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Published On: Thu, Jun 15th, 2017

Ask a Developer: What Makes a Tech Job Listing Stand Out to You?

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Although today’s developers don’t spend a lot of time actively searching for new jobs, job listings that resonate with a passive audience are critical components of an effective employer branding strategy. Based on what we learned about programmers’ job search habits in this year’s Developer Hiring Landscape, we couldn’t help but wonder what they look for when they sit down to review career opportunities. What makes them want to apply for some jobs instead of others? What are the things about most job listings that annoy them? To find the answer to these questions, we reached out to a few developers for their thoughts. Here’s what they had to say.

A Greater Focus on Company Goals Than on Job Responsibilities

Developers have been outspoken about the fact that they want to work on exciting projects. Not surprisingly, this affects the way they evaluate new job opportunities. While developers look for roles that match their skill set, they pay even closer attention to developer job listings that include high-level overviews of larger company goals.

Zane Reynolds, Advanced Software Innovation Architect at the Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech, says that job listings that are transparent about what the team hopes to achieve stand out to him. He adds, “Knowing what frameworks and languages used is important information for weeding out listings, but the objectives give me a much richer picture of what my day-to-day will feel like.”

An Understanding That Developer Candidates Are Human

In an ideal world for a technical recruiter, you’d be able to copy and paste a list of programming languages onto a job listing and expect to find the perfect match. But even though there’s nothing wrong with having an “ideal” candidate profile in mind, the best developer job listings don’t discourage talented candidates from applying just because they don’t meet it completely.

Nate Sottek, an Android Developer at Metova, reminds us that long lists of qualifications only turn off developer candidates. Sottek adds, “People are people, not a walking, talking resume. Any listing that makes it sound like the skills are all that matters probably isn’t worth it in the long term.”

A Job Description That Has Been Reviewed by Other Developers

Developers are drawn to job listings that outline clear, yet reasonable expectations. At the same time, it doesn’t take long for them to identify one that doesn’t seem to have been reviewed by any the company’s existing developers. In many cases, this manifests itself in robotic-sounding copy that was written by someone who doesn’t have programming experience.

Steve Silberberg, the owner of Fatpacking, says that it’s usually obvious when non-technical stakeholders are writing job listings. This isn’t always a negative, especially if a recruiter has gotten feedback from the developers who work on your company’s product. However, Silberberg adds that when this isn’t the case, “I conclude that the requirements were either written by committee, a manager that has no idea what they’re talking about or someone that’s impossible to work for.”

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