An Open Letter to Technical Recruiters and Companies who are Recruiting

Image of empty chairs with the words “We Are Hiring” written on them.

If your job is recruiting technical workers, (or even if you’re recruiting for your own company) you’ve got a tough task. We’re currently like the cheerleaders and football captains of the work world. Everybody wants to ask us to prom. So don’t mess it up.

  1. Don’t send vague messages with invites to “find out more”. Unless we’re desperate, we will not take more of our precious time to follow-up with you. If you have a job to sell, sell it right away. Put as much as you can in the body of the email. Even clicking a link is sometimes asking too much.
  2. Know your tech. Understand that people who have been doing NodeJS or React at cool startups for the past few years are probably not going to be at all interested in your Enterprise .NET or Java position. Take the time to learn, at least at a high level, what the technologies are, and for what they’re typically used. Don’t assume that they’re all alike.
  3. Do a little homework before emailing. My LinkedIn says prominently the techs that I use, that I’m not open to relocation, and that I work remote. I will never be interested in a contract position…for legacy Java…in Ohio…on-site.
  4. But don’t get stalker-ish. Realizing that someone has checked out all of our social media *and* interacted with it, before spamming us with emails that show a little too much background work can be off-putting. Recruiter relationships can sometimes feel like having a lovesick ex with a creepy degree of focus.
  5. Do not overestimate, or underestimate the appeal of culture. Company culture is more than a foosball table and unlimited taps of micro-brews. Those things will appeal to junior devs, but will quickly become useless to people with commutes and families. But a culture of employee growth, interesting problems, teamwork, remote work, etc will keep people engaged over the longer term.
  6. Be upfront about salary range. Don’t ask what we’re currently making (even if it’s still legal to do so where you are.) Let’s be honest and rational about what I’m worth and what the market will bear.
  7. Be honest. If your company is not really OK with remote work, say it. Some managers, allowing some people, to work remote some of the time does not make it a remote work friendly company. If the work is on enterprise systems, don’t try to make it sound “start-up-y”. If there is “unlimited PTO”, try to give a sense of how much is typically used.
  8. Get a sense of commute times. If the office is in Westborough (90+ minutes outside the city), don’t advertise it as “Boston”. If you know a candidate lives on the South Shore, don’t send jobs based in Salem. By the same token, if a recruiter sent me a job close to my hometown, I’d be more likely to take a look, even if it isn’t a perfect fit.
  9. Unless you have a previous relationship with us, don’t ask for referrals when we turn you down. Yes, we know you’re looking for “senior front-end people with 8 years of React Native”, and we probably know lots of people who you’d be happy to know. But seriously, why would we risk our friendships for you?
  10. Check-out meetups and conferences. Take a little time to learn about what we care about. Don’t act like a predator. Sit back. Learn. Ask questions. We love talking about our tech stuff. Take advantage of it.
  11. About relationships. We’re more likely to listen to your pitches if you take even a moment to understand where we’re coming from. This is very hard with cold-calling and unsolicited emails. But when you meet us in person, take the little extra time to ask what’s going on with us. Ask what we’re enjoying about our work. What we don’t enjoy. What lights us up. Then it will be obvious where there are possible overlaps in what you’re offering and what we’re wanting. Take notes. If there is no overlap, just enjoy the conversation and wish us well. But when new jobs come in, take a look at the people you’ve talked with and see if any possible matches come up.

That last one is really key. A recruiter or someone I know professionally who is able to see me as a whole person instead of a potential cash cow will be more likely to get a call from me when my circumstances change. I’d also be more likely to point others who are looking in that direction if I’ve developed a degree of trust with someone.

Thank you for letting me rant a bit. Let’s get this right please, and stop wasting everybody’s time. Thank you.