Your company can expect to face increasing challenges in recruiting and retaining software engineers as a result of an extremely competitive landscape, rapid technological advancement, and a changing employment culture. These professionals are in high demand because there are more specialized jobs available than individuals with the expertise to fill them. With these realities, prospective employees have advantages over companies looking to hire top talent.
Fortunately, software engineer recruiters connect companies to qualified candidates every day. Agile, one of the country’s top IT recruiting firms, shares its advice for employers to help in their talent search and to grow their employees’ long-term satisfaction.Download PDF
Software engineers have one of the lowest unemployment rates of any profession in the United States, making it the one of the most competitive job markets right now. The saturation of jobs and limited number of qualified candidates makes it difficult for employers to find the ideal person, and this may only become more challenging.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, these jobs are expected to grow 22 percent through 2029 while the U.S. population will only increase at a rate of 0.8% per year. According to Agile’s software engineer recruiters, this uneven growth means that the job market may get more competitive in the coming years.
Justin Ellis, Agile’s recruiting manager, says, “Companies need to follow trends in the marketplace if they want to be successful filling their positions.” In particular, he advises employers to stay current in the compensation packages that they are being offered. To the extent possible, they should update their own approach to recruitment to compete with other job opportunities.
Employers often define applicant criteria as narrowly as possible. While this approach will limit the candidate pool to those who are an exact fit for a position, it can have unintended consequences. “The more specific you are in a search,” says Ellis, “the harder your search will be, and the price tag for the job you are trying to fill will be higher.” Ideal candidates can frequently command a bigger salary, and that compensation may be more than a small or mid-sized company can afford.
Instead, Agile’s software engineer recruiters recommend that employers widen their scope when reviewing résumés. Companies are more likely to find a quality hire if they are willing to speak with candidates who have broader experience. There are many developers with deep software engineering knowledge who can apply this expertise to learning a new industry or coding language. IT staffing agencies frequently use this strategy to identify overlooked candidates.
The competitive nature of the job market means that developers often have their pick of positions. Agile’s software engineer recruiters have found that quality developers come on and off the market within an average of five days, and many interview for several opportunities simultaneously.
Ellis recommends that employers act quickly on the candidates that they want to hire. Instead of having a lengthy interview process, condense vetting to a single phone interview and in-person interview. While this compresses your timeline, it still allows you to get to know a potential employee’s strengths, weaknesses, and personality. You can also use this timeframe to ask for work samples that will give you a clearer illustration of an individual’s skill level.
Typically, employers use a thought process of “What can the candidate do for me?” Software engineer recruiters suggest that companies shift away from this approach and instead use a two-way hiring process. This means evaluating candidates while at the same time selling the opportunity and recognizing the value that a candidate could bring to the position.
Ellis says, “I tell my clients to view the interviews they conduct as a chance to reflect their company culture.” For example, employers can explain to candidates what makes their organization stand out, including these details in the job posting as well. Sharing what makes an opportunity special can help an employer win over a candidate even if another job offers more in the way of traditional compensation.
According to Agile’s IT recruiters, developers highly value the chance to learn and work on new projects and technologies. Focusing on these areas can help a company recruit and retain top talent even amid competition from other businesses.
Some businesses code in older languages that are not essential to modern development projects. As a result, that company’s software engineers may grow concerned that their skills are becoming obsolete in the open market. Other companies divide staff into those that maintain older technology and those that work on new products. Working solely on legacy systems can limit a developer’s ability to explore new areas of coding.
Neither of these outcomes is attractive to top-tier developers. Both are reasons that Agile’s software engineer recruiters see developers leaving their positions after only a couple of years on.
Fortunately, they suggest, employers can address both of these concerns even if they do not have the resources of a large business. Companies can offer legacy system developers opportunities to work on new products, at least in a limited capacity. Businesses can also adopt new, open, and free systems to replace older technical stacks. There may be a time investment to implement new coding languages, but the decision can go a long way towards retaining talent.
Access to new projects and technology is only part of the equation. Software engineers also may require ongoing training to keep their skills fresh. Consider paying for developers to attend professional conferences in the area. If your company cannot afford this option, consider sponsoring in-office training with a local expert.
In Agile’s local market, the Atlanta region, it is highly unlikely that a junior developer will accept the same starting salary offered to candidates 10 years ago. Entry-level candidates with a computer science (or related) degree typically earn $75,000-$110,000 right out of school.
Agile’s software engineer recruiters suggest offering a salary and total compensation package that is at or above 90 percent of the market average. Just as importantly, employers should consider flexible workdays and times.
In the software development world, most jobs have become 100 percent remote, as that is quickly becoming the norm. Meetings these days are being held over the phone or on video conferencing services such as Zoom, and the need for in-office hours is diminishing. Developers have the ability to accomplish their assigned tasks even when working remotely and are likely more productive while doing so, due to the elimination of in-office distractions.
Agile’s Ellis advises hiring managers to discuss salary ranges and flexible scheduling or remote work options early in the process. “Being clear that you are open to meeting a candidate’s needs can make all of the difference,” he says. By taking these steps, employers will be better positioned to retain and grow talent.
If your company is looking for top candidates in the competitive market for developers, contact Agile’s team of software engineer recruiters to discuss hiring solutions.