How to write a job ad developers care about
Hiring
April 26, 2020
3
min read

How to write a job ad developers care about

Ana Gospodinova
Ana Gospodinova
Content
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Hiring great talent starts with crafting a compelling job ad. It helps you stand out from the rest and shows why a developer should apply to your company.

But writing a job posting for software developers can be difficult. It has to focus on the skills required for the role, but also show that the business has a clear vision for the role and the direction it's heading.

To help you cope with this, we have put our brains and yearlong experience together to help you create a job ad that stands out.

What is a job posting?

Your job ad is the first point of contact (and first impression) for a candidate and should paint a complete picture of the job in your company. The best job descriptions answer the most common questions candidates may have regarding the role and are written in an honest, engaging, and inclusive manner.

On average, job-seekers spend 23 seconds reading a company's description, according to an eye-tracking study done by researchers at TheLadders (codementor.io). So it is important to get it right.

To write a good job ad it should include information about the job requirements, the scope of work, and the benefits your company has to offer.

Job Title: Be specific

Keep it simple and specific when writing your job title. Targeted job titles are more effective than generic ones, so be precise by including key phrases that accurately describe the developer's role.

Something as simple as mentioning the technology in the job title can already improve the percentage of people that apply to your job after seeing the listing (apply rate) by about 25% (stackoverflow.blog).

It also helps to think like your ideal candidate and ask yourself "what job title would this person search for?"

Good examples:

  • Junior Android Developer (f/m/x)
  • Lead DevOps Engineer
  • Software Developer (m/f/d) Java Full Stack
  • Senior Flutter Backend Developer (m/f/d)

Bad examples:

  • Software Developer
  • Programmer
  • Mobile Devleoper
  • Backend Rockstar

On WeAreDevelopers the character limit for job titles is 40.

Creativity might help your job ad stand out. But it is counterproductive for the candidates looking for the same job under a different, more conventional name. We suggest integrating industry-standard names over the "ninjas" or "rockstar" terms.

The more precise you can be, the higher your chances are that your potential candidate will be interested enough in clicking on your job ad.

And this brings us to the second step.

Requirements: Focus on the essentials

Keep in mind that most developers you are trying to attract are passive candidates. Meaning that they have a job already. Providing informative job details will result in attracting the right developers and makes initial conversations with them much more meaningful.

Must have skills – or tech stack as we call it – are the most critical aspect for developers to go ahead and engage with your job ad. To save precious time for you and your potential candidates, show what exactly is required of them. If they don't feel that everything that they are looking for is listed, they will be discouraged to apply.

If you are not a technical person talk to your engineers and get some help to define proper requirements:

  • Make it very clear which requirements are mandatory and which are nice to have.
  • Write in simple language. Candidates are busy so you have to get your point across as fast as possible.
  • State whether your candidate needs qualifications (certificates or a degree), specific domain knowledge, or industry experience.
  • Have a maximum of one or two mandatory requirements and avoid long lists. Candidates usually skim job descriptions. So the use of jargon and confusing phrases will make them less likely to apply.
  • Be realistic. If you are looking for a unicorn developer you will not find any success with your job and- and in the worst case even harm your employer brand. Identify what’s required and what can be learned on the job.
  • To enlarge your audience of potential candidates, we recommend writing your job details in English. For software engineers, English is a universal language.

Here is an example of a well-written list of requierments for an intermediate iOS developer.

Tip: When asked, one of the main reasons for developers to switch their job was further developing their expertise. Your job requirements are a great place to combine the qualifications the position requires with the learning opportunities that come with it.

Scope of Work: Paint the picture

In this part of your job ad, you need to help the candidate understand the role they would be playing within your business.

Projects and products are one of the two most important things for a developer. These elements will define your overall company attractiveness and might even be the final nudge that the potential candidate needs to apply to your job. It's not that easy to integrate the project scope an easy-to-understand tone of voice. But an exercise that can help with that is writing down how a typical day

  • Provide insights on the project the person would be working on on a daily basis and why their role is crucial in this project.
  • Mention the level of autonomy the developer would have.
  • Only include tasks that are essential to this job. Try to limit yourself to 2-4 tasks. Summarise the most interesting parts of the job.
  • Outline the core responsibilities of the position.
  • Mention if your company is using automated tests or continuous integration and if you have a QA department.
  • Make it clear what deliverables and outcomes are expected from your candidate.
  • Developers care about processes, development methodology and management style within the team they are joining. Together with technical details, this can make a difference, especially for passive candidates hesitating between job options.
  • Indicate who they would be reporting to and how the person will function within your organization. This helps candidates in seeing the bigger picture and their potential impact on the overall business.

But behind all the job details itis still an advertisement at its core. This means that candidates need compelling reasons to leave their current workplaces or choose your job over others.

Benefits: Salary & Culture

Truth be told: Salary is still the biggest factor for candidates when deciding whether to join a new company or to stay at their current job. When asked, 78% out of 844 developers mentioned the salary as the biggest reason to change.

On top of that, Stackoverflow ran a test in 2017 where they found out that ads with salary ranges have a 75% increase in click-through rates (insights.dice.com).

So yes, if you want to write an awesome job ad there is no way around adding your salary in your job ad. Or to put it as Jon-Stephen Stansel said it:

The safest way is to present the average target salary for the role and then negotiate along the way. On the other hand, this is a convenient way to eliminate expensive candidates and stay in line with the budget.

Here is an example of what you can put in your benefits section. In this case, the project could have been explained in more detail but it does a good job with showing potential candidates the full support, ranging from getting at the company to growing within the company.

So salary is not the only card you can play. To get you inspired, here is a list of company benefits developers actually care about:

Settling In

  • Visa sponsorship
  • Help finding a flat
  • Relocation package
  • Language courses (German, English)

Office

  • Latest hardware
  • Company parking area

Flexibility

  • Work from home option
  • Flexible working hours / Flextime
  • Budget for home office setup
  • Repay for home office costs (e.g. internet)

Financial & Personal Growth

  • Allocated time for learning
  • Learning stipends
  • Education budget
  • Equity compensation plan
  • Discounts on company products/services
  • Additional paid paternity/maternity leave
  • Baby on board' financial package

Career

  • Performance-based bonuses
  • Growing people from within the organization
  • Work on projects with high visibility

Entertainment

  • Pool table / Ping Pong table / Gaming consoles
  • Game room
  • Team bonding events

Health & Wellness

  • Additional dental care plan
  • Additional healthcare insurance
  • Gym membership
  • Extra vacation

I wrote the best job ad ever - now what?

Communicate to developers how long the whole process will take, what are the different recruitment phases, or potentially who will interview them.

Simply, it's not "just" about the job ad. It is about the overall experience. With so many recruiters contacting them on LinkedIn and developers getting ghosted - getting an applicant is merely the first step in the recruiting journey.

Our series on developer recruiting will continue to help you with all the steps alongside the recruiting process.

In the meantime, grab your free guide on how to build an employer brand developers fall in love with.

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