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Jelle Smeets
Jelle Smeets

Posted on • Originally published at blog.jellesmeets.nl

Are recruiters worth it in the tech world?

Everyone in tech must have noticed it is a job-seekers market. Software engineers are hot, and if you have a Linkedin profile you will probably get attention from recruiters. Over the years I have had bad recruiters contact me. Found my phone number somewhere (because I definitely did not put it on Linkedin or gave it to them) and called me with non-relevant job offers. The same recruiters don't know the difference between Java and Javascript.

Over the last few years, I have done as much as I can to get my personal data removed, to stop the recruiter spam. With a little bit of help from the GDPR laws in Europe, I was able to remove my personal data from a scraper tool a few recruitment agencies use. Have quite a few recruiters blacklisted on my phone, and many more things.

But how bad are the recruiters really? Are my negative experiences the rule, or the exception? If I was looking for a new job, can I get a matching position or are they all trash? Let's do an experiment to find out!

The experiment

The experiment I wanted to do was to put my Linkedin status, that I am open for a new job, so you won't have to ;). I made it as real looking as I could, I was open for Scrum Master, Team lead, or Engineering manager positions in the regions close to Apeldoorn, The Netherlands.

But how do you track if a message is genuine and not spam sent to multiple recipients? I found this very interesting tweet by Kelly Vaughn that caught my attention.

What do we want to know?

I tracked all messages I got when I changed my profile that I was open to working. Per message I kept track of:

  • Company
  • Does it contain my real name, or my emoji first name?
  • Does it contain any personalized information in the message itself?
  • Does it come from a recruitment agency or an inhouse recruiter?
  • Does the message contain for which company/job it is?
    • If yes, is the job actually relevant to what I posted as my preferences?

With this information I would like to answers the following questions:

  • What is the ratio of low effort and personalized messages?
  • What is the ration between job positions with my preference and without.
  • Is it worth the effort for someone in tech to use Linkedin to find a relevant job?

The results

In the first 4 days, I got 15 messages on Linkedin. After those 4 days the messages dried up, and no other messages were received. Let's take a closer look at what was in those messages.

What is the ratio of bad and good messages?

The first question I would like to answer is what the ratio of good to bad messages is. The experience I had in the past was that I mostly get bad messages from Recruiters trying to get an easy score. But is that actually the case?

From all messages, 80% contained no personal information whatsoever. No names, no job, just messages to get me to call them, get my phone number, or accept an invite for a connection.

mount of messages that contained personalized information
Amount of messages that contained personalized information

I was also curious how many recruiters would fell for the "emoji as a first name" tactic I talked about at the beginning of the blog post. In total 33.3% of messages contained the emoji. The funniest one was a message that was written to make it look like they actually put effort into writing a personal message, and they are not "like the other recruiters". But sent the message to Dear Emoji.

Amount of messages that used emoji as my first name
Amount of messages that used emoji as my first name

During the experiment, I got an e-mail from Linkedin that confirmed my suspicions. From the 13 messages I received at that point, only 6 of them actually viewed my profile.

Linkedin giving me an update
Linkedin giving me an update

What is the ratio between job positions with and without my preference?

Another heard complaint is recruiters reaching out to you for anything related to a computer. Java developer for someone with PHP on their resume? For some recruiters, this is no problem.

Did the message include job information?
Did the message include job information?

The data shows that only 13.3% of the messages actually contain a job position and company. While some only contain a title, some also contain for which company. So far only two messages included both the title and the company, and those were both from in-house recruiters and had personalized messages. From recruitment agencies, 3 messages included a job title. They were all for a development role (lead, front end, PHP). You can almost spot the pattern there. In the graph below you can see the overlap. All personal messages that contained good information on the job and company where not send from a recruiter at an Agency.
Did the message come from an agency?
Did the message come from an agency?

I have noticed there are some agencies that will stand out, in a bad way. Two agencies reached out to me from 3 recruiters, which indicates they don't have a really good internal process for following up on possible candidates. Certainly, if those are all low-effort messages.

Is it worth the effort?

Is it worth the effort to use recruiters on Linkedin? I would say it depends. It takes a little bit of time to filter through the spammy messages and finding the real offers. There are some ways to make it easier to spot them, the Emoji trick helped quite a bit.

In the end, I got to know about 2 job positions on paper I would be interested in. In conclusion that is the main takeaway of this experiment for me. If you are looking for a new job, you can through Linkedin, therefore you should focus on the messages that are good, instead of focussing on all the garbage messages you get. This experiment and my past experiences have shown most recruitment agencies just don't work for me. If I would look for a new job, I would probably only use the in-house recruiters.

What are your experiences with recruiters? Do you think they are a good way to find a new job, or do they only send job offers you are not interested in? Let me know down below.

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