I'd like feedback for something on handling a recruiter and whether to pursue further interaction after seeing a red flag. I was told, "Java is the core skill," I answered, "I know JavaScript, not Java", and then JavaScript morphed into being the central skill.

JavaScript and Java are two separate computer languages. It's kind of like the quote about the difference between the right word and the almost-right word being the difference between "lightning" and "lightning-bug." I'll leave people to decide which is which; my intent is not to slam Java, which allows the production of monumental works, nor is it to claim that JavaScript is perfect when some of the language's leading advocates warn you about its many minefields. However, I work really well with JavaScript, and not well with mainstream use of Java.

I was called about a position that sounded like it would have some front-end aspect (HTML and CSS were mentioned; JavaScript would be implied), but would be back-end centric with a Java back end, and specified XYZ proficiency with one Java development technology. Over the call it morphed into a basically JavaScript position, "definitely worth submitting" category, when my first response was to establish that I am not proficient with the first technology that was mentioned in explaining it to me.

The other bit to this conversation is that they appear to have a scant job description, if any. I was told there was very little and large companies sometimes give copied and boilerplate job descriptions, which is true, but when I asked to see the job description was not given the little the recruiter I allegedly had.

The basic advice I can see from this is "Save yourself the trouble and work with recruiters who show fewer red flags," but I wanted to check in.


After I declined submission and refused to provide my resume, the recruiter shocked me by announcing an interview request from the client, having submitted me against my will and fabricated my resume. I decided to receive the call, and told the client's head HR manager that I had been submitted after refusing and had not provided my resume. I also complained to the recruiter's CEO and said some apology would be appropriate, and training employees not to keep pushing when a prospective employee is simply not interested in a position. This is the first time in my career that I've been submitted after saying in writing, "I think I'll pass this time."

  • Is there enough in the "scant" job description to make you genuinely want to work there? Great company, great location, great benefits, great salary? You basically need to judge whether it's worth the potential wasted time of progressing with a job opportunity that could be completely unsuitable, due to the recruiter's apparent ignorance. – Carson63000 Sep 3 '15 at 23:47
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    Your recruiter has no idea what you do and no clue about the field you work in. How can he possibly find a job for you? Drop him and find someone else. – Erik Sep 4 '15 at 7:12
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    Recruiters are often dumb but some of the blame must rest with Netscape and Sun who chose/allowed an AWFUL name for a programming language that has nothing whatsoever to do with Java. – teego1967 Sep 4 '15 at 10:05
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    I don't see an actual question here, what are you trying to accomplish? – Lilienthal Sep 4 '15 at 12:17
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    @JonathanHayward please edit your question to make it more clear. – Hugo Rocha Sep 4 '15 at 13:12

There's a huge new industry of so-called "recruiters" who have no actual relationship with the company posting the job, they just troll for resumes and submit them helter-skelter to any job whatever. The idea, I think, is that if you every actually get submitted by a REAL agency that you'd like to work for, your resume pops up as being already in the system, and you get rejected. It's a bad deal. Walk away.

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    Why would any recruiter want to screw over applicants in the way you have described? while i might dislike recruitment in general, they will not get paid for doing this, and it will lead to them being ignored, so i doubt this is their strategy. – bharal Sep 4 '15 at 9:29
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    You're looking at it from the wrong direction. They don't screw over their own clients. They submit the application of non-clients, so that the non-client gets rejected (as duplicate) leaving only their own clients in the system. Shady as hell, and hopefully not widespread, but it has happened. – Jon Story Sep 4 '15 at 12:55
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    @bharal : It happens all the time. The problem is, recruitment is highly rewarded (I think the standard is 40% of candidate salary value for the first 6 months every month, and additional 10% for up to 1 year... ), the more rare the position is, the higher the reward. It's not uncommon for C level recruitment to be rewarded with over 50% of the candidate's salary. So you have all these people who have no technical background, who studied acting or history going into technical recruitment. They are just fishing. Good recruiters exist, but surprisingly rare. – CleverNode Sep 4 '15 at 12:56
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    @bharal...in their mind they are not "screwing over the applicant." What they're doing is putting themselves in the middle of the transaction, trying to be the "ownership agency" for the relationship. i.e. "we showed you that candidate, if you want him/her, you have to pay us." I had this very exact real-world problem myself personally, where an unauthorized (boiler room) agency had submitted my resume for a job, and when the agency I WAS working with also submitted, they were locked out. – dwoz Sep 4 '15 at 16:16
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    @bharal: I didn't say they have to know how to program in the language they are recruiting to find a programmer that programs in that language, but at least have a general knowledge of what everything is. Like the OP said, java and javascript are completely different languages. The car salesman will know the different feature between car model A and car model B, and in fact, they'd likely get fired if they give the attitude that "it's all the same". I see that as the basic of their jobs. – CleverNode Sep 4 '15 at 16:55

Your time is finite, unlike the number of recruiters. You have to focus on the few that understand your experience, understand the market, and have a specific position that sounds like a good fit. This guy is trying to shoehorn you into a position that doesn't match your experience. Don't let your good name be associated with bad recruiters.

  • But surely the number of recruiters is finite? – davidbak Feb 27 at 22:20

I've actually encountered very similar situations with recruiters. It can be very difficult to turn down what could potentially be a great fit simply based on a lack of information.

My suggestion would be to lay out very clearly what your expectations are. If you are unwilling to learn the required technology (which is totally allowed), then you can ask them to reconsider you for a different position. If you are willing to learn the required technology either on or ramping up to the job, then you can spell that out with them as well. Recruiters are often simply trying to get the "right" people into interviews and are willing to pick up a few candidates who don't meet the exact specifications because it's worth the risk of missing that one perfect candidate.

In short, I would say that you should only worry about wasting your time, not the company's. If you feel like it's not a position you would fit or would want to fit, then simply tell the recruiter that you're not interested at this time. You can always proceed with an interview or two and bow out at any point in time prior to taking the offer should your alarm bells not cease.


Don't worry about it, they spam everyone after they do a search on "java" in indeed or linkedin. No need to "handle" it, they will not get hurt if you just ignore them.

I got an email yesterday from a recruiter saying "We're looking for someone just like you in the major banking industry... title: Senior UI Developer with iOS experience... " the email goes on to how she thinks i'll be the perfect fit and how perfect the team is. Hello? I'm a UX Designer. It's very tempting to reply and say "seriously! Know the difference between ui and ux and designer and developer", save time, they're not going to stop their "spamming habit" hoping to catch a fish because of your one email -- most likely people before you have already replied with similar content.

I must note that not all recruiters are like this. I have worked with VERY good recruiters who will spot candidate's skills spot on and how they will fit in specific team, but they are more the exception in that business than the norm.

  • I'd love to be connected with any good recruiters you'd know. (-: – Christos Hayward Sep 4 '15 at 15:16
  • I don't mind sharing my contacts, but I see that you're in Chicago, are you willing to relocate? I "collect" good recruiters, just like they probably "collect" good candidates in their database for "just in case". – CleverNode Sep 4 '15 at 16:52
  • I'm looking to stay local. But if someone you know works nationally... – Christos Hayward Sep 18 '15 at 20:30

I dunno.

There's obviously a lot of irritation at recruiters - and with good reason too - visible in the answers here.

One thing to bear in mind - a junior programmer will see typically rubbish work. On the flip side, rubbish work? Will see a junior programmer.

When you're seeing a lot of rubbish recruiters wasting your time, its time to think how much you're charging, and what sort of rates you're after, and how hard you want to work on your career. As you get better, a lot of the rubbish recruiters melt away.

I'm not some high flier, but the quality of recruiters I get bothered by (they will always bother you) has markedly improved since I started asking for more money. So, if you're working with rubbish recruiters, be aware that you might want to see this as a warning sign about your career trajectory.

Also, rubbish jobs will typically attract rubbish recruiters - better roles will have better people vetting them. So, if you ever think a recruiter is sketchy, then consider that the role is, most likely, to be Not A Great Role.

That said, I think it's always a good idea to take as many interviews and the like as you can. You don't really have much to lose at this stage - this recruiter puts you forward, and then if the company likes the look of you they arrange a phone interview. The most time you will waste is about an hour (the phone screen).

It's not a bad risk/reward ratio.

So, don't get your hopes up that this is your dream job - but don't ever ignore a chance to network around. Maybe the company are just looking for a java guy, but maybe in a month they will need a javascript guy? Well, you're that guy they talked to, so they might just turn to you first.

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    Anecdotally, on a daily basis I get messages from literally dozens of purported recruiters who scraped my resume off a job site (monster,dice,linkedin, etc.) and they're all for the exact same listed job. i.e. I get 20 messages from different recruiters for a java architect job in elkhardt IN. None of them know anything about me, nor do any of them know anything about the company offering the job. They just scraped resumes, scraped job listings, and sent out a cartesian join of spam email. – dwoz Sep 5 '15 at 16:38

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