Talent Acquisition

How to Engage Developers with Your Job Listings

Many job listings for tech roles do not resonate with developers. There are countless examples of developer job listings online that fail at the first hurdle and turn developers away from both the role and the company that listed it in the first place.

To create an engaging job listing, you must understand a developer’s mindset. You simply cannot find the best developer for your role without understanding the candidate and the position. This article examines some of the most common flaws in modern job listings and provides advice on how to write job listings that capture the attention of the top developers.

Be upfront about salary

It is surprising to see how many recruiters still don’t list salary ranges in their job listings for developer roles. Stack Overflow’s annual developer survey illustrates that in the UK, 63.4 percent of developers consider salary to be an important factor when looking for a new job. Not listing salary ranges can have a detrimental effect on the number of applicants that apply for the role. The Stack Overflow engineering team saw an incredible 75 percent increase in clicks on the job listings that included salary ranges. Failure to list this information is likely to frustrate developers — even if they were otherwise interested in the company or role.

Be specific

Recruiters will often rely on keywords to help them filter through applicants. Whilst this can be a useful tool for recruiters to reduce the number of applicants, searching by keywords alone is not a scientific approach and risks overlooking strong candidates who have expressed their skills using different language.

A generic phrase such as “turning ideas into products using SCRUM and agile” doesn’t tell a developer much about what they’ll actually be doing (every developer turns ideas into products, for one thing). Without concrete examples, a phrase like this is meaningless. Similarly, requirements such as “the candidate must have advanced technological skills” or “be a good team player” are of little value.

A long list of requirements can put off developers applying for the role. All developers will interpret requirements in a different way — some will not apply unless they feel as though they can fulfill all the requirements. Each requirement has the possibility of reducing the pool of applicants; it is therefore very important to only include requirements that you think are necessary.

A tech job listing is an opportunity for a company to put itself in the shop window and really appeal to a developer. Typically, developers want a job listing to answer three questions: What problems does the company work on? What makes this company different? Why would I want to work there? Answering those questions in your job listing goes a long way towards engaging developers.

Use humour to create connections

Company culture is an important factor for developers when making the next step in their careers. According to Stack Overflow’s developer survey, 41.8 percent of developers globally consider company culture an important factor when deciding to change role. Humour can play a decisive role in a crowded marketplace as developers respond positively to it. Some companies and recruiters may feel as though this is a risky approach, humour delivered in the right way can really help to break the ice and create genuine connections. For example, adding phrases such as: “you won’t be poked with a sharp stick” can make a developer feel at ease and also make your job listing stand out from the crowd.

Concision and precision

Job seekers spend 49.7 seconds on average reading a job listing before making a decision, according to a study by The Ladders. Job listings have to be concise and scannable in order to be engaging because if a job listing extends to several pages, it will simply not be read. 97 percent of developers are already gainfully employed; with this level of competition in the marketplace, there is little room for error. Have a developer in your company review your job listing to see if they are able to identify the key points easily and quickly. If they cannot do this quickly, then a prospective candidate is unlikely to find the listing engaging.

Demand for developers is at an all-time high so companies cannot afford to to have poorly thought-out job listings. An engaging job listing will outline a company’s culture and the role of the tech team within the organisation. It will set realistic and specific expectations as opposed to wide, unclear range of requirements. Developers take great pride in their work, and the most engaging job listings illustrate that the company posting the listing is willing to support them through the next stage in their career.

About the author: Kevin Troy is the Director of Insights at Stack Overflow.

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