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The Expert Guide to Hiring (& Retaining) Software Engineers
5 min read

The Expert Guide to Hiring (& Retaining) Software Engineers

The Expert Guide to Hiring (& Retaining) Software Engineers

Hiring good software engineers isn’t easy. Demand is so high that you can lose candidates to competitors at any stage of recruitment... or may overlook great candidates if you don’t know how to identify them.

A 2017 infographic by the company-reviewing site Glassdoor puts it in numeric terms. It states that companies had to go through 120 candidates on average to fill an engineering position.

By contrast, it took companies only 86 candidates to fill other positions. That suggests that employers find it hard to select engineers -- and vice versa.

This is because the same study showed that engineers are also more likely to decline job offers. One out of two engineers declined offers vs. one out of three for other positions.

So, hiring managers and team leads clearly have their work cut out for them. If you’re a recruiter seeking a software engineer, how can you find and attract quality talent?

Further, once you’ve signed good engineers, how can you keep them?

We’ll answer those questions today. In the process, you should learn how to recruit software developers as well as keep them on your team.

How to Find & Attract Quality Software Engineers

Ask a fly fisherman what you need to hook the big fish, and he’ll say 2 things: the right bait and the right casting technique. That also goes for recruiting software engineers.

You have to go about the search the right way and offer the right incentives. All of that begins with the job posting.

How to Make the Perfect Job Posting

What you want is the “Goldilocks job post” -- one where the info and demands are just right.

Many recruiters miss the golden mean here, either giving too many requirements or too few. The former can put off even good developers, while the latter can lead to applications from the wrong people.

So how should you do it? Start by sorting the skills you’re looking for into the “necessary” and “a plus” categories. Note these in your job posting.

Next, provide details on the duties of the position. Note which ones are priorities as well.

You may also want to provide notes on company culture in case you have specific needs. Need someone comfortable with collaboration? Say so, because not all developers have that trait!

And finally, don’t be afraid to note the points of your compensation package. If that includes bonus incentives, state them.

Compensation-wise, though, you should provide a range instead of a fixed figure. This can prevent competitors from using that to improve their compensation plans and poach talent from you!

Narrowing the Field

Once you get a crop of candidates, it’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff. Typically, there are 2 main ways of doing that:

  1. Skill assessments
  2. Interviews

Meticulous hiring managers do both, of course. Let’s take up each process below.

1. Assessing Software Engineers

Your goal here is to make sure that the developer has the technical skills you need. Usually, that refers to their ability to problem-solve.

You see, the best engineers aren’t the ones who’ve memorized a particular language. Rather, they’re the ones who have the logic to create efficient solutions.

That’s why you should care less about their familiarity with a given language and more about their problem-solving.

As such, avoid tests that measure aptitude in a particular programming language. Instead, use tests that measure skill in coding solutions regardless of language.

2. Interviewing Software Engineers

Now, for interviews, the first rule of thumb is to avoid cold-calling. Most engineers don’t like it: they may be introverts, they’re busy, etc.

That matters since the interview isn’t just about you finding out if they’re right for the job. It’s also about selling the job.

So, you don’t want to do anything that can sour candidates on the opportunity.

And in case you don’t think interviews play a big part here, think again: a 2015 LinkedIn report showed 83% of candidates changing their minds about a job offer after an interview.

Anyway, you should ask team leads for interview queries and ideal answers. Usually, you’d ask these:

  • What certifications do you have?
  • What have you worked on?
  • Have you any current tech projects as hobbies?

You should also check if they’d fit into company culture. Try to engage them in casual talk for about 5 minutes to learn more about them for this.

How to Recruit & Retain Key Software Engineers

Once you’ve found the right engineer, the challenge is to get the person to take the offer. Doing that is pretty similar to trying to retain key software engineers.

It’s all a matter of incentive. Whether you want someone to join your company or stay in it, you have to give them reason for it.

Don’t know where to start? Here are the incentives that developers find most attractive:

  • A collaborative (not competitive) team culture
  • Mentorship from senior developers
  • Creative freedom or autonomy
  • Possibility of exciting projects for even junior developers
  • Professional enhancement through tech courses
  • Flexible hours and remote work
  • A current tech stack to make their jobs easier

You can also ask them what they’d like to see. This can help you figure out which incentives to offer prospective and present employees.

An Alternative: Getting Professional Help

Of course, not every company can go through all of the above to recruit software developers. Sometimes, it’s easiest to leave it in the hands of the pros.

For example, you can use the Skilledd platform to find engineers. Among other things, it can help you find the ideal match for your requirements.

That’s because Skilledd maintains an updated database of candidates’ technical competencies. They even screen for language proficiencies, personality, and communication skills!

This means you can easily find the perfect people for your team. And because Skilledd continuously grooms engineers, you’re getting candidates who are constantly improving.

If you want to find out how Skilledd can help you with your recruitment needs, check out the Skilledd website. It may help you save your time finding good developers in the future!