I recently read a post by one of my favorite technical bloggers, Erik Dietrich. In the post, titled “My Candidate Description,” Erik presents a solution to the large number of calls that he gets due to the nature of his expertise. The solution is simple and I have found it to be extremely helpful in dealing with the multitude of calls I get from recruiters as an experienced software engineer.
The idea is to assemble a list of skills that would be offered to a prospective employer along with a list of must haves, and nice to haves which can then be presented to a recruiter at the first contact. These items make it very clear to the recruiter and prospective employers what you expect and what shenanigans you refuse to endure. His approach is more of a shotgun approach while mine has been mostly targeted toward those recruiters that I want to work with, although if the shotgun approach is effective I would be very willing to try it.
The following is a letter that I wrote to a recruiter around the middle of January of 2015. At the time I had been exhausted by a series of interview with companies that I would happily steer anyone away from. If you would like to know which these are I am happy to do so off-line in a less public space. It amazed me how effective it was for me to take the time to put into words what my expectations were as a candidate. This letter produced 3 interviews for companies that I actually was excited to possibly work for and 3 offers. I hope you enjoy the letter and consider taking the time to compile your own candidate description.
Throughout the past year I have encountered a great deal of frustration with job searching and interviewing. I provide the following explanation in order to help you understand my position as it pertains to job searching at the current time. My frustration may come through, but I assure you that you are not the cause of my frustration.
Since our first meeting I have dealt with a long list of companies seeking Software Developers. Some of them have stated that they wanted individuals with much more experience than me and some of them have stated that they want individuals with less experience than me. Some of them have stated that they wanted web developers, and some of them have stated that they wanted desktop developers. In every instance they have actually wanted the exact opposite of what the job description says. Those who wanted someone with more experience than me actually wanted someone with more experience, but to pay them less than I am currently making. Those who wanted someone with my exact experience or less, actually wanted someone with much more experience than I had, as was the case with [Redacted Employer 1]. Those who stated that they wanted a web developer let me proceed through the entire interview, with me selling my web talents the whole time, before telling me they really wanted a desktop developer, which is what I have the most experience with. Those who said they wanted a desktop developer want me to have more experience with web development.
Maybe I have become disillusioned by this whole process, but it seems to me that is always a waste of my time because those who are seeking software developers are not sure what they really want, which is a programmer that has X years of experience with X technology and when they are done with X technology they are done with that programmer.
I don’t want to waste your clients’ time any more than I want them to waste my time; therefore, here are my honest opinions about the [Redacted Employer 2] position and any other position that I may apply for. If they are willing to consider me and my experience at the level that it currently stands, I am willing to pursue the opportunity. If they are willing to consider me as a software developer, which means that I develop solutions to problems with whatever technology specified by my employer, and not someone who just knows how to write X type of code, then I am willing to pursue the opportunity. If they are willing to consider my intelligence as an asset instead of only considering my experience, then I am willing to consider the opportunity. I want to work for a company that adds value to me as much as I add value to the company. If, however, they want someone to come in and crank out X type of code for 12 hours a day without fostering any type of learning environment, support, or consideration for the fact that I do other things in my life than create software, I am not interested in that position.
That all being said, I will never work for [Redacted Employer 3] or any other software development team that operates like [Redacted Employer 3]’s development team. Also, I am happy and comfortable working at [Redacted Former Employer] for the time being, so if the opportunity is not like the one I described above, I am not interested in it. The problem with that is that all I ever get to try and make that determination is a job description and regularly my time is wasted with 2-3 phone screens, interviews, and assessments before I get to know what I really want to know about a position, and that is what the rest of the team is like. When it comes down to it, the only thing that matters is if I would fit in on the team because I can program in any language they want me to. Learning the language is the easy part.
Thank you for your time,