Evaluate recruiters for cold letters

Original author: Dr. Gleb Bahmutov, PhD
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Today I will tell you how I rate recruiters who write to me with job offers for the so-called “cold letters” (these are like “ cold calls ”, only letters), and I will also give you a few examples.

What for?

Because I really want to finally stop the flow of spam. Perhaps this article will even somehow change the modus operandi of the average recruiter. Well, at least, I hope that I personally will receive a little better quality letters. (The author apparently hopes that recruiters will read this article on his blog before writing - approx. transl. )

If you had a chance to work in the IT industry for a while, then most likely you have come across a continuous stream of “cold letters” from various-sized recruiters. Most of these emails come to you on LinkedIn. Sometimes recruiters find your e-mail in some way and write directly. Overwhelmingly, cold writing is very standard and looks something like this:

Hello% username%!
I am engaged in staff recruitment and we have a great job <...>
Your profile seemed very interesting to me <...>
Please answer me <...> with your resume attached <...> if you are interested and we will discuss the details

In fact, there may be many options, but all of them, figuratively speaking, suffer from the same diseases. Therefore, to evaluate communication with a recruiter, I decided to develop a point system, which I use to find among the stream of similar letters to find the same employer who can interest me. And this is how I do it:

Bonus points

+ 1- using a direct message to the e-mail, and not the internal messenger LinkedIn. Why do people reinvent communications? I will not understand it. No, I understand that LinkedIn wants visitors to stay on their website longer, but using my working e-mail, which, frankly, is not particularly difficult to get, indicates that the recruiter had already studied the existing information about me, but did not look at the LinkedIn profile diagonally ( but as for me, this is a taste - approx. transl. );

+ 1- I give 1 point each time a letter mentions my project on GitHub, or some of my articles. Open Source is what I do in my free time because I like it. To mention the open-source project in the letter is how to tell the parent of a small child "God, he is just a miracle!" - simply, but has to communicate;

+ 3- for each of my projects that the employing company finds potentially useful for itself . Everything is serious here: they not only looked at my project, but also appreciated the benefits. So, they want to hire me not just to close some kind of a passing position, but with a definite purpose;

+ 2- if the recruiter comes on recommendations from someone with whom I used to work. There is a calculation that the former colleague, most likely, knows what work interests me and does not advise the bad;

+ 2 - the letter contains at least some details about the employing company (not just the name) or a description of the specifics of the proposed work;

+ 1- the letter is written by the employee of the hiring company ( and not by the recruiter from the agency. Whether HR-department employees are included in this category is an open question - approx. Transl. );

+ 3 - the letter was written personally by the CTO or the head of the engineering department of the employing company.

Penalty points

Yes, in addition to bonus points, a letter may receive penalties.

- 10- the letter contains the string template . This can happen, for example, due to a programming error. Well, something in the spirit:

Hello <% FirstName%>,
I was very interested in your profile ...

Where to place <% FirstName %>forgot to insert my name.

- 1 - the data is inserted into the template correctly, but the difference between the template part of the message and the hand-written is too striking;

- 5- Correspondence with the recruiter contains "I was interested in your profile" along with "send your resume and LinkedIn link". Hey, dude, what's going on here at all?

- 1- a voluminous “awesome career opportunity in a fast-growing company” instead of a company name. I understand that the name of the company-employer is hidden to protect against other recruiters, but, frankly, I do not care;

- 1- if the letter has stock pictures or videos. This is a waste of my time viewing the letter. In addition, clearly demonstrates the lack of an individual approach;

- 1- in the first letter they ask to throw off the current resume. Listen, a lot of honor for your lengthy, half-sample text to throw a resume. For this, I have a LinkedIn-profile and my personal site. It contains information about me in a more complete, beautiful and interactive form, rather than in a static PDF-in;

- 2- in case the cold letter contains something in the spirit of "a bachelor's degree is necessary." See, I have a PhD in Computer Science. Not that I strongly flaunt it, or force others to call myself "Dr. Gleb." Currently, I do not even do research work - I do not write articles, I do not work on research. But still, anyone who has read my profile will not include a line on a bachelor's degree in the letter. For me, it's like the cry of "PATTERN!" right in the ear;

- 1- if the set of required skills includes technologies that are obviously not interesting to me. Well, seriously, you can understand what interests me just by looking at the tag cloud in my blog (there it is, on the right) ( following the link to the original article the tag cloud is really on the right - approx. Transl. );

- 1 - if the set of required skills includes technologies in which I am OBVIOUSLY a pro (in my case it is NodeJS, AngularJS, JavaScript, QA, etc.);

- 2- The recruiter will receive the last penalty points, if at the bottom of the first letter I find a request to recommend someone for this position. This is about the same as inviting a girl for a date and immediately, without waiting for an answer, to ask if she has any girlfriend who is ready to go, in case the girl herself does not agree. If the recruiter waits on my refusal and only then asks to recommend a vacancy, he will get a -1point instead -2. I’m not going to do someone else’s work and I’m certainly not going to be worn all over the district asking each friend if he wants to take advantage of "amazing career opportunities."

A quick note about the last fine. You can replay this moment and get it +1, if instead of a request to recommend a vacancy you just wish me luck and ask to stay in touch, not to get lost. At least, this is logical: everyone ever changes jobs, and successful recruiting is about building and maintaining relationships. So instead of asking for recommendations, take care that I remember and write for you when I change jobs.

Will I answer your message, even if the polite "thank you, not interested"? It is unlikely if you do not score at least 5 points. Is it difficult? Let's take a look at a few examples.


In order to maintain confidentiality, real names are changed.

Example 1

Hello Gleb,
I ran through your profile and website ... Very interesting! I see that you are working at Kensho now, but I would definitely be happy to contact you for a permanent job and / or small projects that I have. Do you have a minute or two to talk to me?

Account: 1 = (direct e-mail), no other bonuses or penalties

Example 2

Hello Gleb,
I saw your profile on GitHub and was very intrigued by your contributions to the JavaScript community. Repositories with projects like stop-angular-overrides , code-snippets and xplainare amazing! The README documentation is well thought out and organized, which says a lot about you as an engineer. I also looked at your personal website and I liked your posts / infographics on Angular vs Backbone vs Ember, as well as your thoughts about using functors in JavaScript. And also, the video with your performance at ng-conf 2015 - it was really exciting! I thought that your opensource development experience and ability to create a cool front-end is not only excellent in itself, but also highly demanded here, in <...>, in the department where we make user interfaces <...>
PS We can help with salary, relocation and any other related expenses to make your move from Boston to the Bay Area the most convenient.
Let me know if you decide!

And here is a piece of the second message that came after I replied:

... However, if it turns out that you know someone who is interested in working in the field of software development or robotics here on the west coast, feel free to forward this information. I will be glad to help with what I can.
Take care of yourself!

Ay how close.
Account: 7 = direct e-mail (+1), 3 project mentions (+3), 2 blog articles (+2), company details (+2), recommendations (-1)

Example 3

Hello Gleb,
I want to tell you about the amazing job opportunity in the Downtown Crossing area. A Lead UI Developer is required to work on the e-Commerce platform. The experience of the lead developer is required, as well as expert skills in the field of JavaScript, experience with MVC-frameworks - Angular or Backbone. Ideal if you have a degree in Computer Science. It is highly desirable if you have experience with e-Commerce products, using SASS, Grunt and Git. The salary is higher than the market, you should start work as soon as possible. Please tell us how it is most convenient to contact you regarding this and other vacancies.
Thanks, MM

Account: 0 = job details (+2), standard degree requirement (-2)

Example 4

Hello Gleb,
I found your profile and he was very interested in me. I would like to contact you to find out how I can help in your career quest.
I currently have a Senior Full Stack Developer job.
  • professional knowledge of NodeJS,
  • 2+ years javascript experience
  • experience with Angular.js or ember.js or knockout.js
  • knowledge of MongoDB will be a plus
  • knowledge of java on backend preferably

We work directly with the customer manager. 3 open vacancies, high salaries! Long-term contracts. Client from Medford.
I will be glad to talk with you. If you know someone who is suitable for this position, we are ready to offer $ 500 referral.

Account: -4 = little data about the company (-1), OBVIOUS skills (-1), begging recommendation (-2)

As you can see, a negative score is also possible. And generally speaking, it seems to me that such occurs quite often.

From translator

Hovered! I am not a translator, but I want this article in Russian. I express my deep gratitude to the author for this text and for having formulated what I have been spinning in my head for the last few years. At the same time, I express my bewilderment why no one has yet translated this article. Literary translation, to the best of my knowledge of English. Do not judge strictly.

I would also like to supplement the section with fines with the following points:

- 2- if the letter contains the text of the vacancy, or it is attached to the letter. Vacancy is an official text for you, recruiters. This is a task for programmers in JIRA. This is an indicator that you should close as you please. When you forward the text of a vacancy to an applicant, you simply shift your job to it;

- 4- if the letter contains a link to the text of a vacancy and it leads to a job search site (like hh.ru or MyKrug). -6if the vacancy is located on page 1-2 of the search results of these resources. No, seriously, comrades, recruiters, why are you in this whole chain needed? What kind of work do you specifically do? Send spam? This can be charged to the computer. Increase job visibility? The service "to raise the vacancy in the top" on all resources with vacancies is cheaper than your monthly salary. Your candidate for some reason does not look hh.ru? So this is because he has a job. Do you want to convince him to change his workplace? Alas, with such neglect of your duties, you will not achieve this. As a result, you simply do not need and you do not need to answer.

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