The best strategies for attracting developer talent 

Developers come in many different stripes — and they are also in great demand. Organizations must be creative and open-minded in hiring them. …

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The last few years have been a period of substantial change and disruption for every industry, including businesses in tech. Many are struggling to hire the talent they need. In an industry where constant innovation is required to stay competitive, the lack of skilled workers in technology is proving costly, with 65% of CIOs claiming that the inability to hire is damaging their business.

When hiring developer talent, recruiters and businesses need to reassess their preconceived assumptions about what makes an effective developer. Headhunters must cut through the myths, fables and misconceptions constructed around an archetypal but fictional developer. Not until this is done can the talent shortage be put in order.

Recognizing developer differences

To be able to attract developer talent, it’s crucial to recognize the differences between developers and identify their skill sets and areas of improvement. No two developers are the same. Great developers come from various backgrounds and find their way into their careers through multiple paths. While some developers have been coding since they were children, others may have come to coding later in life after discovering a passion and skill for it. Others may have only found an aptitude for coding through chance or circumstance. All developers share a professional interest, but beyond that, their backgrounds and lives may diverge significantly. This variety is excellent for the industry, but businesses looking to hire developer talent must be aware of and account for those coming from different life paths.

This diversity not only applies to finding a passion, but also to qualifications and degrees. In most industries, the qualifications held by colleagues are broadly comparable; in software development, the same cannot be said. Although most developers do possess a degree of some type — and the subject of this can vary widely — it is not the case for everyone. Nor should it be a requirement when attempting to recruit candidates.


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Although it is not the usual career route for software developers, some people join the industry as a second career. People who come to a career in software development after pursuing different paths often have innovative takes and can be just as valuable to an organization as lifelong developers.  

Therefore, the qualifications, skills and aptitudes of people in development are a broad church and not uniform. This is incredibly positive for the industry. A range of backgrounds and life skills bring different insights and skills critical for innovative thinking. Businesses, therefore, should not constrain themselves to narrow recruitment criteria when seeking to attract developers.

Soft skills to look for in developers

We’ve all seen it. The stock image of developers as the lonely computer whizz, tapping away on a keyboard from a dark basement. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Life as a developer means a work-life of intense collaboration, discussion and teamwork, and recruiters need to take this into consideration.  

To tackle the most complex of projects, developers must be able to collaborate and consult one another, bouncing ideas off each other and tapping into their whole team’s skill sets. Only through teamwork can you achieve the best outcomes. Therefore, every developer must have the ability to collaborate and work effectively as part of a team.

The best developers are those who can learn from others around them, absorbing everything they have to offer. Cooperation is also highly beneficial for overcoming the most challenging problems that developers face. A broad range of insights and experience, freely given through exchanging ideas, is essential to tackle complex problems. The tools utilized by developers help facilitate the free discussion of ideas and solutions.

Developers are by no means all unsociable and introverted. As in any walk of life, their personalities run the gamut from highly sociable to introverted. Developers tend to be very successful problem solvers who are efficient at collaboration.

Emotional intelligence and a strong work ethic are vital skills for developers. Being inquisitive and challenging yourself to learn skills are important traits that anyone who is a successful developer will possess.

The future of hiring developer talent

With many businesses motivated to accelerate their digital transformations and the Great Resignation ongoing throughout the global job market, organizations should open their eyes to the possibilities and benefits of different hiring strategies. Qualified tech workers and would-be developers will have their pick of exciting and successful businesses to choose from. While this means that opportunities for people contemplating entering a career as a developer are becoming more attractive than ever, it is becoming more competitive than ever to hire them.

The global war for talent means that software developers and those who wish to work in the tech industry, in general, are in high demand. Highly talented and motivated employees can differentiate between a successful and a failing business. Organizations that can challenge misconceptions around a career as a developer and incorporate the realities of developer careers into their recruitment strategies will be best placed to attract the best talent.

Anna Richardson is vice president of HR at Aiven.


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