Quickly looking for developers?

4 min read

Because there is a significant shortage of experienced developers on the market and has been for quite some time, you rarely have a queue of great candidates for a newly opened position.

It’s common for engineers to groan about irrelevant spammy requests from clueless recruiters on LinkedIn with “We think you can be a great fit for our job opening. You’ll develop our front-end in KubeScript and you need 15 years of experience in Kafka”.

This isn’t surprising, given the current market — how much time would an experienced developer need to find a job? Not the best and most fulfilling job of their life, but just some job with enough compensation to support their family.

For a lot of folks all it would take are a change in their LinkedIn profile and a tweet like “X years of experience in this and that, looking for work, area/remote!”

Hence lots of developers adopt a somewhat sarcastic stance regarding unsolicited job propositions like “suuure, tell me more”. It’s probably not the most constructive way to go, but I’m not judging it and I was behaving like that for years[1].

What is much more surprising to me is when people transition to the hiring side of the market and keep the same attitude. They keep thinking of themselves as "highly wanted" and when they want to hire someone quickly, they post to social media something along the lines of “Looking for a super-duper developer for my project, please retweet!”

Yeah, suuure.

I had roughly the same dialogue with my friends many times over:

“Can you recommend someone? I’m looking for a Python developer.”
“Nope, everyone’s busy.”

Why did they need a human to hire? Do they need anybody so quickly that they do not have time to write a description? How should I refer to someone?

“Friends are looking for a developer, want to talk to them?”
“Ehh, my current project isn’t too shabby. What do they do?”
“Not really sure, I can introduce you and they’ll explain.”
“Thanks, I’ll pass.”

I’ve had this conversation a couple of times and do not bother anymore.

Once I’ve asked my friend a dozen or so questions about their project, pried some information out of him and got a description that was pretty interesting to a couple of people that I contacted.

Even if they weren’t hired immediately after that, they remembered it. Maybe their friend is looking for work, maybe they’ll be open for opportunities in half a year and you’ll still be looking for people to hire.

But that’s not my job to pull information about your project out of you with a pair of pliers, it’s not a job for your friends, general public or candidates. It’s your own job.

Even Elon Musk doesn’t just write “I'm hiring developers for a cool project”. He describes and markets them, for example Tesla autopilot team in 2015, and Neuralink in 2020.

And everyone knows who Elon Musk is and what he does. I’m baffled whenever I see retweets “Looking for a great frontend developer for my project!” written by effectively anonymous people to me. I’m seeing the same tweets with minor variations pretty regularly for more than a decade.

The best thing you can do to have good candidates is to write a good honest description of a project together with the tasks that a person will accomplish if hired. And it must be you who writes it — a hiring manager, not a poor recruiter whom you've given a list of five-to-ten buzzwords.


[1] For context: I was a professional developer since 2006 and for half of that time I’m much more often on the hiring side.