Headhunters contacting me is ok but sometimes, it's bothering. You have your own work and you are very busy. They contact you as if they would introduce a new opportunity and you wait. The effort of wait comes in vain in many cases. Many headhunters wouldn't bother to notify you even after it doesn't go well. You scratch your head with a sour feeling. The emotional burden is not much but if you can avoid, why not?

In addition, headhunters are known for resume hunting. (Reference) After you get no notice from many headhunters, you start to worry about the leakage of personal information.

I think it's important to know if the headhunter is serious with you as early as possible. If you notice that he was only for the resume, you would feel less anxious without much expectation. And you can choose not to send your resume to protect your personal information.

My question is, how do you know the headhunter is not serious with you?

  • Referring to your own question is not a particularly good reference. Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 14:43
  • @PhilipKendall You get the point. I changed the reference to the other's post. Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 14:44
  • Don't provide your phone number to recruiters, nor put it on your resume (if you do). Ignoring emails carries much less "emotional burden". Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 16:19
  • In addition to what Michael is saying. Use a free disposable Google Voice Number if you're going to provide a number. And also use a disposable email address if you're going to provide an email address. Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 0:30
  • @MichaelMcFarlane That's a good idea. I didn't think of the option. It would be better with email. Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 1:34

5 Answers 5


When the job is not something you could plausibly fill.

I put my resume on Monster for kicks after a friend did it and got a barrage of recruiter spam. I also got a barrage of recruiter spam, probably about 25 calls and emails in all.

I am not suited for a single job they sent!

Plenty of their jobs were for people who wanted to learn to program. I have been a software developer for a year now. Plenty of other jobs were for senior developers and they wanted 5 years of experience. I have one and if you add internships, you could stretch it to two.

Other jobs were not software development at all. One was for a minimum wage help desk position. Another was for Area Manager (a warehouse manager) at Amazon.

Forget about interest level in the company or salary. The recruiters either did not send me jobs I was qualified for or jobs that I would only have a passing interest in at best.

I don’t pick up the phone if I don’t know the number and just delete emails which are from people/companies I don’t know.

  • 6
    Off topic: you only have one year experience??? Given the average quality of your answers, I had assumed much more.
    – Jeffrey
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 15:54
  • 2
    @Jeffrey one year full time. Another year of internship stuff cumulatively. But yeah, I am 23 and graduated last year. I had an internship where I was a fly on the wall at many levels though, which gave me a lot of the insights here. Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 21:21

how do you know the headhunter is not serious with you?

Tech & Many Other Industries

  1. They ask for your social security number.
  2. They ask for your references.
  3. They want you to add them to your LinkedIn or other social network.
  4. They refuse to give you the job listing (in other words there is no job).
  5. They only call or write you once.
  6. They present a random job listings that has nothing to do with what you've told them about your preferences.
  7. They have no clue what is in your resume.
  8. They take your time for granted.

Tech Industry Specific

  1. They ask you to take a test that they run.

I add some of my tips:

  1. If the headhunter asks to send a resume till this evening, it's quite possible he is at the last minute to fill the spot with anyone. Ask him to give more days. If he doesn't agree, you know what's going on.

  2. If the headhunter is talking of company names without explanation of the role but with boasting of the company's prestige, you should start to suspect. Ask him to send a job description (JD). If he starts to excuse for no JD, raise your suspicion gauge.

  • 1
    JD is my usual trick. I always answer to recruiters that I only consider their offer if a detailed JD is provided. If I don't receive a JD, I just don't answer. Plain and simple.
    – m.raynal
    Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 13:15

I'm assuming you're referring to a recruiter cold calling you or emailing you. My advice is to ignore these as they are spam. What is going on is these recruiters have a network of emails and phones and they call them up randomly by matching a few key words. I'm thinking they're selling this list to others and I have no idea how to get off the list. The list seems to go stale after some time but is active indefinitely. So expect these emails and phone calls to be hot when you're actively posting on job websites, but expect them to stale a little after time.

Let me also guess that when you contact these people, they don't know what job listing you're referring to, right? And on top of that they send you jobs 1000s of miles away from your home and typically temp jobs?

My thought is you should not answer back unless you know you applied to a position and the recruiter is specifically talking about that position. If they talk about anything else, like an "updated resume" or about another job do not forward it. I also suspect you have experienced situations where they took your "updated" resume, then did nothing or spam you with other jobs. They are simply updating their call/email lists with new keywords from your resume to give other recruiters the ability to spam you more effectively.

As an example, back in 2005-06 I posted a resume on Monster. At the time I used my parents phone number and this really old email address. I don't have that email anymore, however, my parents still occasionally get a call from a recruiter on that phone line asking to send an updated resume.


This question is very hard to answer for anything more than a very bad recruiter. Lots of recruiters can get around these guidelines, but here's what I use before I talk to a recruiter, and it saves me a fair bit of headache:

  1. Don't talk to recruiters who send you JDs which are clearly not a fit for you. Personally, I'm a software engineer, and my primary stack is Java. I'm working for a company that works in Python because I happened to have connections and they were serious about hiring me if I could learn Python, so I did. However, if a recruiter out of the blue sends me a JD asking for a Ruby developer or a frontend Angular developer, I know they're not serious. Occasionally, depending on my mood, I may send them back an angry message, something along the lines of "how dare you contact me without actually reading my resume/LI profile, that I spent a lot of time and energy building", just to get the message across: "Don't contact me without doing your research, and if me telling you to do your research makes you upset enough to burn your bridge with me, then I don't consider that as a loss".

  2. Recruiters who don't even send you JDs in the same field. This is an extension of the post above. If I'm a Software Engineer and I get a message for a warehouse assistant, well, see above.

  3. Recruiters who won't tell you the name of the company they are recruiting for. Many recruiters seem to have the opinion that you will steal their commission by just applying on the main company careers page, if they tell you who their client is. For me, I take it as, if you won't tell me who your client is, then you know you are recruiting for a shitty company and you think I'll hang up the (proverbial) phone once I find out. So I'd rather just know, and hang up the phone and not waste my time, and if the recruiter won't tell me then I'll just hang up the phone anyway.

  4. Recruiters who don't have a JD. This is the vast minority of recruiters, but it has happened once or twice. No JD = no job, and I'm not interested in wasting my time on a job that doesn't exist.

Then, of course, there are the recruiters who do none of these things: They have an attractive position, with an attractive company, with a JD ready, and then they are just not interested and they ghost you. That's the vast majority of problematic recruiters but unfortunately I haven't found a good way to deal with them yet. The best I've found is to keep a blacklist of recruiting companies I refuse to work with, and if any recruiter contacts me from those companies, I simply reply "After working with Joe Smith from your company on a previous opportunity, I have come to understand your company has a culture of unprofessionalism and I refuse to work with that sort of company". Yes, I do name specifically the person who ghosted me in this message; I consider it my responsibility to trash the names of unprofessional recruiters who believe ghosting to be OK and to do my part to get them fired from the industry so other people don't have to be frustrated by them.

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