Ethan Banks On productivity.

A Fun Response To Recruiter Spam


2011 was the Year of the Recruiter, at least in my world. They contact me all the time. A ping via LinkedIn is fair enough; I don’t mind that, and I even network with recruiters frequently. Unsolicited e-mail showing up in my inbox gets tiring, but I understand. Directly calling my office phone by requesting the front desk to route to me is simply unprofessional, but has happened often enough that I have had to leave a voicemail message that tells recruiters I will not call them back. In fact, as a rule, I don’t respond to recruiters anymore. I no longer feel empathetic towards their plight to fill a spot. Although it’s nice to be wanted, I’m weary of it because I’m actually employed. The day that I’m not, I’ll be reaching out to the recruiters.

Anyway, here’s some recruiter spam typical of what I often receive, followed by the response I’d like to give, were I that cheeky.

Hello Ethan, my name is Fred Flintstone and I am a technical recruiter with The Amazing Recruiters.

I am contacting you because I’m recruiting on an exciting position with a prestigious client. Below you will find the job description detailing the preferred specifications that our client is seeking in the ideal candidate for this position.  If you are available and meet the requirements please respond with your updated resume in a Microsoft Word formatted document.

In addition, I want to extend my apologies in advance should this position not be an ideal fit for your experience and qualifications at this time. Should this be the case we will keep you in mind and informed when other suitable positions are available.

Lastly, if you know of anyone that would be an ideal fit, please forward my information along to them.

Hi, Fred. I noticed that your opening sentence is what grammarians refer to as a “run on.” That’s a shame, because I understand that not only you, but also your cohorts at The Amazing Recruiters use that opener in your canned form letters. I’ve received this opener several times from various folks at your firm. But let’s overlook that. I’m hardly a stickler for good grammar. (Seriously. Have you spied how many rules I’ve broken just in this blog entry alone? I do it all the time.)

Let’s discuss the position. Am I right in assuming that the only reason my name came up in your database is because of some keyword matches? I ask because it’s clearly evident from the position you forwarded to me that you have little idea of what my experience is or where my expertise actually lies. That’s a concern to me, because I feel that the keyword approach to matching people with positions is the shallowest approach possible. Fred, what is your real concern here? Do you know your client well? If you didn’t take the time to understand who I am, what am I to assume about your knowledge of your client? You almost seem, dare I say it, a mercenary.

Does this seem overly harsh? I don’t mean for it to. However, employment is traumatic for both employers and the employed. Taking a job is a big, big deal. There is an intense relationship formed. As the arbiter of said relationship, I’d think that, as commensurate with your fee, you’d have taken the time to fully understand both your client’s needs as well as the ability of your potential candidates to fulfill that need. Fred, I’m just not convinced you really care, and that’s not good for anyone. (As an aside, are all your positions “exciting” and clients “prestigious”? That seems unlikely. But I digress.)

Moving away from my larger concerns, I’m somewhat baffled by the request for an updated resume in Word format. And that’s assuming I was actually interested in the position, which I believe I have established that I am not. Microsoft Word is a proprietary format, unloved by many, and as expensive a word processing solution as could be imagined for the unemployed. Ironically, the position you are recruiting for is that of a Linux Systems Administrator, the stereotype of which is one who would rather embark on polar exploration in the nude rather than use a Microsoft product of any kind. While there are open source software alternatives to the Microsoft Office suite that can export documents in Microsoft Word format, wouldn’t it be more logical to request updated resumes in a universally accessible format? Better yet, are you aware that candidates very often maintain an updated resume online? is a spectacular platform for this. You should give it a try!

I genuinely appreciate your extended apologies, but I adjure you to not keep me in mind unless you have an actual match for my skills, abilities, experience, and requirements. As for the promise of “other suitable positions,” that’s not technically a possibility, as you have yet to provide an initial suitable position. Once an initial suitable position has been presented, then you will be able to present me with other suitable positions. I nitpick, yes, but I fear that this entire exchange has been an unsatisfactory experience for both of us. I thought that perhaps it would be worthwhile to point out what could be done to improve future exchanges.

As far as knowing of anyone that might be a fit, I know many, many people. My social network is better than average, and the vast majority of those people are intelligent, capable, attractive potential candidates with clean criminal records, good communications skills, and all of their teeth. Now Fred, help me to understand something. You get paid to find the candidate that can fill your client’s position, correct? We know that’s true, and so it only seems right that I should be reimbursed to grant you access to my social network. If that is amenable in principle, then I’m happy to help you in this way, assuming you further agree to my terms. Here’s how this will work. I will act as the middleman between you and my social network. I won’t tell you my selections’ names or their salary requirements. I’ll just let you see a little bit of their background (enough to convince you that a keyword search was matched), and then arrange an interview. All decisions and communications must go through me. FYI, I work on retainer. Therefore, please send an appropriately sized check so that we can get started.

I look forward to doing business with you.

All my best,


1 comment

  • “I won’t tell you my selections’ names or their salary requirements. I’ll just let you see a little bit of their background (enough to convince you that a keyword search was matched), and then arrange an interview. All decisions and communications must go through me. FYI, I work on retainer. ”

    Oh wait; that’s what you’re supposed to do, isn’t it, Fred?

    Well played, sir.

By Ethan Banks
Ethan Banks On productivity.

You probably know Ethan Banks because he writes & podcasts about IT. For example, he co-authored "Computer Networks Problems & Solutions" with Russ White.

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