The phrase “quality over quantity” is one of the oldest cliches in the book, but when it comes to the number of developer applications in your inbox, it can be especially difficult to wrap your mind around. Not only do you need to hire developers as quickly as possible, but you’re also under immense pressure to keep your hiring managers happy. A large stack of developer resumes might placate them for a little while, but a smaller and more targeted applicant pool is often better than one that’s bursting at the seams. Here are a few reasons why getting a small handful of relevant applications is much better than getting 50 (or more).
When your inbox is overflowing with applications, you might be tempted to brag to your friends about how well your developer hiring strategy is working. However, that probably isn’t the case. As our CEO Joel Spolsky points out, developers who are not capable of writing quality code are often searching for new jobs. He adds, “These morbidly unqualified people rarely get jobs, thankfully, but they do keep applying, and when they apply, they go to Monster.com and check off 300 or 1000 jobs at once trying to win the lottery.”
With that in mind, high application volume is more likely an indication that the quality is lower than you need it to be. A pile of resumes might make your hiring managers think you’ve been busy, but if they spend the majority of their time rejecting them, you’ve made far less progress than you would otherwise believe.
It’s easy to assume that you’re spending your time well if you’re constantly reviewing developer applications. You might treat applications like unqualified developers treat job listings—as lottery tickets. Having more of them would lead you to believe that you a better chance of finding a talented programmer than the competition. But developer hiring requires tech recruiters to be more proactive. After all, only 13% of developers are actively looking for new job opportunities, so it’s up to you to reach out to candidates who are only job hunting passively, at best.
While a small applicant pool might seem like a cause for concern, it frees you up to focus on engaging with only the most relevant candidates. When you can spend less time reviewing resumes in high volumes and concentrate more of your attention on building relationships with qualified candidates, you’ll be in a much better position to find the right fit for your open roles.
On the flipside, don’t panic if you only have a small handful of developer applications. Take a closer look at the resumes you’ve received. The chances are that if you’ve targeted your job listings to the types of programmers you want to hire, you’ll be excited by the applications waiting for you to review.
This also allows you to have very different conversations with your engineering managers, especially if they complain about the number of resumes you’ve brought to them. It’s not difficult to show them how reviewing (and ultimately, recruiting) a smaller pool of qualified candidates is a much more worthwhile activity than rejecting a stack of unfit resumes. They might want to see more “activity,” but if you can identify two or three programmers that you’d be excited to hire, your hiring managers will never remember the other applications they didn’t receive.