How to Uninterest Me in Your Job Opening

I have been receiving an incredible amount of job calls and emails lately. I mean, so many that I’m concerned my cell phone minutes will go over my allotted 450 (sure, I don’t have to answer those calls). For whatever reason, I actually read through most of these emails. However, lately my brain has been tuning its spam filters to reduce the strain of going through that much junk. For you head hunters out there, here is my personal list of easy ways to uninterest me in your job opening. You might want to pay attention because I suspect I speak for a lot of people.

Update 2018.11.28

Wow. This post is really old but is still seeing traffic. I suppose it’s time to rewrite that intro paragraph a bit.

I am still receiving an incredible amount of calls from recruiters, but instead of worrying about my 450 minutes and overages, I now worry all the calls will crash my cell carrier’s logging system due to log flooding. The calls are bad, but the emails are worse now. Due to this, I actually started developing a filter script that uses bogofilter to detect patterns in poorly written job emails and automatically filter them into a "jobs.bad" directory.

In light of that, this post is no longer about how to uninterest me in your job opening, but rather how to avoid being caught by my Bayesian filter and regular expressions. :)

1. Subject lines that tell me nothing

I just dug through my jobs.bad directory to get a list of the worst offenders. Here are a few examples of this one. The subject lines tell me nothing. If you can decipher these easily, send me an email. Maybe I’m missing a trick to reading email that I should know.

  • JobNotification(4370535922B4F7A49)

  • <Company> Job Opportunity #715807

  • HIGH PRIORITY ||

  • Job Description

  • Check this role out

  • Trying to reach you…​…​…​

  • Good day!

  • New offer

  • Staff wanted

  • Next steps

  • Your resume

  • Urgent requirement

  • Checking in

  • Devops

  • Job description: DEVELOPER II - 0012312578

  • Please submit your resume

Those aren’t very helpful. The subject line should contain a simple summary of the email body (like a well-written git commit log). Imagine if journalists titled their articles like this. Reading the news would be very difficult.

Comically, while writing this section of the post, I received two job emails. One was titled "Checking-In" and the other "Trying To reach You // Linux System Engineer". At least the second one is relatively good.

I see these relatively frequently unfortunately. It seems a [large] number of recruitment firms scrape job boards for email addresses, then subscribe them to their mailing lists without first requesting permission.

When I realized these were coming in, I set up a simple filter that searched for any emails with those words in the body and automatically moved them into my "jobs.bad" directory. This filter looks like (I’m a mutt user if you can’t tell)…​

~bhttp.*(unsubscribe|optout)

3. Using words like URGENT, NEED, ASAP, and/or OPPORTUNITY

This will not make me want to answer your email any faster. Because of these emails, I have another regex filter to clean these out. It looks like…​

~s[A-Z]{4,}

I do glance over emails that match that filter, since that is a very permissive one that could match a great number of emails, including good ones. It does usually return about 90% job emails that I ignore and are subsequently moved into my "jobs.bad" directory.

4. Writing subject lines all or mostly in caps

This is pretty much the same as the last section. Using all caps makes your email stand out, but only in a bad way. My previously defined filter matches these emails and they get moved into my "jobs.bad" directory.

5. Telling me there is a need for a <job title> in my area

Firstly, the phrase "in your area" tells me you don’t know where I live. That also means you probably aren’t near me, otherwise you would say the state name at least.

Further, this subject line looks like it is generated. When I work with recruiters, I typically pick the most human recruiters I can. This means they are friendly, have lives and interests outside of work, don’t read from a script or email from a template, and have at least a basic understanding of what they are recruiting for. A generated email tells me you are likely none of these things.

6. Describe the role using buzzwords that apply to every role

Some examples…​

  • "Must operate well within time constraints"

  • "Must be able to multi-task"

  • "Must feel comfortable working in a fast-paced, dynamic, and flexible environment"

  • "Must be able to provide status reports"

  • "Requires excellent communications skills, both verbal and written"

I understand there are some exceptions to this statement, but most jobs require these things because that is what software development, working on a team, and being a human requires.

7. Use your first/last name to convey additional information

Some examples…​

First name Last Name

shebaa

Recruiter

Andrew

has jobs for you

Bill

<company name>, Inc.

John Johnson

from <company name>

Recruitment

team

Direct

Client Requirement

This is mostly just annoying. The spammers do this to to make it look like emails are coming from "Microsoft Support" or whatever the phishing campaign of the day is. If spammers are doing it to get people’s attention, should you?

The one that I object to the least is "Firstname Lastname Company", since that actually tells me who you are, though your email address does the same.

8. Unrelated jobs from out-of-context keywords from my resume

Probably about ten percent of the bad job emails I get do this. Just because the keyword Java is in "Java Middleware Administrator" on my resume doesn’t mean I’m a "Java programmer". If I was a .Net developer 10 years ago and haven’t touched it since, it’s likely that I am not going to go back to doing it again, nor will the company be interested in me as my skills will be quite rusty.

9. Very short contract in another state

Chances are, I will not be moving for a 3-6 month contract in another state. This is especially true if the state has a significantly higher cost of living than where I am now, like California, New York, and Virginia. Further, I certainly wouldn’t consider a short role in another state if the company won’t pay relocation fees or allow remote work.

To the credit of the recruiters though, I’m sure some people take these roles, especially if they aren’t tied down like I am (eg: no spouse, mortgage, pet, etc). Chance are though, if they’re moving around this frequently, they aren’t doing it under contract, but as a consultant.

10. Offer me Superuberplexes more money than I’m making now

A job regarding ways to make SuperUberplexes of moneys from home working only a small number of hours per week just sounds like a scam. I have only received one call/email like this that was legitimate, and it was with an oil and gas company. This industry happens to have more money than nearly every other industry in the country.

12. Inconsistent company or recruiter names

I don’t see these very often, but I get a chuckle when I do. Sometimes I will see emails where the from name is something like "Bill Johnson", but the signature of the email is "Jared Philips". My best guess here is that a recruiter inherited another recruiters computer and login and didn’t finish updating their email client. Regardless of the explanation though, this isn’t very professional.

Very concerning though is when I get an email where the subject or from lines contain the company name, but the "hi my name is…​ from…​." doesn’t match. For example:

From:    Bill Anderson from Coolcruiters
Subject: Bouncy Castle Developer position in San Francisco
Body:

Hi!

My name is Jared Leiperspachenphinzentel. I am a recruiter with Fun-ops Devops
Recruitment Firm.
...

I made up some of those names to avoid using any real names (if your last name is Leiperspachenphinzentel though, please email me - I will buy you a beer). Regardless of the fictional nature of those names, I do see emails like this where the from line is not remotely like the name the recruiter says they work for.

The only guess I can come up with for this one is that the company changed names and people didn’t update their email clients to match. As mentioned though, still unprofessional.

13. Summary

I hope you got a chuckle out of this post as I did. Some of these examples pass annoying and end solidly in the realm of hilarious.

If you are a recruiter reading this, despite some of the annoyed tone in this post, know that I will not be mean to you if you call me. I am always friendly and professional to recruiters, though I don’t always say "yes, I’m on the job market". I wrote this post for those annoyed by bad recruiter practices and for recruiters who want to know how to reach me (or how to avoid being blocked).

On a related note, if you really want to impress me and stay in my inbox or even make it to my "hall-of-fame" directory, send me an PGP encrypted and signed email.

Last edited: 2018-11-28 18:42:14 UTC