Why Software Engineers Hate Recruiters?

Most Software Engineers did not wake-up one day and unanimously decided to hate tech recruiters and headhunters.

Recruiters had it long coming… And earned every right to be disliked by the very people they intended to serve.

95% of tech recruiters are beyond awful at least speaking from my experience.

I am software developer with over 7 years of professional experience. And I had every possible interaction a software engineer could have with a tech recruiter.

  • Spamming with emails and promising they have the next best opportunity? YEP!
  • Calling out of a blue and advertise you on a Java role because you have Javascript in your CV? CHECK!
  • Finally getting you hooked on a role only to disappear after you provided all your info and wasting your time in the process? YESSIR!
  • (My favorite one) Or how about after ghosting you, then hitting you up couple months later with a NEW opportunity and act like nothing happened? OHH… PLENTY OF THOSE.

I also got to be on the hiring side for my former employers for 4 years out of those 7.

Interviewing candidates in the technical panels, screening CVs, interacting with Hiring Managers, dealing with company’s internal recruiters and staffing agencies.

Believe it or not, it’s even more painful seeing this side than the candidate’s side.

To put it plainly, most IT recruiters are terrible at what they do. Not all, but most.

There are good ones, I am sure. But personally, I was never lucky enough to come across them.

Here are 3 main reasons why most Software Engineers hate Tech Recruiters:


Reason #1: Don’t know anything about the role they are recruiting for

Tech recruiters often lack even basic knowledge about the roles they are recruiting for, leading to ineffective communication and mismatches between candidates and positions.

This is compounded by the intricate nature of software development, where a deep knowledge of specific technology stacks and their applications is crucial.

Imagine software development as a vast universe, with each planet representing a different aspect of the field. Now, add the countless ways these planets can orbit and interact, creating an ever-expanding galaxy of complexities.

For instance, think of how a developer might combine various languages like Python and JavaScript with frameworks like Django or React to build a dynamic web application.

Now add a recruiter into the mix who does not have the slightest clue about any of those technologies.

Eager to make a fat commission, our tech recruiter proceeds to doing 1 of 3 things (or all 3):

  1. Proceeds to ‘smile and dial’ after scraping off phone numbers from the LinkedIn Navigator search result,
  2. Blasts generic templated messages to every software engineer their LinkedIn limit will allow,
  3. Posts those job ads across all the job boards.

Good engineering candidates almost never respond to these. The candidates that usually respond are either mismatched candidates or desperate ones.

When they do get a hold of a potential candidate, they can’t even verify if the candidate is good.

How can they? Candidates could be blatantly lying but sound so confident the recruiter would have no reason to question.

How do I know that? Because I screen potential candidates, and almost always, on average, 7 out of 10 candidates gets filtered-out within 5 mins of me digging by just asking simple concepts.

Reason #2: Almost no barrier for entry

Anyone with a laptop and Internet can become a recruiter. No exams to take and nothing to prepare for.

Would you allow a surgeon to operate on you if you knew they never went to medical school, don’t have a bachelor’s degree, and never did a residency program?

Or how about a lawyer who never went to law school?

Or would you feel safe putting your child on a school bus with a driver who never operated a vehicle before?

But those constraints do not exist for tech recruiters. Here is the criteria you need to have to officially start spamming.

“Can you talk to people? ALRIGHT… You’re in. Now go find me a .Net developer.”

Software Engineers fall in the category of “knowledge work”. The biggest asset for engineers is their intellectual acumen within the engineering domain. Ability to solve complex problems.

There is a reason why companies pay a ransom fee for a single placement. Yet the people who are the gatekeepers for these highly critical roles, quite often are college graduates, or are those who get into recruiting as a last resort because they could not find a better option.

Quite frankly too, a lot of tech recruiters have no respect for software engineers.

Had recently a call with another recruiting firm asking us to help them find an engineer for the role they have been struggling with.

“Can you help us hire these ‘nerds’?”, Those were the words that came out of their CEO.

They are a known staffing agency by the way, who have very reputable clients within software engineering domain.

Reason #3: Salesmen trained to overpromise and under deliver

It’s a never-ending cycle for both the candidate and client victims.

Staffing firms promise the world and the icing on top of it to their prey.

Typical scenario where recruiting firm approaches a company:

“You guys been struggling for 2 months to find a Mobile Developer with $120k budget? We promise you that we will get you a Senior Mobile Architect with 8 years of experience in 2 weeks for $80k.”

Guess what happens after a client is hooked?

That same agency after realizing they can’t deliver on what they promised, will simply go M.I.A.

When approaching a candidate, there are so many different ways recruiters can go about this. It’s like they have an arsenal of choice.

“Hmmm… Which method do I want to torture this schmuck candidate with today?”

You might think that in-house recruiters are better than 3rd party agencies because of all the points mentioned above. Let me play devil’s advocate here.

Sure, a case can be made for in-house recruiters:

  • Might not have the financial incentives to shove every candidate to a client,
  • Have some understanding of the company product and culture,
  • And overall better represent employer brand.

But the same case can be made for staffing agencies as well:

  • Have the latest software, database scraping tools to find more candidates,
  • More driven to find a candidate because of financial incentives,
  • And much more nimble with no bureaucracy to slow them down.


What I’m trying to say is that it does not matter whether it’s in-house recruiters or 3rd party staffing agencies.

Both are 2 sides to the same coin. The root cause still remains. Neither of them have any clue about the sector, position, tech-stack, or even slight interest about technology. Not even high-level meta understanding.

I am pretty sure there are good recruiting agencies out there and good internal recruitment teams that do an outstanding job, but those are few and far between.

Because there is no understanding, clients continuously receive subpar candidates, and engineering candidates have no better option than to accept the reality and deal with recruiters.

Because for the candidates what is the alternative? Applying on job boards.

So If You Are A Company, What Can You Do?

  • (Shameless plug) Remember, earlier I mentioned how I saw both sides of recruiting. As a candidate and as a client (for my employers). Because of seeing all this and the gap in tech recruiting, we started a recruiting company, BlueBridge Solutions. Our belief is that software engineers should recruit for other software engineering roles. Reach out to us. Let us see if we can help you. No pressure here.
  • Or you can designate 1-2 software engineer(s) in your team to take active charge in hiring strong software engineers. This is a temporary work-around, but definitely can be used as a band-aid over the wound for the time being.
  • If you are going to use 3rd party agency recruiters, you should carefully vet those agencies before agreeing to Terms and Conditions. It is very often that we see company get desperate and end-up partnering with agencies without doing due diligence. Look for specialist agencies, look for past client successes, get professional references from their previous clients, and find out if they ever worked on the roles (or very similar) that you need them to work on.
  • If you rely on in-house recruiters, there are a few things you could do to improve the process. I previously wrote an article about it. Click here to read.

Most recruiters lack basic technical knowledge about the roles they’re trying to fill. They’re just focused on making quick placements rather than truly understanding the skills needed.

At the same time, I know many recruiters do want to do right by engineers. They just don’t always have the training or incentives to gain that technical fluency.

So maybe it’s time for a change. As an industry, tech recruiting needs higher standards and barriers to entry. Recruiting highly skilled roles like software developers should require basic tech knowledge and skills. No more treating it as a sales job – have some respect for the craft.

With higher industry standards, better training, and a real understanding of software development, I believe recruiters can become allies for engineers. They can find opportunities that are the right technical and cultural fit, not just the fastest paycheck.

It’s time to acknowledge recruiting highly skilled roles like software engineers is a specialty.

Because it deserves more expertise and training than a generic sales job.

With the right changes, recruiters and engineers can better understand each other and work together.

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