Memo To Tech Recruiters: They REALLY Don’t Like You

Nov 1, 2013

recruiter spam trackerOne reason sourcing tech talent is such a challenge is that, let me put this delicately, many of the most talented developers and engineers don’t like recruiters.

They really don’t like you.

A blog post from two years ago is headlined “Death to Recruiters” and begins like this:

Dear technical recruiters: I hate you. As far as I can tell, the entire technical recruiting community is just a bunch of mindless spammers — and I have the proof.

That’s the same sentiment expressed a decade ago in a post headlined “Recruiters Suck.”

Don’t think for even one second that opinion has changed. Search Google with the keywords ” tech recruiter suck” and dozens of posts come up from just the last several months. There’s even a site tracking recruiter mailings. It’s

Now, a new controversy has erupted and the issues and complaints are exactly the same as they were in 2003: unsolicited emails and calls offering jobs unrelated to the tech’s interests, location, experience, or current position. The difference a decade makes is that Twitter and other social networks enabled the recipient this week of a recruiter’s mass emailing to broadcast his irritation to his 95,000 followers.

David Heinemeier Hansson
David Heinemeier Hansson

The bad luck that recruiter Nicholas Meyler had is that his job offer for a Ruby on Rails developer to work in office happened to hit the mailbox of the man who invented Ruby on Rails, David Heinemeier Hansson, on the same day his book extolling the virtues of working outside the office was released.

“Needless to say, Nicholas Meyler from Wingate Dunross sucks at recruiting,” tweeted Hansson. “If you are the SF startup who hired him, the joke is on you.”

Just hours earlier Hansson announced his book REMOTE: Office Not Required went on sale on Amazon. So besides his irritation at getting yet another email about a job he’s not interested in — he told me he averages five recruiter contacts a week — the fact the company insisted the developer work in its office pushed a final button.

“Every now and then I get fed-up,” Hansson said, pointing out the irony of his book coming out at the same time getting a job pitch with the warning, “We are not looking for any contractors, telecommuters, or people who wish to work from remote locations.”

“So atrocious,” Hansson said, insisting that the job email was spam on exactly the

same order as pitches for penile enlargement products. Just because it’s a job offer, he said, “doesn’t make it not spam… We (tech professionals) get spammed to the moon.”

Besides Hansson’s tweets, and several dozen retweets reaching thousands more, the text of Meyler’s email was posted to GitHub, a code exchange and forum for developers. One of Hansson’s followers even uncovered the client behind the job, DerbyWire, which lead to a handful of tweets mocking the company .

Nicholas Meyler
Nicholas Meyler

Despite the fallout, Meyler was utterly unrepentant. “I don’t think it is spam at all,” he said. “There are people out there who don’t have jobs who are happy to get job opportunities… I think a recruiter has the right to contact people.”

His position is that those who don’t want to receive his emails can use the unsubscribe link he includes. Or, they can just delete them.

The complaints, he said bluntly, come from only a handful of people, who are “absolutely not the people, the ones who complain are the ones we don’t want.” As if that wasn’t enough, he called the controversy, “a ridiculous thing to me to complain about.”

Meyler, who is senior vice president, technology at Wingate Dunross, an executive search firm in Southern California, said he’s used email “aggressively and well” for many years. His mass mailings get results, he said. “They are more targeted than they think.”

ruby on rails emailBut is that a best practice, especially in light of his public flogging? “It works,” he said. And as for the virality of the controversy, “I know it’s a little viral, but I wouldn’t say all that viral.” For what it’s worth, Meyler is now #1 on the recruiterspam site. (Take a look to see if you have wound up there, too.)

Though he insists the who issue involves only “a small minority of people,” Meyler said he may give up on mass mailings and use LinkedIn instead. When he’s used LI in the past it’s been an “overwhelmingly positive approach.”

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