6 Tech Recruiter Red Flags You Need to Know About (Unless You're Into Spam)

So, you just updated your LinkedIn and have caught the eye of several recruiters via your inbox. Phrases like “Great Opportunity” and “Exciting Prospects for Developers” are getting tossed around.

It can be time consuming to schedule calls with each of them or to even reply individually. But you don’t want to skip over the right opportunity simply because you’re overwhelmed. (And always remember: This is a great situation to be in!).

The good news for you is that there are six steps you can follow to weed out the spammers of LinkedIn from strategic tech recruiters who are looking for you. After all, the way this person interacts with you can be say a lot about the company itself.

1. Decrypt Their Message

You can typically spot emails that are clearly copied and pasted. And just like you know you need to tailor your materials, good recruiters know the same. So, when you get that message, double check that the person took the time to read your profile, research your experience, and cite specific employers or projects.

For example, “I wanted you to be the first to know” is pretty suspect if you’ve never spoken to this person before. Flattery’s awesome, just make sure that it’s written for you—and not hundreds of other candidates.

2. Ask General Knowledge Questions

Think of getting to know a recruiter as if you were interviewing a realtor in a competitive city. You want someone who understands market trends, is working on your behalf, and knows which employers are lemons. This type of individual can also be a top negotiator for you. Reply to their LinkedIn message with some fair questions:

  • Thank you so much for the message. Can you tell me a little bit about the growth of developer jobs in [city name here]?
  • Has the salary level for this type of position changed in the last three to five years?
  • How many software engineers have you placed into new roles in the last year?

Their answers should be detailed and measureable—if not, steer clear.

3. Measure Their Communication Skills

Remember, you’re interviewing them just as much as they’re interviewing you. Sometimes issues can pop up that leave you feeling uneasy. Are they being pushy about scheduling a time to talk or not willing to work around your current work schedule? When you speak a second time, did they forget that you had kids or were not willing to relocate?

These can be negative signposts of a recruiter looking to pass on a high quantity of candidates rather than quality ones to the company. Considering changing jobs is a big deal—and the person on the other end of the conversation should treat it that way. You can be both polite and firm at the same time when responding to negative indicators.

4. Check That They’re Concerned With Culture Fit

Finding a qualified candidate who also meets the work style of the company brings us to culture fit, a crucial component. Are you going to work in an Agile environment? How often do they meet for team meetings? What are the company’s core values and mission? Can your recruiter discuss these factors in detail with you?

Beyond the job duties, this person will also consider the atmosphere of the company and how your work style meshes with it. If they’re not asking you questions in regards to this aspect of the job, then you may be working with someone who is not concerned with you thriving in this potential new role.