You are the product. The recruiter is the salesperson. They get a commission when they connect you to a job. They need to provide enough information to get you interested in a position. Whatever you need for that to happen is what you need for that to happen.
If you politely let the recruiter know what you need to proceed, any recruiter that you want to work with will meet your need. Any recruiter that doesn't meet your needs isn't going to sell you on the job, so it isn't worth wasting your time with them.
Just tell them what you need
- Reply to the first email thanking them for contacting you and ask for the job description - along with whatever other information you know you're going to want to know, like company name.
Thanks for the email! I'd like to know more. Could you send me the
- If you receive a reply that reject sending the job description, tell them that you need to see the job description before you proceed.
Before proceeding, I'd like to see the job description.
Would you be so kind as to email it to me?
- If they still refuse to send the job description, thank them for their time and wish them luck.
I hear you. If you can't send me the job description, then I'm not
interested in this role.
Thank you for your time, and best of luck!
At this point, the recruiter will either go away, or they'll send you the job description. The very rare recruiter may try to push; just ignore them - it's not worth your time to fight with a recruiter who isn't meeting your needs.
I don't want to sound too cold and unwelcoming.
You can write your emails in a perfectly polite manner - friendly, even, if you like - and stick to the facts. The fact is: you need to see the job description (and whatever else) before continuing.
Arguments Get Argued
what arguments could I use to persuade them [to send me the job description]?
Don't provide arguments - or reasons, or whatever you want to call them. When people hear arguments, it's natural to argue against them. For example, from the recruiter's perspective...
(NOTE: I have devil's advocate reasoning below. I happen to always take my own advice, so bear in mind that this isn't my position. It's just argument.)
It saves time for both parties
Devil's advocate says, "No, it'll totally be faster to just jump on the phone. Phone calls are much better communication channels (for most people) because you can hear tone of voice, not just words. Besides, the recruiter will be able to get a feel for your personality and help identify whether the work culture at this place is right for you - or if maybe a different role would be better."
in case I'm not interested
Devil's advocate says, "Job descriptions are inherently bad at communicating what a job is really about, and they don't tell you anything about the organization or the hiring manager. And if the job is uninteresting, helping the recruiter understand your interests will help them to find you the right job."
job doesn't match my skills etc
Devil's advocate says, "Job descriptions often have skills that can be learned, or that aren't actually all that important to the role. Sometimes, the skills you have are much more important to the hiring manager, and the recruiter can help sell the hiring manager on what you would bring to the table - and change the job, itself! How will you know if you don't actually talk to the recruiter and explore the position?"
I won't go behind their back and apply direct.
Remember: you're the commodity. Other recruiters are working to fill the same role, using the same techniques to get your resume/profile. If you're looking for a job, you might find the same role on your own. Unless you're in desperate need of a new job, It's in the recruiter's interest to meet your needs so that you'll work with them.
And if the recruiter won't work with you? Then you'll either find the job, or a different (and possibly better) one on your own, or with a different recruiter.
I would like to be firm, indicating I absolutely need to see the JD (no half measures like disclosing bits of information in the JD but not letting me see the JD itself - preferably including the company name);
If they send you partial information, just reply asking for the full details - essentially returning to step 2 above.