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So today I opened my email and found another email from a recruiter who clearly did not look at my resume or any details about me. Here is the email (with PII removed):

Hi,

My name is [redacted], I’m a Technical Recruiter for [redacted]. I’m reaching out because, I believe your professional experience and background is a great fit for a Sr. Business Analyst role I currently have open with a Fortune financial institution in [redacted]. The client is looking to fill this position as soon as possible, I look forward to hearing from you!

We do offer a $500 dollar cash referral bonus for anyone you refer who gets the job, if you’re not interested yourself!

Best Regards, [redacted]

So the position is for a Senior Business Analyst for a "Fortune financial institution". I've seen many variations on this -- Fortune 500, Fortune 100, Fortune 50 -- but never just a "Fortune" company. So if the recruiter had actually looked at my resume or whatever profile he found from whatever job website I'm on, he would see that I briefly held a 6-month contract Business Analyst position as a trainee, not even as a full fledged BA. This was in 2015, and I haven't held any further Business Analyst positions since then. Clearly, I am not going to be qualified for a Senior Business Analyst position.

I receive many emails like this where it is obvious that the recruiter is just spamming the position to as many people as possible in case something sticks.

But my question is, what is the best method for reacting to this sort of email from a recruiter who has not reviewed my profile or resume?

I am not interested in even attempting to apply for the position, and I'm fairly new to the area (moved here at the end of the aforementioned BA contract), so I wouldn't have any referrals either. I've typically just ignored these emails, but should I be responding in some way to preserve some semblance of a professional relationship for future job searches?

@MonkeyZeus Thanks for the dupe target, but I would say this is different enough to remain independent. That link is about the same recruiter sending multiple emails about the same job, whereas this question is about receiving large amounts of recruiter emails from multiple recruiters and companies for positions that are not well-suited for the intended email recipient. I believe this question has received a strong amount of good answers enough that it can be helpful for others -- even expanding beyond the intended focus of US workers.

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    @JoeStrazzere Or put some extra words in the skill description and ask to point which ones are pokemons. – SZCZERZO KŁY Oct 23 at 14:15
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    @David I'm assuming they are listed somewhere in the Fortune 500 list of companies who are the 500 top valued companies in the US. – Steve-o169 Oct 23 at 15:13
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    @SZCZERZOKŁY I believe the plural of Pokémon is Pokémon. – Paul D. Waite Oct 24 at 10:40
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    Possible duplicate of How to respond to an insistent recruiter's cold email? – MonkeyZeus Oct 25 at 12:31
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    I see your edit but the only difference is that the other question mentions insistent follow-up emails. If you remove that difference then you are on par with: cold email, job unrelated to you, and questioning whether or not you should respond. The bulk of the answers are also "they are automated to some degree, ignore these emails". I'm just surprised no one else suggested the dupe before I did. – MonkeyZeus Oct 25 at 12:50

13 Answers 13

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Ignore them...

These emails aren't actually being sent out by humans, but automated systems that crunch your resume looking for keywords. The recruiters don't expect to hear back from you unless you are a match.

The emails are generated by stringing the keywords on your resume, and inserting them on a form email.

Then, the recruiter sits back and waits.

Seriously, the best way to react is to ignore them. Most reset after X amount of time, and you drop off their lists if you don't respond.

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    This seems to answer the question of why it seems like the recruiter didn't read my resume. Didn't realize they were using some kind of program to scan for keywords, but that makes a lot of sense. – Steve-o169 Oct 23 at 15:10
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    @Steve-o169 and the last line explains this even more. They give you $500 for finding someone who IS a match if you are not. IF they find even one keyword on your Resume, they send out the email, figuring if you are in the field at all, you might know someone who fits the requirement, even if you don't – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Oct 23 at 15:12
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    I'd say this adds evidence in favor of "reply back, in a way that causes them to waste time". My time wasted reading their email is just as valuable as their time saved not reading my resume, but to them it is value-less, so there can only be one response - shift the cost back to them, to properly reflect the cost to us in the incentive gradient / selective pressures against this behavior. – mtraceur Oct 23 at 22:34
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    In addition to ignoring them, make a note of the sender's email address. After a while, you might notice that you're getting a lot of recruiter spam from the same company. I've had to create email filters to auto-delete email from certain domains once I detected it was 100% spam. – bta Oct 23 at 23:13
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    The "report as spam" feature in gmail works pretty. And you don't even have to feel bad about reporting because this is textbook spam. – undefined Oct 24 at 7:39
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Ignore it, unfortunately it's par for the course when looking for jobs or signing up to recruitment websites. If you respond to them negatively then you run the risk of them not contacting you in the future even for relevant positions.

  • Exactly this. It might go against your instincts or feel rude to not respond, but recruiters are more than used to this (in fact, if the role isn't right for you, they probably appreciate not having to read a bunch of "no thanks" emails). Never burn bridges, because if that recruiter is ever advertising your dream role, you would definitely regret it. If it gets too much, i.e. once you're in work and no longer need a recruiter, set up a temporary junk filter for them (just remember to remove it again when you start looking for new roles!). – delinear Oct 23 at 14:50
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    Well the chance of such a spamcruiter coming to you with your dreamjob are very very thin, so I must admit sometimes I just tell them what I think without caring about burning a bridge that anyway will lead nowhere. This is really a poor way of doing their job, I don't even want to work with a recruiter like that, and if I was an employer I certainly wouldn't choose them to recruit for me. – Laurent S. Oct 23 at 16:20
  • I disagree strongly with your second sentence. Someone that contacts me about something who will then be offended if I respond in a manner other than they would like is not someone I would consider to be a professional or would be interested doing business with. – Time4Tea Oct 23 at 19:12
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    The sender is basically spamming addresses from some list, and does not know which addresses are reaching real people. With answering negatively, you confirm that the address works. That may get you much more attention, from him or others, if the now-confirmed address is sold. – Volker Siegel Oct 23 at 22:47
  • @VolkerSiegel most communications I get from recruiters are via LinkedIn, not my personal e-mail. So, they already know my LinkedIn account. – Time4Tea Oct 24 at 13:25
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If you can automate it or make it really quick, send back a reply that is polite and isn't likely to burn bridges but causes them to waste their time like they chose to waste yours.

Our time is valuable - arguably the most valuable resource we will ever have. Our time wasted by reading their email is just as valuable as their time saved by not reading our resumes.

But they're treating it as value-less, free, because to them it is. Whether that is because they

  1. just are not mindful of the cost to us because it's not a part of their life,
  2. don't care about imposing that cost on us, or
  3. are forced to do so by the incentive gradients around them,

there can only be one response - for us all to shift the cost back to them, to properly reflect the cost to us in the incentive gradients and selective pressures around them.

We want to make sure that some combination of people at the responsible corporation, not necessarily the recruiter, spend enough time on it that on average the market value of time spent is greater than the market value of our time.

Because remember: this is not personal, this is not about angrily getting back at the recruiter, this is not some vindictive eye-for-an-eye thing. This just is about speaking to the corporate organisms ultimately responsible in the language they understand.

(I might get downvoted into oblivion for this, but it has to be said. On the other hand if enough people feel the same way, maybe it's time for us start some open source software to scan messages for recruiter keywords and send back an appropriate reply.)

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    I propose replynuari, a dedicated month in which we reply to each and every recruiter spam mail to swamp them with the same low effort bullshit that they'll send us the rest of the year. Goals 1) be as vague, ambiguous and non-committing as possible 2) waste as much of their time as possible 3) have fun! – Kevin Oct 25 at 11:03
  • @Kevin I hope this will be as funny as the guys baiting Nigerian scammers – JollyJoker Oct 25 at 14:09
  • One doesn't have to go for max-time-waste to impose costs. The in-house recruiter at a tiny startup I used to be part of went on to start a tech-recruiting company. The founder getting an annoyed email from a respected former colleague (formerly respected colleague?) whenever one of their minions sent an email indicating that they clearly weren't paying attention made those emails stop rather quickly. :) – Charles Duffy Oct 25 at 15:27
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But my question is, what is the best method for reacting to this sort of email?

Ignore it, optionally hitting 'Delete'.

Ideally, set up a specific email account for all recruiter activity. If you're not actively looking, it won't keep pinging you and you can just clean it up once a week.

If you reply with "thanks, not interested" to auto generated stuff, you're wasting your time and theirs.

  • The separate email seems like a good idea, just a bit past the point of no return on that one. A separate folder in my Gmail may be an option -- it's just a matter of trying to collect the correct emails when most of these addresses are in the format of johnsmith@recruitingcompany.com. – Steve-o169 Oct 23 at 14:21
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    "If you reply with "thanks, not interested" to auto generated stuff, you're wasting your time and theirs." > Well, they don't care about wasting my time reading the obviously not-for-me position, why should I care about wasting their time reading my useless answer? – Laurent S. Oct 23 at 16:16
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    @LaurentS. "If you reply with "thanks, not interested", you provide something valuable to them: You confirm the address as working. – Volker Siegel Oct 23 at 22:51
  • Not just an account but use rules to filter to "buckets" as well. I am still getting spam from 15yo CV's that clearly stated my availability/location and sponsorship requirements. They do not care. The yield is not important, only the final numbers. – mckenzm Oct 23 at 23:26
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    @LaurentS.You also tell them that you are the sort of person who responds to scams. Expect some financial offers you can't refuse from Nigerian princes next - or more likely something a bit more subtle, but unrelated to recruitment. – alephzero Oct 24 at 1:44
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If you're based in Europe, a GDPR request on what data they hold on you, and then a second request asking them to delete your data costs them human time.

If they don't have a fully automated system to handle this, and their data is in a bit of a mess, it can cost them £50-100 in person time.

If they fail to respond within 1 month, you can escalate to a relevant body, that is capable of fining them a percentage of their annual turnover.

It's a very effective way of making it expensive for companies to misuse your data.

Requests don't need any specific wording, but probably should mention gdpr, and can be sent to any vaugely official looking email account, which is expected to forward it to their relevent authority

  • Good answer for Europeans, but I've specifically tagged this for the US. Would be great to know if there's some equivalent process in the US, though. – Steve-o169 Oct 24 at 15:28
  • +1 from me, partly because it concretely provides a strong measure to implement the "cost them time so they feel the cost to your time" approach, and partly because even though the question is meant for the US, as we all know 1) a broader audience tends to Google their way to these questions, and 2) if someone tries to open an identical question but generically or targeting Europe specifically, unless they go out of their way to make "this is not a duplicate because [x]" disclaimers, they're liable to get closed. – mtraceur Oct 24 at 17:54
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If you're in the USA, this is a necessary step for an H1B abuser. They need to show that they looked for an American candidate before they place their H1B.

They never intended for you to respond.

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    I wouldn't necessarily call this a complete answer, but +1'ed because it adds the useful background information that some people use this deliberately to justify H1B visas. – mtraceur Oct 24 at 17:47
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Ignore it. If you get too many emails from a given recruiter about irrelevant positions then mark them as spam. Most recruiters are just quasi-sentient spam bots anyways. You only need to worry about keeping in touch with the few good ones.

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I've found that a polite email simply pointing out that you're not a good fit and then stressing your actual skills/experience is the response that's most likely to result in you actually getting a job out of the interaction.

Something like;

Hi [Insert-name], and thanks for emailing me. I'm not sure why you think I'd be a fit for foo when my skills are better suited to bar and baz. If you have any of those jobs in future, don't hesitate to drop me a line.

Often you'll get a response asking you for a follow-up (are you actively looking, etc) or just future responses that are more fine-tuned to the jobs you're after.


On the other hand, if the goal is to get the emails to stop entirely, you can just flag them as spam and your email provider will block them in future.

  • Nice! This is parallel/compatible with my suggestion of making sure they spend enough time to appropriately feel the time cost of each of their emails on their end, while leaving the door open for still being mutually beneficial. +1 – mtraceur Oct 24 at 17:45
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I used to get emails like this from this one London agency.

There wasn't a 'unsub' button in their emails and they clearly never even looked at my resume pass my email.

SO every time I get an email I'd post a review about it on Google. I'd disclose all the details "No unsub button, didn't look at my resume" Eventually after 7 or 8 reviews they did add the 'unsub' button so I removed my reviews.

  • +1 because this is yet another very viable way to make companies feel some form of cost matching the cost they impose on others by doing stuff like this. (Not so much a time cost, but very real cost that businesses tend to understand very well.) – mtraceur Oct 24 at 18:20
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Instead of ignoring the messages, mark them as "spam." This trains ESPs to put the messages in the spam folder instead of the inbox, blocking future messages to you and others getting these messages. When their "cold calls" stop getting delivered, it may encourage them to change their practices. Regardless, you'll stop getting those messages from this and other recruiters.

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Short Answer

Use a different disposable email address for your job-hunt. And use a different phone number as well, preferably a Google Voice number (assuming Google Voice is available where you are located).

Longer Answer

Don't try to build a relationship with a spammer. The barrier to entry to become a recruiter is so low, anyone with a computer can be one. Be extremely careful about which 3rd party recruiters you trust with your information.

If a recruiter is too lazy to actually read your resume, you do not want that recruiter. And if a recruiter is not local, that recruiter won't even understand your geographical requirements.

Ideally, only use 3rd party recruiters when they come highly recommended by your friends/colleagues, or if they have an exclusive relationship with a client. The ones that have an exclusive relationship with a client are easy to spot, they'll use an official email alias provided by their client and also, they won't be cagey about telling you who the client is.

Once, I made the mistake of posting my resume on dice dot com for less than 24 hours and I'm still suffering the consequences of having done several years later.

And no, marking a message spam doesn't really work. I've tried. Even gmail has trouble picking up the nuances between legitimate solicited job descriptions from recruiters and unsolicited job descriptions that are only tangentially related to my skills-set coming from spamming recruiters.

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I always look at it as a pre-screening mechanism. If the company is sending me terribly matched jobs then they are a terrible recruiter and I don't want to do business with them. I delete the emails and move on.

If a recruiter wants my interest then they need to do their jobs - step 1 being having and offering a job appropriate to my CV.

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But my question is, what is the best method for reacting to this sort of email from a recruiter who has not reviewed my profile or resume?

For what it is worth, maybe they aren't lazy, it could be this:

I briefly held a 6-month contract Business Analyst position as a trainee

That's really all it takes to earn $500... giving them a name they can use.
That name doesn't have to be local, so you may actually know someone.


It could also be automated as others have mentioned.

In the past I have collected the names, positions and companies that send those emails. It is useful to know who has cold contacted me before and if your email system allows it you can begin to mark their messages with a flag or move them to a folder.

Moving them to spam may not be the best choice early in your career... because you don't want your spam filters to learn that "all offers" are spam (unless that is how you think).

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