Nan Palmero (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Linkedin_Chocolates.jpg)

Dear recruiters, here’s how to tempt me

LinkedIn brings a flood of recruiters’ messages to my inbox, only some of them have a chance

As a software developer with a LinkedIn account I get at least two messages a week from recruiters touting job offers. I’m more than happy with my current job and won’t be leaving any time soon, but it annoys me that so many of the messages I get are so poor and nowhere near worth the time it took me to read them.

However, once every so often I do get an email that makes me think. Only for a few minutes, but still that’s something. Here’s some tips on how to get to that point.

Be specific about the job

I don’t just want an interesting job, I want to work at an interesting company. You have to tell me what company I’d be working for. I know you risk losing your commission, but you won’t get one if I don’t even read your message. I don’t care if they’re a “leading company in their field”, or “offering exciting projects”. Generalisations and puffery don’t excite me, specific companies do.

I earn a decent amount. More than enough to live comfortably, buy a house and have the odd holiday. I’m not on a quest for ever higher salaries, but when it comes to jobs I do still like to know about money. You have to tell me how much I would be earning. A “competitive salary” could be a pay cut for me, especially if I’d have to start commuting to London. Someone sent me a job listing a few days ago with a salary twice what I earn now. That was tempting, “competitive” isn’t.

Be specific about me

My LinkedIn profile has a fair bit of information about me. It’s also got links to my blog and my Twitter feed. Say something that shows you know a bit about me. Show you’ve gone beyond a simple search on LinkedIn for “JavaScript”.

This isn’t just about flattery, it’s about persuading me that I’d be a good fit for the job. Like a lot of other developers my ego is a fragile thing — I swing between feeling like a master of the universe and having crippling doubts about my own mediocrity. If you’re trying to recruit me for a position with responsibility or at a high profile company then you’ve got to tell me why I, personally, would be good for the role. Help me get over that “I could never do that” feeling.

Sell the job to me

You’ve got to make the job sound attractive. I had a message a few days ago from a recruiter that did this very well. Phrases like “lots of autonomy”, “designing, architecting and developing” and “build a team”. Very tempting. Can you describe your job in those terms? Many developers prefer building software to maintaining it, emphasise that in your message if you can.


Please, recruiters, give it a go. For our sake and yours.