Do You Want a Programmer or a Pizza?


I teach programming classes for a living. The school has a Slack account and one of the things we use it for is to post relevant job openings.

These postings come from the hiring companies and most of them unfortunately simply consist of a copy of the job description: Responsibilities, Requirements, Technical Skills. Bullet points. Trying to hire programmers like ordering a pizza.

When I was a hiring manager, HR would try to run job postings like that. The problem was that I wanted to hire good programmers and good programmers have a lot of options regarding where they work. So just as a candidate needs to sell themselves to a company, a company needs to sell itself to candidates. One way of doing this is through job postings. So I rewrote the job postings to make them more enticing.

To give you an example of what I mean, here’s a short excerpt from an Irvine Public Schools Foundation (IPSF) job posting:

Three years from now, we will look back and you will be a key hero who led us to new heights. At IPSF, you will have a blast coming to work every day and you will be respected and valued for your contribution to our community. We are looking for the top person and have allocated the resources necessary to recruit him or her.

You will be a key hero, respected by your community. They want the best person and they have the resources to make it happen.

Now here’s a short excerpt from our most recent Slack job posting:

PHYSICAL DEMANDS: While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to use hands to finger, handle, or feel objects, tools, or controls; reach with hands and arms; and talk or hear. The employee frequently is required to walk and sit.

You see the difference, right?

There’s not one person in the world who, if asked what they’re looking for in their dream job, would say “I’m looking for a job where I can regularly use my hands to finger, handle, or feel objects, tools, or controls. And I would really love to have frequent opportunities to walk and sit.”

Also when you see this kind of mumbo-jumbo, it tips you off that anything you try to do will be stymied by a series of compliance hurdles.

If you’re looking for a new job, I can’t tell you how selective to be about job postings. Lots of factors are involved. But if a company makes no effort to sell itself or the job offered, and treats you like a commodity before they hire you, be assured they will treat you like a commodity after they hire you.

Thus spoke The Programmer.

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