Finding and retaining top talent has always been challenging. Tech talents are elusive at best and a fable at worst – they know they have all the power, considering the shortage of skilled developers. Knowing this, companies can no longer throw money around, hoping to land the best candidates. If you want to secure top tech talent, then you need to pay more attention to developers’ wants and needs.
In our 2020 CodinGame survey, we found that a good number of developers are happy at work. Indeed, when asked to rate their satisfaction on a scale of 0 to 10, more than half of respondents answered between 7 and 10.
So, what makes these developers so happy and fulfilled? What do they look for in job offers? What would make them go for and stick with an employer?
In our 2020 survey, we also asked developers what mattered most to them when considering a job offer. These were the top 5 results:
- Technical challenges/interesting problems to solve
- Flexible working hours/good work-life balance
- Company culture and values
- Advancement opportunities
Continue reading to find out why these subjects matter and how you can use them to attract tech talent.
Developers love challenges – the thrill of solving intricate problems.
Technical stimulation is a major driver for developers, and has been one of the top three responses to our survey question for the past two years, alongside work-life balance and salary. Interestingly, the order is slightly different this year and salary is now down from first to third place.
Think money is everything? Think again. An increasing number of developers look beyond pay and settle for a slightly less competitive salary in exchange for technical challenges that get them fired up.
If you’re not offering at least a bit of tech excitement, developers will be reluctant to join you.
Candidates will skim your job offer on the lookout for the kind of technologies they’ll be using and the kind of problems they’ll get to sink their teeth into. You’re not going to get candidates excited If your job description contains a bunch of keywords related to outdated systems and technologies undergoing maintenance. If your technical stack is poor, you may need to compensate more or lower your standards slightly regarding the quality of people you want to take on (as well as thinking about what you can do to bring your stack forward as soon as possible).
As well as technology, when pitching a tech job position, you need to describe the business problems or challenges new hires would be asked to tackle. Many techies like to have a clear vision of the end game. Why do you need them? What will their development bring to the company?
Flexible working hours
Developers are increasingly picky about the companies they work for (they’re in high demand, who can blame them!?). They consider many factors besides pay.
For a great deal of developers, the opportunity to maintain a healthy work-life balance is vital. If presented with a work schedule tailor-made to fit individual needs and desires, prospective employees may consider taking a lower salary or a reduced benefits package.
If you’re willing to accept that the notion of “the regular working week”, the “9 to 5”, is becoming outdated, then you can use flexibility to attract developers. Show that you trust their skills and commitment by offering schedules that fit their life demands—either with remote working opportunities (on a full-time or part-time basis) or flexible scheduling.
You can also prepare compensation packages and set yourself apart by giving employees who want to improve their skill set some time off for continued education and training. The point is to pay attention to what matters to each person, not the entire company, and create space in your budget to accommodate that flexibility.
Tech talents know that their skills are hot cake. If you’re looking to attract and retain talented applicants, think competitive remuneration and services packages. Ensure you’re offering a good salary that aligns with your location, industry, and the potential future employee’s skills and experience. If you can, offer additional benefit programs such as health insurance, free food, and performance bonuses.
That being said, HR professionals actually tend to overestimate the importance of salary. We asked our HR community what they thought mattered most to developers (so that we could compare the data).
Whereas 15.4% of developers said salary was the first thing they looked at when considering a job offer, 21.3% of HR professionals guessed that this was the most important subject. Yes, compensation is important. However, it’s not the be-all and end-all.
Company culture and values
Developers will consider a potential employer’s culture and try to make sure it fits their personality before accepting a job offer.
For instance, someone who’s used to working in a casual environment might find it hard to fit into the corporate culture. Typically, candidates are looking to feel “at home” at work, to gain satisfaction from their job and fellow team members.
So, what will attract tech talent in terms of company culture and values? Of course, this depends on the candidate, but at the front row are things like: the opportunity to work with full autonomy (instead of being micromanaged), flexible hours, a casual dress code and remote working opportunities. Other, less tangible, areas of company culture also matter, such as commitment, ownership or empathy.
The means of developing a unique company culture are consistency and intention. Company culture generally takes its roots at “the top”, where values are set by founding members. These values are then to be clearly communicated and demonstrated to the rest of the organization. Indeed, CEOs, CTOs and other lead positions need to set a clear example. It’s not enough to identify and list company values, they must become accepted guidelines for work decisions and interactions.
“The values upheld by company founders and the corporate culture that stems from them are, in my opinion, essential to any growing business. These values must be accepted and applied by all and I advise going over them with candidates during the interview process.
When times are dark, there are a thousand and one reasons to abandon ship or set off in search of milder seas. But, if your company values are strong and acted on, then all hands will be on deck, ready to face the storm together and come out of it having grown, both individually and collectively.
A mistake that too many founders still make today is to forget to formalize their company values. Implicit values will evaporate! They must be written down, identifiable, and applicable in everyone’s daily lives. Otherwise they’re useless and will end up at the back of an old cupboard full of good intentions.” – Frédéric Desmoulins, CEO at CodinGame.
This applies whether the company is developing a culture intentionally or not. Still, those who are strategic will notice better results and stronger cohesion. What’s more, an authentic and intentional company culture is a leverageable advantage in recruitment.
A good number of developers care about their professional development. Unfortunately, many computer programmers feel that they don’t have enough development opportunities at their current job. In fact, as part of our 2020 developer survey, we asked 20 000 developers to list the 3 main reasons they’d decide to change jobs. Well over half of respondents (57.7%) selected “For better advancement opportunities”.
Developers want to get the chance to learn new skills, and work in an organization that provides opportunities for personal growth.
So, to attract and retain top programmers, companies must strive to provide excitement and variety on the job. Allow employees to change their roles and the projects they work on and create a peculiar career path within the organization. Invest in training and coaching for your technology teams.
Another good way to show that you care about professional advancement is to promote in-house employees to managerial positions instead of hiring people from outside the company. Make it a culture to promote employees internally.
Note: We’ve seen that advancement opportunities are important to a good number of developers. However, as a hiring manager or HR professional, you shouldn’t assume that all developers hope to take on managerial positions. Some tech professionals have no interest in management at all and prefer to sharpen their technical skills – rather than learning new transversal ones.
If you want your company to stay ahead, you need talented developers. Since there aren’t many around, the available ones can be selective about where they work. This makes the recruitment process even more critical.
Securing top tech talent goes beyond offering the highest salary—it’s a holistic process that includes company culture, advancement opportunities, work-life balance and technical challenges. Keep these five things (at least) in mind when assessing whether your company is enticing to developers.