Dissection of a recruiter email

Like anyone with certain hot buzzwords on their résumé or LinkedIn profile, I’m often contacted by recruiters. Usually they’re perfectly friendly and polite: nice people doing an important and often thankless job. Sometimes they’re less polite, or use sketchy tactics.

Whenever I get annoyed by a recruiter, I try to remember how happy I would have been to have gotten a call from them back in the dark days of ought-one, when much of my time was spent sitting on a ratty couch eating Eggo waffles and watching Zoboomafoo with whichever of my roommates also happened to be unemployed at the time.

There are good recruiters and there are sketchy recruiters, but the worst kind of recruiter is an incompetent recruiter. Like Bjoern, who sent me the following email today.

From: bjoern@[redacted]
To: ryan@wonko.com
Subject: Silicon Explosion? // interesting startup opportunities

Email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser.

Already we’re off to a bad start. Bjoern is so certain of his own incompetence at such a simple task as formatting an email that, before even saying hello, he has offered me the opportunity to skip the email entirely and instead view a web page, presumably generated by some automated tool so foolproof that even he couldn’t screw it up. Confidence has not been instilled.

That’s one interpretation. Another interpretation is that the email itself was generated by an automated tool. Which makes it insulting. But for some reason I keep reading.

Hi Ryan,

You stumbled over your profile a couple days ago … I was impressed. Congratulations!

Just one word into the opening sentence, Bjoern has justified his earlier self-doubt.

I’m not sure exactly what Bjoern is accusing me of here—I swear I don’t remember stumbling over anything a couple days ago—but apparently an impressive profile was involved. So impressive that I deserve congratulating. Go me! I must be super awesome.

You probably noticed that recently there was an explosion of freshly funded startups out there looking for senior devs., tech VPs and CTOs.

We are working with a number of funded startups handson and help them to accelerate with funding, people, prototyping, media, going global, etc.

I don’t have the slightest idea why Bjoern thinks any of this is relevant to me, but hey, I’m impressed he managed to string together so many empty, meaningless words. And that “etc.” at the end totally seals the deal. It tells me that he’s doing so many incredible “handson” things for so many freshly funded startups that he can’t even be bothered to list them all. He must be almost as awesome as I am.

Hey, Bjoern? Just one thing. What is it with you and explosions?

Finding good people – as you probably know – is always the hardest part!

The hardest part? Of what? All those things he listed earlier? Maybe just the “people” part? Or did he mean the “etc.” part? I appreciate the implication that I’m smart enough to know what he’s talking about, but since I’m not sure he knows what he’s talking about, I feel uncomfortable jumping to conclusions.

As it turns out it is the best to ask good people for good people. Could you recommend anybody who is looking for a new opportunity? :)


Well shit. Bjoern had me all worked up about how awesome I was, and then he went and dashed my hopes. It wasn’t me he was interested in after all; it was my awesome friends!

Or maybe he’s actually interested in me and is just being really sneaky about it. Is that what the smiley means? Maybe that’s Bjoern’s way of saying, “Hey, I know your boss reads your personal email, so let’s pretend we’re talking about OTHER PEOPLE and not you. Got it? Wink wink!”

If my boss were reading my personal email, you’d think he’d be smart enough to at least delete the recruiter emails before I saw them.

But wait, there’s more good stuff after the signature.

You were recommended to me :)

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I was recommended to him? But I thought he stumbled across my profile? Somebody stumbled across a profile, at any rate. Maybe the smiley after this sentence means that it, too, is code for something? But for what? Bjoern may have overestimated my intuitive abilities, because his encoded meaning is lost on me.

But then, at the very end, there’s a link to my profile. That must be the one someone stumbled over at the beginning of the email! Boy, I sure don’t remember creating a profile, so I’d better click that link and find out what’s going on!

Of course, clicking that link would route me through a tracking redirect and tell Bjoern that I read his message.

So, yeah. Let’s just not click that. Let’s not click that at all.