How to Recruit Software Developers (If You Must)

Recruiters and business leaders looking to hire software developers have a problem.

No, it isn’t that coders are arrogant babies with superpowers and totally unrealistic job expectations. The problem is how recruiters communicate to the developers they hope to hire. Instead of enticing them and trying to buy their love with flamboyant company cultures that have more to do with “Keeping up with the Joneses” than about cultivating healthy lives, recruiters should just talk less and listen more.

Be less like salespeople, and more like counselors. Instead of e-mailing a complete stranger a list of all the cool stuff the company has going on, just send a one-line message with a simple question – “Are you happy in your job right now? If not, what would your dream job look like?”

The answers may surprise you.

“I don’t need more money, I need more time. It would be amazing if I could work 30 hours a week, even if it meant I was making less money.”

“I’d love to work from home so I can have more time with my family.”

“There is a lot of incivility and unethical stuff going on at my job. I feel like they are hurting people, and I don’t want to be a cog in that machine any longer.”

“I want to see the world. If I could find a 6-month contract in xyz city, that would be cool.”

“I’m tired of working for people who have no idea how to build software. If I could work with a company who had technical leadership, I think I could take pride in my work again.”

“I’m just a night owl. If I could work on a team that enabled asynchronous work, and I could code late into the night, I would be working when I’m at my best.”

“My office is so noisy. If I could have a private office, I think I would get more work done.”

If their current job is sucking their life away, then they have an opening in their life for a new job. If you can fill that void with an opening in your company, great! Now you’re in a position to share what your company needs, and you can size them up to see if their skills fit the bill. Who knows, you just might find yourself with a new team member.