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  • AJ Cheponis

How to attract and retain software developers

Updated: Apr 12

As the world becomes more technologically advanced, more software development jobs become available. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the need for developers will increase by 21% by 2028. With developers having the highest turnover rate of any sector (13.2%), it’s critical to know how to attract and retain these employees.


But before you can attract a top-performing developer, it’s necessary to know what makes a top-performing developer. Beyond technical skills, a great developer is patient and open-minded, a team player, and good at problem-solving.


More than 1,800 people have set a Job Target for the software developer role in our software. These are the three most common Reference Profiles they land on:



3 most common Reference Profiles for developers



1. Scholar


Scholars seek a high level of technical expertise in their field. As a result, they make excellent software developers. This Reference Profile is often described as persistent, dogged, and disciplined. Scholars like to work independently and in a stable, consistent environment. They dislike being micromanaged, as they know they can be relied upon to see the fine details themselves, without oversight.



2. Craftsman


Steady and reliable, Craftsmen are highly detailed and precise about their work. They’re analytical thinkers that thrive in structured environments. If you need to bring someone on board to design processes and guidelines, this Stabilizing Reference Profile could be a great choice.



3. Specialist


Specialists enjoy high-precision, high-caliber work. They’re very efficient—they never sacrifice quality, but work quickly to get the job done. While those with this profile tend to be more introverted, they’re skilled at collaborating and thoughtfully communicating information.



How to attract a top-performing developer


With the growing market for software developers, candidates have more job choices than ever before. Here are a few suggestions on how to attract developers to your company:

Use the right channels.


While Scholars, Craftsmen, and Specialists aren’t very extraverted, they do typically hear about jobs from people they know. Research from Stack Overflow found that 26.8% of developers heard about their current position from a friend, family member, or former colleague. Encourage your employees to reach out to developers they know about any open or upcoming positions you may have.



Offer the right benefits.


In a candidate-driven market, you have to make your organization stand out. The 2018 Developer Skills report asked more than 39,000 developers what they want most in a job. The top two responses were good work-life balance and professional growth and development opportunities. Position yourself as a great place for developers to work by updating your benefits to match what developers are looking for.



Make sure your culture is top-notch.


A 2019 report from Stack Overflow found that office environment and company culture matters—especially in the U.S. To attract and retain quality developers, keep tabs on your employer brand. What are employees saying about you on review sites, such as Glassdoor? If you conduct employee engagement surveys, what kind of feedback do you get from your employees? By maintaining a strong, healthy company culture, you increase your chances of retaining your developers.


How to retain developers


The same Stack Overflow report shared that nearly a third (32.4%) of developers changed jobs in the last year. It’s clear attracting and hiring a good developer is only one part of the equation.


How do you retain and motivate these highly-sought-after employees? The State of Software Development 2019 report has a few suggestions.



Provide engaging work.


It’s no secret: Developers like to solve problems! The report found that just over 56% of developers are motivated by challenging work.


Back in 2004, Google’s founders started allocating 20% of each employee’s time to working on “what they think will most benefit Google.” Giving your developers the opportunity to flex their creative muscles to help the organization not only engages your developers, but can also result in competitive advantages for your business.



Focus on your company culture.


Company culture has risen from second place to No. 1 on the “what motivates developers” front. Slightly less than 58% of developers said culture is a strong motivator.


If you don’t have a current pulse on your company culture, try an engagement survey. These surveys can provide critical insights into the employee experience—as well as why an employee might choose to leave.



Offer autonomy.


Roughly 32% of developers said autonomy is critical to feeling motivated at work. What opportunities are you giving your developers to lead a project—or even just work in their own way?


Offering your employees autonomy is a great way to trigger intrinsic motivation—the desire to work because it’s fulfilling, not for fear of repercussions or in hopes of a reward.



Make hiring easier.


Hiring the right people can be tough. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be guesswork. There’s a science to great hiring. We can show you how to make your next hire the right hire. Book your Demo today.





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