On hiring developers (Part II - Job Ads)

Let’s talk about job ids. Don’t forget to read other parts - Part I, Part III and Part IV

In order to attract developers job ids should speak developer-friendly language. I don’t mean creating dull texts expressed as a code or listing all technologies you (over)use. I mean creating something that touches deep incentives. And it’s not an easy task.

First of all, stick to informal writing style. You hire developers not MBAs, don’t you?

Job ad is a pitch, so don’t copy others who never pitched or sold a thing. The goal of the pitch is to make sure candidate feels he’s wasting his life by working for someone else. In short:

  • Express what the hell you do on the market
  • Express your beliefs
  • Express how you do things — your environment, process and technology
  • Express your goals, current problems and why do you need the candidate

Leave only things that are vitally important for a pitch. Everything else is water that distracts from things that matter. Let’s see some examples.

Pieces of bozosity

I’ve collected a number of crappy excerpts from real job ids (authors are kept anonymous). If you have the following pieces of bozosity in your job ids, you have only two choices — cleanup bozosity or commit suicide.

Ranked by Fortune magazine’s annual standing of the world’s most admired companies in the Internet Services & Retailing sector for many years, our family of websites is one of the largest in the world, with over two billion monthly visits reaching users in more than 200 countries

Is this really pitchy? Of course it’s not, because it’s totally unreadable and cold as icicle. Remember — you have to touch deep incentives.

BS in Computer Science or equivalent field is required

Most developers will have some sort of technical degree. If not and developer is good — do you really care? Be generous and pay for studies if you’re so demanding after all.

You will promote business development and growth.

Does this phrase have any meaning? What does it mean for a candidate?

You should have desire to grow rapidly.

Anyone here prefers stagnation?

We offer colleague support

Financial? Psychological? Confession?

Not only to follow the processes established by the company, but also to improve them. Successful implementation of the initiatives on your part will be appreciated.

Will unsuccessful implementation cause punishment? ☺

Remuneration that matches your hard work, % from revenues and new business ventures.

Will never leave the office before my boss. It’s HARRDDD work!

You’re positive and innovative.

I am depressive and obsolescent.

Experience in project and/or program implementation and execution, as well as in arranging company’s structure and organizational processes enhancing efficiency of the organization and promoting achievement of the strategic goals.

Bla-bla-bla… [x] Click!

5+ years of development experience in Java

Would you hire candidate that spent 5 years maintaining JSP code? What if candidate has 2 years of hard-core DDD experience?

Version control systems is a plus

Knowledge in MVC architecture

MVC pattern can be described with 3 arrows and 3 boxes. Is it really knowledge? If it was, is it mandatory?

Test and document produced software code according to the company/project standards

What if standards are not sound and doesn’t follow industry best practices?

Ability to prioritise technical solutions

Humans prioritise constantly. How to plan a day, how to spend money. Those who didn’t are dead.

Excellent troubleshooting skills

Sorry, I am more about troublemaking. But if seriously, be more specific.

Strong Vacation package

Are there companies which do not follow rules enforced by labour law and don’t offer annual vacation? Hmm, you probably wanted to say how well you support life-work balance? Let’s give it a try:

You are free to work from wherever you want at whatever time. Vacation unlimited.

Can’t give something special like that? Then don’t state the obvious.

Competitive salary

Mostly everyone uses this word combination. Does it mean salary higher than average PHP shop? Are you ready to share profit? Stocks? Bonuses? Be specific or hit [backspace] 18 times.

Deadline for application: Apr 15th, 2015

I haven’t even joined you yet, but you have already started setting deadlines.

Salary: negotiable

Can you imagine the following? ->

Harry, 2000€ is how much you worth. It’s not negotiable!

Supply of fresh fruit, a juicer, unlimited coffee and tea

Can’t forget times when I had to bring my own tea bags…

Requirements: Ensure development mobile application throughout the life cycle; Participate in teamwork; Explore and implement innovative technologies

Lorem-ipsum dolor sit amet…

Good artwork

There are good examples too. The following artwork is not formal and touches deeper incentives. Some of them attracts right candidates and rejects “bad” ones:

Experience in truly epic projects, which will affect humanity

Yeah baby, I want to affect humanity! Purpose is powerful intrinsic motivator.

Continuous Delivery and DevOps culture

Wow, this folks have culture. Even better — they have Continuous Delivery and DevOps culture which I admire.

Passionate about modern software development approaches — TDD, XP and other buzzwords

Ha-ha, you call it buzzwords! I like your informal style, as well as the fact you stay modern and have passion.

Flat organisational structure

3 words tell the whole story. Will reject those who wish to become managers and sit on top of the tree.

Provisioning tools knowledge (e.g. Puppet, Ansible, Chef)

Pay attention to e.g. abbreviation which gives a chance to those who know alternative provisioning tools like SaltStack and know nothing about Puppet, Ansible or Chef.

Impressive Java programming skills

I don’t have many years of Java programming experience, but give me a chance and I will impress you.

Travel options to the Bay Area, Silicon Valley hub.

Oh my God, they said Silicon Valley! I can visit Twitter office if I want to!

We are a relatively young business experiencing considerable growth across the countries in which we currently operate. Because of explosive growth we need you to help us in re-architecting our legacy system to fit new needs while keeping sustainable business development pace.

Wow, folks have serious problems. They really need me! I am coming to rescue!

Join the fastest growing startup in Latvia!

Short and concise.

We’re excited to show you what we’ve built, as we’re changing the way businesses communicate with their customers, by making real time a real thing.

Pride at work by example.

FooBar is seeking software engineers that are excited about working in closely integrated teams to push the boundaries of what is expected of the live chat experience.

Excitement at work by example.

We focus on fast, iterative development (over 200+ deployments just last month), and collaborative, interactive programming. Developers work with in small cross-functional teams of 3–6 crew that rely on one-another to champion their project goals and in setting their own priorities are expected to build and deploy applications quickly and iteratively.

Can’t resist to join.

Something like that. There is a lot more to say and examples are not ample, but hope you got the point. Pitch shortly, keep informal style, pay attention to things that make you special, reveal your culture, push on intrinsic motivators and don’t over-formalise requirements.

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