This article is updated with new letters occasionallydekor-okno

HN likes to scorn recruiters (such as “Why I Hate Tech Recruiters”, or right now, Dear Google Recruiting…) Comments on these articles tend to agree upon the disdain.

Offhanded spam-campaigny emails are no fun but I don’t think it’s good reason to scorn the job. I love recruiters – A sincere effort from one I is its own kind of compliment. A compliment, no less, from a field that takes a serving of hostility and non-replies as their mid-day meal. The best recruiters brighten my day and the least I could do is be pleasant in return.

I get a “real” inquiry maybe about once a week (being from the mere hills of New Hampshire and notable for only one niche I find even this amount surprising) but I try to always take the time and give a reply. If the recruiter hasn’t shown much effort I copy and paste something suggesting that a more sincere letter would yield more sincere replies. If I don’t have the time, I can always delete the errant mail.

Being a good recruiter seems to involve the act of solving a problem that cannot be generalized well, and when we come across good recruiters we should do our part to reward them somehow, even if we aren’t interested in the position. If the recruiter has shown some effort then I feel obliged, time permitting, to give them something in return.

The replies I give are always a very roundabout way of declining but it gives me an opportunity to (hopefully) brighten the day of what I imagine is a difficult job that often involves a good deal of hostility and silence from the people they contact. I’d like to think recruiters have feelings, and if they spend the time to craft a sincere request then I will delightedly spend the time to craft at least a partially amusing reply.

How would you like it, after all, if you spend a day crafting thirty good recruiting emails only to be met with an empty (or hostile!) inbox the next morning?

Below are a couple of examples of the things I say in return. Names have been largely removed for the sake of privacy.

Dearest G-,

I apologize for the late reply. I have been working day and night (and dawn and dusk) as uncountable tasks approach my inbox (and life) in recent times.

While Microsoft is a fine company and I do enjoy my use of the Windows 8 release preview, I cannot accept any offers to apply because Redmond, Washington is very far from New Hampshire and I am the sort to walk to work.

I would perhaps urge you to suggest to the good Microsofters of Redmond to get out of their buildings and attempt to push them closer to New Hampshire but I do not think it is technically feasible, and besides they probably would not agree to do it, as backs would ache in even the best conditions, and New Hampshire is very far.

Perhaps someday I will choose to leave this small town but this year is not the year and so I must decline any offers for the time being.

Please take my kind regards, and the hope that the weather turns to more reasonable temperatures for the both of us,

Simon Sarris

Dearest K-,

Thank you for extending to me this invitation.

Unfortunately for perhaps both of us I live in New Hampshire and intend to remain in New Hampshire for the (metaphorically) foreseeable future. That is not a derision of Wisconsin, which I am sure is wonderful and produces many grand (or Epic) things and people. But while Wisconsin makes many fine and attractive things such as (say) cheeses (Sartori Bellavitano anyone?), trucks are always willing to relocate said cheeses to New Hampshire.

Trucks are less willing or able to move my house to Wisconsin, and even if they were, the Historical Society might raise an objection or two. Moving my friends would be even more difficult, as several of them object to being carried around and placed in other states.

Alas while there may come a time to lead myself from this Maple-syrup laden location, as Syrio says, “Not today.”

I hope your candidate search goes well,

Simon Sarris


Thank you for your invitation.

However I am comfortably employed (and living) in New Hampshire and do not intend to consider moving in the near future, regardless of that fact that your company and potential jobs may well be very interesting.

Or as our girlfriends of yore might have said, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

Your site is beautiful, by the way.

Hope for the best,

Simon Sarris

L. Sommerhalter,

Terribly sorry for the all-to-late reply. Work has kept me busy and a puppy has kept me busier still. Alas I’ve finally regained enough of an attention span to tackle my inbox.

Work keeps me happy and well-fed these days, so I have no reason to want to look for another job, though I imagine [company] is quite the lovely company to work for (as the Boston Business Journal assents). So sorry again to decline, but I must, as flattered as I am by your (professional) advances.

I hope you’re well. Stay warm,

Simon Sarris

(P.S. your name reads to me like “Summer halter”. Was it you who brought us all this snow?)

I’m sure not everyone is as easily flattered as I am by a piece of mail. But if we have a problem with the recruiting profession then we should probably find a better way to reward the good ones, shouldn’t we?


11 thoughts on “WordPress

  1. Michael Hopkins

    Ha, I like your reply e-mails. I myself prefer a more direct approach that is still kind and professional. “Thanks for the inquiry, Name. Right now I’m not looking to move, but please check with me periodically. I’ll keep your contact information as well.”

      1. Pawel

        aaa, what reference is that exactly? and where? Now it will continue bugging me .. 😐

        And about the article itself = +1, cool attitude. I, however, have not yet received a genuine, not-copy pasted, email from a recruiter.
        I guess you’re (un?) lucky 🙂

  2. David Karapetyan

    Your emails are a bit long-winded but like you I do my best to reply with a valid reason about why I’m declining a phone call or further contact. Like you said, they are human beings and deserve to be treated as such.

  3. chinamike

    Your e-mails are anything but long-winded. They harken back to a slower
    time. A time when messages were leavened with a bit of polite levity and
    displayed a heightened awareness of self. I can imagine these replies leaving the pen of Mark Twain.
    Congratulations, and if anything, were I to receive one of these
    messages I would send you more job offers in hopes of receiving more
    replies like these!

  4. shareme

    I think you really have not talked to a recruiter lately. The average recruiter sends out 100+ emails daily, hence the briefness of any email inquiry.

  5. pauldwaite

    True. No-one likes spam, but recruitment is a merciless business for the poor chaps who try to do it, and good recruiters are genuinely worth a lot to their clients on both sides.

  6. JT

    These are hilarious to me as a recruiter! I bet the recipients a) blush at their mistakes b) remember you forever. It reminds me of once candidate I emailed who sent a photoshopped image back of a frog reclining on a lilypad that read “Retired and living the dream.” With nothing else- no message, nada. Me and my colleagues all had a good laugh over that.

    I very briefly ever had to work recruiting at a place that made us use automated emails, and I hated doing it. I love being on the corporate side. I now have the luxury of sending emails where I invariably cover the following. I have a (job title) opening for (company) in (location). I found your resume (jobsite) and am contacting you because I think your are qualified judging by (reason, technology, skill in resume) that it looks like you did with (company where that skill shows up in the resume.) If you are keeping your options open I’d love to tell you more.

    Boom–3 sentences, piece of cake The other thing I hated doing as part of those mass emails was sending a perfect stranger a multiple paragraph email, often with a description dreamed up by a non-technical hiring manager with no idea what they really need this person to be like.


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