Dear Recruiter/ Staffing Specialist/ Hiring Manager/ Headhunter/ HR Ninja,
As you likely know all too well, the job market is red hot for developers right now. Getting a good senior developer to even return your calls is a challenge. You offer competitive salaries, have a nice benefits package, flexible schedules and relaxed dress codes. You’re doing everything you can, and the only responses you’re getting to your job listings are dummies and spammers. So what are you doing wrong? Well, I don’t have the complete answer, as I too am having trouble finding people, but I’d like to offer advice on one area, your job listing.
99% of developer job listings seem to look like this (this is a slightly edited actual job listing):
Super Recruiter Staffers has partnered with a progressive e-business and marketing company in Smallville, KS, and is seeking a motivated and experienced Java Software Engineer.
The successful candidate will bring a solid understanding of J2EE to an experienced development team with a strong technology background.
- Analyze, design, and implement Java and Java EE based software applications
- Participate in all parts of the development life cycle
- Responsible for the complete life cycle development of major components and sub-systems
- Leverage past development experience
- Required Skills/Background:
- BS degree in Computer Science
- 2 years hands-on Java EE design and development experience in a professional capacity.
- Experience with the following Java EE technologies; EJB, servlets, JMS, and JDBC
- Proven experience with JSP, Struts, JDO, JPA, and Spring.
- Proven experience using application server environments to build enterprise level multi-tiered applications
- Proven experience architecting n-tier applications (Oracle 10gas preferred)
- Excellent object-oriented analysis and development skills
- Working knowledge of UML, XML, Ant
- Self-starter with the ability to work both independently and as part of a team.
- Ability to manage multiple priorities effectively
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills
Other desired skills include:
- Experience in performance tuning, load testing, deployments, and QA
- Experience with full software development life cycle including functional & technical specification, documentation, QA processes, source control (CVS), maintenance, and deployments
- Experience with Oracle 10g
- Experience developing software for manufacturing industry
If you feel that you have the above qualifications and are interested in discussing this opportunity further, please apply today!
What’s wrong what that?, you ask. A lot, I say. Here’s what you’ve told me:
It’s a poorly defined position.
You listed a bunch of Java technologies, some of which I’ve used, some which I haven’t. It’s unlikely that all of these are needed, because you’ve listed typically opposing approaches like EJB & Spring, Struts & Servlets, etc. These can co-exist for sure, and maybe it’s part of a migration, but your shotgun approach isn’t tell me much. Also, you want “proven experience” in a technology that is brand new (JPA). I remember seeing job listings back in 2000 for people with “10+ years of Java development” (it had only been out for 5 years).
You aren’t being very honest.
You say that a BS in computer science is required. Of course it isn’t. Very few of the best developers I know have CS degrees. I’ve worked with people who had degrees in everything from Library Sciences to French to Math. If it’s not required, don’t say it is. What you really mean is “preferred”, but even that’s questionable. What this really tells me is that you just copy-and-pasted a boilerplate description and you’re not trying very hard, so why should I?
You want a Super Genius.
You want 2 years minimum experience. You also want someone who has “proven experience” in a wide array of technologies and can architect “enterprise level multi-tiered applications”. If you’re interviewing people with 2 years experience to architect enterprise software, you’re in trouble. And if you’re interviewing architects for a job that someone with 2 years of experience can do, you’re wasting everyone’s time.
I’d be part of a team of indeterminate size.
So I’d be part of a team, that’s valuable information, but it’s not nearly enough for me to gain specific interest. A small, agile, team? A large, influential team? What’s the purpose of the team? What department are they in? How many projects do they work on? Will I be a senior member or a rookie?
I’d be working for a company that does something, somewhere.
I’m either working for a manufacturing company, or for a company who has a manufacturing company for a client. That’s a fairly large distinction right there, and even if you answered that there’s other questions. What kind of manufacturing? Do they make DVD players or cinder blocks? If it’s a consulting firm, what else do they do? How big is this company? How long have they been around? Are they public?
How to fix it
Tell me exactly what you need done.
There are generally three types of hires:
- You need to staff an existing or upcoming project.If this is the case, describe the project. This includes the team, the client, the goals, the timeline. “A new team building an e-commerce site for a Fortune 500 client” or “A small team developing a new medical billing product line for small practices”. I’ve worked on many types of projects for many types of clients, and I know what I like. If you hit some of my favorable notes, you’re much more likely to hear from me.
- You want to grow your technology staff.For this one, tell me what I might be working on long-term. “We want to grow our retail software practice” or “We want someone to evangelize semantic web technology internally and to our clients” are good starts.
- You need someone right now for a project, and you want a long term growth.This one is probably the most common, and is simply a combination of the previous two. Be as specific as you can, and if you can’t because it’s wide-open after the current project, say so.
Talk to the people this new hire will be working with.
You probably got your job description from a VP or director, with some input from a middle manager or two. Ask these people who they currently have that they want more of. Then go and interview these people. Developers generally abhor meetings and organizational details, but if they see their input having a direct effect on who they have to work with or for, I would bet they will be more helpful than you suspect.
Tell me about the company.
With so many choices out there, people can be very selective about who they want to sell a few years of their life to. The more companies that are hiring, the more info you should be giving. Is the company growing? How fast? Are there multiple offices? Do you keep pace with the market or exceed it? Do you invest in R&D? Is your organizational structure flat or deep? How long do people stay with the company? You don’t need to point out the flaws, but every strength you highlight is more bait on your hook.
This is just the beginning. The market is very competitive and the competition is very weak. Improving your ability to get people to answer your calls is not only valuable, but it’s really not that hard.