Dear Pittsburgh startups looking for developers


Today is at least the fourth or fifth time in the last few months I have felt the need to send a reply to someone associated with a startup in Pittsburgh. I figured that was frequently enough that it was time to write a blog post, so I could start pointing people to that.

Dear Pittsburgh Startup,

I am glad to hear you are looking for developers to help with building product XYZ. I appreciate you reaching out to me/a group I organize/a mailing list I’m on/etc. for help.

Unfortunately, your email did not include useful information to help me determine what you are looking for or what you have to offer to a potential candidate. I was also unable to find this information when looking at your company’s website or searching for information about your company. It would be helpful if you provided the following information: what skill level you are looking for, the technologies you use, the elevator pitch for your business/product, employee benefits, and why someone should want to work for you. If you cannot pay much and are hoping to compensate employees via equity, you especially need to do a good job of explaining your business proposition.

One other note is that I have never heard of you or your company. You might have better luck finding talent if you were more actively involved in the local tech community. Good luck with your search!


- Julie

The above is a rough approximation of the email I usually send in response to these requests. It is my best attempt to be polite and somewhat helpful. I do have some slightly harsher, but perhaps equally helpful, thoughts on this.

In the current market, businesses are competing over good technical talent. You often need to sell the developers on talking to you, not the other way around. When you send a recruitment email with the bare minimum of information (particularly if you are the CEO, CTO, or some other high-ranking employee at your company), it reflects poorly on both you and your business. Imagine your reaction if you received an email from a prospective employee that read “Give me a job!” instead of a thoughtful explanation of why they would be a valuable addition to your team.

I want the Pittsburgh tech community to thrive. I want to see startups succeed here. When you are just starting out (and arguably even if you aren’t), finding smart and dedicated individuals for your team can be critical. Put a little more effort into it. Try a little harder. I know you have it in you.