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Post by Rich Moy on Feb 27, 2017, 12:00:00 PM

The most effective tech recruiters understand that developer recruiting boils down to relationships, even when a candidate isn’t interested in switching jobs right this second. Although developers themselves have been outspoken about this reality, many tech recruiters still resort to lines that immediately kill any credibility they previously had. To help you avoid ruining your relationships with candidates, we asked some of the developers here at Stack Overflow about seemingly harmless phrases that make programmers roll their eyes. Are you guilty of using these in your recruitment emails or phone calls with developers?


1. “Your background looks like a great match!”

If you’ve done your research about a candidate, it makes sense to tell that person why you think they’d be a great fit for a specific position. But when it’s obvious that you don’t know what you’re talking about, telling a developer that you’ve got the perfect job for them is essentially spam.

Although they’re in high demand, developers tend to look at all the details in a recruitment email. If you try to entice them with a job that’s a “great match,” they will read on to see if that’s true. And if the job isn’t relevant to their career goals, they’ll be much less likely to take you seriously in the future.

2. “We’re about to IPO!”

The possibility of a massive windfall is hard for many people to ignore. However, tech recruiters tend to lead with this potential payday in recruiting emails without getting into the nitty gritty about what else makes the opportunity exciting.

As much as developers want to be compensated fairly, recruiters who try to sell them solely on the perks of a future IPO come off as unprepared. Additionally, sending recruiting emails that don’t include any details about the job give developers the impression that you’re hiding something in hopes of hiring them before they can find out.

3. “We need a ninja who knows Java and C plus plus.”

There are three elements of this statement that kill your credibility with developers. For starters, if you were to spell C++ incorrectly, you’d essentially be telling the candidate that you don’t understand the basics of what they do everyday. On top of that, developers have made no secret of the fact that they hate being called “ninjas.” More importantly, these two technologies are typically not used in tandem—and in many cases, they call for two separate developers. 

Most developers won’t expect you to know the ins and outs of every programming language on the face of the earth. But they do expect you to have a basic comprehension of the role you’re recruiting them for. Without that knowledge, your tech recruiting emails will ultimately fall flat.

4. “Here are some tech updates in your area.”

Developers tend to have at least a passive awareness of their current job prospects. When they decide to pursue new opportunities, they typically don’t rely on broad email updates from tech recruiters, especially when it’s clear that every programmer in that person’s network has received the same email.

To keep your credibility with developer candidates, make it a rule of thumb to reach out about one job at a time that’s relevant to their career goals. And as much of a broken record as we might be about this, make sure that the job is actually a fit for the developer for whom you’re writing the email.

5. “If this job doesn’t suit you, please forward my email to your friends!”

It’s a developer’s job to write code and build products that help companies meet their goals. If he or she isn’t interested in joining your team, it is not that person’s job to recruit other developers on your behalf so that you don’t have to work as hard.

Developers want to know that you’ve taken the time to write a recruitment email intended just for them. Adding a caveat that you’re open to speaking to that person’s friends doesn’t just make you look lazy, but it also tells the developer that your email is intended for anyone who’s interested in responding.

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