As recruiter pitches show up in my inbox, it’s clear there’s a lot of “fake it til you make it” when it comes to tech terminology.

One arrived today, telling me that “dependency injection” is a hot technology these days, and that their client was hiring people with that skill.

For a short moment, I was impressed that such specificity was included in a cold email — a hint of credibility. But the subsequent usage quickly indicated to me that the writer doesn’t know what it means. Just a phrase dropped in alongside other tech jargon, template-like.

See, this feeling of plausibility followed by disappointment is what we experience as uncanny valley. Close enough to be considered real for a moment — but then the fakeness reveals itself and we are repulsed. (If you found the visuals of Polar Express a little creepy, that’s the feeling.)

Two legitimate, non-creepy zones exist on either side of the valley. To the left, one makes no pretension of being real and works with that. To the right, one is actually the thing that one resembles.

In the recruiting world, both sides are fine. If one has been asked to fulfill a position, but doesn’t have a strong grasp on the tech, that’s OK. Just phrase it honestly, like “the Engineering Lead is looking for X, Y and Z and asked for my help”.

To the right of the uncanny valley is to be an expert on tech. It’s harder, but there’s payoff there.

There is (likely) a small number of effective people that do a disproportionate amount of the successful recruiting — a power law distribution.

Some of them really are tech experts and wield that knowledge; others are honest about their own technical limitations but know how to appeal to talented developers. There’s room on both sides of the valley.