How to deal with robots and get your poodle a job

How should you act when a recruiter calls you during personal relaxation time (i.e. grooming your pet poodle “Fluffikissh”)? What are the ground rules for interacting with robots? If the end goal of everyone is to have a good reputation and to earn a living what are some long term things we can do to get there?

You can interact with a recruiter in a bunch of ways:

  • Unsolicited email
  • Phone call
  • Prank Phone call
  • Awkward stare
  • Love Letter
  • LinkedIn message
  • Scheduled Social Interaction (i.e. poodle playdate)

Tech recruiters get a bad rap because a good deal of the initial communication is unsolicited and untargeted. (er, spam) I’ve gotten many emails about positions that I am not qualified for in any imaginable way – they might as well for jobs as a mime.

Fact: mimes have a difficult time getting referrals from others mimes over the phone.

It’s pretty simple really: be pleasant, professional, helpful, and don’t be a jerk.

Be professional: Don’t waste their time

If you are a Ruby on Rails hacker living in New York and you get an email from a recruiter casting a wide net looking for talented programmers for a position on Yourass, IL to work on YourElbow v2.0 (NOT 3.0 or 1.1) – just delete the email. Do not write back the recruiter and waste their time. Don’t get upset and bad-mouth them to your friends – they are either clueless and junior in their industry or they are desperate to find somebody with a rare skillset. Shame on you for using your email that you check every 15 minutes anywhere having to do with a job ever.

Side note: I once got an email looking for a “Pearl Architect”. There are 3 bugs in that statement (perl: NOT EVEN ONCE)

Be Pleasant: Don’t Assume

I have met a lot of developers that can’t stand recruiters recently. The bad-mouthing that goes on in places like Hacker News is pretty brutal. A developer on Hackers News complaining about recruiters is very close to a college graduate complaining of a person whose entire job is to help you find a job you like. Every time you waste 30 seconds on a recruiter think “this is a good problem to have”.  When you meet a new recruiter don’t start out the relationship by telling them about the time that one recruiter lied to you and broke your heart.

Be Helpful: Think Long Term

Recruiters do provide value and a good recruiter (like a good mechanic or a person who has never tried Skittles) is rare. So think of every interaction with a recruiter as you vetting out two recruiters that at some point in your career you will use to either get a job that you really like (“I always wanted a job where Fluffikissh could be my personal assistant”) or to help out a friend who is either breaking into the industry, has moved from a new place, or is simply looking for something specific.

Don’t be a Jerk

Now is a good time to be a developer. Our entire industry, especially the value-creating role of a developer of products, is a buyer’s market. Don’t let it go to your head. You are not that special. Don’t be a jerk to a recruiter – in the same way dishonest recruiters are eventually spit out of the industry – no matter how good a hacker you are the word gets around that the freak with the poodle is hard to work with. Stay classy.

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