Rating recruiter pitches

Scoring the cold recruiter pitches I received. Plus a few examples.

WHY THIS BLOG POST: because I want the spam to stop. Maybe this will improve the average recruiter's modus operandi. Or at least I myself will get a few better emails.

If you worked in the industry for a while, you probably are getting a constant stream of "cold" emails from recruiters. Majority of these are coming via Linkedin, but sometimes the recruiter finds your email via other channels and emails directly. In great majority of the cases, the emails are standard

Dear <insert your name here>, I have an exciting opportunity, ...
Please contact me with your updated resume to find out more ...

Because there are so many of these emails, and because they suffer from the same problems, I have decided to set up a point system and score different emails, trying to find the recruiter email most likely to make me interested. Here is how I assign points

Bonus points

+ 1 - using direct email and not Linkedin message. Why do people need to reinvent the email? I understand that Linkedin wants to keep the people inside their website, but using my personal email that is available everywhere means the recruiter actually has looked at my information and not just at the linkedin profile.

+ 1 - I will award 1 point for each of Github project (or blog post) I have written the email mentions. Open source software is something I do in my spare time because I like it. Mentioning an open source project is like saying to a parent of a young child "he / she is so cute!" - simple, but makes me like you.

+ 3 - for each of my personal projects that the target company finds potentially useful. This is a big one: not only you have looked at my projects, but you actually see value and want to bring me onboard with a goal in mind.

+ 2 - if the recruiter goes through someone I know or worked with. Chances are that a former coworker knows what kind of position I would be interested in.

+ 2 - the cold email has company details and job specifics.

+ 1 - the cold email is written by an actual employee of the company.

+ 3 - the cold email is written by the CTO or VP of Engineering of the company.


There is also a number of penalties the email can get.

- 10 - the email has a template string instead of my name due to programming mistake. Something like

Hi <% FirstName %>,
I saw your background ...

- 1 - the template has correct data, but there is noticeable style difference between the boilerplate and the custom text.

- 5 - the email starts with "I found your profile on Linkedin and was very impressed." Then in the same or next email "Could you please send me your resume and Linkedin profile url?" What is going on here?

- 5 - you find my cell phone number online, call and leave a voicemail even before writing an email.

- 1 - the cold email has a vague "exciting opportunity to join industry leader" instead of the actual company name. I understand that this might be a protection move against other recruiters, but I don't care.

- 1 - if you include stock images / videos in your email about the company. This is only wasting my time and shows lack of personalization.

- 1 - for asking for an updated resume in the first email. Why should I care enough about your vague pitch to send the resume? That is what my Linkedin profile / personal website is for. The same information in more interactive, useful and complete form that a static PDF doc.

- 2 - if your cold email says "Bachelor's of science or equivalent required". I have an advanced degree in Computer Science. I am not making a huge deal out of it, or make people call me "Doctor". I don't even work directly in my research field right now. Yet, anyone who has looked at any of my on-line profiles should have not included the "Bachelor's" requirement - that screams "email template" to me.

- 1 - if the set of skills includes technologies I am not interested in. You can quickly judge what I am interested in by looking at the tags on this blog (look to right on this page on a desktop screen). Again, this eliminates email spam.

- 1 - the list of qualifications includes things I am obviously good at (NodeJS, AngularJS, JavaScript, software quality, etc).

- 2 - you get the final penalty points if at the bottom of the cold email you ask to refer any potential match for this position. This is similar to asking a woman on a date, and immediately, before she even had a chance to answer, asking if she knows someone else who would go out with you. If you wait until I reject your first email, and then ask for referral, you will get - 1 penalty instead of - 2. I am not doing your job for you, and most definitely not running around asking people to join your "exciting opportunity".

Quick note about the last penalty. You can turn things around and get + 1 if instead of asking for referral you wish me best of luck and ask to stay in touch. At least this is reasonable: everyone changes jobs once in a while, and successful recruitment means maintaining relationships, so that when I think about moving on, I am more likely to contact you, the recruiter.

NEW: a recent penalty

-10 I just got an email from an recruiter that deserves its own new penalty. See the screenshot below

Join the recruiter email list to find out about an exciting job opening from their partner

What the fresh hell is that?!!!

Even newer penalty

-3 - for sending me a video. Yup, people do it now. Will I open a video? I might. Will I ever watch more than 5 seconds? Nope.

A recruiter message includes a video

Will I respond to your email, even with polite "not interested"? Unlikely if you do not hit at least 5. Is it hard to get 5 points? Let us look at a few examples.


To protect authors' anonymity I replaced the sender's names

email 1

Hello Gleb,

I came across your profile and your website.. very interesting stuff! I see that you are still working at Kensho, but I would definitely like to connect regarding future opportunities and/or small projects that I get. Would you have a few minutes to discuss with me?


Score: 1 = direct email (+1), no other bonus or penalty points

email 2

Hi Gleb,

I saw your work on GitHub and came away intrigued by your involvement within the JavaScript community. Repos like stop-angular-overrides, code-snippets and xplain are awesome projects! The README documentation is really well thought out and organized which says a lot about you as an engineer. I also checked out your personal website and thoroughly enjoyed your posts/infographic about Angular vs Backbone vs Ember and your thoughts using JavaScript functor too. Lastly, your video talk at ng-conf 2015 was truly awesome! I thought your open source background and ability to create rich client facing experiences were not only stellar but also highly relevant to the front end eng work we're tackling here at . ... P.S. - We can help with salary, relocation and any other expenses to make your transition from Boston to the Bay Area a smooth one. Let me know your thoughts!


second email after I replied

... In the meantime, if you happen to know anyone interested in an opportunity in software engineering/robotics automation out West then feel free to forward along my information. I'd be more than happy to help. Take care!

So close!

Score: 7 = direct email (+1), 3 project mentions (+3), 2 blog posts (+2), company specifics (+2), referral (-1)

email 3

Hi Gleb,

I wanted to reach out to you and tell you about this exciting new opportunity to work with located right by Downtown Crossing. . Their current need is for a Lead UI Developer to work on their ecommerce platform. Experience as a lead developer in the past is key, in addition to being an expert in JavaScript, having MVC experience such as Angular or Backbone, and you ideally would possess a degree in Computer Science. Bonus points if you have prior experience working with Ecommerce sites, in addition to using SASS, Grunt and Git. The salary is highly competitive, and they are looking for a candidate to get started ASAP. Please let me know the best number to get in touch about this role and a few others!

Thanks, MM

Score: 0 = company specifics (+2), degree and experience template (-2)

email 4

Hi Gleb,

Hope all is well! I came across your profile and it caught my eye. I thought it would be great to connect with you and see what I could do to help you out with your career search.

I currently have an opening for a Senior Full Stack Developer! What is needed: NodeJS is #1, must have 2+ years JavaScript Angular.js or ember.js or knockout.js MongoDB is Plus Java on the BackEnd is preferred

We are working directly with the manager! 3 openings and high pay rates! Long term contracts. Client located in Medford.

I would love to chat! Or if you know anyone, we offer a $500 referral. MC

Score: -4 = vague company (-1), obvious qualifications (-1), asking for referral (-2)

As you can see, negative scores are possible and in fact I estimate to be very common.