Communicating with developer candidates at each stage of the interview process can be tricky. As a recruiter, you walk a fine line between giving candidates what they want and identifying developers that your engineering managers are excited to hire. While you should avoid treading too lightly, you can bring a conversation with a developer to a screeching halt with a few subtle, but irritating words. With that in mind, here are a few phrases to avoid when you’re recruiting developers.
A little empathy goes a long way when you’re recruiting developers, especially when you’re declining a candidate. However, if it’s not sincere, offering an olive branch won’t put them at ease. In many cases, it’ll do the opposite.
Although they’re in high demand, many developers understand that they won’t be a fit for every available job on the market. But they also don’t want to hear that you’re considering them for other roles if that’s not the case. David Louie, a Junior Programmer at JIBEI, tells us that it’s best to keep rejection emails simple. He adds, “To be honest, I’m more comfortable when recruiters say, ‘Unfortunately, we’ve decided to go in a different direction.’”
When you’re recruiting developers, it might seem like a good strategy to start an email by acknowledging that it might take the developer a few minutes to read your message. But if you’re concerned that your email might annoy that person, the chances are that you’re on the right track.
Keep in mind that 62% of developers are open to hearing about new jobs. If you think that a particular candidate would be an ideal fit and feel that your company can offer them an exciting new opportunity, don’t begin your message with an apology. Starting a recruitment email off on a negative note makes candidates think you're unsure of yourself. When you’ve done your homework about a candidate and feel confident about that person’s potential, you have nothing to be sorry about.
Considering that 87% of developers are employed at least part-time, it’s safe to say that your audience is mostly passive. When one of those passive developer candidates sits down to talk to you, the last thing they want to do is give you a play-by-play of their career. In fact, developers expect you to do your research before you reach out to them.
The good news is that you don’t need to know every detail about a candidate’s career. A glance at their side projects, as well as their Stack Overflow and Github profiles will give you plenty of talking points for your initial conversations with them.
It’s no secret that developers are drawn to jobs at companies they can envision themselves working for, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they exclusively look for organizations that value team-wide happy hour outings. In fact, when developers get the impression that it’s a major component of your company culture, you might actually be driving them away.
Jude Allred, CTO at Fog Creek Software, tells us that developers want to hear pitches focused around what the company does. Instead of selling candidates on side perks, Allred suggests, “A pitch of, ‘We're company X. We have mission Y. To build this mission we need Z, and that's where you come in" might stand a chance of working.’”
There are a lot of moving parts to your developer hiring process. Anything from interview scheduling to salary negotiation can derail your timeline. Developers can be understanding, even empathetic when these things happen, but only when you set clear expectations for them about what to expect.
Sure, it’s easy to default to a vague answer when a candidate asks about next steps, especially when you’re waiting for updates from other internal stakeholders. But even when that’s the case, tell developers what’s going on. If your engineering manager suddenly gets sick, needs to reschedule, or simply needs more time, give candidates a realistic idea of when they can anticipate hearing from you again.