7 Takeaways On How Programmers Use 'Search' While Job Hunting

Have you ever thought how other people search the web? In this article, we’ll reveal what software developers are using to facilitate their job seeking efforts. It’s no secret that 70% of the global workforce is made up of passive talent who aren’t actively looking for a job. The same goes for developers. This isn’t to say that people in tech are unhappy with their jobs, but it is true that they consistently monitor different channels so that they’re aware of what opportunities are out there.

We went through Relocate’s database of about 20,000 search queries from the past 2 months to figure out which were the most common ones for tech job hunters.

This article will be helpful to those of you who are actively posting ads on different job search boards or other platforms and want to improve your job descriptions. Software developers are also welcome to share their thoughts on this topic and add to the discussion.

Before you jump into reading, remember not take this data as the absolute truth. Instead, think of it as a guide from which you can draw several (at least 7) broad conclusions.

Let’s talk about data

  • Source: Relocate – a job board for software developers who are willing to relocate
  • Period: June-July 2017
  • Search queries logged: 20,000
  • Developers from 42 countries used this search
  • Collected feedback from 80 developers

1. Major search queries are related to the main technological stack

It means the search queries are very simple and to the point. Software developers often search for prior programming languages (e.g. Java, Ruby) or main frameworks (e.g. Rails or Django).

The Top 10 programming technologies by the number of search queries:

NOTE: this should NOT be counted as the global developer landscape

In total, these Top 10 programming technologies are almost 41% of all search queries. So, almost every second search query of software developers are within this Top 10 list.

An interesting fact: ‘Senior Java’ query is the most popular combination of technology with the title ‘Senior.’

2. Cutting-edge technologies and trendy buzzwords are almost never used during the search

DockerTDDKotlinIoT, for instance, were typed only 16 times in total over the past 2 months.

3. The job title really matters for the search results

Most search engines use full-text search.

The two most important aspects of full-text search are as follows:

Relevance  –  the ability to rank results by how relevant they are to the given query.

Analysis  –  the process of converting a block of text into distinct, normalized tokens in order to (a) create an inverted index and (b) query the inverted index.

Source: https://www.elastic.co/

In other words, the specifics of full-text search are such that the keywords in a job title can have more weight than the keywords in a job description. So, if you post a job for a PHP developer, the job title ‘Senior PHP Developer’ may well be listed higher than ‘Senior Software Developer.’

Let’s say you’re choosing a job title for your job advert: ‘Senior Software Engineer’, ‘Product Developer’‘Coding Ninja’‘Fullstack Dev…’ Which one is the best? You can set some selection criteria for the keywords like ‘product’ (thinking not only about code, but product). You might also try wide reaching titles like ‘software engineer’ (using different programming technologies for solving specific issues).

We’d suggest you include main technologies in the job title. So it can be renamed in the following way:

  • Senior Software Engineer (C++/Java/Python)
  • Full Stack Developer (Ruby, JavaScript)
  • Coding Ninja (Node.js/PHP/Python)

4. Software developers often screen jobs by technology tags

Having tags in a job description brings more convenience for software developers who are screening jobs. Based on the feedback we’ve received, these are 2 main reasons why they use tags:

  • To check whether they fit a certain job
  • To find if this job is interesting

So, you can add the main programming technologies/frameworks in the beginning of the list of tags and finish with ‘cutting-edge’ technologies that you’re using.

5. ‘Front-end’, ‘Frontend’ or ‘Front end…’ Which one to use?

Any of them is fine. There are a lot of spelling variations of popular technologies. For example, Angular.js, Angularjs, Angular and Angular JS.

If a job board uses full-text search or a well tuned database (e.g. MySQL with the built-in SOUNDEX function), you should NOT pay attention to various spelling of one search query. In this case, typing with or without a hyphen/spaces/dots will provide the same search results. It’s interesting that we’ve got almost the same search results for:

  • Frontend (336)
  • Front-end (304)
  • Front end (284)
  • Even Front (84) is used

6. ‘Developer’ vs. ‘Engineer’

Having analysed about 20,000 search queries on our website, we found that ending ‘developer’ is more common than ‘engineer’ when it comes to job search. The second one, however, is also gaining popularity and frequently used as a search query, e.g. ‘Security Engineer’.

7. Don’t use too many marketing words in your job descriptions

The right job title and well-chosen tags are half the battle, but equally important is the content of your job advert. A job description can easily repel your potential candidates. Thus, keep it clear and avoid using any confusing analogies like:

Draw an analogy with the car industry. Most of the auto companies focus on the design of their cars and their engines. Our dev team is working on a content delivery engine, a power engine of our company, but the difference to the car industry is…

Besides, make sure there are no tech mistakes like ‘5+ years of React.js experience’ ;)

Also, pay attention to character case. Whether you’re writing ‘apache’ in lower case or capitalise it, search results will be the same. BUT software developers often care about it. There are pretty many tools which must be written in a certain way, e.g. nginx or MySQL.

So, before your job vacancy comes out, show the description to your dev team or a few of your tech friends.

And, in closing, here are a few amazing search queries we tracked:

  • Pure c developer
  • AC/DC Power electronics
  • Rock star coder

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