Why developers don't answer to your mails

Everyone knows it by now: it's really difficult for many companies to hire tech talent. What's going on?

"65% of developers are open to new opportunities but no one is answering my mails😭"

Being a developer in 2018 means being assaulted by hundreds of emails each month, from people they didn’t know existed. To be clear: these are not nice, interesting emails. It’s mass mails full of GIFs and old-fashioned nerd vocabulary with automatic followup mails if the dev did not answer fast enough.

With a strong problem solving nature, they know how to be left in peace. As a matter of fact, developers use various methods to minimise the likelihood of your promotional email for the “amazing JavaScript opportunity” will ever be read.


But the internet is full of developers ...

While Social networks seem like infinite databases full of developers, they do not really solve the problem. Linkedin’s Inmails have a response rate of 7% when sent to developers. Facebook is too intrusive to be efficient (need to valide a message if not a friend) and Twitter could virtually get you killed by a swarm of developers when spamming them with Direct Messages.


Yes, 65% of developers are open to new opportunities, but still: a direct candidate sales strategy is almost always accompanied by a lot of bounced mails, some insults, and a huge not read/no answer ratio.

And here we have the paradox: while many candidates are open to new opportunities, they still can’t be contacted easily.

How does this make sense? What’s the underlying problem here?

In sociology and social psychology, an in-group is a social group with which a person psychologically identifies as being a member. By contrast, an out-group is a social group with which an individual does not identify.

Sociological theories like Group Position Theory explain that “the larger the size of an out-group, the more the corresponding in-group perceives it to threaten its own interests, resulting in the in-group members having more negative attitudes toward the out-group.”

In our context, developers belong to the in-group, while recruiters belong to the out-group.

Through a common language, GitHub and StackOverFlow succeed to gather millions of developers. The common language is the desire to learn new skills, be more efficient and also a collective assessment of their work.

How do we link that to hiring ?

In order to hire someone, the mutual needs & restrictions need to match. For the employer this translates to tech stack needs, salary budget, contract type, work organisation (like remote), cultural fit with the team and company values and more.

For candidates the important points are more than just keywords. According to numerous surveys by the likes of Hackerrank or StackOverflow, next to an excellent compensation, developers look for opportunities to grow and learn professionally, interesting problems to solve, working in a team of smart people, interesting languages, frameworks, and other technologies to work with.

If we’d add these aspects to either the developer’s in-group or out-group, it would look like this:


Now there are two ways to explain these points to a developer.

Either from the out-group perspective:

“Hi Dev,

I have a nice opportunity for you. The salary range is x - y €.

Our company has great programs to grow and learn new technologies. Many of our developers use some hours per week to further educate themselves.

We are working on this problem and our tech team is trying to solve it by using [CODING LANGUAGE KEYWORDS]. And they also use the agile methodology.

Our tech team is really great, they are working really efficient and they are pretty intelligent.”

Or from the in-group perspective:

“Hi Dev,

My Team and I are currently trying to solve this problem and we need someone with your skills to help us further develop the [TECH JARGON]. We’ve already [TECH JARGON] and [TECH TECH], and now it’s time to [TECH JARGON].

My HR manger let me know that you look for a place to grow and learn. From my own experience I can tell you that we are allowed to allocate some hours per week for self-development. I started to learn Golang this year, so I take 4 hours per week to focus on that.

Oh and by the way, the Tech Team compensation here at company3000 are really nice. For your experience the range usually is x - y €.”

If you were a developer, which message would reply to?

A Peer to Peer approach

If you'd reply to message number 2, you'll agree: a peer to peer approach is much more likely to inspire a candidate. And the reason is simple: when contacted by an in-group member, by nature, we feel more comfortable. Partly because peers speak the same language, make the same jokes and understand our pains.

Following this reasoning, it would make much more sense to start the recruitment process with a technical interview.

When CTOs and Tech Leads are the first touch point, the discussion starts with the inspiring part: what the developer is going to create, how he/she is going to master the challenge, and why he/she will succeed. **In other words, getting the developers attention will be much more likely. **

Start with a technical interview

No middleman. While HR managers drive the recruitment processes (search & selection), it should be CTOs and Tech Leads who contact candidates directly. They should be the first touch point to screened and selected candidates. This way high quality messages are ensured, because candidates can immediately talk about what inspires them: the tech they will work on.

That's why we exist

nexten.io is built to help companies start with a technical interview. Through exhaustive profiles which are focussed on technical aspects (let’s distance ourselves from old-fashioned CVs in IT recruiting) and thorough prescreening processes by our Coaches, HR managers are able to share matching profiles with their responsible technical managers who can immediately engage through an integrated chat.

The Tech Hires Tech approach helps our clients to reduce their recruitment cycles from 6 to 2 weeks.


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