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Attracting developers to your company

I was planning an Aurelia-post again, but this sort of came up and prompted me to finally finish a piece I had lying around.

My brother works at a company in Ghent that is looking for .NET developers. I’m often asked if I know any developer seeking a new job (most often via LinkedIn, but also more informal channels). I haven’t often been able to point to someone.

The reason, I believe, is that all (good) developers have fairly decent jobs. And if they are thinking about changing jobs, they’ll find it fast enough. Such is the state of the market at the moment.

That is why companies should switch their mind-set. The candidate is not the developer, the company is. You as a company are trying to sell yourself to the developer, not the other way around. The developer will have choice enough, so you must think about what you have to offer to the developer.

Of course the developer must be a good match for the company and have the necessary skills. But the situation is quite the reverse to what many companies are used to. Traditionally, they think they are offering jobs to those who seek them. In the software business, it’s the developer that is offering his/her skills to companies that seek it.

This paradigm change means companies should take a critical look at themselves and find out what they have to offer. Job offers are often long lists of what the candidate must have to bring to the table, and a short list of what he/she will get in return. And often, it’s more or less the same list:

  • a dynamic team
  • responsibility for analysis, design and implementation
  • decent pay
  • an exciting product

This doesn’t get the developer’s heart pounding. Obviously, most job offerings are constructed by HR. How interesting would it be if HR would consult the company developers on this? I’d recommend mentioning things like:

  • What is your score on the Joel Test?
  • What are the working conditions (check out Jeff Atwood’s Bill of Rights)
  • What hardware are you providing?
  • What software are you providing?
  • What source control are you providing?
  • How and how much do you invest in training?
  • Can developers work from home (important in traffic-infested Belgium)
  • How flexible are your working hours?

This is just a start. Definitely read the two links. They should provide a list of what you should be mentioning. They will also make you take a look at your organization critically:

  • Is TFS really the best tool money can buy?
  • Hm, our open office seems a bit noisy
  • Why did we buy i5 single-screen PCs for our developers, but a dual-monitor i7 for the CEO?
  • Do we even have a training-strategy?
  • We better stop using the old IDE and give our devs an update to the newest version

I believe if a company caters to the developer heart more in their job postings, they will have an easier time finding candidates, and find better candidates.

Any developer that has a more or less complete profile on LinkedIn will tell you he/she gets offers very regularly. Offers aren’t the problem. But if you can offer them a place and the tools to make great software (and let them decide what that means), then you can make a difference.

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