Want Better Dev Hires? Post Better Job Descriptions For Developers

Joseph-Albert Kuuire
By Joseph-Albert Kuuire 7 Min Read

“I’m looking for a developer for a job/project. If anyone is interested, please let me know…”

Developers are in demand these days. As more things go digital, you would be caught dead if you didn’t have a good website or a mobile app to promote your business or outlet.

But there appears to be a disconnect with how people request for developer work. The above quote is just an example of what people ask when they need work done on a website or a mobile application. Unfortunately, most requests like that are vague and don’t really help prospective developers know what they are in for.

Edem Kumodzi, a senior consultant at Andela, wrote this piece a couple of years back on what’s wrong with the current state of developer job listings and cites some examples on how to write better job description for developers.

Developer Job Listings Are Written By Non-Technical Recruiters

Edem makes a good argument about current developer job listings being written by Non-Technical recruiters.

He cites an example of some HR departments would just copy what other companies do. For example, note the following:

5 Years of Experience programming with Swift

Swift was released in 2014. At the time of his post (2016), no one would have had 5 years experience with the Swift programming language in 2016. So basically, you would probably not get a lot of hires if you posted this job requirement. This might actually show that you don’t know what you’re looking for and developers would probably not waste their time applying to work with you.

Developer Job Listings Are Full of Contradictory Skill-sets

Edem cites another example of a company looking to hire a front-end engineer but putting in a job requirement of proficiency in Ruby On Rails and Microsoft SQL Server.

The problem with this?

Edem states that Rails apps are commonly hosted on Linux Boxes and to run Microsoft SQL Server, you need Windows.

So basically, why would a front-end engineer need to be proficient in a skillset mean for back-end engineers?

What would the development environment with such a stack look like? Then why must a front-end engineer be proficient in technologies that are meant for back-end engineers?

Developer Job Listings Don’t Disclose Any Salary Information

This is a major pain point for prospective developers looking for jobs or gigs: Why don’t companies disclose salary information?

Edem asked some recruiters and the typical responses were as follows:

  • “We don’t want to hire developers who are motivated by money”
  • “Though our salaries are competitive, we don’t want our competitors to know how much we are paying our developers”.

The problem developers have with this is that it makes it hard to figure out if the job would be worthwhile income wise.

If a developer is applying for a job with your company with no information on salary information, they’re basically in the dark. The whole process of a developer going through the whole process of applying, interviewing and receiving an offer that doesn’t work in his/her favor doesn’t help matters.

Developers these days won’t bother to apply for a gig if they don’t have any basic idea on salary or income.

How Do We Solve This?

In his post, Edem cited some solutions on how to fix this:


Review Your Listing before posting it: If you are a non-technical recruiter, learn everything you can about the technology stack that your company uses and understand the roles of each existing member of the team. When you are done writing, have it reviewed by one of the members of the tech team. If this is your first hire, you ask someone in a local tech community to review it for you.

Avoid useless jargons: The tech landscape is full of tools and frameworks. Some are used heavily, others sparingly. But most of them are built around some fundamental concepts that haven’t changed over time. So don’t expect your perfect candidate to know every single tool out there. What you should rather focus on is whether they are familiar with the fundamental concept that your desired tool uses.

For e.g. You may be looking to hire a Ruby on Rails engineer.But if you find a candidate with ASP MVC experience and knows a bit of Ruby or Python, they will do just fine because Ruby on Rails and ASP MVC are both MVC frameworks and the syntax of Ruby and Python are very similar.

So instead of saying “Proficient with Ruby on Rails” you could say something like “Familiar with MVC architecture but experience with Ruby on Rails is desired”.

Another technique you can use to avoid jargons after writing your job requirements is to ask yourself this question: “If I could pick only 3 skills I want to hire for, what would they be?” This will force you to prioritize the most important skills you would want your ideal candidate to have. Everything else can be learned on the job.

Include Salary Information: Things like “competitive salary” don’t mean much. If you cannot put down a number, put a range. You will be saving yourself a lot of time on the long run. Also the reason why it’s important is because how much you can afford to pay a developer can also determine what role you should be hiring for. Maybe you think you need a senior developer but you can only afford to pay 500 USD per month. After evaluating the requirements and reviewing with a technical person, you may realize that you don’t, in fact, need a senior developer but an entry-level developer can handle what you require.

Joseph-Albert Kuuire is the creator, editor, and journalist at Tech Labari. Email: joseph@techlabari.com Twitter: @jakuuire
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