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A good headhunter reads your profile carefully, and contacts you if and only if they have a position that's a really good fit.

A bad headhunter finds your email address online, and cold-call emails you a random position that doesn't match your interests at all.

A *terrible* headhunter gets passive-aggressive about the fact that you ignored the previous email, sends you an "oh, didn't you get my previous email? Let me tell you about the position again" followup, and then gets defensive when you call them on it.

(Yes, I know -- first-world problems. But I don't believe I've ever gotten so angry at a recruiter before -- I wound up letting loose a full-bore flame this time. If she writes back yet again, I'm going to have to find someone at the company to complain to about harassment...)

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A couple of months ago I got a cold email from a recruiter suggesting a position of Java QA. I wrote to her that if she agrees to clean my backyard, I may agree to spend 2 weeks of my vacation working as a Java QA, just for the heck of it.

Well, eventually we stayed friends, and she promised to send to me any really good stuff she may come up with. (Have not heard from her since.)

They are, mostly, humans.

Oh, I don't mind the cold-calls much -- they're the price of doing business, and I just ignore the inappropriate ones. It was the fact that she *refused* to let me ignore it, and made me actively waste time on the process, that pissed me off...

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Well, it's about the same way I deal with it, so I don't have a lot to offer.

The truth is, every job I've ever gotten has been in one way or another through networking. (Even the one that *did* come through a recruiter -- she remembered me from a previous interview, which I had gotten through a friend, and thought correctly that I'd be a good fit.) But I try to maintain good relations with a small cadre of recruiters who I've found, over the years, to be serious, professional, and respectful of my time and interests -- those are the folks I will actively contact if I'm looking, and who I will occasionally send friends to.

Other than that, if somebody pings me with a position that's *appropriate*, I'll generally send back a quick "Thanks, but not now". If it seems to be a mass cold-call email as this one appeared to be, who clearly hasn't done any research to speak of, I just ignore it...

Just work in an obscure position in a market segment that generates its own in house talents and specialize in skills that don't trip too many search hits.

That's what I do. :)

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