Recruiting Developers

Recruiters have a tough job, especially when it comes to placing software developers. I would also imagine any sales/commission based job is a difficult one, because it’s simply a skill that I’m just bad at. Having said that, recruiting software developers has become a miserable experience for all parties involved.

The Problem(s)

As companies begin making pushes into mobile, focusing on user experience, responsive web applications, e-commerce, etc. there just aren’t enough developers out there to fill all the positions. Because of this, software developers are in huge demand right now. The situation unfolds in this fashion:

  1. Company A needs a few developers who know skill X, Y and Z.
  2. Company A hires recruiting firm B to find candidates.
  3. Recruiting firm B blasts every developer within 100 miles of Company A with a job posting.

The Result

What ultimately happens, at least in my experience, is that every developer receives numerous emails, LinkedIn messages and even phone calls on a regular basis along the lines of:

Dear Person, 
I see that you have skill X on your resume. I have a position I think you would be a perfect fit for. Do you have time to talk?
Some Recruiter

There are a few things wrong with this message:

  • Just because I have skill X on my resume from several years ago, it by no means denotes that I’m even remotely interested in pursuing it further.
  • “I would be a perfect fit for it”? Really? We have never met or even talked, yet you think I would be a perfect fit for some company just because they need skill X and I know skill X?
  • Recruiters of software developers must realize that software developers receive these messages often. There’s nothing that stands out here at all.
  • Company A only has interest in me because I know skill X? If they’re just trying to fill a spot, I probably don’t want to work for them anyway.

The solution

For The Company

You don’t need a developer that knows skill X. Granted, some times you might need a niche skill or expertise in a particular area, but really, programming is programming. You really need a good programmer, someone who is adaptable, easy to work with, a team player and someone who can pick up new things.

For example, if you think you need a Rails developer, would you discount a sharp PHP developer? Conceptually, both languages achieve the same goal, the difference is primarily syntax. Underlying conventions like REST, HTTP, MVC, etc. all carry over from one to the other. So do you really want to turn down a sharp developer just because of a lack of experience with a particular language? Convey to your recruiter the types of problem solvers and personalities that you’re looking for, not just a narrow skill set.

For The Recruiter

Establish Relationships. I can’t stress this enough. I know that recruiting has become a fill the funnel model and that’s unfortunate. For those recruiters that have reached out to me, I am far more likely to even dignify their communications if they have taken the time to get to know what I’m after, what I like to do, what’s important to me, etc. Relationships take time to build. If you build good relationships, those stay with you from job to job. So if your current employer doesn’t see you filling the funnel fast enough and you’re taking the time to cultivate solid relationships, don’t stress it. You’ll have better success at your next gig.

Please understand that:

  • Because the market is so great for developers, you have to provide a convincing reason to leave their current situation.
  • Good developers are already employed.

If you don’t know what I like to do or what I might be looking for, your sales pitch is worthless. At least take the time to figure that out and you’ll be doing your client, the developer and yourself a favor by increasing the chance of success for everyone and not wasting anyone’s time.

Originally published at on March 26, 2015.