How to write a job ad

October 20, 2021

I’m chatting with a friend right now who is trying to hire a junior developer. He sent me the Upwork post he is using and it’s terrible. I won’t post his ad copy here, but you can just browse Upwork and find plenty of ads that follow the same lines:

We’re building a web-based SaaS and our lead developer is looking for some extra support.

The back-end of our service is built with BUZZWORD, BUZZWORD and BUZZWORD. The UI is built entirely with OMG WHY?. We need someone comfortable with WORD SALAD I CAN’T EVEN READ IT who can be assigned tasks such as BORING, BARF, UNINTELLIGIBLE TECHNO SPEAK, JERKING OFF THE SENIOR DEV to be more BUZZWORD and thoroughly documenting your work.

We use SOME TOOL YOUR SUPPOSED TO KNOW BUT DON’T REALLY UNDERSTAND for something developers are supposed to do and SOME CORPORATE APP YOU’VE NEVER HEARD for BOSSING YOU AROUND. Currently we have such and such to do with so many hours of work, but if you’re a good boy we will consider giving you full-time hours, leading up to our launch date a few months from now, at which point you’ll be wondering what to do when you have one full-time client and now they don’t need you anymore.

If I’m a programmer browsing job ads, I immediately “next” this ad. Even if it were 15 years ago when I was a junior developer and anxious to take any jobs I could get to gain experience. Here is the job ad I sent back to my friend:

We’re looking for a junior LANGUAGE developer who can learn from and support our senior engineer.

If you are comfortable with LANGUAGE and familiar with BUZZWORD, then this job is an opportunity to level-up your skills under the guidance of an experienced lead developer.

Your job will be to support our lead dev by handling tasks like BORING. You will also have the opportunity to refactor existing code, working with our lead dev to better understand how to produce clean code and solid documentation.

Our app is built with BUZZWORD, BUZZWORD AND BUZZWORD and deployed with BUZZWORD. We use SOME TOOL YOUR SUPPOSED TO KNOW BUT DON’T REALLY UNDERSTAND for for something developers are supposed to do and SOME CORPORATE APP YOU’VE NEVER HEARD for BOSSING YOU AROUND. You don’t need to be an expert with these tools, but show up ready to learn!

The original post tells me what they want, but as a developer I don’t really care what they want, everyone wants the same thing, they want to hire a developer. What I care about is what’s in it for me — interesting new technologies, learning from more experienced programmers… that’s enough to apply, later I’ll find out about the team culture, the availability of work and the rate

You have to attract programmers who aren’t just looking for any job that will pay them, if all they care about is how many hours you have and how much you pay, they probably aren’t good and they probably won’t give you their best work even if they are.