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Unconventional Ways of Attracting Top Software Developers To Join Your Project

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Liz Taylor
Senior Contributor

Passionate for all things tech!

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Software developers are some of the world’s best-paid specialists. Good ones are scarce, so they’re pretty picky as to what dev project to join. Money doesn’t matter to them as much as other intrinsic factors such as challenging yet meaningful project, career development opportunities, business trips, and more. Even if you feel your startup or project has brilliant prospects, there’s a high probability you will have to come up with other creative ways to attract software engineers, architects, coders, and PMs.

Why Developers Aren’t Interested In Your Software Project

As it turns out, there are rare reasons why developers may not feel as excited about your project as you may expect. A survey conducted by AngeList, an online marketplace connecting projects and developers in a Tinder-like manner, has recently unveiled some interesting findings as to critical factors impacting how attractive the project appears to developers.

1. Industry

An industry a company operates in has a massive impact on how developers perceive the project. If your industry is education, healthcare HR, finance, or high-tech – developers are likely to choose your project over others.

The sectors they are the least interested in are media and entertainment, online payments, games, advertising, and eCommerce. This stats reflects the core values of software developers – most of them are eager to build a meaningful product that would have a positive impact on society or solve a serious problem.

2. Investor Quality

If you’re a startup, software developers are likely to base their choices on the quality of investors and funding in general. Investors with high ratings and a solid industry footprint will render your project more trustworthy, so if you have high-profile investors, be sure to include their detailed profiles into your company/project description/pitch.

3. Founder’s Track Record

As AngeList states, one of the most popular companies among programmers today is Quora, whose founders are former Facebook employees. Most companies, however, won’t have high-profile founders. If your founders have an excellent reputation and an outstanding track record of successful projects, make sure to mention it in your project description and use it to your benefit.

The same refers to your top management.

4. Wage

This may not be a top priority, but salaries do matter, according to what different surveys unveil. The salary companies are ready to offer is also strongly connected to their profile and reputation. Top-tier companies are likely to offer larger salaries and vice versa. For example, if you can afford to provide an annual salary exceeding $125,000 to developers in the USA, you are more likely to attract top developers.

A competitive salary is an absolute must for most developers, although there may be exceptions. Senior developers who have robust savings and other passive sources of income may be interested in equity. They will still want some financial compensation, though, and won’t appreciate if the payment is late or irregular.

Ukraine is a Great Place to Find Tech Talent, Says Israeli Entrepreneur

However, always think twice before hiring an extremely expensive employee as there’s no guarantee the developer will stay with you till the end of the project and if they choose to leave while the project is halfway through, you’ll face tremendous overheads as you’ll need to find the right replacement. The longer your time to hire a replacement, the higher interest rate you’ll pay for your accumulated tech debt. So, if you understand one senior software architect will swallow the lion’s share of your whole softeware dev budget, think outside of the box and try to find an alternative–from hiring a less expensive remote employee (to save on office and workstation costs) to augmenting your software development team with less costly top talent from abroad (staff augmentation or managed project engagement).

 

8allocate client case: one of the world’s leading providers of online money transfer services runs a 5-person Java development team in our Ukraine-based R&D Center (including a senior developer and a team lead), which costs them $18,000 per month ($216,000 per annum) including all taxes and social benefits. In New York, a senior Java developer’s salary range is between $105,000 and $145,000, i.e., this resource alone would cost them half their entire team’s cost in Ukraine. Read more in the client’s case story

 

5. Company reputation

Speaking of company reputation, this is also an essential factor. If you’ve never wondered if your company appeals to prospective employees and how it is perceived, the time is ripe for creating an attractive employer brand.

6. The recruitment process

An employer image is something your company projects directly throughout the recruitment process. A lot of developers will accept your offer even if initially uninterested, only because the recruitment and HR specialists have been amicable, convincing and managed to create an attractive perception of a company by how they communicate. One of the recruitment practices that helps boost the company’s reputation is having other members of the development team interview the prospective candidates. This usually creates a favorable impression, especially if they are strong professionals. But don’t forget to calculate your total cost per hire: if it’s too high, think about alternative ways like building a dedicated development team or outsourcing your HR function to leading software development hubs like Ukraine.

Cost to Hire Talent: Staff Augmentation vs In-House Recruitment

How To Make Your Project Stick And Attract Software Dev Talent

How to attract best-vetted developers to join your project? If you’re not among top-tier companies, the solution should involve some creative thinking. Below are some of the non-trivial ways of finding tech talent and attracting top developers.

1. Use every opportunity to pitch your project to developers

Visit developer conferences and events and tell people about your project. Have you ever heard of a 3-minute pitch or elevator pitch? Prepare the same to market your project to developers. Why should they choose you over some reputable tech giant in the first place? Are you enabling them to create something meaningful? In a big corporation, they will be just another brick in the wall, while with you they will be truly making a difference – make sure you communicate this explicitly and clearly.

One of the things senior devs truly crave is respect for their expertise and experience. Too many companies have made the same mistakes of hiring top-tier devs and never making an effort to benefit from their knowledge and insights. Instead, they are making them blindly follow pre-established procedures and crush their creativity in the bud.

Show them that their opinion will matter and that you are ready to offer them the recognition they deserve. A lot of developers will value a position when they are empowered to propose projects and direct work over the predictability of corporate environment. 

2.Offer flexible hours and/or no open-plan office

One more thing that sets a startup apart from an established company is flexibility. Top developers tend to value flexible hours, and the ability to work from home in their pajamas more than free food they often associate with corporate slavery. Tell devs you are ready to negotiate flexible hours and mean it.

An insightful answer to a Quora question from Terry Lambert, a tech lead on Apple Core OS Kernel Team, spills light on how much developers value and ability to work in a quiet office:

I’ll “show the flag” in the office, if it’s “open plan”, but don’t expect me to be able to get my best work done there

3. Offer company equity

This is a conventional way of attracting top developers, but it’s also somewhat controversial. Some programmers will completely dismiss it as unattractive, some, especially those close to their retirement age, will appreciate a generous share in company equity. If you want to attract senior talent, offer them a share in company revenue that will grow exponentially as the startup succeeds and enhances its financial security.

4.  Offer perks they care about

Contrary to popular belief, fancy perks like free yoga classes won’t make your startup attractive any more. What developers appreciate the most is the ability to work from home, flexibility, autonomy and ability to unleash their creative potential.

“I don’t care about rock climbing walls. I don’t like mandatory-ish social activities with an enforced fun dynamic. I don’t fall for bogus “unlimited” vacation days,”says Joe Wezorek, a professional software engineer, in a Quora response.

Health insurance, however, is something most developers will appreciate anyway.

5. Offer a challenge

Most top developers are apt learners. A large percentage of devs who don’t care about your project’s mission or disruptive potential will be attracted by a possibility to learn a new technology or try a new approach. You may have to step aside from fixed-job requirements a bit and hire developers who have knowledge in adjacent fields and are interested in expanding their expertise. For some developers, a complex and challenging task will be an attraction factor. 

Another solution that proves effective is to identify your existing on-staff members who want to switch jobs and pursue a career in a cutting-edge tech and give them tools and resources to re-skill and bring value. By re-qualifying your existing staff you can save on recruitment and get loyal employees to benefit from in a mid-to long run.

6. Build a stellar development team

Most top developers would like to work alongside equally experienced colleagues who share the same vision and values. Hence, your sincere dedication to building a team of stellar performers is likely to make them feel genuinely attracted. What people like about startups is a spirit of adventure, the ability to communicate with like-minded individuals and share ideas. 

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Non-Trivial Ways Of Finding Tech Talent

While attracting top developers and convincing them to work for you is surely a challenge, finding tech talent is even trickier. Below are some of the extraordinary and innovative ways you may find helpful.

1. Organize hackathons

This will require a budget, but will surely enable you to attract and meet the best developers. We have already mentioned going to development events; hosting them, though, will set you apart from other companies competing for talent.

Brands that actively organize hackathons to crowdsource digital solution prototype development, collect ideas and attract great software engineering talent are GE, Exotel, Amazon, HP, and many more.

Innovative startups hold them too. For instance, GO-JEK, an Indonesian hyperlocal transport, logistics, and payments unicorn, held 3 hackathons to leverage the benefits of open innovation, attract software engineers and shorten the innovation cycle.

As a result of a well-crafted hackathon promo campaign, the following results were obtained:

  • 4,700 participants (that’s a huge pool to pitch to and choose from!) from all over the world;
  • 1,600+ ideas generated;
  • 130 proof-of-concept solutions built;
  • 9 winning teams (which are most likely already working for GO-JEK)

2. Explore popular and closed developer communities

There are developer communities all over the web. Explore websites like Github, where developers contribute code snippets that save other devs time and nerves. A lot of independent developer teams are on Slack.

Don’t forget to check out reddit and DZone as they’re crowded with coders, geeks and software engineers. Finding them is undoubtedly time-consuming, but is potentially worth the effort.

In Ukraine, for instance, there’re many closed and invite-only developer communities like Google Developer Groups (GDG), Python developers, etc. that you won’t likely get access to unless you partner with a local outsourcing or staff augmentation provider that can be your door-opener for sourcing the right talent.

3. Use online marketplaces

Online marketplaces for discovering tech talent will help you find development teams and standalone developers. Platforms like Gigster, AngeList, and X-Team have all it takes to hire and even manage developers. For small-scale projects, try checking out freelancer websites like Upwork.

Surely, as a startup or small, you have already too much on your agenda apart from creating your employer brand and looking for extraordinary and unconventional ways of attracting tech talent. Outsourcing software development is a viable solution to the talent problem. Rest assured, though, offshore companies in popular outsourcing locations like Ukraine are ready to help you tackle the difficult part of hiring and attracting top devs. They will enable you to focus on other priorities, take the burden off your shoulders, and reduce your part of the recruitment process to interviewing and evaluating developers.

Do you need help building a dedicated/extended Team or getting ad-hoc resources for your software development project fast and cost-effectively?