How To Make Developers Like You (For Recruiters)

October 31, 2015   

I think most software engineers know what I'm talking about when I say "recruiters are annoying". We all get the tweets and emails that are like "Hey, I saw your GitHub/LinkedIn/Twitter/Blog and have a great opportunity for you, can we set up a Skype/phone conversation?".

When you reply with a question about tech stack and pay, often their response will be something like "let's talk about it over the phone" or they will tell you and it will be something completely unrelated to what you do (which they'd know if they actually saw your GitHub or LinkedIn).

I've had the "why do they do this? surely it doesn't work" question in the back of my mind for a few years now, but reading Ionut Roghina's great blog post about recruitment agencies actually made me write this.

Maybe they simply don't know that they're doing it wrong? Maybe they aren't aware of what we (developers, and people in the tech industry) want, and how to please us? It's the only logical conclusion I can come to, given that jobs in the industry are very much a "seller's market" for anyone even vaguely worth hiring.

Note: I am not looking for work, please don't take this as a request for job offers...

So, here is my easy 3 step guide for recruiters to get the attention of 100% of potential developers who might be interested in a new gig.

Step 1: Take a quick look at my GitHub or LinkedIn page

You're looking for a senior systems developer with Golang and MongoDB experience, do I have any references to these technologies or similar ones?

If you answered yes to this question, proceed to step 2.

Step 2: Tell me what you are offering

Tweet or email is fine, a tweet is probably more likely to get my attention, but it must communicate to me that you have not skipped step 1.

An example:

I have a Sr. Systems Eng. (Go/Mongo) position available, interested? DM me 😎

In this short tweet, you've demonstrated:

  • You've seen that I have some experience or interest in Golang or MongoDB
  • You know something about these technologies, as you have abbreviated them to their colloquial names
  • You use emojis, which is a good indicator that you understand the format of the platform we're communicating on.

Not so hard, was it? If I reply/DM, continue to step 3.

Step 3: Answer my questions without rigmarole

If I'm looking for a new job and what you've got is something I am qualified for and/or interested in, I'll probably send you a DM/email reply right about now, and it will probably go something like this:

Hey [you], can you tell me some more about that Go/Mongo position?


If you've got this far, it's easy, all you need to do is not scare me away. If you're finding that you lose a lot of potential recruits at this stage or the next one, you're probably doing this bit wrong.

Your reply should:

  • Tell me some more details about what the position entails (Is it an education startup? Enterprise accounting software? Telecommunications? Facebook For Cats?)
  • Tell me how much money is on offer, even if it's a pay range like "$90-110k", that's fine. But please, don't say "negotiable based on experience" or "market salary". That doesn't mean anything. The variance in salary within my own personal network for the job I personally do is upwards of $100k. I think it's pretty rude to ask me to give you 30mins to an hour of my time for a phone interview before you even tell me this.
  • Tell me a bit about the company, the location and if remote work is offered.

Here's an example:

Hi Zen, The position is at a social media startup in Berlin. Your role would be to provide design guidance for our backend team and help scale it moving forward. Remote work is possible but we like to have at least 4 hours of timezone overlap and would prefer someone based in the area. The salary is €80-€110k depending on experience, but negotiable for the right candidate.

If this sounds good to you, or you'd like to know more, you can call me on [number] or Skype me at [skype name].



If the person actually wants to find new work, and is interested in what you have to offer, I would be very surprised if you don't get a positive response to that.

There are two main takeaways here: developers don't need you, and developers are used to recruiters being pests. This isn't a bad thing for you, in fact it means that if you clearly demonstrate that you "get it", you will win their favour very easily.

I genuinely believe that if you spend an hour doing this process for 50 developers, you will get more (and higher quality) leads than sending 1000 carbon copy emails or tweets, so take from that what you will.