Developers are one of the most sought-after individuals in the tech and digital industries, no matter where in the world. Post-pandemic, investment in technology has never been higher, as many businesses were forced to undergo digital transformation in a short period of time. Furthermore, a significant number of organisations are looking to redistribute their budgets, and the big names in the market are still hiring at a fast pace. As the supply of competent talent hasn't kept pace, this results in a highly competitive job market with a severe talent crunch.
On one hand, the existing talent pool may not have the proficiency that’s on par with the rapidly changing times. On the other hand, there aren’t enough graduates from existing programmes to meet this demand, which would translate to companies struggling to find adequately skilled technological and digital professionals.
To give you an example of just how high the demand is for software developers (including software engineers), the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics has predicted that the employment in these roles will increase by 22% between 2020 and 2030!
If this scenario applies to your company too, you’d be wanting to source and onboard the best candidates. But, now you have to choose: Would you want to train your existing employees (who may not be familiar with the latest technologies), or hire people from the outside? The latter can be critical for specialised skills like artificial intelligence and machine learning. Which is why, in addition to training your current employees, you’d also need to channel your efforts into recruiting tech and digital talent.
First off, according to Techopedia, the term ‘developer’ can be defined as: “The key individual that builds and creates software and applications. He/she writes, debugs, and executes the source code of a software application. This job role is also known as a software developer, computer programmer, application developer, software coder, or software engineer. Although the primary job role is writing code, a developer also may gather requirements for software, design or overall software architecture, software documentation and other related software development processes.”
Simply put, it’s referring to someone who’s responsible for creating or working on the development process of a product or service. Now, as they may work alone or on a team (depending on the complexity of the project), it’s more likely for them to pick up a variety of skills along the way. This is corroborated by the Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2021, which reported that few individuals consider themselves to be one single type, with many of them wearing multiple hats.
The majority of respondents said they considered themselves to be more than one type of developer – with database administrators, site reliability engineers, and security professionals having the most variety. On average, each of these roles reported being seven other developer types! With that said, companies and recruiters can see for themselves why great developers are on the radar of everyone out there, so it’s no surprise that the competition is fierce.
We now come to the main meat of this article: The all-important questions of “What can you do to differentiate yourself from the rest of the competitors?”, “How do you win in this tech talent war?”, and “Why should they choose you as their next employer?”
This guide was created for all the companies out there who are still on the lookout for their right fit, especially if their company isn’t a big, famous tech company with a hefty budget like Google, Apple, or Facebook. Remember: You can only do so much with salaries and perks; you’re going to need to go above and beyond with methods like promoting your company’s reputation in the developer community as an excellent place to work, as that’ll allow you to become more attractive to clients and investors too. Without further ado, let’s begin!
While it may seem like a no-brainer to hire someone who’s experienced and comes with an impressive resume showing off their capabilities, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re the best. You see, hiring a developer who’s only graduated a year or two ago may lack the specific technical skills, but he/she may have the ability to learn quickly, have fresh ideas, and apply new strategies to solve problems. While experience is still important when it comes to searching for the top talent, it’s equally as important to look for other factors such as the individual’s capacity for learning, as well as bringing non-conventional methods to the table in using available tools and techniques to face issues.
This presents you with the opportunity to provide valuable resources for the current employees and new hires. The aforementioned survey discovered that respondents aged 45 and above were more likely to have learned from books and other forms of physical media (84%), while those who were younger, i.e. under 18 years old, rely most on online resources such as videos, blogs, and forums (85%), which makes them most likely to have learned from remote courses or certification programmes. It was also found that more and more people are learning to code online, as the number increased to 70% (from 60%) year-on-year.
As such, it’s on you and the company to provide a wealth of tools and resources for your employees to pick-up and build their skills, which should encompass the traditional and digital mediums. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach for people to learn, so this will allow your employees the freedom and flexibility of choosing the resources and formats that work best for their learning style. Don’t forget to purchase access to online platforms if possible, because developers can then piece together the individual courses they want to create their own learning path. The top three most popular ones are Udemy (66%), Coursera (35%), and Codecademy (26%). Since developers want to have as many ways as possible to advance their technical skills and careers, you know that this method would be a very great perk indeed!
When it comes to the pandemic, one of the major changes in our daily lives had to be learning how to survive while in full lockdown. This affected not just our personal lives, but our work schedules too, as we were forced to deal with fully work-from-home (WFH) arrangements for the first time in history. While many suffered with adjusting and coping in the beginning, it soon turned out to be a blessing in disguise as many people found that there were more benefits in the long-run, compared to the initial phase of struggling.
As stated in GRIT’s Salary Report and Market Outlook for Singapore and Hong Kong, it was found that both employees and employers reported multiple benefits in a fully WFH or hybrid schedule. In Singapore, employees recorded 25% lower stress levels, 80% of home workers enjoyed a better work-life balance, while 73% of home workers noted that they consumed healthier food; employers found that there was a 13% performance increase, a reduction in absenteeism and medical claims, as well as stronger intra-team communication and interactions. In Hong Kong, employees stated that they had enhanced productivity due to the perceived better quality of life (more time to rest and exercise), decreased commuting time and costs, plus enhanced efficiency and lower burnout risk; employers found that it helped to develop a flexible hiring strategy, there was an overall increase in job satisfaction, and it allowed them to retain employees better.
It’s no wonder that the Stack Overflow survey found that 85% of developers say their organisations are at least partially remote, with 43% of respondents stating that they enjoy a fully WFH arrangement, and another 42% stating that theirs was hybrid (some remote, some in-person). The creation of various tools and strategies during the pandemic thus allows for much more flexibility in where developers can still carry out their work efficiently, which is where your company can stand out from your competitors by giving your employees the option to choose where they’d like to work. You not only offer an attractive perk, you’d also benefit from being able to hire the best from anywhere in the world!
There’s a saying which goes “two heads are better than one”; imagine if this were a team that consists of experienced and like-minded professionals, they’d be able to accomplish so much together. “Each individual has unique gifts, talents and skills. When we bring them to the table and share them for a common purpose, it can give companies a real competitive advantage. When people play off each other’s skills and knowledge, they can create solutions that are practical and useful,” said John J. Murphy, author, ‘Pulling Together: 10 Rules for High-Performance Teamwork’.
At your company, finding the right person to do the job is only half the battle won; you’d need to also find people who are able to work well with others so that it increases the potential for innovation, more effective problem-solving, and smarter risk taking. “We found that groups of size three, four, and five outperformed the best individuals. This performance is attributed to the ability of people to work together to generate and adopt correct responses, reject erroneous responses, and effectively process information,” said Dr. Patrick Laughlin, researcher, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. And while it’s good to have an internal team for developers to fall back on, it’s also just as important for you to encourage them in seeking information and guidance from online communities.
As shown in the earlier methods, developers learn best when given the freedom and flexibility to chart their own learning course. The survey reports that apart from technical documentation (88%) and blogs (75%) taking up the first and third spots as some of the most relied upon online resources, the second spot goes to Stack Overflow (86%). For the uninitiated, think of Stack Overflow as a forum where developers of all types and experience are able to collaborate and share their knowledge. This shows how important it is for companies to have well-written documentation available, as well as an active community (whether internally or externally) to answer questions and provide solutions. It was also found that 98% of the respondents have visited Stack Overflow, with 81% of them visiting the website weekly and 53% of them visiting daily, suggesting it’s a valuable resource for people who are either professional developers or still on a learning curve.
On the same topic about people in an organisation, there used to be a mindset that you can only find success when you surround yourself with people who are just like you. Nowadays though, with the shift in the way we work and the increasingly blurry lines between geographical locations thanks to technology, true success now involves people from all walks of life. According to a report from McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, it found that teams consisting of people from diverse backgrounds (gender, age, ethnicity, etc.) are more creative, and clock in better performance by up to 35% compared to more homogeneous teams.
So, while the world of developers used to be a predominantly male environment, this needs to change, and it can start with your company! The Stack Overflow survey has found that those who are learning to code are slightly less likely to identify as a man and slightly more likely to prefer to not identify their gender, as well as less likely to identify as European and/or White. While the percentages are still small, it’s already an indication that the new group of developers who may enter the workforce soon could be more diverse. By actively taking measures to diversify your workforce, it allows you and your teams to be more open-minded in unlocking new opportunities, overcoming new challenges, and gaining new insights.
At the same time, you should also be aware of inclusivity, which is the act of ensuring that the minority groups feel included and welcomed in the workplace. It’s one thing to hire different types of people; it’s another to allow for everyone to be involved, to voice their opinions, and to be heard. When this happens, you’re essentially maintaining a healthy workplace that encourages creativity, thus allowing the employees to feel like they belong. In turn, employees who feel comfortable, valued, and respected in the workplace will be more motivated to carry on contributing to the company’s continued success.
Nothing is more frustrating and demotivating than to be halfway through an urgent project, then find out that key information you require is being withheld by the head of another department, due to a number of vague reasons such as lacking necessary approvals and no formal black-and-white trail. This does sound like there’s a lot of red tape, which will then cause unnecessary delays as well as a toxic environment at work, doesn’t it?
This obsolete practice is not only time-consuming and patience-hogging, it can also test the tolerance of even a saint. It’ll involve excessive complexity and delay, uncompromising routines, as well as other practices that can strangle the best of intentions, hinder innovative measures, and stifle the entire flow of creativity. The worst possible outcome of this: Having that urgent project pass its deadline, anger the client(s)/investors, and miss that critical window of opportunity to launch the product/service ahead of your competitors!
If you’re still unconvinced about the level of severity when it comes to red tape holding your employees back, check out these sobering data from the survey:
This is why it’s so crucial for your company to take the necessary steps in doing away with as much red tape as possible, in addition to ensuring that your employees have easy access to available learning resources and getting the support they need for answers or solutions to problems. You should also make programmes like Continuous Integration & Continuous Delivery (CI/CD), DevOps, and Automated Testing readily available at your company. All these steps would all be highly appreciated by the developers, as it was further noted that a majority of them encounter a knowledge silo at least once a week (68%), and spend more than 30 minutes a day searching for answers or solutions (62%).
Don’t forget to sign up for databases too, which is basically a system that contains many features that safely store and scale the most complicated data workloads. Their open-source nature and high stability make them integral to many of the most popular software stacks for building and maintaining products and services. Almost half of the respondents use MySQL (47%), whereas the other two most common databases are PostgreSQL (44%) and SQLite (32%).
Finally, there are cloud platforms and web frameworks to consider. The former is a type of server in an Internet-based data centre that allows organisations to store, back up, and recover data; the latter is a type of platform which allows organisations to easily build fast and scalable network applications. You’d need to ensure that you have the crowd-favourite types available for your employees (both current and future), so which one should you choose if you’re tight on budget? For cloud platforms, the top three are AWS (51%), Microsoft Azure (29%), and Google Cloud (27%). For web frameworks, you can choose between Node.js (47%), React.js (43%), and jQuery (29%).
By making sure that you’re well-prepared with these, it’ll not only show the top developers that you’re up-to-date with the universally-accepted technologies and did your best to provide them with it, you’ll also be demonstrating your willingness to help them ease right into their work rhythm – no need for them to have to scramble in understanding and learning how to use something that’s more obscure! Now, who wouldn’t appreciate and be grateful for a company that takes their staff well-being into consideration?
If your company is looking to develop the next ground-breaking app, or a core product you’re going to build your entire business around, you’ll want only the top talent on your team. With our tips in mind, you'll have a better idea of how the best developers think, and what it is that will attract them to your company. And if you're lucky enough to find a few who are interested in what you have to offer them, before hiring, take the time to analyse and rank your priorities. From there, you'd be able to customise your candidate search based on your most important needs, so that you'll choose the one who is the right fit. Don't forget to look at all factors like the candidate's hard skills, education and certifications, experience, as well as soft skills. Good luck!