The Keys to Recruiting Software Engineers Successfully

It’s increasingly difficult to hire software engineers, and the number of articles on this topic is exhaustive.
In September 2012, Microsoft published a report on the state of technical talent in the United States, which found that the number of people graduating with computer science degrees each year (59,731) is less than half the number of new job openings that require at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science (122,300).
We know this problem is huge — particularly for expansion-stage companies who need to find and hire outstanding software engineers to build products and scale their business. The trouble is, although many tech recruiters can find possible candidates via their typical avenues, the response rate when trying to engage these candidates is very low. Why? OpenView Labs decided to conduct a survey of over 200 software engineers and technical recruiters across the country to determine some of the reasons, and to find better ways for technical recruiters to start conversations which are hopefully mutually beneficial.
To view the 10-page report in its entirety, download it for free on the OpenView Labs website — “How to Win the War for Top Tech Talent”.
When we sent out our survey to software engineers and tech recruiters, we didn’t know exactly what we might learn — but the insights were more valuable than I could have anticipated. Among our findings:

  • 89 percent of software engineers we surveyed say they have applied to two or fewer jobs in the past five years, which helps explain why it can be difficult to find and engage top software engineering talent.
  • 64 percent of recruiters believe that the greatest motivator for software engineers to consider a new job is having the opportunity to work with interesting technology, but software engineers disagreed. In fact, less than 10 percent of the engineers we surveyed cited cutting-edge technology as a key reason for accepting a new position.
  • 45 percent of software engineers said that a position’s relevance to their individual background was the top factor in deciding whether or not to respond to a recruiter’s outreach, while 13 percent cited interest in a company and 10 percent selected competitive compensation.

The bottom line is that recruiting for software engineers is much different than recruiting for positions in other disciplines, and recruiters need to do be much more creative and proactive about how they source, engage, and hire for their engineering teams. That starts with implementing strategies that allow them to build their company’s reputation as an employer of choice for engineers, and then using the appropriate mediums and messaging to pique their interest.
In the full report, we lay out a series of best practices and ideas designed to help growing technology companies do just that, as well as share compensation data so companies in major tech hubs can better gauge the market and put together compensation packages that will help retain their team. To read the full report, click here.

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