The one with the recruiting gimmicks

I’ve been receiving an increasing number of work opportunities over the past twelve months. I always try to reply, even if I know a message was sent through a script scraping Github or Linkedin for developers’ profile.

But let’s face it, whether the people reaching out are from HR or CTOs, their messages sometimes feel odd. I’ve compiled a list of gimmicks, ranging from awkward to plain rude, that I’ve encountered lately.

I’ll try to be as factual as possible. This is an ongoing list.

The one with the young team.

The average age is 27. We’re a vibrant, young and playful team.

I’m 36. And I’m still vibrant and playful, thank you very much. At the same time, I have a second full time job that awaits me in the evening (kids).

I can’t go and have drinks in the evenings (usually). I can’t work full time while homeschooling the kids during a pandemic. I’d rather not come to that week-end long team retreat because, well, I’m needed elsewhere.

In my experience, it’s sometimes hard to fit in a team where people haven’t experienced being responsible for other human beings. Priorities are just different.

Let’s also add that in real life, “a vibrant, playful and playful team”, usually means willing to hustle their ass off, unwilling to negotiate a proper compensation package, recruited without any kind of diversity in mind, etc…

The one with the radar.

Someone over at Forest Admin asked me if I’d like to join their team as a fullstack developer. I explained that “Sure, I’d love to” but pointed out that I’d never used a JS framework in production. Would this is be a no-go for them? They wrote back “No probs, we’ll help you level up. Let’s hop on a call.” So I did.

Once on the phone, they asked me about my expertise with JS frameworks. So, I explained (again) to them that I knew the basics of React and Vue, but that I had no experience running JS frameworks in production. Their answer just blew my mind:

“Well, you could practise a bit for a few months and get back to us? You’re on our radar.”

Who does this? Who blatantly ignores key information delivered to them, to waste people an hour of their time? Companies usually forget that candidates talk to their peers. Definitely not the way to go to keep you on my radar.

The one with canned emails.

You wouldn’t believe the number of canned emails I reply to (because, well, I’m polite) only to receive the same canned emails a few days later.

The one with React.

Our app is build with React for the front-end.

Like 90% of apps built by startups these last two years (by the number of mentions I’ve got so far).

So React. Okay, but why? Do you have a lot of components that need instant refreshing? Why not picking up Vue instead? Why not using some good ol’ Vanilla JS or Turbolinks? Give me some food for thoughts.

React is to modern applications what Ikea is to startups offices furniture.

The one with the VCs.

We recently raised $#{amount} from top investors.

I’ve survived been through several raising funds. And I know by experience this is the moment shit starts hitting the fan.

So tell me why did you take that money? Were you profitable and needed a confortable runaway? Which investors did come on board (so I can do my homework)? What was your founders dilution?

Why will I ask you this? Because whatever lack of organisational structure your company was compensating with swagger before raising money will just blow out of the sky.

With big money comes big political meddlings, endless pressure to meet this quarter’s metrics, and way too much meetings. So unless you had very good reasons (as in “I agree with these reasons.”) thanks, but no thanks.

Closing thoughts

Recruiting is hard. Writing good cold emails is hard. I know, I’ve been there. It’ll probably change in a decade or something. But right now, the interview process defines every candidate’s impression of how your company operates. And candidates talk with their peers. They talk when they meet up, when they hang out in private communities (Discord, Slack, Telegram, you name it).

Some thoughts on how to make your recruiting just a little better:

When developers engage in a recruitment process, they’re recruiting you as much as you’re recruiting them. Would you content with canned responses that miss the mark? I didn’t think so.

[last update: Nov 18, 2020]