The 33 worst lines ever said by tech recruiters

Tech recruiters say the darnedest things. How many of these cringeworthy pronouncements have you heard?

Everyone loves to talk about terrible pickup lines from the world of romance, but there's a far worse kind of misguided enticement going on right here in the realm of technology. I'm talking about the delicate dance of tech recruitment -- if you work in any area of IT, you probably know precisely what I mean.

The men and women tasked with recruiting tech talent go to great lengths to attract the attention of their targets -- (often unsuspecting) tech pros viewed as valuable "gets." While some recruiters prove to be invaluable in improving your career, finding exactly the right words to pique your interest in a new gig, far more seem to stammer, stumble, and elicit exasperated sighs.

You don't have to take my word for it. Several brave tech workers from around the globe have taken the time to share their favorite (if you can call them that) tech recruiter horror tales, and we have highlights for you here.

Ready to cringe?

(Note: Due to the potentially sensitive nature of this subject, many people preferred to remain anonymous in their submissions. As a result, we decided to keep all entries free from any names or other identifying info.)

Category A: The cliché-loving recruiter

From game- and/or world-changing concepts to oh-so-disruptive innovation, some tech recruiters resort to impressive-sounding catchphrases that don't actually mean anything. It's hard not to wonder how many of these cliché-inclined recruiters are relying on buzzword-generating algorithms to come up with their pitches. (Yes, such things do exist!)

I mean, really: For the love of vertical integration, can't someone think out of the box?

1. "We need someone who is bright and passionate. Our product is one of a kind and slated to be a total game changer."

2. "We are serious about changing the world."

3. "We need people who think so far out of the box that the box isn't even in the picture anymore."

4. "This will give you great exposure to big data in the cloud, and you will be working with some extremely intelligent technologists!"

5. "As a company that specializes in innovation, [we] want the best and brightest creative visionaries."

6. "I am working with the founders of a stealth mode startup disrupting the infrastructure/data center space."

7. "We are working on absolutely amazing things and will scale tremendously."

8. "We have a tight-knit dynamic team that is responsible for delivering consumer experiences."

Delivering consumer experiences, you say?! Well, tickle my toes and call me Charlie. I'm in!

Category B: The trying-too-hard-to-be-hip recruiter

It's crazy how many "ninjas" and "rock stars" work in the programming world. At least, that's what you'd think by reading some of the recruiter emails that get passed around.

Is it me, or do some of these bring to mind the stereotypical sitcom dad who buys an outfit from Hollister, then tries to use teenage vernacular to impress his son's friends?

See for yourself:

9. "We're looking for a code ninja..."

10. "We're looking for a Java wizard..."

11. "We're looking for someone truly brilliant, and so we're willing to offer a lot:
-- Bomb equity
-- Bomb salary"

12. "Want to work with a team of diverse rock stars?"

13. "Would it help if I told you that I was helping out with ninja engineer hiring for Facebook?"

14. "Chuck Norris coding skills required."

15. "EliteCoder you = new EliteCoder("Can you code with the best?");"

Almost makes you want to karate chop a motherboard, doesn’t it?

Category C: The shamelessly overselling recruiter

Sometimes, a company is just a company -- and a job is just a job. Don't tell that to your average tech recruiter, though; as far as some are concerned, every opportunity for employment is an insane chance to join a killer organization like no other (even if it is best described by comparing it to half a dozen existing companies).

Cases in point:

16. "The company is the first of its kind, as it is 100 percent focused on the integration of mobile/wearables and enterprise."

17. "Think of it as meets LinkedIn meets Facebook with real privacy."

18. "Our product combines many elements of Facebook, eBay, Blogger, PayPal, and Etsy."


Yeah! And it's in all caps, too -- so you know it has to be, like, totally awesome, bro.

Category D: The woefully-out-of-touch recruiter

Whether it's being tone-deaf to cultural appropriateness or being clueless to current tech trends, some recruiters sure have a way with words. Sheesh, who wouldn't be tempted by these offers?

20. "We're building a dynamic team that lives on the bleeding edge of technology with a unique opportunity to work on the Silverlight platform. Prior experience with Adobe Flash highly desired."

21. "The best way to negotiate is not to negotiate at all ... so tell me exactly what you're making."

22. "What we can offer:
-- Meeting and partying with international sports superstars
-- Drinking beer instead of Jolt-coke
-- Making it rain on them hoes ...

We expect you to:
-- be totally gay for code"

23. "The environment is hip and modern, and very inclusive and friendly to women and other weirder types."

See? I knew all that equal opportunity stuff would eventually pay off.

Category E: The completely clueless recruiter

Nothing loses a would-be recruitee's interest faster than realizing her recruiter didn't bother to do his homework -- you know, giving her résumé more than a cursory glance or taking a few minutes to learn about what her job actually entails.

These real-world recruiter comments say it all:

24. "You have JavaScript on your resume. What do you mean you don't know Java?"

25. "[This job requires] experience of developing databases in HTML."

26. "[Looking for a] senior iOS architect with 10-plus years experience." (The first version of iOS was released in 2007.)

27. "What's the difference between a UI engineer and a Unix engineer?" (Posed to an IT employee by a recruiter hired to find engineers and programmers.)

28. "We are very impressed with all your Android work at [Company X] and we believe you would be a perfect fit for this great opportunity." (Sent to someone after his first day as a Company X employee.)

Man -- if only we had some sort of easily accessible online network that'd allow people to quickly look up facts and information ...

Category F: The 'WTF?'-eliciting recruiter

Our last category is the toughest to describe -- because, really, there's not much you can say besides: "What the heck were they thinking?!" (Feel free to switch out "heck" for the "F"-word of your choice -- I'd recommend "frickity-frack" -- for maximum effect.)


29. "What a beautiful morning, what a beautiful day! ... I am looking for people who don't follow roads, the Docs of the world. The people who take life and grab it, regardless of any paths or roads that have been set. We spend a lifetime of thinking 'what if'? But what if we spent a lifetime of 'I did!'"

30. "You'll be empowered to identify problems and dive head first into the equation. Risk is encouraged. Victory makes us who we are."

31. "I don't mean to be a nuisance, but there's really no way of knowing if someone might be interested or not without a response."

32. "I came across your profile and was very impressed by your pedigree."

33. "Due to the high volume of applicants, only shortlisted candidates will be shortlisted."

Well, that certainly clears things up. No word yet, however, on whether said shortlist could include any "women or other weirder types."

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