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Oct 10, 2018

I am always looking to provide a unique and personalized candidate experience.

I find it easy to collect data. But it is often hard to find something in common with people you don’t know. I guess this is where “break the ice” is for. But how do you break it?

These are the usual most boring ways to break the ice:

  • I came across your profile…
  • I think you have experience with…
  • You are a great fit for this role…

The usual face to face interaction starts with:

“What do you do?”

What if the first interaction was:

  • We have the same book.
  • We have the same keyboard.
  • We have the same GPU.

This strategy might apply to other fields. But for this one, I am going to cover technology recruiting.

We have the same coding keyboard

We have the same coding keyboard

I am a keyboard geek. I always typed on flat noiseless keyboards.

Then one day I read about the mechanical keyboard. It is clunky, and it sounds like a typewriter.

The mechanical keyboard is mostly used by programmers and gamers. There is one, in particular, that was designed by a famous programmer.

Search reviews for: CODE 87 keyboard.

You could scrape those results with your favorite tool.

Here is how I would break the ice.

I would send an email with the subject: “we got the same coding keyboard.”

But if you want to be authentic, you would need to own this keyboard. It would be weird if they reply “what do you love about the keyboard?”

We have the same book

This is where it gets interesting, and you can get really creative if you know enough about technology.

Here is an interesting example for experienced engineers.

There is a famous programmer called Robert Martin aka Uncle Bob. He has a great series of books on how to refactor code. I got all of them.

Robert Uncle Bob Martin

One of these books is called Clean Code. A quick search gives me about 400 reviews.

Here are some of the profiles:

  • User1 loved the book. On his wish list, he has the book C++. He has a 27″ Asus monitor. Knows some PHP.
  • User2 said it profoundly changed his code. He is reading another book about design patterns. He also might be a member of those modern gyms where you turn giant truck tires. He likes biking. He has a Nexus 6 phone…there is so much more.
  • User3 also loved the book. He knows Java. Was learning C++ in 2016
  • User4 compared this book to Yoda. He has a 2014 GMC. He might be into fountain pens, sports watches.

That’s a lot of info out there. You can spend hours and hours reading these reviews, and you can get very creative with your outreach.

The strategy of finding experienced engineers based on book reviews depends on the book.

These are a few books that might have reviews by experienced engineers:

  • Books related to refactoring code.
  • Those that learn Scala usually come from a Java background.
  • Niche technologies: SolrYarn, etc. Technologies that are part of something bigger.

Just have to do some research about your tech stack.

More targeted products

Let’s get more creative.

Vim, text editor

Vim, my favorite text editor

Vim, my favorite text editor, is only used by programmers. I know this because the barriers to entry for learning this tool are very high.

This one has about nine results.

  • User1 sent a photo with his keyboard. He also got a screen protector for his phone. I got the feeling he works in information security, maybe devops or a sysadmin. Did some research and indeed he works in DevOps.
  • User2 gave it five stars. Looking at his reviews, I can tell he works in Blockchain. Looking him up would be easy.

Linux polo shirt

You would only wear this if you really really loved Linux.

Yeah, probably I would wear this too.

  • A user has a Microsoft certification, not sure which one. Also lives in CA. Has a Chromebook. He likes photography. He has a CompTIA Security+.

The Linux penguin

This one is not just a toy. It’s a sitting penguin. The Linux logo.

  • A user has been reviewing computer components. Also reviewed a book where he mentioned it wasn’t too technical. He might be a systems engineer.

Coffee mug with coding joke

  • A user is an IT analyst. Easy to lookup.
  • Another user says that she brought it to work and works in software dev.


  1. Review your tech stack.
  2. Meetup with your HM to review tech stack details.
  3. Lookup product reviews.
  4. Scrape reviews using your favorite tool.
  5. Choose a user and do some additional research.
  6. Use the data to create an awesome outreach.
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