Engineering Management Hiring Developers

Dear Recruiters, We Have To Talk

Someone funnier and less worried than me about treading a fine line of assuming all developers are male and all recruiters are female once said:

I had some form of “software” and “development” appear in my Linkedin profile for years. This prompted a lot of recruiter calls. They will often say: “Hey, you look like someone who might be a good fit for this position! Please let me know if you are interested.” I am usually not a good fit – or interested, for that matter.

If I am somehow interested, the recruiter will point me to a form to fill out. For, what feels like, a millionth time in my keyboard-bound life, I will stare at an uninspiring application form. The form will store my answers in a dark place of a spreadsheet that no scrollbar will ever reach. Before long, I will find myself staring at the screen, twiddling my thumbs, and pondering if it’s worth uploading my CV. My CV is out of date. And full of spelling mistakes, anyway. Should I bother to update it?

Yet, this process seems to work. Companies stumble upon developers. As a wide net is cast to find applicants, developers apply in heaps. By the law of large numbers, some of them are a decent fit. Yet, hiring managers and committees waste huge time on bad applications. Also, developers don’t apply to companies that they dream to work for. If they get a job, engineers feel like they were lucky to fall through the cracks of the hiring process. They never feel like they are the perfect person for the perfect company.

If this hiring process describes your company, then don’t be surprised your churn rate is at 2 years. So, what can recruiters do to help?

Flatter Me

Start by flattering me. I need to know why I am a good person for the position. Start by telling me why I am so great and why your company is looking for that:

“You seem to have extensive experience developing Java applications, but you also don’t shy away from Tensorflow (that Github repo for deep learning looks neat!). Wow, you also have managerial experience! You are such a unicorn! That’s great! My company is looking for someone who can implement our machine learning model into our app. Also, as the team grows, we’ll be looking to promote some managers!”

If I received such a message from a recruiter, it would feel creepy. You can accuse recruiters of many things, but trying to learn more about potential hires isn’t one of them!

Use this opportunity to also tell me about the company. Most interviewers I talked to will often give that boring old line: “I expect the candidate to research the company and know exactly what we are doing before they apply.” Well, it sounds sensible, but remember – it’s a two-way street. If I go out of my way to tell you about myself, shouldn’t you do the same? Besides, your company is probably neither Google or Apple and I probably can’t find too much interesting information about it online.

Put My Mind At Ease

Once you get my attention, by pointing out how my skills match the needs of the company, put my mind at ease by walking me through the hiring process. Tell me about all the steps. Will I need to do an in-person interview? Will you ask me to do whiteboard testing? How long will the hiring process take? Who will I talk to at the company? If you tell me that, and keep informing me about the progress and next steps as I am getting deeper into the hiring process, you will motivate me to do my best. I will come ready and prepared for each part of the interview process.

Do Me A Solid

Finally, help me present myself in the best light. Not every company can woo their candidates by sending them a free VR headset, but you can offer to screen my CV. Why not? I get a freebie – a pair of eyes on my CV, telling me which parts are good, bad, or irrelevant. You get a better CV on your file. It’s a win-win!

None of this is easy. It would require recruiters to work much harder and spend more time with each candidate. If you are a recruiter, you should take my advice because you should take pride in your job and elevate yourself from a glorified social media profile mining bot. If you manage recruiters or set expectations for their work – you should set up their incentives to favor good candidates and not a huge number of CVs on file.

Happy recruiting and happy job hunting!