Setting up a Gmail recruiter response template

Jules Forrest:

If you’re privileged enough to get recruiting emails, consider taking a small, nearly automated step towards better representation in tech design by setting up a template response in Gmail. In your template, include links to directories focused on highlighting accomplished but underrepresented design talent.

Great idea, Jules, I’ll absolutely do that.

Once I set up a LinkedIn account just for honeypotting recruiters. The whole point was for them to try to recruit me, and I tried to recruit them into using the CodePen Job Board to find candidates. It didn’t work that well but it had side-benefits like forcing me into having a nice little pitch deck to send to companies that were hiring.

But that was a self-serving play, Jules is actually trying to help people which is much better.


A BuzzFeed article from 2015 with a poll in it:

16% with over 1,000. I’d say 1,000 is a good cut-off line for uh yeah this is a problem. If you’re in the hundreds, that might be because you’re just back from vacation or you’ve neglected it for a little too long. But hope is not lost, you can probably knock through it fairly quickly if you focus on it.

Plus, you can make it into an opportunity. Focused time on whacking down a huge inbox means you’re also probably in the mood to be unsubscribing from things and changing notification settings so this situation is less likely to happen again at this scale.

Over 1,000 though, it might be an unreasonable ask of your time. You’re probably in a situation where you want to scan scan scan, find anything that looks obviously super important and save, then declare bankruptcy on the rest and archive.

Client Agnostic

Have you heard about people who like run a “stock machine”? Referring to computers, that is. Not a lot of customization. Not a ton of fancy non-default apps they install. They don’t change many settings. They just run the machine as close to how it comes out of the box as possible.

It’s not that they aren’t productive or don’t care about the fun and potential of computers. They are more productive, in some sense. They can unbox a computer, boot it up, and be working in a few seconds. The more customization people do, the more devastating the loss of that machine is and the more dependent on it to do work.

That reminds me of people who love VIM keybindings. One of the reasons people say they like that is because VIM is available in the terminal in most environments, meaning they can SSH into a server and have a powerful and productive way of editing files. While the rest of us are like uhhhh can I download this file and edit it locally and put it back if, if the edits require anything other than a few changed characters.

The broader thoughts came from a much smaller place.

The other day my Gmail app on my phone started quitting on me. I’d tap to open it up (as I’ve done 3 billion times) and it would insta-quit and return me to my homescreen. I figured, aw, must be some weird email in there, so I went to the desktop and cleaned house, but that didn’t work. Insta-quit, every time.

It was annoying for a minute, then I long-tapped that icon, moved it away from my bottom bar where my email app always is, and moved on the default Mail app on the iPhone. That app works fine. Now I just use that. It affected my productivity seemingly zero. Maybe I’ll switch back. Maybe I’ll try something else just for fun.

It was proof to me that the email client is a small part of what makes me good (ok, medicore) at managing email. It’s a mental game. It’s a time game. Clients can help with little things, but not the big things.

Inbox Zero (The Site with Random Email Thoughts)

I’m not sure who actually coined the term “Inbox Zero” or if it’s got an official methodology or anything. Generally I think it just means getting your email dealt with to the extreme of having the box empty. I’d say I only get there once a month or so. Sometimes having that as a goal is helpful to me, so I don’t hate on the concept. I do think edging that direction rather versus just letting yourself have hundreds or thousands of emails in there is better.

Anyway. The site isn’t really about about Inbox Zero directly, it’s just a bunch of stylized tweets and quotes on a page, scattered with affiliate links. Simple idea. I like it. Here’s one from Andrew Lyon:

We need to view email as a framework, not an application. It is used for sending messages. That’s it. It does this reliably and predictably.

Indeed it does.

Unhelpful Amazon Order Confirmation E-mails

When you order something from Amazon, you get an email, but it doesn’t confirm what you ordered.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2020-06-04-at-6.05.08-AM.png

When an order ships, you get an email, but it doesn’t tell you what has shipped.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2020-06-04-at-6.06.05-AM.png

What the fuck?

Michael Tsai rounds some things up. Including Paul Rosania’s tweet:

The vibe is that it’s probably an effort to snuff out companies that snoop on your email, scraping data out of it for ??? reasons.

I find it entirely obnoxious. Slightly understandable that Amazon (perhaps?) wants to fight against privacy-be-damning email snoopers, but to not tell me why, and instead neuter my experience without any options feels worse.

Chris Pratt & Email Strategy

He “accidentally” deleted 51,000 emails:

“Okay, okay. I’m trying not to panic. I think I just tried something to delete anything unread and it just deleted them. And now, I’m like, ‘Oh no. I needed to read ‘em.’ I don’t know where they went. So, and now my battery’s dying. I think I got them all.” He also added, “If I owe you an email, you might want to follow up on that. Resubmit, perhaps, the email and then I’ll read it because it may have just gotten deleted. Yup, 51,000 messages are in the trash. Oh, f—k.”

Seemed genuine, but you never know with celebrities. And also meh, I can’t imagine email is a particularly important part of life and business for Chris Pratt (he’s got people for that, you’d think).

Apparently he’s going to un-trash them and try to get through 1,000 a day.

I admire the tenacity there. Almost like a goal to able to squat 20% more than your current max. You hit it hard every day and hope to get there.

There are two generic things I worry about here:

  1. Doing this purely out of guilt. I think people should do email because it’s awesome. Because it’s valuable. Because good things come from it. Because it helps you succeed. If you aren’t getting things like that out of email, screw it, delete those 51,000 emails.
  2. Actually getting through this work but not actually solving the core problems. The core problem here, by admission, is stuff like getting on too many email lists. If that’s the case, the solution is either the long hard work of unsubscribing from the billion things as you go (there are services for this, if you can trust them), or burning down this email address and starting a new one, salvaging the best messages as you go.


The trick, somehow, is to not do that. (The word is “dweebling” apparently.)

The trick is to know that email is vitally important and treat that response like it is one of most important things you’ll do that day. (Not that Paul doesn’t already know this, I’m just talkin’)

The trick might be to shoot them a one-liner back even though it is less than it deserves, if that’ll help your brain to more later. Or maybe you need to trick your brain into it with something simple like “mark as unread” or snoozing it.

The trick might be adjusting your brain. If you never replied… was it actually that important?