What happens when you accidentally make your resume searchable... or funny emails from headhunters

Published: 2012-10-04

I keep a habit of updating my resume after every major project I finish. That includes updating the version on a variety of job board sites. That part is probably a waste of time, I mean how long would it really take to copy and paste it if I ever needed to? I guess I just like the tiny comfort of knowing I can quickly click "make public" if I'm ever in a pinch.

The convenience carries one downside - accidentally making a resume public instantly floods your inbox with headhunter spam. I made that mistake recently and it was hilarious.

It's been a while since I had a searchable resume, probably 7 years. Back then I was contacted by many IT headhunters, some were clueless but many were competent. In the years following a lot has changed. It seems that headhunter jobs have been heavily outsourced to people who are only minimally competent at pressing CTRL+F and CTRL+V. Some have bypassed the human element entirely and resorted to keyword searching bots.

It wasn't the IT headhunters though that alerted me to the fact that I made my resume searchable. Within several minutes of my mistake I received several emails from different firms looking for financial planners:

Financial advisor

So after carefully reviewing my resume they decided that someone with a computer science degree and no financial experience is a perfect fit for their firm. Everyone that sent me one of these automated emails was immediately added to my "do not trust these people with your money list". They're currently just below Joel Osteen.

I also instantly got a couple messages from companies looking to recruit insurance agents. I'm 99% sure these are some kind of scam. I worked in Allstate's IT department and I can tell you with extreme confidence that this email did not come from Allstate:

Email not sent by Allstate

No one, no one at Allstate spells the company name as either "All-state" or "All state" let alone using both incorrect spellings in the same email. I'm curious where this came from but not curious enough to reply.

And there were a few spammy emails trying to convince me to start a franchise:


OK, now we can get to these outsourced IT headhunters. You may wonder how I jumped to the conclusion that these were coming from someone outside of the country? It's really simple - I've worked with a ton of Indian developers over the years. For the record most are very good at their jobs. In that time I've grown quite familiar with "Indian English" and its idiosyncrasies. Here's a great example of it:

Reputed client

I barely passed high school English but I would flip out if a recruiter representing my company sent out this email. I don't know which is the scarier prospect - that this recruiter has no relationship with this reputable company or that he does. On a related note, if I had a nickle for every time I've seen the phase "do the needful" I'd never have to worry about updating my resume again.

This next position is something I might actually be interested in but I can't get over the typo in the subject line:


I could forgive it as being hastily sent except I received this exact same email three times in the same day from the same person which leads me to believe it's some automated bot.

There are a lot of bad copy and paste jobs out there too. No matter how much I studied a map I just couldn't find _______, IL:

______ IL

This next one is tempting as I've spent a good portion of my career becoming an expert in __________:

knowledge in ______ is a plus

One of the things headhunters needs to do is prevent you from finding out what company they're recruiting for. After all, if you knew you'd just cut out the middleman and apply there directly. However, with a minimal knowledge of the local IT scene it's pretty easy to decipher. Take this one for example:

Application architecture lead

Bloomington IL is a small town and there's really only one major private sector employer there. This was copied directly from their careers site.

This next one is also really easy to track down:

System analyst III

Hint: the capital 'L' in 'Laboratories' is the dead giveaway. They tried to anonymize the company name but only got it half right. Job titles with roman numerals are also a sign of a company that's big and been around for a long time. If you're in the Chicago area you'll be able to find this position in no time.

Now of course I acknowledge that getting too many emails from headhunters is a first world problem. Well, a first world problem with an assist from the third world apparently. I'm also not gloating "take that all you jocks from high school, the nerdy computer guys are getting all the jobs now!" A lot of jocks I knew in high school ended-up in the military or working as gym teachers or police officers and so on. This means they'll easily retire 20 years earlier than me with nice pensions - who's laughing now?

Now please excuse me while I make one last resume developer seeking career change to high school gym teacher...