I Have A Mysterious Fifth Sense

A little fun for a Friday afternoon.

The economy must be picking up -- I'm getting cold calls from recruiters again for the first time in about four years.  Today was the second (and third!) this month.

However, apparently some of them are just a wee bit disorganized. I just had the following conversations:

[Ring ring]

Me: Hi, this is Eric.

Her: Hi, this is Barbara at XYZ Recruiters. How are you today?

Me: I am extremely well! How are you, Barbara?

[This seemed to completely flummox Barbara. Perhaps people who are interrupted at work by cold callers do not usually inquire as to her health?]

Her: Uh. Um. Me? Uh, I'm fine I guess! Thanks for asking!

[Brief pause -- OK, I guess keeping this conversation going is up to me.]

Me: So what's up, Barbara?

Her, back to the script: There's a small company in downtown Seattle that is 60% ex-Microsoft people and they're looking to hire C++ devs. They've just landed a big contract with Foo corp.

Me: Well thanks for thinking of me Barbara. I'm happy to speak with you but to be fair I first must warn you that I am intensely loyal.

Her: Oh. Well, thanks for your time. Bye.

Me: Bye!

Wow, she didn't put up a fight at all. Maybe the economy isn't picking up so much. Four years ago recruiters -- who were for some reason invariably female -- would flirt with me and then try to get me interested in crappy database admin jobs in the Cayman Islands, of all places.

Ah well, back to work. I resolve an old bug that got fixed a while back but never removed from the bug database. I start looking at another bug and researching the history of a particular code change. We've made a minor change to the formatting of an XML file and Mario wants to know whether that was by design or an accident, when...

[Ring Ring -- hey, the caller id looks familiar...]

Me: Hi, this is Eric.

Her: Hi this is...

Me: Barbara at XYZ recruiters?

Her: Uh, yes. How...

Me: What's new?

[Like Hobbes, I love the moment of dawning comprehension. Barbara hits it.]

Her: Wait... did I call you already?

Me: Yes, about ten minutes ago.

Her, trying to place me: Uh… are you a C++ developer?

Me: Why yes I am as a matter of fact!

Her, paging in at last: You're the one who's "intensely loyal", right?

Me: Indeed. And I still am. Cold-calling recruiting really is kind of about looking for disloyal people, isn't it? People who will just pick up when something better comes along, right?

Her: Hey, some people are looking for a change! Wanting change in your life doesn't make you disloyal, does it?

Me: Well, you're the expert. I'll take your word for it.

This brought back fond memories of my teenage days. Unlike my crazy friends, I never prank called people, but I prank answered them all the time. You phone me, you take that risk. The moral: send email.

Having two voice lines in the house (one for my 300 baud modem on the Commodore 64, of course) led to ample opportunities for consecutive calls from clueless telemarketers. On the second call I'd just answer with "Don't say anything! I have a mysterious fifth sense! My psychic powers tell me that your name is Helen, and you want to sell me... magazine subscriptions! Yes?"

Freaked them out every time.

Comments (16)
  1. If it helps, Barbara’s called me a couple of times too. I didn’t answer her nearly as elegantly though 🙂

  2. Joe Beda says:

    I’m not sure that it is really a loyalty thing. Heck, many employeers aren’t loyal to their employees. While I consider cold calling to be pretty darn rude, you never know when she may find someone who is already looking for a change. It does seem pretty unlikely though.

  3. MartinJ says:

    I like prank phone calls, too. I don’t understand why they don’t call that often any more. Maybe I scared off the local ones…

    Or, I got them all in trouble with their parents after convincing them to give me their phone numbers.

  4. Barbara’s clearly making the rounds – she just called me yesterday, same job, same description. You wouldn’t think that Foo corp would be handing out those kinds of contracts these days, would you?

  5. AndrewSeven says:

    Ummm prank answers…

    The year I lived in a dorm, we had pay phones for incomming calls.

    My favorite way to answer was by saying "Hi, is Steve there?"

    If it all ex MS folk there, surely there must be people you know… why aren’t they caling you?

  6. KC Lemson says:

    Barbara’s left me and my husband voicemail more than once, strangely I’ve never been in when she’s called. I wonder if she would have pulled the C++ dev line with me, that could have been fun. I think she’s just calling the main microsoft exchange and iterating through the extensions.

    People like barbara is the reason my comments policy says ‘don’t call me’ 🙂

  7. Kevin says:

    She’s called my three times. She said she gets 25% of the first years salary for people she hires. I told her in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t interested the first time.

    She’s called back twice since.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Journal of an Open Sourcee » Window To A Recruiter’s World

  9. Jeremy Rule says:

    She called me too. "Hi Barbara" if you’re reading this.

  10. Saurabh Jain says:

    I believe she is digging through Microsft bloggers (or may be the biographies). This is no surprise as according to our Moon Gals (Joe and Gretchen), these resources are recruiters gold mine.

    Now, I wonder which blogger hasn’t received a phone.

  11. Ex-Recruiter says:

    Actually before I ‘saw the light’ and started life as a developer many a moon ago I was a technical recruiter. Sadly I started like Barbara and partway into my recruiting career turned from my cold-calling ways and actually called ‘references’…..you know, you put your business card in a bowl at the resturant for a free lunch…it’s open territory.

  12. Alex Angelopoulos says:

    My favorite response to anyone trying to sell me something over the telephone:

    "I’m sorry, my parents aren’t here right now."

    Which is irrelevant, but the conversation ends fast and I don’t need to lie.

    If my parents ARE here, of course, I just say that they’re not home right now.

    FYI, Barbara, I’m NOT a C++ developer, so don’t get any ideas.

  13. Peter Torr says:

    I have a friend (who doesn’t currently work at Microsoft) but was looking for a job, so I sent them her number.

    Was that a good idea, or not? If they get a job out of it, then they’re happy… but then maybe it’s kind of like replying to spam — you encourage the recruiters to cold-call the next time because they were successful the last time.

    Oh well.

  14. A number of readers have the mysterious fifth sense which gives them the ability to deduce that the GetBars

  15. Cosmin Banu says:

    Mysterious fifth sense… don’t you mean sixth sense?

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