I understand that recruiters are necessary for companies to keep new employees coming in. I understand that good ones are very valuable and that bad ones can ruin you. I have friends who are recruiters and, clearly, they’re good people otherwise they wouldn’t be my friends. But there are some recruiters who really give the rest a very bad name.

I know it’s the job of recruiters to contact prospects, but there’s a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it. The right way, as far as I’m concerned, is to send an email. This can be done either through a web site or through a networking site such as Linked In. Recruiters who do that will receive a reply from me, and at this time, it will kindly state that I’m not looking for any opportunities but I appreciate the consideration. Some of these recruiters I’ll even accept into my network so that we can keep in touch. Again, this is the right way.

The wrong way is to look at my Linked In profile, see that I work at Yahoo!, then call up the Yahoo! main number and ask to speak to me. I consider this to be an insult, to me and to my employer. You are taking away time from my job and disturbing me at work. You can further bury yourself in my eyes by leaving a message asking me to call you back. I will not be calling you back. Ever.

Want to go for extra points? Leave a message that sounds mysterious. I got this one last week: “I need to speak to you and it’s time-sensitive, so I’d appreciate a call back by Monday at noon.” Do you she got one? No way, don’t insult me by playing games.

If, for some reason, I answer the phone (which I tend to do on occasion…crazy, I know), just tell me straight up that you’re a recruiter and I will tell you straight up that I’m not interested. This doesn’t make us friends, nor does it make you someone I want to talk to ever again (as mentioned above, you disturbed me at work, which is the wrong way to approach me). So, when I say, “thank you, I’m not interested,” and hang up, don’t call me back. And if, for some unknown and clearly misguided reason, you do call me back, don’t complain that I shouldn’t hang up on you because it’s rude and I’ll never get another job if I’m rude to recruiters. I said I wasn’t interested and I’m getting back to my job. And the fact of the matter is that you’re probably the second or third person to call me that day with a job offer, not to mention the two or three emails I got also offering jobs. So don’t think you’re going to ruin my reputation by telling the recruiter network that I hung up on an unsolicited phone call. My body of work speaks for itself and I stand behind it, along with the scores of co-workers who I’ve worked with (go on, read the recommendations on my profile). Recruiters really shouldn’t threaten, chastise, or lecture, no matter how mad that I turned down your advances. Haven’t you ever been dumped before?

To my recruiter friends, you know I love you and that this post has nothing to do with you directly. It is advice for those recruiters who don’t know me and don’t realize how badly they’re shooting themselves in the foot with their actions. As always, it’s a small percentage of a field that can give everyone a bad name. Here’s to the good ones.

Disclaimer: Any viewpoints and opinions expressed in this article are those of Nicholas C. Zakas and do not, in any way, reflect those of my employer, my colleagues, Wrox Publishing, O'Reilly Publishing, or anyone else. I speak only for myself, not for them.

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