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When you ask developers how they really feel about getting cold recruitment emails, you’ll get one of two answers: “Where do I begin?” or just simply, “I hate them.” But when you think about what recruiters are trying to offer developers (ideally: a shiny new job), it’s really a shame that these beacons of opportunity come with such a bad rap. As one of our own Stack Exchange devs, Jason Punyon, recently pointed out in his blog post, it’s usually because most recruiters do a terrible job of piquing a developer’s interest or putting time into their pitch. But all hope is not lost—with the large number of passive developers (80% of the programmers in our database are passive candidates), there’s still ample opportunity to land the perfect candidate through emailing. You just need to know what not to do.

To give you a head start, we polled our own developer team and asked: “What do you hate the most about recruiter emails?” Below, you’ll find their Top 10 pet peeves—along with a few pointers to steer you away from making the same mistakes.

 “When they have typos or get my name wrong."

The Solution: Edit your emails. You have only one chance to make a first impression, so no matter how busy you are, it’s never worth it to potentially mess that up by moving too quickly. Some people go so far as to never hire people with poor grammar, so don’t expect candidates to respond to your sloppiness.

“When I get an email about the same job from 3 different recruiters from the same company.”

The Solution: Be conscientious. There’s nothing worse than a bad, cold sales email, and this goes for cold recruiting emails as well. An error like this can eliminate your chance of a successful hire and instead aligns your recruitment efforts with something all developers hate: spam.

“When I have to play Whack-a-Mole – even though I keep unsubscribing, new emails still arrive.”

The Solution: Recognize you’re not the only one playing the recruitment game, so respect the time of candidates you approach. An average developer gets pinged by a recruiter as often as once every 40 hours, so be selective and thoughtful. And never sign up someone for a recruitment “hit list” without their consent.

“When they have no idea about your expertise and the salary they offer is offensively low.”

The Solution: Do your homework so you know what to look for in a developer who’s over- or under-qualified for the role. If it doesn’t seem like a good fit, don’t reach out. You won’t do yourself any favors by offending your potential candidate from the first message.

“When they play keyword bingo – they just throw a bunch of tech terms at you and see if they stick.”

The Solution: Realize that programmers switch jobs for a lot more than the technologies they use. Instead of throwing out any possible language that the candidate can use, focus on those nice intangibles of your company culture that set you apart.

“When it’s just a blanket form letter—then it’s just spam.”

The Solution: Never send the same recruitment email twice. Many developers interpret any type of unsolicited email as spam, so don’t add to the junk by copying and pasting mass emails. If you don’t make an effort to distinguish one candidate from the next, they'll have no reason to give you the time of day.

“When they try to solicit names of the hiring manager or names of other programmers off me.”

The Solution: Don’t ask for referrals until you’ve built up a relationship with the candidate. At best, asking too early can come across as impersonal and flippant; at worst, it can be seen as a desperate attempt to fill a role that no one should really want in the first place.

“When they don’t disclose the name of the company or how much money is offered.”

The Solution: Be honest about the role and its benefits and provide a complete picture from the start. If you don’t put in the time to describe the offer and its benefits, don’t expect anyone to respond.

“When a recruiter gets the job title and the job description wrong. It just shows they know nothing about tech."

The Solution: Make sure your technical recruiters (whether in- or out-of-house) know the in’s and out’s of the jobs they need to fill. It’s even better if they come from a technical background, which adds credibility to your job opening and company.

“When they don’t reference anything about me. They clearly just don’t care.”

The Solution: A lack of personalization is by far the cardinal sin of all recruitment emails, so put in the time and do your due diligence and build a relationship. Even though they aren’t looking for new jobs (or so we hope!), almost all of our devs admitted that it’s still quite flattering to receive a note that’s truly tailored. So respond to each candidate individually.tech recruiting email guide


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