how to retain software engineers

Five Ways to Attract and Keep Tech Geeks On Board

Every software company has a common headache — tech talent. To be clear, developers are the biggest value of each software powerhouse but the shortage of specialists is the real issue! First, you need to find a good developer and compete furiously with other companies to hire them. Then — you need to secure your company from big players such as Google or Facebook that can come and headhunt your most talented senior programmers in a split second.

Usually, to engage and retain brilliant developers, companies provide a bunch of additional advantages (aka perks) like social security packages, massage rooms, and unlimited cookies in the kitchen. But today, almost every company provides these perks — so how do you stand out from the crowd and become a really unique employer?

Having drawn from our 50+ years of cumulative team experience, we at 8allocate have outlined 5 tips we’d like to share with you now:

1. People first: start to promote your employees, not just your company

Employees do not work for the company — they work with the people. To attract really talented specialists you should show that you already have them in your company. Encourage your employees to maintain blogs and help other coders with resources like Stack Overflow, GitHub, Medium, Dzone, etc.

Developers would love to work with “the guy who has written that awesome article about memory leaks”.

Assign your PR/content manager to promote these articles and help your employees build a personal brand.

A thought leadership environment is one of the most important requirements that talented developers are looking for during a job search. Show potential candidates that your company has brilliant people — and they’ll be willing to join!

2. Decompose and change your hiring process (Google case)

To hire good developers you should stand out from the crowd, even during the hiring process. What is a standard hiring procedure? Recruiters search for passive/active candidates, interview them and choose ones that best match a required job description. Any other ideas? Break the process into pieces and change them. For example, how do you look for active candidates? In most cases, employers limit themselves to only posting vacancies on job sites and social networks. Try a different approach. Create a quest or a riddle — anything that helps draw attention.

Let’s take a look at Google as an example. They once hogged the headlines and generated a lot of buzz with the following message put up to the billboard.

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Cool, isn’t it? What Google did is changing the rules of hiring. If you do that, consequentially, you will get additional interest from developers. The Google ad case was really exciting. However, according to the statistics provided in “Work Rules” by Laszlo Bock,  they had not hired a single person using this tactic, so keep exploring opportunities and thinking outside the box!

3. Join a broader developer community

It is a powerful source that is still rarely used by other companies. However, it pays off and helps increase brand awareness and employer track record. By contributing to open-source communities, you demonstrate that your company really cares about the development of the industry. Another advantage is as follows: the name of your company will be frequently seen by coders — which a good way to build a brand.

Encourage your programmers to contribute to open-source communities. Delegate them to be keynote speakers at community-driven events and share their knowledge and experience in other ways. Just don’t forget to create an incentive to keep them motivated (a new book as an intrinsic award for speaking at a conference or a $50 bonus for contributing a guest publication to the community’s blog).

4. Attend niche specific events

Organize your own or piggyback on the existing educational/knowledge sharing events related to software programming. It is a good way to boost soft skills for your employees and another way to attract great coders. Believe me, it is a very small investment, compared to the value you’re likely to receive.

5. Get feedback from your current employees

Sometimes, even a broken coffee machine can be a reason of resignation. Given a lot of developers are introverts, they do not like to talk about problems or propose changes. Assign a People Partner Manager to talk to each developer individually, identify issues, collect feedback and do funnel this information to your top management in a timely manner.

“Are we listening to our employees?” — make sure to approach your C-level execs with this question and if the answer is no, you should be alarmed and well-prepared to face retention issues down the road!

Good luck with hiring your next stellar developer! 

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