Why The Best Software Engineers Aren’t Applying To Your Job Postings

Tips to Boost Hiring Success in Software

With high-average salaries, low unemployment, and a high forecast for growth of job opportunities, hiring for software engineers is tough. Yet we know that for the right opportunity (and it’s not always about the money), the most talented people in software development will move. So why aren’t your job postings attracting that talent?

“It’s just too hard to recruit software engineers!”

It’s a tight market, but is this an excuse for not attracting talented candidates with your job postings? How tight is the market right now? These statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics give you some idea:

  • The median salary of software developers in the United States is $105,590
    (This number is 50-65% higher in cities like San Francisco and New York)
  • The job outlook is for 21% growth between 2018 and 2028 – that’s way faster than the average
  • By 2028, it is expected that 284,100 new software engineer jobs will have been created in the United States
  • The unemployment rate among software developers is just 1.6%

Underpinning these forecasts, the Hired 2019 State of Software Engineers Report found that:

  • Demand for blockchain engineers grew by 517% in 2018
  • Demand for security engineers grew by 132% in 2018

If your job posting isn’t attracting the right candidates, then it could be that you are not being specific enough. For example, Thomas Eaves, Senior Software Engineer at a previously Fortune 100 Fastest Growing Company, says:
“With respect to culture, don’t list generics about your company’s benefits; everybody thinks their company’s benefits are ‘competitive’. Are you offering four weeks of vacation, eleven paid holidays, twelve weeks of gender-indiscriminate parental leave? If ‘no’, then you are probably listing your benefits as ‘competitive’ rather than specifics. If you can’t take the time upfront to tell me what your company is offering, then what are you actually trying to hide?”

You Aren’t Being Specific Enough

Non-specific job offers tend to turn candidates off. In fact, Thomas Eaves says that that “the more specifics, the better”. You had better make sure you discuss the post thoroughly. Eaves says: “I can tell you that we all love specifics. The more specifics, the better. We all aren’t looking for that six-figure salary. A lot of us are looking to work in a company that gives us the opportunity to express our creativity… many of my network have taken over 30% pay cuts to take jobs at companies that offered the opportunity to work in an environment where they were challenged to expand their engineering methodologies. Give us the opportunity to ask the questions that matter and the opportunity to not waste your time. Post salary ranges.”

Bishr Tabbaa, Software Engineering Manager says: “We have been unsatisfied with candidates that have come from company job postings, whether on LinkedIn, Indeed, or the corporate website.” He goes on to explain: “Successful job postings include a discussion of the skills, responsibilities, and especially business impact of the role, as well as our company values.”

Job Postings Are Rarely Successful When Hiring for Software Engineers

It may be that you are simply hiring in the wrong place. As Joseph Gordon, Senior Executive Recruiter here at Kofi Group says: “The best software talent doesn’t need to look for jobs. They are being actively recruited, ALWAYS. Candidates who apply to job postings or the ones on job boards have a lower perceived value with regards to overall talent. “However, most are passively looking around. Meaning that they are happy where they are and are not applying to positions. It’s our job as recruiters to plant the seeds of ‘what else’ in them and present new tempting positions that better their current situation.”

This is a view echoed by Bishr, who makes some ‘rough paper napkin estimates’ and says: “The most effective candidate sourcing methods have been external agencies (80%), direct referrals (15%), and job postings (5%).”
Poor job postings lead to a hiring strategy that is like throwing spaghetti at the wall. Indeed, Bishr estimates that only one in 100 candidates from job postings becomes an employee.

So, Can You Do Away with Job Postings?

If job postings have such a low success rate, should you eliminate them from your hiring strategy? We think not. Instead, focus on writing the most specific job post you can. Think about the experience and skills you need, and make sure that you include all the benefits of the job – including the potential it offers for the candidate to grow professionally.

When you discuss the role with an external recruiter, be sure to include all these details in your conversation. Then the recruiter can conduct a fully informed search for the right candidate.

Work with Specialist Recruiters Who Know How to Recruit

The best talent from the pool of passive candidates is approached regularly – some as many as several times a day. Talented candidates don’t respond to all approaches they receive. Successful recruiters make certain they understand the role for which they are recruiting. They then invest time in researching potential candidates and only reach out to those who are best fit for the role.

Returning to Thomas Eaves once more, who tells us: “Recruiters get a bad rap because of the market inundation with recruiters who aren’t taking the extra two minutes to actually look at a LinkedIn profile, personalize their messages, or take a few of any other of the plethora of extra steps… “When I am actively looking for positions, via LinkedIn alone, I receive upwards of five requests to speak to a Hiring Manager a day.

“What makes a recruiter different is his or her ability to stand out from that flood: my name in the message; a direct nod to my experience; listing concrete information about a specific position (salary ranges; tech stack; company; responsibilities), etc.”

This view resonates with how Joseph Gordon and the team at Kofi work. We’ll let him have the last word: “If hiring managers want to gain an edge in the battle for top talent, they need to work with specialized recruiters who understand how to recruit passive engineering talent.”

That understanding starts with knowing what your job posting should be saying – and that’s where we start. To learn more about how we source the best software talent for startups and others, get in touch with Kofi Group today.