Be friendly and don't ignore Recruiters

Increasingly, I've noticed an increased level of resistance to recruiters among engineers. There has always been a love/hate relationship between the two parties. From the beginning of my career, I always heard "recruiters are bad". And, to be honest, I accepted that as truth for the longest time. But, reflecting on it now, I don't understand it at all.

I'm writing this article for fellow software engineers to not accept the rhetoric of what others say - see for yourself. In a nutshell, you and I are not "better" because we are engineers. Recruiters are another role that is necessary for the sector to function.

Here's my advice for software engineers dealing with recruiters.

1. Use canned responses

One of the main aversion to recruiters is sending countless emails to irrelevant jobs. This is understandable annoying. Especially when you are specific about not looking for a job, or the types of job you want. But consider for a second why this happens. Recruiters are paid for successful placements. Because there is a shortage of talented engineers, it figures that most engineers are already employed. If recruiters took the fact that someone was already employed as a reason to not approach them, it would be impossible to hire. For myself, I've always been employed when approached about another job.

So, we can't avoid the inMail and emails. But, what's the solution? Canned Response

Canned responses save you time by being clear about your expectations for a job and what kind of work you might be open to. You can find many templates for this online, but they are mostly full of snark.

Here is one I use:

Hi X,

Thanks for your message! This looks like a fantastic opportunity.

Unfortunately, I have recently accepted a position at a new company and am not currently seeking new opportunities.

I’ll be sure to bear you in mind for future roles.

Kind regards,

Short, friendly, clear. Simple as that.

Or, if you are open to work. Here's another template I use for that:

Hey X,

Thanks for your message! This looks like a fantastic opportunity.

Although this job doesn't fit me, I am currently looking for a Remote Senior Developer position working with NodeJS, React, and AWS. I have worked with these technologies for over 5 years across an array of projects. Most recently, I have been architecting and building a greenfield project for a large eCommerce company.

I have attached my CV in case you have anything that fits the bill.

Kind regards,

Again, it's short and sweet but gets across the message.

2. Recruiters are great at building communities

Due to being involved with a large network of developers, recruiters are incredible at creating communities. Many events that I have run, have been so well supported in large part due to the work of recruiters leveraging their networks. Meeting these people at events can then further your own career.

Additionally, they have more access to commercial ends of businesses. If you have a technical event you're running, recruitment agencies are usually among the first to sponsor the event. They get the exposure and you get the finances to run a kick-ass event. Win, win. Leverage these resources that they have access to.

3. Don't let a bad egg put you off the whole batch

Now, I know what you're thinking. You've read this article so far and said to yourself "that's all well and good. But this recruiter was truly awful".

I agree.

There are bad recruiters out there. Terrible ones. But there are lots of bad engineers too. There are bad healthcare workers, builders, architects, designers, painters. With anything and everything, there is a "bad" version of. And that's ok.

At worst, a "bad" recruiter might spam you with some emails or calls. You can easily block these. A bad engineer might give you a haunting nightmare of yarn that you have to untangle over the next year. The effects of these are vastly different in size.

But just as when we recognise a bad engineer, we don't assume all engineers are bad. We should think the same about recruiters. Don't let one bad egg spoil the whole batch. There are good eggs out there. This brings me nicely onto my next point...

4. Work with individuals, not companies

A recruitment agency, like any other company, is a faceless emotionless entity. Inside each company, there will be some great people and some not so great people. Find the individuals in those businesses that you get on with and place you into jobs you enjoy. Then work with them throughout your career. Personally, I've held 5 jobs given to me by 2 recruiters that I work with and have built up trust over time.

You can build trust with them by running events with them and referring people in your own network to them.

5. Accept them as part of the process

Many believe we should live without recruitment agencies entirely. This is an understandable viewpoint. But this belief underscores a fundamental misunderstanding about business - stuff costs money. And if that "stuff" is hiring people, then it costs a lot. Why? Reviewing resumé's/CV's, interviewing and technical skill tests all takes time. Time from someone who is paid by the company. A recruitment agency's main value offering lies in getting high-quality candidates from a large network and handling all the marketing associated with advertising for a job.

Just as many developers "outsource" their code by using third party libraries to save time, businesses do the same with recruiters. It saves time, and there is no point in reinventing the wheel. It allows them to unlock access to resources that would have taken a considerable amount of time to develop otherwise.

For better or worse, recruiters are part of the process of getting a job and are here to stay.

Hopefully, this post has helped soften your attitude toward recruiters. I'm not trying to win favours with recruiters by writing this. It's a response to several snarky posts about the recruitment industry and tech. At the end of the day, these are people trying to do their jobs - like you and I. Sure there are some bad apples, but where isn't there? Default to truth and follow the advice outlined above, it will work out in your best interests to do so.