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Recruiting is not an easy job, especially in the technical world. With 5 jobs available for every 1 developer, a majority of programmers are already happily employed. In order to connect with these passive candidates, you need to do more than just send a generic mass email about your open positions. If you rely on these outdated and impersonal tactics, you’re just hurting yourself (and the reputation of your fellow awesome recruiters).

We asked a few developers and engineering managers what things they wish recruiters knew. Take notes for your next outreach attempt.

We Know When You Haven’t Done Your Research

It can be really disheartening to developers to open up a recruitment email with the subject line “We love your resume! Would you be interested in a position with us?” only to find an impersonalized message about a job listing that’s not even relevant to them. An effective message should show that the you, as the recruiter, did your research on the candidate. You can show this by making sure the position isn’t something the developer is overqualified for and mentioning specific projects they have worked on in the past and how that relates to the new role.  

Sean Canton, a Developer and Lead of Technical Research at Rokk3r Labs, says, “Recruiters need to above all respect our time. This means conduct basic research as to where I am and assess what I am good at.”

Please Be Familiar With Technology Terms

You don’t need to be an expert at coding to recruit developers, but you do need to know the basics of the programming technologies you’re recruiting for. It’s your job as the recruiter to find the best fit for the technical role, and this cannot be done properly if you aren’t knowledgeable about the skills needed to fill the position.  

Eric Brown, a Consultant at ThoughtSynth, LLC, sums this up well, saying, “Java is to JavaScript as car is to carnival. Developers care a lot about underlying technology and a recruiter who doesn’t understand the difference gets treated with contempt.  If you aren’t 100% sure how the buzzword is meant to be used, don’t use it. Using it wrong is the quickest way to lose a developer’s respect.”

Don’t Take Our Rejection Personally

If you’re a technical recruiter, it’s assumed that you’ve encountered your fair share of negative responses in your outreach. Whether you work with developers directly or with an Engineering Manager looking for developers for his own team, don’t take it personally.

That’s what Trevor Orsztynowicz, VP of Software Engineering at Bench Accounting, says. “I wish that recruiters would understand that it's not personal, but we will likely reject 90% of their candidates, but it's still worth it when they hit the nail on the head. Personality is huge in this field. Of course, we're not looking for the typical, shiny man in a suit, but I'm going to need to appreciate their presence in a desk close to me for hours on end.”

Focus on the Process and Not Just the Code

Instead of focusing so specifically on things like the technologies the developer uses to code, focus on their thought process and problem-solving skills. Shikhir Singh, a Developer Advocate at Sencha, has experienced this first-hand when working with recruiters. He says, “Rather than asking a candidate to write code to assess if they are capable, ask them about the process and tools they use to solve a particular problem. Technical recruiters sometimes ask detailed questions to make sure that a candidate has programmed in a particular language or technology in the past. The question asked by the interviewer isn't a fair assessment of a candidate's ability to actually do the work. In fact, the candidate may be completing projects in a better and faster way.”

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