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I'm sorry if this comes off as a first world problem but over the past few years I have been getting an increasing volume of emails from recruiters. These emails have started amounting to a few minutes of wasted time each day - this started amounting to hours every month.

I participate a lot in Stack Overflow and GitHub which probably brings attention to my name and I speak at conferences semi-regularly. I'm a collaborator in some relatively popular projects which doesn't exactly "help" in this regard. I assume that if this is a problem for me it must be a bigger problem for people who are more prolific (and there are plenty of those in StackOverflow).

Some of these emails are relevant but most are not - and in any case I am not actively looking for a new job.

  • What can I do to deal with these emails?
  • How can I get them to stop or at least deal with them more quickly without making myself less available to non-recruiting emails?

To clarify - I still do want to get relevant emails from people asking me about my code or my answers so downright making it impossible to contact me would not help. My LinkedIn literally says I'm only using it for their developer API and does not contain a picture or contact information. I have absolutely zero related organization at the moment at my personal mailbox.

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  • Related: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/16947/… and workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/3732/… - this question is specifically about the problems that come with ""internet publicity"" from open source and stackoverflow. Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 19:39
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    I take it that setting up junk/spam mail rules on your email accounts are not good enough for this problem?
    – Anketam
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 19:47
  • @Anketam I'm not a "pro" at setting up rules at my email account to be fair - but I'm not sure how I would go about it - these are mostly not automated emails. Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 19:48
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    At a minimum I hope you have secondary email that you use for "public". Once you have a public you have public you have a public. A recruited will find it.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 19:53
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    @Lilienthal well, I'm asking how to avoid the email in the first place - I'd much rather do that than set up email filters. Optimally, I'd be able to sign up on a "do not contact me recruiters" list but I don't think such a thing exists. Commented Jun 10, 2016 at 14:23

2 Answers 2

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Celebrities who are typically pleasant people can turn into raging jerks when confronted by strangers. One wants to be nice, and recognize recruiters are simply doing their jobs, but for the most part recruiters are engaged in cold-calling, which has a very low conversion/response rate.

I've been on LinkedIn since it was in beta, and have received probably thousands of offers or requests to connect, the vast majority of which are a waste of my time. But I've also met people and found opportunities though LinkedIn that I wouldn't have otherwise.

I'm not sure moving away from LinkedIn is the answer either, since most recruiters are mining the places where developers frequent, like SO, GitHub, user groups, and conferences.

Ultimately, you deal with these emails more quickly by ignoring them. Recruiters expect to be ignored by everyone except those who need them. You don't need them right now.

If any recruiter -- maybe 1 out of 100 or more -- looks interesting or offers interesting work, then maybe email back and say thanks. This can be classified as a "good problem to have" but is still admittedly a problem.

There may come a time when you need a recruiter, and at that time you may want to reach back to one of the good ones and have a conversation. The good recruiters are the ones who:

  • address you by name
  • understand your profile and history
  • offer specific opportunities in your
    • area of interest
    • skill level
  • are connected to other developers you know and respect

These type of recruiters are rare, but at the same time are easy to spot at a glance because their communication is so much different than all the others.

Unfortunately I don't think there's any other good way to deal with recruiters, aside from ignoring the irrelevant ones (who represent about 99% of the communication), and be assured that you'll know the good recruiter when you see one. You can't be both available and invisible -- I would argue it's more work to try to build walls.

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  • To clarify - I am ignoring the vast majority of these emails and I acknowledge I am getting them in the first place since I'm less shy and more proactive than others. I have no "delusion of grandeur" and I don't think I'm a particularly exceptional developer by any standard. It's entirely possible I'll need a job and need help finding it in a few years but I doubt knowing recruiters from cold emails would help. Thank you for the answer. Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 20:05
  • @BenjaminGruenbaum And that's just what an exceptional developer would say! :)
    – mcknz
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 20:39
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    @BenjaminGruenbaum But I know what you mean -- it's the cost of being more visible in general.
    – mcknz
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 20:49
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I will answer from my experience sourcing from LinkedIn, since this is the only place I used to get a humongous amount of spam. Some background: I am not a stellar developer, 1.5K my SO rep, no speeches, books or articles and in general 8 yards away from being "the whole 9 yards" developer. Still though many recruiters were approaching me on LinkedIn. And sometimes it was just ridiculous. No seriously. For example I once received this:

Good morning {Name}

I'm from the selection department[...]

Exactly as you see it. Apparently someone's template went a little bit south. Anyway, I tried to change my description with a "message to recruiters" section, mentioning what I was looking for and my status. It worked for sometime but then the spam level was "back to normal".

Now what I've done recently and worked well, like really well, was to change my job title. I changed it to "business owner" (which is true) from "Senior Java Developer" that was before. I din't do it to get away from spamming, I did it because that was the new status quo. And then all of a sudden "poof". The spamming went to zero. Absolute zero. Apparently LinkedIn has a very naive way of assessing your experience using a "you are whatever you say" logic. It's worth mentioning that I removed none of my previous experience. I only changed what I do now. And I didn't make a career switch, I'm still a developer, only now working for myself.

Unfortunately I don't have any solution for SO or Github as I never received any spam in any of these channels. I hope that this helps at least in reducing LinkedIn spam.

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