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With digitalization accelerating more quickly than any other time in history, the demand for software developers is on the rise. Demand for a variety of IT and technical roles has remained strong throughout the pandemic, with salaries rising steadily, outpacing inflation. 

With demand unabated during the pandemic, companies vying for software developers face challenges even as they ramp up their own digitalization transformation. Employers regardless of sector are all competing for the same skills. This means, more than ever, companies need an attraction and engagement strategy that will lead to the best developer candidates. 

The right approach begins with a compelling employee value proposition, identifying the channels to create the most impact with developers and a robust engagement plan for getting their attention. When all of these elements come together, acquiring the right developer talent is easier than you think. But how can you get started?

step one: develop a compelling message that resonates with developers

Creating a compelling employee value proposition is an exercise that many companies have already undertaken when developing their employer brand. However, attracting skilled software developers is often different than hiring other employees. Attracting IT professionals may require reexamining your employer brand and how you market your business to talent. Start by considering the job benefits they desire most. 

According to a survey of more than 70,000 developers conducted by technical skills assessment provider HackerRank, access to professional growth and learning is the most desired quality IT workers look for in an employer, followed by good work-life balance and competitive compensation. According to HackerRank, programmers are “voracious” learners who understand that the fast-pace of change in the technology field requires that they maintain a steady diet of learning and upskilling to remain marketable and in demand in the labor market.

With compensation ranked as the third most important factor, this marks a distinct departure from workers in most other fields. Our Randstad Employer Brand Research shows that among 185,000 working-age adults surveyed in 33 global markets across all sectors, good compensation is perennially the most important quality they desire in an employer.  

HackerRank’s “2020 Developer Skills Report” also determined that the most important form of professional development is opportunity to learn new technical skills, followed by the ability to take on more responsibility; developing soft skills; and obtaining professional certifications.

Effectively attracting software developers requires clear communication about the potential to advance once a candidate decides to join your organization. You will have to stress your ability to provide a good work-life balance. Attempting to compete on compensation alone will probably not be a sustainable talent attraction strategy in this market. 

step two: activate your employer brand in the right places

Articulating a compelling employer value proposition is essential to build a strong employer brand that resonates with candidates. However, once you have that brand concept, you need to activate it and reach your target audience. This requires advocacy from a number of people, including your current and former employees, suppliers and customers, and even passed-over applicants. This is why creating a superior candidate experience is also critically important to winning over developers.

Brand activation requires identifying the channels that will reach the biggest developer communities. Fortunately, there are many options with global audiences; some are dedicated to developers, while others are sub-sections of larger communities. For example, StackOverflow, GitHub and HackerNews are three popular sites where programmers congregate. On the other side, general interest online sites such as Meetup, Reddit and Discord offer groups specifically for developers. All of these sites offer potential opportunities to connect with technical talent.

step three: build a marketing engine to connect with developers

An attraction strategy is greatly enhanced with an effective recruitment marketing engine. The use of an inbound methodology – engaging and delighting in addition to attracting – helps to build stronger relationships with developers even if they are not hired or if they opt for roles with other organizations. Because developers often seek projects and roles that expose them to new skills and technologies, they tend to have shorter tenures at companies. A LinkedIn study found that the software industry had the highest turnover (13.2%) among all sectors – which means developing a long-term relationship with developers can be beneficial to hiring organizations.

To do so, companies should continually nurture job seekers, even after a role has been filled. This can be done through enrolling them into a private talent pool, staying in contact through regular content distribution or alerting them to job openings even if they are passive candidates. Increasingly, companies are leveraging talent marketing as a way to fill their talent pipeline. These practices are especially effective when it comes to hiring in-demand talent, such as developers.

Hiring software developers will continue to be challenging for most companies in the near future. It’s one reason why salaries for these roles continued to climb in 2020, despite the record unemployment numbers worldwide. Even so, you can improve your ability to draw in great developers by adhering to a strong strategy of attracting, nurturing and delighting talent.

if you’re looking for more detailed insights to attract and hire skilled software developers, we created a detailed guide to help you out.