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Writing a great employment ad

Let's say you were writing a classified ad with the goal of finding talented software developers for a small software company.  How would you write your ad to attract the best, while discouraging the rest? 

Lee
Thursday, April 22, 2004

Does anybody use classified ads anymore?!

Ron
Thursday, April 22, 2004

What kind of software will your potential programmers be writing?


Thursday, April 22, 2004

Usually (very) small companies follow this formula:

Small but growing company looking for talented individual in [INSERT DB], [INSERT MIDDLEWARE], [INSERT PRESENTATION LAYER] also [INSERT OPTION 1] exp a plus. Email resume to [INSERT FIRST_NAME]@hotmail.com

Anon-y-mous Cow-ard
Thursday, April 22, 2004

I can't stress this first point enough:  pay for as many words as you need to write in a human voice (rather than simply a laundry list of technologies).  Avoid rhyming catchphrases like "attract the best, while discouraging the rest."  (I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and pretend you didn't do that on purpose.  ;> )

Be absolutely clear that this is a small company:  some people like the perceived stability of megacorps; some of us prefer more personal places where we can wear lots of hats.  Someone in the wrong kind of environment won't stick around, no matter how good a programmer they are.

And accept the fact that in this job market, the flood of resumes in response to *any* ad will break the back of your mail carrier.  Be ready to sort through them to find the 2-3 worth calling.

But will a classified ad find the people you want?  Depending on the resources available in your area, try using craigslist and looking for local programming language user groups.  You may be able to find better people by networking than you would by a public ad.

Sam Livingston-Gray
Thursday, April 22, 2004

I've wondered whether putting something cryptic that --- only hard-core tech-heads would understand --- might filter out the non-conforming folks and leave you with some good candidates.

Kind of a Google Ad serving program, only offline.  For instance, I was searching for "swish++" and got a Google employment ad.

So... how about something like this (modify to fit technologies you're interested in):

"AES, Blowfish, GRE tunnels, multi-factor, PGP SDK, IPtables/NetFilter, ... if you're savvy, email us a CV at mailto:dir-at-badblue.com."

Whatcha think?



p.s., uhmmm, not to be a shill, but do email me a CV if you're savvy in those areas and a great C/C++ Win32/Linux developer to boot!

dir at badblue com
Thursday, April 22, 2004

Must be willing to Drink Gas and Eat Glass (tm)

--
ee

eclectic_echidna
Friday, April 23, 2004

I can tell you the sort of phrases not to use:

Describing the place as a "challenging environment". I don't want a challenging environment. I want a supportive environment.

"Energetic" -- I'm a software engineer. The last time I was energetic was in school. That says "badly managed" to me.

That sort of thing,

Katie Lucas
Friday, April 23, 2004

Write your ad in Klingon.
All real programmers speak Klingon. Right?

Seriously though, there is no great employment ad.

Read books like "How to win friends and influence people" and  "What colour is your parachute"

Use those strategies to get the man, woman or child you think is right for the job.

In short, ask not what they can do for you, but tell what you can do for them.

Tapiwa
Friday, April 23, 2004

Post your ad in rot-13, anyone that replies will at least have minor problem solving skills.

Andrew Hurst
Friday, April 23, 2004

a week later, but I just came across this job ad:

http://jobs.boston.com/texis/jobsearch/details.html?id=407c42a149d250

Personally, just by asking for the cover letter that they did, they'd go to the top of my list.  It's a good blend of what you know, how you express yourself, and personality, and i would look forward to getting to know a company that not only cares about all three, but also managed to find an original and interesting way to determine if their applicants match their expectations.

susan
Friday, April 30, 2004

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