Mastering Tech Candidate Communication: Lessons from My Mistakes

Magnus HR
4 min readJun 4, 2020

What’s the most important skill for a tech recruiter? Communication, of course! Here we tell about one of our recruiters — Ashkhen Hovhannisyan’s experiences on how she failed a couple of times but managed to “get up” and on how you can do so, too!

Tech people are forgiving but there are a few things they won’t forgive you ever (or most of the time). For example, not knowing an engineer’s tech stack before reaching out to them can break the whole thing and can make them run away from you as far away as they can.

But if you are lucky enough, you will meet nice guys too. They will, most probably, point out your mistake to you and will be kind enough to provide you with guidance.

So, here is the story.

It was around 3 years ago. I was a newbie, just starting my career in tech recruitment. Being a graduate of non-technical studies, I did not have much knowledge about programming languages, technologies, and tools. And I was having a hard time trying to remember the terms, set apart understand them.

But it happened so that as soon as I stepped into the tech world, I was trusted to fill a position — no more, no less a Senior level position! So I took off the journey by having sessions, Q&As, and case discussions with my manager Ani Meruzhan Margaryan, after which I was already feeling confident to take action.

The process was usual — sourcing, shortlisting, preparing reachout letters, and contacting the candidates. Out of hundreds of candidates, there was one the conversation with whom I remember word by word even today!

Before contacting that Senior developer with 10+ years of experience, I had put so much time and effort into preparing the reachout letter that my eyes were sparkling the moment I was finally sending it. You know what — I had thoroughly read an entire article written by that person, though, to be honest with you, at that time that article didn’t tell me much since I did not have enough knowledge to understand it.

Nonetheless, at the end of the letter, I wrote: “Dear X, having read your article I should say that it is very commendable that even for a non-tech person, perceiving the ideas presented there about JavaScript was very easy.”

Beautifully stated, isn’t it? I was so satisfied with the letter I formulated and couldn’t imagine anything was wrong there since I had re-read it for some 10 times before actually clicking on the “Send” button.

But guess what? I received a reply message from the candidate, telling me that his article was actually about Java, not JavaScript…

The moment I read this, a shiver passed through my body — I had failed the communication with my candidate. Thankfully, my manager helped me to smooth out the situation, by writing an apologizing letter informing them that this was my first experience and promising to improve my tech skills. Luckily, this man had a great sense of humor and even offered his help to me with the tech-related aspects and we became good friends later :)

I must, however, tell you that you may not always meet such good-natured candidates, those who would forgive your mistakes. Therefore, I want to share with you a few lessons learned from my already 3 years of experience as a tech recruiter:

Tip #1.1 — Learn as much as possible about the position for which you are recruiting. Study in detail the technologies, specifications, and their relation to the projects, with all the “why”-s and “how”-s.

Tip #1.2 — Be confident in yourself! Instead of letting the candidate know that you’ve made a big mistake, try to adjust the situation and bend it to your benefit.

My second funny (more accurately — embarrassing) case happened again with the headhunt letters. This time, though, the letter itself was not the problem. Rather, I had been long pondering upon the Subject line of my carefully-crafted letter, and finally decided to write “Company X wants to know you in person.”

The candidate didn’t respond to me until I sent a follow-up, but when he did — the reply message literally looked like the following: lines of question marks, laughing smileys and his phone number under my Subject line which was, in fact, saying “Company X wants you in person!” (this last phrase totally transforms the intention, from wanting a candidate to wanting a person :D )

Tip #2.1 — Pay attention to all the details of your letters — the language, style, accuracy, subject line, P.S. section, signature, content, ideas — everything matters!

Tip #2.2 — Be careful & attentive, but feel not frightened of communication. Put down the steps clearly for you, refer to them, review, and make sure you did everything correctly and can learn from your mistakes.

Following the tips above, we are sure you will find a way to communicate with your candidates effectively and receive the greatest pleasure, as we are doing it at Magnus!

Ashkhen Hovhannisyan
Recruiting Executive, Magnus HR

Do you have any funny cases you’d like to share? We’d love to read about them. Tell us about your experience by commenting below!



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