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22/1/2021: How to Hire World-Class Software Engineers

Hiring quality software engineers is daunting. Demand for engineers is at an all-time high, unemployed engineer are few and far between, and these two facts make finding your next perfect hire incredibly difficult.

What you need to know about the software engineering landscape

Engineers are the most in-demand professionals in the US. Only 1 in 100 engineers are unemployed. Engineers also change jobs a lot – 50% of all software developers plan on switching jobs in the next year (source: Glassdoor data)

These statistics make one thing obvious. Great engineers have the luxury of picking which projects they want to join. They don’t need a job. We need to present an opportunity and a challenge.

The challenge is obvious, competition is fierce. The opportunity, however, is that engineers don’t have to be afraid of taking a risk on your company. There are always other projects that need talented engineers.

 To have a chance at attracting engineers, you need to know what a typical engineer is looking for (beyond compensation)

Opportunity — Engineers need to know they’ll be making an impact and will be moving forward in their career—both in terms of skills and financial compensation. It is, thus, critical to have a technology culture that is conducive to engineering career growth.

Challenge — Top engineers want to be working on very difficult problems that they can grow from and point to as achievements for the rest of their careers. Engineers want to work at companies that have a technology-driven culture. This means having a career ladder that supports both Individual Contributors and People Management skills.

Community — Engineers want to work in a supportive environment where their thoughts are valued by their teammates. Over 50% of engineers say they would take less pay to work for a company with a fantastic culture or brand (source: Glassdoor data). Engineers want to be managed by other credible technical people who understand how hard the work is and will share best practices from which they can learn.

5 steps to recruiting software engineers

Step 1: Create a company story that engineers will want to be part of
Most hiring guides begin with sourcing candidates, but there’s a step that comes before sourcing and searching—building your employer brand. Use dedicated platforms to promote your brand name.

 Step 2: Never stop sourcing
The secret to hiring great engineers is to never stop sourcing and searching. It is a long and dragged-out process which involves courting and selling like crazy to convince great senior people to give up their cushy high-paying jobs and take the risk to join your company.

 Step 3: Build relationships with engineers before you screen them
The first recruiting tool is the technical phone screen. This process is like engineer speed-dating in that you’ll spend a lot of time with people you might never take the next step with. However, you’re building relationships with dozens of quality engineers, which will pay off in the future.

Step 4: Focus your on-site interview around problems your engineers actually solve
The most effective way to conduct a technical interview is a hot button issue; it seems that this more practical interview style is rising in popularity.

Step 5: If all goes well, close as quickly as possible
The key to closing the hire quickly is to discuss compensation openly and to stay responsive in your communication.

To attract top talent, from sourcing to closing, you’re selling your "story”. The key to hiring world-class engineers is to share your vision and help them see where they fit in. You’re not just offering them a job; you’re selling them on the next chapter of their life. 

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