At Stack Overflow, we encourage transparency. You will have the best chance of receiving a positive response from a candidate if you are clear and upfront from the start. In this competitive recruiting environment, it is not enough to just send a vague, two-sentence note. Instead, tell the candidates a bit about the role, explain what your company is like and most importantly, give them a reason to be interested – especially if they are already employed. Here’s how.
Take a good look at the candidate’s profile and experience to make sure it fits what you are looking for. No one wants to take a step “backwards”. If you decide to contact someone who already has a more senior position, acknowledge the disparity and see if there is anything else you could offer them to consider a different type of role, or exposure to a different side of the industry.
Many developers prefer jobs where they can use the newest technologies to make something that interests them. But you don’t need something innately “trendy” to get someone’s attention, you just need to show why your company and opportunity is special. Will they have a chance to contribute from scratch? Will they get to help design the specs for a brand new product? What’s the best part about this team? If you’re not sure, ask your current developers!
You know your company better than anyone (and presumably, you like working there!), so make sure that excitement and passion comes across in your message. What makes your company different? How does your company philosophy and mission align with the personal values of your candidates? At Stack Exchange, our goal is to make the internet a better place, so we find people who support this goal and help us get there. What benefits do you offer? Whether it’s a flexible schedule, a casual environment, free snacks or two monitors for everyone, any extra perks set your company apart.
The number one thing that turns off developers is a generic recruiting email. Although you may want to get your message out to as many programmers as possible, resist the urge to write a two-sentence message and instead really take a close look at the candidate’s profile and pull out a few personalised snippets. A couple of details that reference the candidate specifically (their background, their Stack Overflow responses, their open source projects) can go a long way. It also shows that you’re serious.
Consider the tone of your message. Are you coming across as thoughtful and conscientious or hasty and disinterested? Use this outreach to gain the trust from a potential future colleague, so be open and honest. And although people don’t mind flattery, avoid overkill – it can come across as a little insincere.
Everyone makes mistakes, but try very hard to be as thorough as possible with every message. Remember: “You only get one chance to make a first impression!”