Most of the advice that I see relating to job seeking, interviewing, etc. assumes that the potential employee is applying to the position. Therefore, he or she creates a résumé, writes a cover letter for the company, and, depending on the size of the company, either emails jobs@domain that with the résumé attached or uses an online form to submit his or her application.

However, I often get emails from recruiters employed by companies, to the effect of:


I'm RECRUITER NAME HERE, reaching out to you from AmazGoogBookSoft.

This usually goes on to mention some of your Github repositories, their rough understanding of your current job, etc., and asks if you want to have a phone call with them about working at AmazGoogBookSoft.

Thus far, I've gotten my jobs through:

  1. Application
  2. Acquihire
  3. Someone I knew from 2.

So, I don't have any experience with this process, and I've never replied to one of these emails (this usually causes them to send a few more emails until giving up). However, I've read that it's valuable to go on interviews even if you aren't particularly interested in the position, so that you can practice interviewing and keep aware of your market value. Given that, I'd like to start doing that, and since these people are sending opportunities straight to my inbox, it seems like a good place to start.


  1. What is the standard or optimal reply format for these emails? Do I simply say "yes, is time T on day D good for you?"? Should I attach my résumé PDF to the reply, and, if so, do I also need to include some form of cover letter? The latter seems odd, since I'm not the one that is expressing initial interest in the other party.

  2. In an interview, common advice states to "sell yourself" and to express why you want to work at the company. In this case, I'm not necessarily that interested in working at the company, I'm simply not opposed. If I don't get the job, it's not a big deal, and I might be somewhat skeptical of the position to begin with. Assuming that I like my current job, they have to convince me to leave. How does advice for the interview itself change when being recruited instead of applying?

This question is specific to first-party recruiters. Third-party recruiters have a whole different set of incentives, etc., and I'm not sure if I'm interested in working with them at this time.

  • If you are not that interested in working for Acme Co, then why are you wasting your time interviewing. (I understand why you are wasting Acme Co time - it has no value to you.)
    – emory
    Mar 1, 2016 at 18:21
  • @emory In many cases, my interest is highly dependent on whether or not they happen to be interested in showering me with money. But, as I said in the question, I also want to become more competent at interviewing and negotiation, and keep aware of my market value.
    – kjshen
    Mar 1, 2016 at 19:00
  • it is fair to ask salary questions early in the process. if you get the answers you are looking for, then you will want to sell yourself. If you do not get those answers, then why waste time? If you are going on a practice interview, why not practice selling yourself. If you are testing your market value, you need to sell yourself to get an accurate measurement.
    – emory
    Mar 1, 2016 at 21:01

1 Answer 1


The important thing to remember is that this isn't headhunting. They have approached you as you look like the kind of person they would look for, but in headhunting a person is coming to you with a specific offer.

So in terms of response, you've already got their attention, so just reply to what they ask, if they need resume etc they will ask.

Once you get to interview, the normal rules apply, so you need to sell yourself as you normally would. Answering why you want to work there with "you came to me" will just let you see the door as you leave.

And as nice as it seems, it's just what happens when they have inhouse recruiters, and dependent on the market, you may end up getting a lot of these. I get probably 1 or 2 a week (plus traditional recruitment agencies), and it soon becomes as normal as any recruiter approach.

I've even had one of the big boys asking about moving to Seattle (from Scotland), but as soon as it started it was:

do this online programming test and if you do well enough we'll have you in for 2 solid days of face to face

So no real step up over a standard application.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .