In today’s competitive talent market, unemployment rates for software developers is approximately 1-2% depending on where you live. Many candidates are presented with multiple offers from employers and can pick and choose their next opportunity.
In order to attract the best developers to your team, you have to do more than just put out a few candy bowls, supply unlimited Diet Cokes and setting up a foosball table.
So, how is your organization attracting top technical talent?
Many companies are able to source candidates for their open positions through normal recruiting channels, but once they start conducting interviews, how are they enticing candidates to want to work for them?
In my years working for IT staffing agencies as well as hiring for a software development firm, I’ve had the opportunity to interview hundreds of software developers over the years and have gained a better understanding of some of the things that make certain job opportunities more attractive than others.
New Development vs Production Support
This seems to be one of the most common reasons that a software developer might be in the job market. They have worked for a few years at a good company developing an important application. Then, the application is put into production, and they are stuck in maintenance mode and handling bug fixes. The tools they had used to build the application several years ago may have been cutting edge at the time, but with no new projects to work on in sight, staying with their current employer will prevent them from using the newest technology and further developing their skills. The only way to get exposure to new projects and technology is to jump ship and find a new employer.
When interviewing developer candidates, it is important for them to understand the projects they will be working on instead of simply just asking them about their past experiences. Most development roles will require some level of production support, but if this person will be working on any new development projects, it is important to showcase those opportunities and sell the candidate on the new technology they will be exposed to. This could be the deciding factor between multiple offers.
Solid Management & Technical Leads
As the old adage goes, people leave their managers, not their companies. This reason for leaving may come in a few different variations. Maybe their previous manager was great, and due to a re-org, they now have a new manager that is horrible to work for. Or, the manager who hired them seemed great for the first few weeks, and then his or her “real” personality came out. Either way, that developer is looking to leave because their manager has become difficult to work for.
Another way to attract good talent into your organization is to talk about some of the technical leads and managers that the candidate will be working with, as well as their backgrounds and how they may help grow and expand the candidate’s skill set. If one of your tech leads worked on some high profile applications at a leading tech company, that could be a huge selling point to prospective candidates.
Also, if you have good employee tenure at your organization, that should also be mentioned to prospective candidates as well. There has to be a reason they are all sticking around!
It’s interesting, but making a change for more money usually isn’t the number one reason that motivates a candidate to leave. However, it is important that you are paying a competitive rate for the level of developer you are looking to hire.
There are plenty of online tools such as www.salary.com or www.indeed.com, however I’ve found that a quick call to some of the local IT recruiters in your area will give you a more accurate feel of what salary range is competitive in your market.
You don’t need to necessarily be on the high end of the range, but make sure your offer is competitive in terms of salary, benefits and bonuses (if available). Present a strong offer right off the bat instead of leading with a low-ball offer and working your way up. When a candidate is deciding between multiple offers, you don’t want to be $10-15K below everyone else.
Flexible schedules and work from home opportunities
Many developers have worked in high-stress, deadline driven organizations that create long hours and weekend work. Often times this becomes the norm and not the exception and leads to candidates getting burnt out in their current role.
It is important to offer a good work-life balance within your organization. This can be done by offering flexible work schedules and allowing employees to come in anytime between, say, 7:00 - 9:00am as long as they are putting in an 8 hour work day. Also, work from home opportunities can be another way to help maintain a good work-life balance. Often times developers are less distracted when working at home, and therefore can produce better quality work.
Although there is no perfect combination to attracting the best developers, hopefully these insights will give you an advantage the next time you are hiring a new software developer to your team.