How to deal with obnoxious recruiters?
November 21, 2007 10:05 AM   Subscribe

How do you deal with calls from recruiters who are inappropriately rude?

I am a freelance user experience consultant, and I have been receiving 3-4 calls a day from recruiters. This is great, and some of these calls have lead to great opportunities for me. However, I have noticed a recent trend of recruiters who are, quite plainly, assholes. Here are some examples of the behavior I'm talking about:
1) They are rude on the phone, presumptuous, and condescending.
2) They have barely read my resume and offer me jobs that are completely unrelated to my experience or interests.
3) They want me to fill out a 5 page questionnaire without telling me anything about the hiring company or position.
So my question is this: is there a better way to deal with these people than simply saying "thanks, but I'm not interested"? Should I attempt to call them out on their rude behavior, or is that making too big of a deal of this? It's become a daily phenomenon, and it's driving me crazy.
posted by designmartini to Human Relations (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Hang up on them.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:06 AM on November 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Inform them you charge 10 dollars a minute to discuss opportunities, get a billing address up front.
posted by iamabot at 10:08 AM on November 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

The moment the rudeness begins, simply place the handset down without hanging up and go make a cup of coffee / surf Mefi / take a walk. When you return they'll have done the hanging up for you.
posted by brautigan at 10:14 AM on November 21, 2007

Any recruiter with such poor skills isn't one you want to be taking jobs from anyway, and will have doubtlessly made the same impression on anyone with two braincells to rub together.

There's something to be said for not burning bridges and by no means is this an excuse to be rude or mean, but sometimes you can just enjoy the fire.

I've heard tales of (in large companies) transferring the pimp (as they're known) to the receptionist and, with them still on the line, informing the receptionist in no uncertain terms that no calls from this agency are to be accepted for any reason, then disconnecting both.

Of course if you're a consultant that's harder to accomplish. Maybe your SO can do a convincing receptionist impersonation?
posted by Skorgu at 10:18 AM on November 21, 2007

Best answer: I get a lot of annoying contacts from recruiters, too. If you don't want any leads from them then take your phone number off your resume, tell them not to call yo, and hang up. If you do need leads from them, though, then you're stuck wasting a few minutes a day brushing off the bad ones.

The good news, at least for software engineers, is that individual recruiters are pretty much irrelevant. They need you for their 15% annual salary commission way more than you need them. And they talk to so many people a week they aren't going to remember an unremarkable brushoff. In other words, recruiters aren't your colleagues. No need to be rude, but no need to bend over to make them happy, either.

The last recruiter to call me was rude on the phone. I did my usual telemarketer response. A polite no, which he refused, followed by a firm "no" and hanging up. He called me back and said "we seem to have been disconnected". Amazing!
posted by Nelson at 10:19 AM on November 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'd call them on it. I think recruiting is one of those businesses where 20% of the recruiters do 80% of the business. These doofuses are not in the golden 20%, and I wouldn't worry about alienating them.
posted by selfmedicating at 10:21 AM on November 21, 2007

It's sad to me that recruiting has become such a damn rat-race for some of these people.

One of the things I might ask them is where they're finding your resume. If you can track down a specific website/service that's a commonality amongst these shoddy recruiters, you could consider making your resume "private" on those sites.

The other thing I'd do is ask for the name of the company they represent, plus their full name. If they're exuding these unfavorable qualities toward someone to whom they're trying to sell a position, someone above them is probably going to want to know about it. I'd want to know about it were they my subordinates.
posted by thewalrusispaul at 10:33 AM on November 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

I have not been called by recruiters myself, but I'd try this, if you don't want to burn bridges: "please send me detailed information about this position by mail or e-mail. I'm really busy at the moment and can't take time to talk about it." Or when you get a call from an unfamiliar voice asking for designmartini, simply say "can I ask who's calling?" and fake being your own receptionist.

Also, fwiw: I worked briefly as a headhunter. Headhunters churn people the way stockbrokers churn stocks. They get a commission when you get hired in a new job, and some of these guys have an interest in placing you in a job you won't like so that they can get a commission again when you ask them to find you something else. They can also be devilishly good at persuading you that you will like a certain job.
posted by adamrice at 10:50 AM on November 21, 2007

Best answer: They don't sound like very good recruiters to me. A good recruiter does have something vested in placing a great person with a great company. They might be cagey about who their client is, but I don't think they'd be rude and alienate you--a good recruiter would already know your skill set and be contacting you with a legitimate possibility. The people contacting you seem to be playing a numbers game and probably aren't really dealing with too many good clients directly. They are probably selling themselves to you and to the company and trying to extract a commission from either one or both, but a legitimate company doesn't want some rude jerk representing their interests, either, so maybe remind the next rude jerk of that fact and see if they don't have an instant attitude adjustment.
posted by 45moore45 at 10:54 AM on November 21, 2007

And they talk to so many people a week they aren't going to remember an unremarkable brushoff.

What he said.

Though I'm not quite sure how this is affecting your daily life...just too many interruptions, or you're having trouble weeding the good calls from the bad, or what? (If the former, maybe let the answering machine pick up and only return calls from promising messages.)
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 11:30 AM on November 21, 2007

Burn those bridges! truly, these people are worthless. the reason i still get tons of emails and 5 or 6 calls a week, even months after taking my resume offline, is that there are a million recruiters, and companies tend to use them redundantly.

So every time any job for which I'm vaguely qualified becomes open, I'm bombarded with calls and emails. If you alienate one, ten more will take his place.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:55 AM on November 21, 2007

designmartini: So my question is this: is there a better way to deal with these people than simply saying "thanks, but I'm not interested"?

I'm in sales, and let me tell you, "I'm not interested" is the single most useless phrase in the English language. They will take it as a challenge, and you will be communicating absolutely nothing to them.

Just ask them questions, tell them if their answers are presumptuous and assholish or not, and hang up they are. Don't waste your time with anything else. They'll appreciate it. Really.
posted by koeselitz at 12:58 PM on November 21, 2007

Ask them to hold on for a second while you switch to another phone, then just put the phone down and leave it there until they hang up. Sometimes they're just quiet for a while; sometimes you can hear them saying "hello? hello?" and getting more and more irritated. (I had someone stick around for 4 minutes yesterday.) Every second they're waiting for you is another second they're not bothering someone else.
posted by equalpants at 1:17 PM on November 21, 2007

I just recently found another job, but to find it I had my resume up on all the sites (Monster, Dice, etc).

Before I did so, i had a genius idea. I put a phone number on my resume that belonged to cell phone I never used and I just turned the phone off.

A couple times a day I checked the messages, and people that weren't offering accountant jobs up in the East Bay (I'm a web developer in L.A.) might get a call back.

That way, my "real" phone didn't get blasted and my other phone got a dozen head hunters a day.
posted by sideshow at 1:37 PM on November 21, 2007 [3 favorites]

Here are the magic words for recruiters who want to waste your time: "My time for going on interviews is very limited. Is this call about a specific position? Can you tell me more about this position?"

If they give you static, then they're a timewasting moron - tell them you've got to go floss your cat or something and hang up.

Oh, and Skypeout is your friend. You can get a local number in most US cities (and some large cities abroad as well!) and give that out.
posted by deadmessenger at 2:38 PM on November 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Perhaps too late for you: Get a free GrandCentral lumber and use it on your resume. When someone is an ass, don't burn the bridge, just log in, label that dialing number as their name and company, tag that number as spam and then hang up. When/if they ever call again, they will go straight to voicemail.
posted by cmiller at 10:01 PM on November 21, 2007

The moment the rudeness begins, simply place the handset down without hanging up and go make a cup of coffee / surf Mefi / take a walk. When you return they'll have done the hanging up for you.

posted by desuetude at 1:02 PM on November 23, 2007

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