The best-kept secret to recruiting developers online
April 7, 2020
min read

The best-kept secret to recruiting developers online

Ana Gospodinova
Ana Gospodinova
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Recruiting developers comes with many challenges – but there is one best-kept secret and companies who don’t implement it continue to struggle with recruiting developers online. 

Here it is, are you ready? 

The best-kept secret to recruiting developers online is… having an actual strategy that puts you from a passive to a (pro-)active position.

Even if you have an overall online recruiting strategy in place, consider that developers are different from other candidates – which is why you should approach things differently and have a tailored strategy in place. This is especially important because, let’s face it, landing developers just isn’t an easy task.

Time and time again, we see companies throwing job postings on every platform, inconsistent job descriptions and random social media posts. Which is fine, but is this an effective strategy and does it work? Not really (or at least not as well as it could).

We recommend having a solid strategy targeted towards developers in place to ensure success. Now, you might be wondering how to go about it; here are the most important aspects we have seen to work effectively for recruiting developers online:

On point employer branding

Much like traditional branding, developer employer branding is all about communication. It’s about the personality of the company, evoking emotion and ensuring that people know who you are, what you do, and why they should choose your company over another. 

Although you might be doing great things for your developer team, if you don’t tell people about it – nobody will know. Employer branding is all about communicating these things.

Instead of focusing on your product or service, employer branding focuses on content and communication, which is interesting for both current and potential developers. This will attract talent and remind your developer team about everything great you are doing for them. 

This is where employer branding starts and ends:

  • Your company profile
  • Career site
  • Job descriptions
  • Employee Value Proposition
  • Application experience
  • Social media profiles
  • Branded merchandise you hand out to developers
  • Content marketing & developer-generated content
  • Internal communication i.e. company newsletter / Slack updates

You can leverage all these channels to communicate consistently. When it comes to what type of content to produce, think: What projects are developers currently working on? What tech stack are they using? How are we ensuring our developers are extending their skill set? And so on – content a developer would be interested in hearing more about. 

Concise developer job descriptions

When it comes to writing job descriptions, you should involve a developer from your team (or ask one from your network) to ensure you get things right. From our experience, there are three aspects you need to keep in mind: 

  • Short: keep things as short and to the point as possible, people don’t have the time or patience to read 4 pages 
  • No fluff: ensure the job description actually outlines what the person will be doing
  • Clarity: the job description should give a clear picture of your company and what the person will be doing there. Highlight high priority tasks first – detailed questions can be covered in interview rounds.

These are our tips on how to structure your developer job description:

1. Company introduction

This should be predefined and contain a consistent three-liner company description that outlines both what the company does for customers/clients and some details about the team. Some companies tend to go overboard on this section – don’t be tempted to write more. Link to your brand profile or company career site for more information. Focus on what projects the developer will be working on and what working at your company will do for his/her career in development.

2. Job title

A good job title genuinely reflects the job at hand, is generic enough to be compared to other positions in the industry, gives an indication of rank within the company and is gender and age neutral.

3. Responsibilities and duties 

This section outlines what the candidate will be doing in the company. Try keeping this to 5-8 bullet points. 

4. Skills & competencies

This section is based on the candidate's past experience. We also recommend keeping this to 5-8 bullet points.

Set up a developer relations team

Developer relations is about your company’s developer relationships with already existing developer communities outside the company – communities like WeAreDevelopers. You can leverage being active and present within these communities to make your company and brand more visible. Having strong personal relations outside of the company is essential for impressing potential candidates. 

If you don’t happen to have the resources to set up a developer relations team, ensure your developer team is involved in creating developer related content as well as all of the job ads and descriptions that are put out into the world.

Increasing developer job posting reach

There’s a couple of ways to ensure your job posting reaches a lot of people: 

  • Strategically ask people to share your job posting. This will only make sense if your network has access to developers. Alternatively, you can tap into communities like WeAreDevelopers that have already built a large pool of developers to target.
  • Set up an employee referral program. This includes handing out bonuses if an employee brings a developer on board – you could even consider offering higher bonus’ for positions that are harder to fill. 
  • Consider using paid job ads on job boards that are specialized in developers – this makes a lot more sense and will get you more bang for your buck. Developers don’t typically search regular job portals, especially if they’re not actively looking. Our premium job ads give you visibility on social media and in our newsletters – ensuring you get more visibility even amongst those who might not even be looking. 
  • Nurture the talent pipeline. If you have already had contact with developers for another position but things didn’t work out, be sure to keep the door open. Don’t close it just because things didn’t work out in the first round. WeAreDevelopers’ hiring pipeline helps you keep track of all your candidates and allows you to follow up on exciting prospects you might have had before. 
  • Ensure your job posting is searchable aka ensure it is keyword optimized. The most important thing when it comes to making your job ad searchable is the title – so be sure to include the words you want to be found under here.

Active sourcing: developer focus

Especially when it comes to developers – you often have to go to them, not the other way around. Which is why active sourcing (when done right) can be a very effective way of attracting potential candidates. When done wrong, though, it can be very ineffective, come across as pushy and annoying and even damage your brand. So tread carefully in these waters and be sure to use a smart approach. 

We recommend doing the following when it comes to active sourcing: 

  1. Never ever blast out a bunch of generic messages; developers get tons of these a day and, trust us if they get a generic message from you the only place it will end up is in their trash inbox
  2. Always research your candidate – find out about their experience, where they have worked, what their interests and motivational factors in their career might be, and how your company slots into the big picture. You should spend the most time doing the research, writing the actual message will be a fraction of the total time you spend on a potential candidate. (Something like 30 mins research and 10-15 on writing the message).
  3. Pick and choose wisely and go straight to the interview phase – a developer who’s not actively looking for a job won’t be happy about filling out a lengthy application form. Instead, choose who to message wisely, be very sure that they would be a great candidate and move straight to the interview phase. Nowadays, with LinkedIn and co. it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out 

Social media marketing towards developers

What better way than social media to show some behind the scenes company content and to get the team involved in creating that content? 

More and more companies are activating team social media profiles – whether on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitch or TikTok. This is a place where you can regularly post behind the scenes posts as well as insider developer know-how – generated by your employees to give a feel for the company and the development team.

There are two ways of approaching this strategy – either integrating team-related posts into your overall company social media strategy or by opening up a team dedicated account. This all depends on the company and team structure – whether the employee and product audiences differ widely and more.

Work with professional developer recruiters

Recruiting, especially for difficult positions to fill, such as developer positions – can be incredibly time-consuming – so why not work with someone who’s an expert at getting the job done in the most effective way possible? 


5 Steps to Improve your Employer Branding Strategy

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5 Steps to Improve your Employer Branding Strategy

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