Recruiters’ new (spam) tools

Intro

I’ve recently been getting a slew of e-mails from recruiters.  Horray!  Right?  Except…no.  Don’t get me wrong: we all have jobs and I’m happy to get e-mails from recruiters.  The issue is that these are e-mails to an address which I never published on my resume and have intentionally hidden from any public space.  So how have they come into possession of these e-mails?  Enter pseudo-spam companies….

The Nadir of the Internet

It took a long time to track down how my private e-mail address was being distributed, probably because I’m not as in-tune to recruiting.  However, I’ve had a number of exchanges that went something like the following:

Recruiter: Hi!  I’m looking for qualified individuals for …

Me: Hi!  Where’d you get this e-mail address from?

At this point, the recruiter went silent… So I tried a different tactic:

Recruiter: Hi!  I’m looking for qualified individuals for …

Me: Hi!  I’d be happy to take a call as long as you tell me where you got this e-mail from.

Recruiter: Sure, it’s from a tool we’re using to contact qualified individuals from.  When can we schedule a chat?!

At this point, it becomes clear that they know what they’re doing is shady at best… Why wouldn’t they tell me which?  My guess is that the tools are encouraging the end users to not tell which tool.  So I refuse to take a call until they tell me which specific tool and we see follow-ups like:

Me: I’m interested in which specific tool.  I’ll take a call, but only on the condition that you tell me specifically which utility you’re using.

Recruiter: OK, it’s this maybe illegal thing called _____

Aha!  And now we’ve found them.   It turns out that _____ company is basically set up to gather e-mail addresses through various sources (my guess is most are illegal) and then resell them to people that want to contact you in an unsolicited manner.  Some of them harvest through public and non-public sources while some guess your e-mail address through heuristics (e.g. “<first initial>.<last name>@yourcompany.com”).  By my understanding, e-mail harvesting is illegal in most countries, including the US, but they’re reselling to 3rd parties (recruiters) that are ultimately e-mailing you, so it’s extremely difficult to track down.  There’s never an unsubscribe link and never an easy filter to put on to prevent this garbage.

Companies

Turns out there are a variety of companies that are all in competition for the best possible spam-enablers.  These companies include:

  • Contactout
  • Lusha
  • Hiretual
  • Entelo
  • ZoomInfo
  • Connectifier
  • EmailHunter
  • FindThatLead

and many others

What can we all do about it?

In order to help everybody out, I collected the most common of these companies at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1EiiMwVO49oi4NIYEeMDoA9684RkD5oOCBuRVYS9d-p0/edit?usp=sharing .  I also made a single, simple link on that page to remove yourself from all of these in one go.  Please do share this with your friends to help them from getting unsolicited e-mail from recruiters.  If there are other companies like these that you know about, please submit them at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1XYYcas9DZexd9HEsgrgfuzLxH8UAdJHDW-Ec_QwVrqU/edit and I’ll review & add them in.  This page also includes a link to report them to their hosting providers as they are (probably) violating their terms of service by being complicit in helping companies send unsolicited e-mail.

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