Why Are Software Developers Rude To Recruiters?

Why Are Software Developers Rude To Recruiters?
Post Author: Aaron Decker | Image by Wendy Corniquet from Pixabay
Date published: August 23, 2020

Mean candidates. This topic comes up every once and a while, especially with newer recruiters. "Why are these guys so rude to us, we are trying to get them jobs" goes the refrain or something like it.

I think there are a lot of issues going on here, but I'll try to lay a couple of them out.

Developers are in demand

Yes, developers are still in demand, even with 10% unemployment in a post-covid world. Unbelievably, I still get just about as many messages from recruiters as I did last year before the world locked down.

Many of these messages are essentially spam, because they are just random fly bys asking if I want some contract with no context. If you get these messages everyday, you ignore them.

fly by linkedin email

Developers are generally introverted

To generalize: developers are introverted. Many software engineers are good at what they do because actively chose a profession where you deal with machines with deterministic outputs as opposed to unpredictable humans.

These people (myself included) are not going to like a hard sell. I typically respond with a polite "no thanks, not looking right now" when I'm not in the market and from surveys I've done, it appears many others always respond as well.

Sometimes a recruiter will just start spamming me job descriptions anyway (even after I declined). I don't know, maybe some percentage of the time that does work! I get it's a numbers game. But sometimes it's going to piss people off and they will just respond with sarcasm or expletives.

Maybe you are trying to fill a crappy job?

I've touched on this before a little bit but there are companies I would never want to work at again, and companies that I know by reputation that I'd never want to be involved with as an employee or contractor.

Maybe the company you are trying to fill a job for has a reputation for low pay or death-march projects or mind-numbing beauracracy? You might not find this out by looking at glass door or similar because people will be too afraid to post this stuff anywhere.

In a small market experienced people might be very leery to even talk without knowing who the employer is.

Here is a conversation a friend sent me with a recruiter in a smaller market like this, where I guarantee you he already knew and had heard of this employer so it's interesting the recruiter died on the hill of not giving the company name. I don't think anybody was rude here, just an example of the kind of back and forth that can happen.

I re-transcribed this here for brevity:

On Mon, Nov 14, 2019 at 2:41 PM xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:

Hey xxxxxxxxxxx,

I have a new full time direct hire Senior Front End Senior Engineer role in XXXXXXXX with 
a data analytics and data visualization technology software company. My client offers a 
strong base salary, flexible work hours, full healthcare benefits and a laid back results 
oriented work environment. From a background perspective we are looking for someone with 
extensive Angular JS experience or native JavaScript experience. 

Does this sound interesting? If not, we do pay $1,000 referral bonuses. 
Does anyone come to mind for this?

<removed full JD for brevity>


On Mon, Nov 14, 2019 at 2:43 PM, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:


Who's your client?


On Tue, Nov 15, 2019 at 1:18 PM xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:


I am currently working with 4 companies that are looking for very similar 
positions in the XXXXXX area, would love to jump on the phone and go over 
more if your schedule allows. I have free time later today or Thursday 
if you had availability in your schedule. 


On Tue, Nov 15, 2019 at 2:09 PM, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:


Which companies? If there are any I'm interested in I'd happily have a phone conversation.



On Tue, Nov 15, 2019 at 2:59 PM xxxxxxxxxx wrote:


Would love to jump on the phone and talk more about the positions, 
normally we don't release the name of the company until we've built that relationship.

If that's acceptable, I would have time to get on a call today or Thursday.



On Tue, Nov 15, 2019 at 3:05 PM, xxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:


I can't justify a blind call without at least knowing if I'm 
interested in working for one of your clients, my time is very valuable. 



From: XXXX
Date: Tue, Nov 15, 2019 at 3:54 PM
Subject: Re: xxxxxxx Sr. JavaScript Developer @ Healthcare SaaS Tech Company up to $140,000


Wish we could have found time to talk.

Best of luck,

Bad experiences in the past

Just about every developer I know has had at least one bad experienced with recruiters. I asked in a survey in January how "How do you feel about working with recruiters?" and 45% said they had a "generally negative" opinion.

So you can see even talking to a recruiter gets people's defenses up immediately, which is unfortunate for you as a recruiter just trying to do your job!

I tend to be skeptical recruiters know little to anything about the jobs they are selling me. I'll give you an example. I was once talking with a recruiter about a job as a software developer at "Great American Insurance Company". He was trying hard to close me after I got an offer and was saying any random bullshit he could to get me to agree.

I still remember the line (after he ran out of concrete information and started blabbering) - "you know, these guys are great, they are just great people. They are so great, the are really just great americans!". Give me a break, how stupid do you think I am!

Looking back, I'm not sure how I didn't burst out laughing and hang up, but it was pretty early in my career and I need a new job so I took the job anyway 🤷.


The software developer job market is unique for a lot of reasons. Software is eating the world and it doesn't look like that is going to slow down any time soon.

There is a lot of demand in software, a lot of turnover, and a lot of money in placing software engineers. This makes for a market where developers end up getting chased and spammed incessantly. Sometimes candidates are going to get frustrated and lash out.

But the upside is that as a recruiter if you can stand out from the crowd and be unique you can break through all of the noise!

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Written By Aaron Decker

I'm currently a co-founder and head of engineering at a venture backed startup called Bounty. I tend to think of myself as a backend engineer that can work up and down the stack in Typescript. Previously, I have worked as a Tech Lead and hired teams, and as a Senior Software Engineer at multiple fortune 500 companies building large products. I also did a brief stint teaching programming courses as an Adjunct Instructor at a local community college, which taught me a lot about breaking down complex things into understandable chunks.