Every now and then I get an email from a recruiter with a position they want to offer me. These emails are normally offering jobs outside my area of expertise and asking for skills I simply don't have. Not just that but I'm already employed in a job I'm quite happy in.


8 Answers 8


Typically, you can ignore recruiters who:

  • email you about a job that is far out of your area/experience
  • seem like they haven't done their homework on you
  • appear to be spamming anyone who matches keywords on LinkedIn or a job site

Ignoring these will not harm you, as they probably already forgot that they emailed you.

The good recruiters, however, actually do their homework and email you about jobs that are tailored quite closely to what you do. They are probably attempting to actually find the best fit, rather than rely on spam.

Replying to good recruiters can't hurt, since they may be a reliable asset down the line.

  • 90
    Keyword matching ... Once, a recruiter contacted me who was looking for people that have experience with "API". That tells everything.
    – phresnel
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 7:52
  • 11
    @phresnel And then it turned out that they meant the American Petroleum Institute and it told even more... :-) Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 9:26
  • 9
    @phresnel Relevant: twitter.com/pjf/status/730215052750381056 Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 10:05
  • 8
    probably already forgot that they emailed you they didn't email you personally, its all automated.
    – Qwerky
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 10:25
  • 9
    I once was asked "how my XML programming was". After taking pity on the recruiter I proceeded to explain that XML was method of structuring data, not a programming language and I therefore couldn't attribute any skill level to my XML programming abilities. The response was "yes, but I need to know how good you can program XML"; the rest of the conversation was short lived Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 21:47

As a recent jobseeker completing a graduate degree and receiving many of these emails, I will say that most of these can be ignored for reasons already discussed. I am a PhD scientist and receive recruiting emails for door-to-door sales, bachelor's level lab technician work, and call-center positions. Frankly, these solicitations are not only irrelevant, but insulting. No reply warranted.

However, for recruiters with legitimate interest in you as candidate, it is worth replying in order to open up a potential networking opportunity. If they understand your experience, background, or were referred to you by a mutual colleague, it is worthwhile to reply and start a dialogue whether or not you are happily employed. You might know someone else who might fit the recruiter's needs and build a connection that way so that you might leverage that connection in the future.

  • 6
    To take this one step further, many recruiters will offer a bonus for referrals. Having a few good recruiters handy might make it easier to find work for your buddies + get you a cash payout on top of the networking opportunity.
    – user17163
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 19:19

I get emails from recruiters all the time. Many times they have nothing to do with my skill set or my physical location1. I ignore them totally.

My experience is that these emails are being generated by low level recruiters using shotgun approach2. They send out bulk emails and hope that someone would actually fit their requirements (and also not complain when being low-balled on renumeration)

I also consider that recruiters who take this approach don't really care about you as a client but instead only care about counting up resumes that they can send to the company and thus maximize their own income. As such I suggest that you form relationships with recruiters in your own physical area with who you can easy meet and can trust.

1. I develop software for industrial processes. I once had a string of emails suggesting that I was the perfect Insurance salesman. I never could figure that one out.

I also get lots of emails suggesting that I am a perfect web developer - nothing of which is indicated on my resume.

2. I once had two people from the same recruiter send me the same details about a single job (in this case the job was interesting to me and in my field). These two actually sat across from one another in the same office.

  • 7
    "I develop software for industrial processes. I once had a string of emails suggesting that I was the perfect Insurance salesman. I never could figure that one out. " I work in IT too. I once got a spam about being a lifeguard ... several hundred miles from where I live.
    – GreenMatt
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 19:26
  • Peter M: You say "I once had two people from the same recruiter send me the same details about a single job". Once? It happens to me all the time. Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 21:46
  • 1
    Yeah, I'm in California, and I keep getting emails about gigs in New Jersey. Don't they have Google maps back there? Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 22:15
  • 1
    ... renumeration?
    – CactusCake
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 20:55

You should reply if you want to receive endless recruiter emails since by replying you identify yourself as a "live prospect" and your contact information will end up in countless databases where it will be shared and even sold.

When you are looking for a job, if you decide to use a recruiter you want to be choose one based on recommendations from trusted colleagues in your field and on your own search criteria. Letting the recruiter choose you is not in your best interests.


  • Agreed. I see a lot of folks recommending only to reply to ones that "did their homework on you" and I disagree with that since if you reply you'll get bothered endlessly because it's all automated and a chance they just accidentally sent something that you believe they gave thought to. That's why it's called "spam" because 10% of the time it produces a relevant information that a user believes is tailored to them so they act upon it.
    – Dan
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 13:17
  • 2
    Kind of a big [citation needed] even though I like to think this is all correct.
    – user42272
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 19:10

I have never found a job that I got hired through a 3rd party recruiter. Most times the job was severely outside the scope of my skillsets or the recruiter would lie and when I went to the interview it was something completely different.

I've had very good luck just applying directly to positions. Just ask if they are a third party recruiter. If they answer NO, then ask them if they work directly for the HR firm for the company you would be working in if hired. Even getting straight answers from these sleaze balls is hard.


You well receive many, many email automatically. If you don't reply, nobody cares. Nobody loses anything or wastes any time. If you reply that you don't want that position offered, you waste your time, and you waste the time of the recruiter.

  • 1
    If your reply, you don't waste the time of some recruiters, since he now knows that he has a valid e-mail to which future "correspondence" may be directed... At least, that's my thinking.
    – frIT
    Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 18:31
  • You should at least mark them as spam.
    – user32685
    Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 13:49

I recommend:

  • sending a quick canned reply explaining what areas you are interested in
  • keeping a list of all recruiters who contact you for what type of job on a text file. Never know when you might be out looking for a job again, and the list might come in handy.

There are a lot of spam recruiters out there who just send out mass emails to everyone they've seen a resume for without bothering to check if they might actually be qualified. Some of the more obvious flags are they don't bother giving you the name of the company they are recruiting for (usually means they are a recruiting firm that knows they aren't a critical part of the recruiting process and is afraid you will go behind their back), they just list a few generic skills without describing the actual job (might mean there is no actual job, they are just trying to rope you into a conversation), your skills are completely inappropriate for the job (means they haven't done their homework), or sometimes even leaves parts of the template in the email (literally reading "Dear "). If they are just emails, they are easy to deal with by flagging them as spam. Such recruiters aren't useful as contacts if you really are looking for a job.

It gets really annoying when they also call you on the phone, especially during working hours...

  • In the modern world I have one simple rule. If you are not on my contacts I don't pickup the phone, meaning I don't pickup the phone for phone numbers that I don't recognize. I worry sometimes that it could be the doctors, hospital, police, or family emergency and fall into the trap of picking up the phone and I'm always wrong and it turns out to be an unwanted call. If it's important they will leave a voicemail.
    – user32685
    Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 13:52

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