That is a really great idea!


Every discussion with a recruiter is an opportunity. I like to take as many of these calls as humanly possible, potentially putting my sanity at risk. I do this because I've found that seemingly unlikely placements can turn out to be really good! But it pays to be forthcoming about one's expectations so that no one's feelings are hurt when things don't work out.

Love the work on Dev.to. It's fast and a joy to use. Many thanks!


Really depends on the situation. If it looks like they just sent a generic copy/paste to everyone listed as a developer in my area on LinkedIn, I usually just ignore. If it looks like they put some effort into reading my profile/portfolio and explain why they think me specifically would be a good match, I'll also put in an effort and answer.

Actually got my current job through a recruiter, who did write a personal message, and who had worked with one of my friends before and had been recommended by her to contact me for the job - both those things made a big difference.


Very aptly said, the 1st part is something even I use as a rule of thumb when dealing with recruiters. Most of them usually do keyword searches & send out the same generic InMail to all (like firing in the dark, hoping it hits atleast 1 target). Bit hypocritic & ironic considering recruiters want "tailor-made" resumes/cover letters from candidates.

This contains samples I've found useful for the scenarios detailed here, do have a look.


"Hi <?name>, I'm afraid I'm not looking to move right now but happy to stay connected.

<?your name>"

I make a point of staying connected to recruiters as you never know when they will be useful. You don't even have to respond to them if you're not interested, you don't owe them anything. The relationship is generally very transactional so in general they understand that they wont get a meaningful response until you actually intend to use them.

Watch out for recruiters that say they have been asked to approach you directly. That's not always the truth. What I say here is:
"Hi <?name>, thank you for your interest. Can I ask specifically why your client would like you to approach me directly?

<?your name>"

The response, or lack thereof, should be quite revealing.


The overwhelming majority of emails and LinkedIn notifications I get from recruiters are copy-pasted templates for work that I'm not even remotely interested in. Of the ones that are actually for Software Engineering positions, the skillset they're hunting for isn't even close to mine. E.g. "with your skills in JavaScript, you'll be perfect for this Java position!" ._. I only wrote Java when I was learning to program and then when I was a College CompSci Tutor.

Then there are the ones that are actually up my alley, Software Engineering positions with either a focus on Full Stack work or primarily Backend work. I'll glance at a position if it involves using the stacks I like (Golang! β€οΈπŸ˜ƒ). Most of those usually require relocation, or there are glaring spelling/grammatical errors with the templates, etc.

If the position doesn't land into any of those pitfalls, I'll request more information before setting up any calls. If they can't answer my questions, I politely decline.

It's all a business transaction, so when a recruiter respects my time by showing me that they've actually read my profiles and visited my website (I blatantly state what I'm looking for above the fold), and can provide me with info upfront, I respond in kind.

I am very pleased to say that I have worked with one tech recruiter in particular, whom was absolutely fantastic at his job and helped land me my current contract with Home Depot! After my first 6 months, he became the Account Manager for another client at the recruiting company, so kudos to him!

So, good recruiters do exist. They just happen to be a needle in a haystack of really bad ones.


So, since I don't know how to drive, and I haven't had luck with remote gigs, I tell them I would love to talk! If they have a job within a 30min walk from my apartment.

Most recruiters thank me for reading their message and say some canned response about how they'll keep me in mind if anything comes along.

One dude actually found one a year later and reached out. That was some awesome record-keeping on his part. It ended up not being a good fit, but I didn't think my message of highly specific requirements would ever actually get a lead.


I remember a time when I received zero recruitment emails or cold calls on LinkedIn. I remember when I would have taken any job opportunity just to get in the door of this industry. Getting that first job was a griiiind πŸ˜…

So even if it's a large blast of emails I'm just appreciative of the fact that came back in their search results. So I try to always respond politely with a "no thanks but feel free to reach out if more opportunities come up".

Maybe I don't get as many as others so it's less of a problem for me but I'm genuinely not bothered by them as hilariously mismatched some of them are.


I always try to reply - usually with the generic "no thank you" offered by LinkedIn if they send me a job that has none of the specifications I mentioned in my job settings that are visible to recruiters.

When it comes to trying to connect with me, I'm starting to draw the line. I want to be open to building relationships, but I'm not sure I see any benefit to having another recruiter join my network. 🀷


100% I don't connect with any recruiter I don't know.


If they have taken some time to truly investigate my profile and do not send me inquiries about jobs I'm not even remotely qualified to do (eg hardware engineering) I reply to them and I explain my situation clearly and sincerely.

I even let them know if I will be available to discuss an opportunity any time soon and if the position would sound good otherwise.

That kind of people look like a good contact and after all they do it for a living like I do my job.

Like all professions they have their strict deadlines and it is not nice to hit a wall because some of their colleagues are incompetent and there is no need to be passive aggressive.

I wouldn't like it in my job and I'm not enforcing it to others.

For the rest of them, I am usually just rejecting them politely. I'm still happy to have them in my network though, it doesn't hurt as far as I know.


Depends on the particular outreach for me...

I find text messages weirdly invasive and don't like them. They feel a bit more personal, like you'd only want them from expected sources or friends/family/authentication mechanisms. I don't usually remember giving my number to a random recruiter. These ones I tend to ignore and delete or unsubscribe where possible.

For random recruitment emails, I rarely reply unless their offering intrigues me. Unless it's personalised (which, in my experience, they rarely are) or from a recruiter connection I know, then it tends to be a recruitment email blunderbuss approach and so in the bin it goes.

For phone calls, I usually take those and like to connect with recruiters. It only takes 5-10 minutes to make a connection that may be of mutual benefit in the future so that's fine with me. If it's not a good time, then I'll gracefully

Same for LinkedIn. Sure, you get the odd InMail generalised spam and ones that don't even take the time to read your profile/history at all (10 years front end? Here's a PHP job...WTF?!) and those I don't waste my time with. But, like the calls, I'll always connect with genuine connections as you never know down the line.

I don't have a template reply, so to speak, but I do point them at my website's recruitment FAQ where they can get answers to the most common information I get asked about, including my CV. It just saves everyone some time.


I usually filter immediately out. ( sorry, i don't do java or unity - yes i might have worked on them 6 months 10 years ago, but definitely i don't fit the java senior or game developer position you are offering - or very interesting, but not considering relocation. )
those that i can't - because they could actually work, it's harder. still reply i am not considering to change because iI just started a new project / role and want to finish it ( and no, i dont'want to just have a talk to update your database) and suggest to catch up in 6 /12 months.
normally i reply to all requests altogether once every week/two weeks. ( so not really immediately)
i try to always be polite, and when i am pissed off... i write these posts here on dev! ;-)


May I suggest sending them over to here where they can find folks who are looking for a new role: diversifytech.co/changetheratio/


Ahhhh! Good call, copying that link now. Thank you!


The overwhelming majority of the ones I get are on LinkedIn these days, and that has stock responses built in. It's just a single button to press to respond with "Thank you, but I'm not interested"


Those replies for Linkedin messages are the best thing that ever happened on that site!


"Hello [Recruiter's Name],

Thank you for reaching out about this opportunity..."