Technical job post tips for the desperate

For software engineering jobs, most companies, especially startups, just can't find qualified candidates, even after tapping their networks. If you're one of these companies who has more trouble sourcing (finding candidates) than screening (filtering out candidates that aren't a good match), here are a few tips to get your job post more attention. Some of these tips may require fundamental cultural shifts for your company.

List a salary - if good developers are on a job board at all, you need to let them know quickly whether or not your company is worth their time. Posting any salary information other than "comensurate with experience" or similar is a step in the right direction. For example, you could say, "Compensation is completely open, but here's what we have in mind: $90k + meaningful equity stake."

Say that you're comfortable with remote work - there is a huge pool of developers who don't live (or don't want to live) in your city. For companies in cities with a high cost of living, you can pay someone 10-20% less and fly them in once a month/quarter for an in-person meeting.

Drop the degree requirement - plenty of good developers didn't go to college, didn't finish college, or went to a community college. You're going to have to look more at experience and focus more on evaluating technical skills during interviews.

Guarantee the job only requires 40 hours per week - developers with families, startup aspirations, or other priorities have a tough time finding work in an industry where long hours are the norm. In your job post, underscore that your company works at a sustainable pace, rarely requires fire-fighting, and respects other priorities.

Guarantee a response - even great developers suffer from resume black holes. In your job post, state your timetable for making a hire and say that you'll respond to each response you get (even if it's a "no").

look like a recruitment agency - big job boards, especially Craigslist, Dice, and Monster, are overrun with headhunters who make job seekers jump through hoops to find out which company is hiring (so they can protect their massive fees). In your job title, call attention to your company by stating its name and optionally who posted the job description. A post from a tech lead or a CTO will help give developers confidence that their application will be understood. Example: instead of a job title, "Software Engineer", consider, "Software Engineer at (responses go to CTO)".

Offer to train people in a new language - there are times Java or .Net are the right tools for the job, but there are also a lot of developers who would prefer to be coding in Ruby, Python, Scala, etc. In your job post, say that you are willing to consider all good programmers and help them get up to speed on your tech stack.

Avoid Rock Star, Ninja, Guru, etc - Using these terms in your job post may have communicated a trendy vibe at one point, but those times have passed. Now it communicates a desperate attempt to seem cooler than you really are, a sign that you're too full of yourself, or that you're just naive. For more detail, see What developers think when you say "Rock Star". (Thanks for reminding us of this one drivingmenuts)

Keep in mind, these tips are only for companies that have severe sourcing problems. These tips may produce orders of magnitude more resumes for you to look at (not all of which will be good), but there will definitely be a few good ones in the batch if you're willing to look for them.

About Hirelite

Hirelite is on a mission to put headhunters out of business. We host speed interviewing events using video chat where 20 job seekers talk to 20 companies for 5 minutes each. We have two upcoming events: one focused on SF Bay/Silicon Valley software jobs and one focused on NYC software jobs. If you're interested, check out

5 Practical Tips for Not Looking Like a Resume Black Hole

If you're hiring job seekers who have a hard-to-find skill set (e.g. most software engineers), you may be discouraging the best from applying because you look like a resume black hole, a company that never responds to resumes from job seekers. Additionally, if you actually are a resume black hole, you're probably getting a bad reputation among job seekers. They talk, and once they've spent time updating their resume, crafting a cover letter, and possibly answering a puzzle you asked only to never hear from you, the talk won't be good.

Most job seekers are very familiar with calls for resume submissions. Be it on a job board or on your company's jobs page, they know it's unlikely they'll ever hear anything back. Worse yet, you'll miss both the best passive and active job seekers. You'll miss passive/casual job seekers because they'll be reluctant to exert effort to update their resume and write a cover letter on such an uncertain prospect. You'll miss great active job seekers because they probably have multiple options and they need to be able to count on hearing from you in a timely fashion to compete with their other options.

Here are a few tips to let job seekers know you take them and your hiring process seriously. Some of these tips require fundamental shifts with respect to your hiring and screening process, so they may work better for smaller companies.

1) Explicitly state that you will respond to all candidates within X hours. To decrease the amount of time you spend replying to non-qualified applicants, just say, "We promise we'll let you know whether you'll move further in our process within 48 hours. Otherwise we'll just reply with 'Thank you, but we won't be moving forward with you'." Alternatively, you can offer to send feedback for less than qualified candidates. Either way, you need to give the job seeker some explicit assurance that a person will read their application; otherwise, the job seeker will assume they're at the mercy of some buzzword search tool.

2) Lay out your hiring process and timeline. Example: "After receiving your resume, if you progress through each stage, we'll do a phone screen within 3 days, bring you in for an interview within 10 days, and give you an offer within 15 days. We want to have you working here in just over a month."

3) Request a link to their LinkedIn profile. Let them know that you'll click the link when you start reviewing their application. The job seeker will be able to monitor one of the earliest interactions you have with their application. It will keep you honest about #1 above and will give the job seeker an assurance that they'll be able to see your progress with their application. You need to explicitly ask for a shortened track-able link though. It's often considered rude to include these links in an email to a single party otherwise.

4) Don't just say "we're always looking for..." on your jobs page. When you say this, you convey that your request may not be fresh. If, for example, you really are always open to hiring any great developer who sends you a resume, consider posting a specific job or two and put a field next to the link that says "current as of X," where X might auto update every week.

5) If you stop hiring, take down your job posts. If you don't, you'll lose credibility for future hires. Job seekers will have invested time in sending you a resume, cover letter, and possibly an answer to a puzzle you requested. The word will get around. Make sure you take down posts on job boards and on your own jobs page. If you can't take them down, updated them with a note that the position is filled or no longer available.

At this point, you may be thinking "well, if they don't want to go through the trouble of applying, we don't want them." Think again. The best job seekers have plenty of competition for their skills. If you want a chance at getting them, you have to give a little.

About Hirelite

Hirelite runs web-based "speed interviewing" events to connect software engineers and companies hiring. If you're looking to evaluate the software job market or looking to hire, check out Our next event is on Tuesday, Nov 16 and focused on jobs around NYC.

What developers think when you say "Rock Star"

When you say "rock star" in your job post, you're discouraging the best software developers from contacting you.

When you write, "We're looking for a rock star developer."
A developer sees, "We want to treat a developer like the RIAA treats rock stars."

Using "rock star" in your job post may have communicated a trendy vibe at one point, but those times have passed. Now it communicates a desperate attempt to seem cooler than you really are, a sign that you're too full of yourself, or that you're just naive. 

Naivety worries developers the most. To developers, "rock star" communicates that you're not sure what you want. Or rather, you do know what you want, and what you want is a miracle worker. "Rock star" signals that you haven't thought enough about the role this developer will fill, leaving developers with a feeling that they'll be receiving ill-defined requirements, not enough time, or not enough resources to do their job (in addition to being overworked and underpaid).

Speaking of overworked and underpaid... there's really only one time "rock star" is appropriate: "We want a rock star developer. We know you're rare, and we'll pay you like a rock star." Sadly, this isn't usually the case. Here's how software engineers are paid in relation to rock star software engineers [1, 2].

Now here's how musicians are paid in relation to real rock stars [3, 4].


So next time you're thinking about saying rock star, ninja, guru, etc in your job post, consider it a sign that you have more thinking to do about your hiring requirements. Here are a few questions and trade-offs you should consider answering with your job post:

  • Do you want a specialist or a generalist?
  • If you want extraordinary people, can you compensate them extraordinarily or provide an extraordinary environment? 
  • Do you want a technical person who cares more about the business/market challenges or do you want someone who cares more about the technical challenges? 
  • Do you want someone who prefers quick, practical, "good enough" solutions or do you want someone who prefers to take their time and do things more maintainably or scalably?
  • Do you want a feature developer or a maintainer? 
  • Do you want a risk taker?

Let us know in the comments If you have any more high-level questions you like to have answered before you post a job description.


    About Hirelite

    Hirelite runs "speed interviewing" events over video chat to connect software engineers and companies hiring. If you're looking to evaluate the software job market or looking to hire, check out



    [1] Simply Hired salary estimates for software engineer
    [2] Simply Hired salary estimates for rock star software engineer
    [3] Simply Hired salary estimates for musician
    [4] Average salary for the top 10 best paid music stars. But wait, those are only the top 10 musicians! Yes, exactly. Rockstars are stars because they're scarce, and because they're the best.

    Also, an associated queston on Hacker News a few months back was very helpful. Thanks for all the comments there today also.