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I recently gave a keynote presentation on technical recruitment challenges. In this presentation, one topic that got a lot of response was on what recruiters have a tendency to say and how this sounds to developers. Recruiter jargon = big warning signs for developers.

To increase the chances of attracting, engaging with, and retaining developers, here are five expressions recruiters (or hiring managers) say, how developers interpret them, and tips on how to improve your developer communication instead.

What recruiters say:We have a start-up culture!”

What developers hear: “You’ll be working long hours, receive low pay, and never leave the office.”

How to improve: Emphasize the benefits. What does a startup culture mean to you as an organization? This will be different for all companies but for example highlighting the fact that they probably don’t have to go through a ton of decision makers to ship a product will give your company a huge benefit against competitors. Or if they’ll be working on new and cool projects, this could be a big differentiator for a lot of developers.


What recruiters say:We have an exciting new opportunity.”

What developers hear: “We have the same old stuff, but at a different company.”

How to improve: Be specific. Don’t use marketing jargon or be vague in your wording. What is so exciting about this opportunity? What will the developers be working on? Put this in context of the person that you are talking to. If you think that person is interested in new technologies or new experiences, talk about the new technologies and the new experiences that makes this an “exciting new opportunity”.  Developers like being faced with new challenges, working on new products to launch, and working on new technologies, so keep this in mind to stand out.


What recruiters say:We have a ping pong table.”

What developers hear: “We have nothing else good to offer.”

How to improve: Focus on why your company is great. Ping pong used to be a cool, unique perk, but now even the most corporate companies have one so it is time to find new perks. Your company will have a lot more to offer, whether it be intangible benefits or tangible. The important thing is to focus on what makes your company different and unique. It may be free Friday team lunches, big monitors for the employees, or Thursday after-work drinks. Stand out. Talk about your great company. There’s a lot of competition.


What recruiters say:We’re in stealth mode.”

What developers hear:Please apply without knowing what your job would be

How to improve: Be open. Make sure you give a lot of details about the job role and what the developer will be working on and who with. This is always a top priority for developers when considering job options.


What recruiters say:We work hard and we play hard”

What developers hear: “We’re 22 years old and possibly alcoholics.”

How to improve: Know your audience. Developers love a bit of fun, BUT work has to be mentally challenging and fulfilling and THEN you’ll have a happy developer. If you’ve read Joel’s Guide you’ll get a good idea of what makes a developer want to work with your company, and the top three things they care about; growth, working with a great team and good management.

tech recruiting 101

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