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Recruiting 101:Posting Jobs to a Mailinglist

Dear Reader,

Those of you who know me know that I speak to 2 recruiters these days, Lonnie Brown and Scott Gordon. (With a hat-tip to Scott’s partner Alex Nadell, who doesn’t piss me off either) I have little patience with recruiters outside of those 3. One of the main reasons is I fell that recruiters, other than Scott and Lonnie, don’t bother to figure out how to “speak developer”.

One of the things you learn real quick when dealing with developers is that there is a pretty strict mailing list etiquette. The problem is, the rules are different for each mailing list. There are some universal truths though, especially when posting jobs to a user group mailing list. Since I’ve seen this flare up recently, I’m going to share with you a few of the rules.

Rule Zero – Check the List’s Rules First

A lot of User Groups don’t allow recruiters to post on their main list. This is their privilege. If you can’t determine whether it is acceptable, ask before posting. It is NOT easier to ask forgiveness than permission in this case. It is a lot harder to get unbanned from a list than sending an email to the list asking permission.

Rule One – Don’t Hype

Don’t tell us it’s a GREAT opportunity. You have no idea what our current situation is, so you are not in a position to make that judgement call.

For most developers, a great opportunity looks like this:

  • Hires us for what we can do, not where we are located
  • Pays a salary that is commensurate with the contribution to the company
  • Understands that we, not they, are the experts at writing software, and treats us with the respect deserved

You can probably begin to see now why we roll our eyes when we see GREAT OPPORTUNITY.

If you absolutely MUST hype, run your client through the “Joel Test” first. Any company that scores 12/12 on the Joel Test can rightfully be considered a great opportunity. otherwise, skip the hype and just tell us about the job.

Rule Two – Gives Us Information

To fill all the space left in your job posting when you took out the hype, give us facts. Two important facts are:

  1. What does the job pay?
  2. Is your client more interested in what we can do, or where we sit each day?

Yes, clients hate revealing how much the job pays. However, if you tell us, we can figure out if we can afford to take the job. A lot of us have families and we know our burn rate. If you send out a job that sounds awesome but pays lower than we can afford to make, you waste your time and ours. We can help you by not wasting your time on jobs we can’t afford to take.

Also, if your client won’t consider a remote worker in this day and age, expect to have a hard time filling the position. In case you haven’t noticed, there are more development jobs out there than there are developers looking. ’nuff said.

Rule Three – Don’t Feed The Trolls

We all make mistakes, you are going to also. If you slip up and post to a list you don’t have permission to, if you post a message with the title in all caps, if you misspell something, or if you generally make a nuisance of yourself, you are going to get an ear full from the list. Take it in stride. You have no idea what we are going through and it could be that you did something stupid on a bad day and someone just needed to vent. It’s gonna happen. What ever you do, do not reply to the list and apologize or explain yourself. If they don’t ban you from the list then you’ve got another chance. If you reply, you just make it worse.

Read and think about each criticism given. Some are just going to be mindless rants, others will contain nuggets of truth that will help you do better next time. Read them, think about them, take them to heart. DO NOT REPLY TO THEM.

Rule Four – We are Developers, not Rockstars, not Ninjas, not Gurus, not Mavens, we are Developers.

No matter how cute you think it is, if you use one of these terms in your ad, we roll our eyes and hit the delete key. Before you use any term like this to describe a developer, read this. Then, if the pay scale measures up, go ahead and ask for a rockstar. Otherwise, take it seriously and tell us what you are actually looking for.

Wrapping it up

One final note, this is not a rule, it is just advice. A job posting is a sales piece. Gone are the days where you could simply put something out on craigslist and get 150 resumes – 10 of them actually qualified. You have to sell US on the job. Then, if we are interested, we will sell you on our skills.

Pay attention to these rules, learn to talk to developers in their language, and most of the time, we’ll let you hang around. Buy the beer once in a while for the meeting and we’ll let you hang out and drink with us. Learn who we are, what we do, and what we want to do…and then bring us those kinds of jobs, and we’ll do business with you.

Until next time,
I <3 |<

p.s. If you are a recruiter, especially if you are new to recruiting, you need to study Lonnie Brown and Scott Gordon. Follow them on twitter, read their blog, study how they interact with developers, learn. They have very different styles, but they both understand how to talk to developers. If we had more recruiters that those two gentlemen, we’d have fewer blog posts like this.