.Net Development Recruitment in UK
As a Senior .Net Developer, I’ve never found it particularly difficult to find a really good role. Admittedly, the signal-to-noise ratio is astonishingly poor, but the market seems saturated with companies looking for good developers. This was not always the case; as a junior and inexperienced developer it was quite the opposite, having to settle for the best opportunity of the bunch. Clear indication of just how many bad, inexperienced, and junior developers are out there. Having recently revisted the recruitment market, I thought it might be of interest - recruiters, clients, and candidates alike - to share my perspective, and perhaps make some suggestions.
I don’t envy you. Trying to milk blood from stone dealing with introvert developers, or putting up with the loud-mouth extroverts such as myself… Chasing candiates, chasing clients, trying to keep up with the waterfall of changes despite often working with people reluctant to communicate back. You guys do an incredibly difficult job, in an incredibly competitive market. I fully respect what you’re doing, and to some extent sympathise. I know your job is something I could not manage for even 10 minutes, but I hope you find it rewarding.
Despite the somewhat aggressive and blunt tone throughout this article (one of my greatest
traits flaws), I do feel there are suggestions and knowledge here that at the very least will help you when dealing with candidates.
We all hate spam. It is widely reported that spam mail takes up huge portions of overall internet bandwidth, and subsequently your inbox. This is despite the numerous filter technologies that ensure these emails are removed from the internet at the earliest opportunity.
There are some laws in the UK/EU that try to assist in countering this type of marketing, but spam is unavoidable. So the first thing I recommend to candidates, is create a burner e-mail. Personally I take this a step further and create unique e-mails when signing up to job boards so I can monitor and report on how my details are being propagated. But if nothing else, don’t use your personal e-mail. Use an account you can simply never sign in to again once you have a role.
Recruiters, I can’t speak for all potential candidates, but consider the following:
- If you get my name wrong in an email (I love when I get
Dear <#$Candidate.FullName>and similar because my supposedly IT literate recruiter can’t work a mail merge), I will not deal with your company.
- If you send me rediculous roles because your immature bot/matching algorithm spotted
SQLon my CV and you have
SQL Developerroles, I will not deal with your company.
- If you do not state the location and salary clearly towards the top of the email, I will not reply.
- If you do not provide any information regarding the role, simply a statement asking me to call you, I will not.
- If you send me a registration form asking me to re-write details on my CV, I will not.
They’re probably my biggest gripes regarding spam, but note that on the first two points that I don’t hold anyone personally responsible. Instead I take your email as a reflection of your company’s practices and blacklist the domain.
I know this can be one of the greatest frustrations for everyone involved. Amusingly, I managed to brick my phone just before my most recent foray on the recruitment market, and today cleared the 42 near-pointless voicemails from my phone. This may be a personal preference not shared by others, but here’s the most effective way to communicate with me:
- Email me details about a great matching role
- I’ll reply with a phone number and best time to call so we can discuss in more detail
That’s it. Nothing complicated. I know phone calls are more personal, I know some people will prefer that method of communication. I, and many others, do not. Pass our spam filters, and we’ll go from there. If you drop me a voice mail and no e-mail, you’ll never hear from me because I just delete them, but maybe that’s just me?
For candidates, although I was legitimately without phone for this round of job hunting, I highly recommend keeping your phone number a closely guarded secret for as long as possible. Recruiters are very well versed on sales techniques, neural and sociological programming, and every other trick in the book. They can be a sly bunch; do you want the job that best fits you, or the job that was best sold to you?
Quality vs Quantity
This is my greatest gripe of all when it comes to recruitment. It covers all previous categories and more, but spamming us with jobs that are different languages, plain wrong, massively over or under my salary expectations, or completely disparate to my location requirements… that’s a minute of my life I can’t get back. I will reward the few (such as with the details of one particularly excellent recruiter at the bottom of this article), and punish the many. I am stubborn, and I encourage all candidates to do the same to drive up quality.
I will happily and without remorse, decline the best job opportunity in the world, if the recruiter for said role has annoyed me.
Recruiters have to understand, it is so easy for a good developer to get a good job. I can easily find a role within a week, let alone my notice period.
Having been responsible for reviewing and interviewing candidates in the past, it seems appropriate to address the less fortuitous amoung us whom have inadvertently and unintentionally lumbered themselves with a stagnant company over the past several years, and are subsequently struggling on the job market.
I’ve written before about my thoughts on Senior Developers, but I’ll re-emphasise some of those points here.
Technology moves fast, and there’s a good chance you have a lot of catching up to do. Yes, you may find yet another stale employer nurturing dead technologies and death defying products, but you’d be committing yourself to a dead end and making it increasingly difficult to climb out from the pit you’ve fallen into. Don’t give in. Don’t dig yourself deeper.
There are two key technologies I advise to all current developers. For those more comfortable in the front-end, you really need to get a grasp for AngularJs. I don’t mean, you’ve heard of it, but actually used and understand it. If you can’t learn that as part of your current role, do so in your own time! I consider myself versant with a good portion of technologies, but still spend hours of my own time almost every day learning more. I consider it part and parcel of my career choice, and manage to balance social and family life around that (though can almost hear my better-half laughing at that statement).
The second stack is Azure. There is a comprehensive suite of technologies surrounding Azure, far too many for most people to keep up with. So I would say focus on web apps, cloud services, and any one of their storage products. No, you won’t have a great understanding of all the little pieces a system architecture might involve, but what sounds better in an interview:
I’ve heard of Azure and Angular but haven’t used them
I didn’t get a chance to work with Angular and Azure in my previous role, but I’ve created a couple open source web apps on github that are tied into cloud services, with angular front-ends. Nothing fancy, just an attempt to stay current.
I know which would better interest me as an interviewer.
Of all the recruiters I’ve spoken with (or more accurately, ignored), I highly recommend Harry Porter over at Computer Futures whom ticked all of the above boxes, and went out of his way to find really great matches for me, as an individual. Although I’m sure Harry had many roles for which my expertise and skillset would easily fulfill, he spent time on the phone with me during a role discussion to get to know me, and better understand the culture, challenges, and company that would best suit and drive me. That is simply something you can’t achieve with these silly registration forms, and I thank him for it.