Pseudo-Code Job Adverts

if(you == "Developer") {

Are you familiar with those job ads targeted at developers that are partly written in (bad) pseudo-code?

I previously covered one ad written entirely in C# (but the original ad has now been taken down, so the content isn’t much use). Just over the weekend I witnessed two ads – on Twitter, of all places – advertising with code. Both were looking for Android developers, but the ways in which they erred differed slightly:

The first used underscore_separated_variable_names to convey a message much like the one I put as an example in the beginning of the post. The problem? Android apps are written in Java, a language with a convention for camelCasedVariableNames.

The second didn’t use pseudo-code in the ad itself, but rather contained some code as a backdrop. Again, this code (as pointed out by another tweeter) wasn’t Java, but Objective-C, commonly used for iOS apps.

A professional developer would not look at these ads and think “well that sure looks codey, I better send an application because what I do is code codey stuff with codes.” A professional developer – the kind that you should want to employ – reads and speaks about code a lot. A professional developer will quickly recognize patterns and syntax of code, and use this to distinguish between languages. A professional developer knows at least a couple of different languages, and is most likely (at the time of writing) familiar with the look of Java, C, Javascript, and the difference between these.

A professional developer will think: “That code is wrong. Why would they try to hire people by posting bad code?”

These ads clearly weren’t written by professional developers. (At least that is the message they send.) A professional would have recognized the mistakes and corrected them. Strike that. A professional would not try to get developers hooked with pseudo-code. It is a childish kind of advertising that attracts all the wrong people with all the wrong traits.

The ads are designed to look codey to the untrained eye. But you aren’t looking for untrained eyes, you are looking for professional software developers.

It is likely that these ads are the result of a disconnect within the organization: if the people who know what is needed are not the same people writing the job ads, the job ads will very likely be wrong. In addition, if the developers of an organization know that they need new colleagues, letting non-developers (like a HR or marketing department) write the ads will likely result in something like what I have described here. It is an expression of how the author of the ad sees developers, and that image is apparently very skewed.

Let developers write job ads for new developers – or at least let them have a say when it comes to the final form of the ad. Developers will know what appeals to developers.


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