Hiring Software Developers: How Other ISVs are Beating You to the Punch

Hiring software developers can be a challenge during a skills shortage. See how hiring methods at your ISV compare to other companies’ competing for top talent.

Last year, about 49,000 students graduated from U.S. colleges and universities with degrees in computer science. There were, however, more than 553,000 computing jobs open in the U.S. These statistics from The Conference Board and the National Center for Education Statistics published on Code.org confirm what ISVs have known for years: There is a skills shortage. And when you’re hiring software developers, it means you’re going to have some competition.

First Steps to Hiring Software Developers

The 2018 State of Software Development report from global software development agency Coding Sans confirmed hiring software developers is one of the most significant challenges ISVs face — in fact, it’s the top challenge according to 33.55% of ISV managers. The survey took a deeper dive to learn what ISVs are doing to attract and retain the talent they need, with employee referrals ranking as the most common method for finding talent (25.08%). Other methods include using in-house recruiters, networking, using an agency or headhunter, and using LinkedIn. Only a fraction of a percent are using internships or campus recruitment, which Coding Sans points out may be a way of capturing talent early and building relationships with promising students, which may encourage them to join your team after they graduate.

It may be worth taking a step back, though, and evaluating what your company does before launching a job candidate search. The LinkedIn Talent Blog points out that to attract top talent, you have to build a strong company brand that prospective employees will recognize — and want to work for — before you post a job opening. Suggestions include creating a great careers page on your website, writing engaging job descriptions, and having an active social media presence so prospective new employees can follow you and get a glimpse of your company’s culture.

Best Foot Forward

The Coding Sans survey also researched what ISVs are using to attract software developer talent — and it’s not necessarily money. “Interesting/challenging work” is one of the most common things ISVs advertise to prospective employees. Recruiting Daily suggests that open source projects and a company that embraces open exchange may also give an ISV an edge when attracting talent.

In addition to providing job candidates with examples of the types of work they can expect to do, the Coding Sans survey found that ISVs also promote their company’s culture, the potential for company growth, and the professional growth opportunities they offer their employees. To sweeten the deal even more, most ISVs (about 75%) allow remote work, and when recruiting, make sure potential job candidates know they will have a high degree of autonomy and flexibility to create the work-life balance for which they are looking.

The survey’s results are in line with what employers in all sectors have learned about what it takes to attract and retain millennial generation workers. Salary, although significant, pales when compared to the importance of working in the right company culture and having opportunities to grow and advance professionally. It will also help to recognize that millennial employees take corporate social responsibility seriously and want to be associated with companies that give back, either with donations or rolling up their sleeves and joining in on service projects.

The Location Factor

Where your business is located will also be a factor into challenges when you’re hiring software developers. Entrepreneur points out that talent is moving out of the suburbs and into urban areas — a 180-degree turn from the trend of the past few decades when companies were moving out of cities. According to Entrepreneur, today’s employees want the easy accessibility and “cultural vibrancy” cities offer. Talent may also be drawn away from traditional software development meccas to cities emerging as hubs for ISVs with lower costs of living. The Indeed Hiring Lab points out the gap between job openings, and job seekers is closing more rapidly in different locations. For example, it decreased by 51.08% in Los Angeles. 49.55% in Denver and 44.94% in Austin. If your business isn’t located where talent seems to be migrating, you may be challenged to find other ways to attract skilled developers.

Who’s Interviewing Whom?

With demand so much greater than talent supply, it’s important to remember when you’re hiring software developers that the person on the other side of the table during the interview probably has other options. Your job candidates are evaluating you as a prospective employer just as much as you are evaluating them for the value they can bring to your business. Expand the interview process to include, maybe even more than you’ve done in the past, information about your company that can convince skilled software developers that joining your team is the right move.