Mastering software developer hiring has never been more critical – or more difficult.
In fact, it’s almost the perfect storm: There’s a global and growing shortage of developers; voluntary job turnover rates in the US are 25% (almost double what they were three years ago); and demand for skilled engineers is expected to outstrip supply by 1.2 million in three years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
At the same time, what developers want, or will settle for, has changed, perhaps at least partially driven by the pandemic. Developers want meaningful challenges, a flexible work-life balance, tools and processes that don’t slow them down, and, increasingly, the option to work completely remotely.
So what can you do to keep your developers from leaving and make software developer hiring easier? Here’s our best advice:
Understand the developer mentality. “Of all the tech roles, developers are the most fickle,” says GitLab’s staff developer evangelist Brendan O’Leary, who, with nearly 20 years experience as a developer, is in a very good position to know. “They don’t want to put up with a lot and tend to have strong opinions.”
Stop measuring. It is possible to tie developer productivity to results, and not a mandatory 40-hour work week. How do we know this? Because that’s how GitLab operates, by measuring results and not hours spent. “Companies need to stop measuring knowledge workers, like developers, by the hours they spend,” O'Leary says. “That’s the worst thing you could do.” Instead, build a culture that values paid time-off, family leave, and other work-life balance efforts because those will resonate with developers, he stresses.
Up your tool game. The science has spoken and developers drowning in information overload aren’t as productive, which ties directly into job satisfaction and happiness. In our 2021 Global DevSecOps Survey, we heard a lot about tool chains with between five and 15 tools on them, and often there wasn’t just one tool chain in play, but several. That’s a lot of noise. A DevOps platform streamlines code development, testing, deployment, and monitoring and definitely improves a company’s ability to successfully do DevOps. When we asked respondents to tell us in their own words about the benefits of a DevOps platform, this comment summed it up: “Reduced mean time to recovery (MTTR), quicker time to market, reduced lead time for fixes, and fewer change failures.”
Embrace flexible work. Nearly two years into a global pandemic, the time is right for companies to be deliberate about their choices. Developers are going to choose employers who have thought through all the options, whether it’s fully remote, remote with flexibility, or other combinations. But they’re not going to settle for companies trying to patchwork it without a solid plan. “Not every company is losing developers,” O'Leary says. “Developers are going to the places that understand the flexibility in life that can come from remote, while also not sacrificing any productivity.”
Don’t forget “concrete” perks. Free soda and “bring your dog to work” days probably aren’t enough to make developers consider your team, or decide to stay long term. Focus on what matters: time for volunteer or side projects, a collaborative culture, and demonstrable recognition of success. We offer discretionary bonuses. Some companies send handwritten notes from senior leadership, while others meet monthly for group celebrations. Whatever you do, just make it sure it’s authentic.
Assess the skills gap. You’ve got unfilled roles and DevOps team members itching for a change. Why not marry the two? West Monroe, a Chicago-based technology consulting firm, found 56% of managers surveyed rated their organization’s skills gap as moderate to severe. And a survey from the McKinsey Quarterly discovered 53% of executive respondents felt reskilling was the best solution to the skills gap. So stand out from the crowd and offer solid learning paths to employees, as well as tuition reimbursement. At the very least, offer your DevOps team time for DIY learning, as needed. Also consider job swapping, which can be a great way to expose employees to new career opportunities.
Sharon Gaudin contributed to this blog post.