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Want to hire good employees and keep them? Start by telling the truth!

Start-ups and small businesses can't seem to find and keep good programmers and developers. It's because they aren't truthful to themselves or potential job candidates when looking. Truth in advertising will always get you the best results. Doing anything else simply does not work for long term investment in personnel. Your conference room and work areas will turn into revolving doors.

Testing is not the truth. There is a good reason Google has dropped puzzle interviews and quizzing applicants. It does not work. Keeping secrets is also not telling the truth up front. Hiding behind a recruiting agency is only going to get you frustrated. Large companies never hide who they are or the fact that they are hiring why should you? They embrace the excuse to get their name out there and you should too.

If you need the help of a recruiting agency then use just one.  Pick one, tell them what you do and what you need and stick to it. Tell them that your company name has to be on each and every piece of information about the position.  Give them exclusivity. All referrals and applicants have to go through them.  Do not allow them to convince you into writing unrealistic requirements  into your announcements and most of all don't do them yourself.

Your announcement should be first written by a solutions architect, engineer or lead developer if you are a small company. There is a reason that most get hired through internal referrals. It's because employees know what the job requires. They know what the person they will be working with should know and so they find friends, relatives and acquaintances that  fulfill those requirements. Let them put on paper what they have in their heads when they network.  This gets them more involved and happier about taking on the responsibility of training new personnel. They also will do this because they believe they work for a good company and are willing to testify to that by bringing aboard others.

Testimonials from employees are something that is missing in all job announcements. Testimonials are part of telling the truth. If you can't trust your employees to give shining testimonials then you are not being truthful about your company or the job.

Try and avoid catch phrases,  mentioning trends that don't apply or anything that can be interpreted as not being knowledgeable about real world experience, education and training.

How do good and experienced candidates interpret job announcements?

Some of the things I am about to write next might sound strange and harsh but in todays job market this is how good potential employees read between the lines of your announcement. The list is the reason so many get frustrated and angry after being hired. They are the reason that contractors and consultants just disappear and you can't get qualified candidates to the first interview. They are found in examples of badly formed job announcements.

  • Primary Responsibilities:
    This is what we have and it's sometimes boring work. So we wrote the rest of this announcement to make it more exciting. We should have ended the announcement with this but we are desperate.
  • Senior:
    We have problems using software that no one understands and you will be expected to fix them right away without excuse. You will be expected to work without breaking anything we did incorrectly from the beginning.
  • Junior:
    People keep quitting or we let them go because although they were competent they did not want to work for free. ie. overtime everyday without pay.
  • Self-starter:
    We don't write requirements and have no idea where in our organization this should be done.
  • n(th) Experience in n(th) technologies:
    We are a Start-up and cannot  pay you what you are actually worth.
  • Use of the work "like" "alike" and commas:
    We don't actually use any of the technologies listed and we have not done any research. But one of them should fix our hot steaming pile of spaghetti code and architecture.

This is a short list. There are probably more. Just take a look at some of the comments that will come from me writing about this subject.

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