5 big challenges when hiring developers (and how to overcome them)

We all know the struggle by now, don’t we? The need of getting kickass developers onboard is not even urgent anymore, it’s a burning matter in fire and flames. And you want to attract the best developers, but 1000+ other companies want them too. The market is crazy. Hiring developers is harder than ever before. 

But hey, we’re here to support you in the best way we can! Below we’ve collected some of the challenges often encountered, and how to overcome them.

1. Developers hate headhunters

Let’s be honest – many (probably a vast majority) developers hate us recruiters. And frankly – we can’t blame them. They’re right in the middle of a spamming arms race. There are plenty of stories to tell about developers deleting their LinkedIn accounts just to escape recruiters spam, or even fighting back by trolling.

Although a dark shadow has settled over recruiters and their reputation among developers, the race isn’t lost.

Believe it or not, but developers are human-beings too (even though their supernatural abilities might get you thinking they’re not) and if they are open to new opportunities  (which most people actually are) you’ll have to genuinely earn their trust first. Spamming InMail on LinkedIn like just another impersonal bot will most likely not be the best way to start building a foundation for that relationship.  

A good idea would be to make qualitative and genuine matches, using a channel for outreach that’s not already soaked in bad vibes, aiming for wholesome and long-term relationships that could also bring you great referrals.Only reach out to those you genuinely think would be a great fit for the job skillswise.

Our advice: 

– Use another channel for your outreach - like email, Slack or Discord.

– Make sure your way of communicating isn’t impersonal and automated. You’re a human-being too, right? 

– Let your candidates know why you think they would be a good fit.

– Be curious about the candidate’s desires and wishes, ask questions and keep the answers close in mind when continuing the dialogue and matching process.

– If you hit it off with a candidate, but he/she isn’t interested - make sure to ask for referrals. Just like you probably do, developers trust their friends and network.

2. Don’t know where or how to reach developers

Reaching out to developers is one thing, getting any answers back is a whole other. As stated above, many developers dislike or don’t even use LinkedIn. It’s simply not their preferred channel - so why keep chasing them there?

Channels developers like:

– Reddit

– GitHub 

– Stack Overflow

– Twitter

– Quora

– Twitch

– YouTube

These channels can be a great choice to reach developers with organic, as well as paid content. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, it isn’t. A very common mistake done by recruiters and marketers is promoting with a belief that developers are a homogeneous group that can all be targeted in the same way, in all channels. Wrong! The developer community is super fragmented.

There are segmented communities like subreddits and discord channels, and the communication style varies significantly between (for example) Quora and Twitch. In order for your content to be trustworthy, make sure it’s perfectly aligned with the platform's set of culture.

Also, if you didn’t yet try out our tool for reaching developers, we warmly recommend you to do so. It helps you to (insanely easy) source, screen and get in touch with tech talent in no time.

Our advice:

– Avoid fluffy and hyped-up marketing and copy, keep it real and to the point. 

– Get creative with your strategies and content, try something new and different.

– Expect developers to do their research and be prepared with easily accessible content and information about any question that might occur, to not lose their interest.

– Test your content thoroughly before going live - ask developers in your team or network about feedback, if anything is off - your recipients will notice right away.

3. Developers doesn’t find your company attractive

Talented developers have the luxury of being (very) picky. If they don’t seem to find your company attractive you’ll probably have to figure out what exactly it is that they dislike. Is it the business? The culture? The compensation? The benefits? Or something else? 

When candidates decline your offers or opt out of recruiting processes, take the time to ask them why and what could have made them accept, or at least consider you as their future employer.

Furthermore, you as a recruiter, can do quite a lot to increase the attractiveness of your company by communicating in a convincing, likable, personal and transparent manner. If what you say is of enough weight, and the chemistry is genuine, developers are likely to join in, even if they weren't really drawn to your company at first glance.

Benefits like fancy workout classes probably won’t get you developers on the hook, although flexibility, the ability to work from home, company equity and plans for individual growth most likely will.

“ I don’t care about yoga classes. I don’t like mandatory-ish social activities with an enforced fun dynamic. I don’t fall for bogus “unlimited” vacation days. I don’t really care about food if it just means you expect 60+ hour weeks. I don’t like fancy open office plans that are impossible to work in.”

– says Joe Wezorek, professional Software Engineer in a Quora answer.

And let’s face it – wage will most likely be a key factor if the developer isn’t already all fired up about your vision. And probably even if he/she is, too.

“Pay me the salary that my training and experience deserve. Senior developers have seen enough startups crash that they aren't interested in working for peanuts. Doesn’t matter if your funding is shaky. Doesn’t matter how good you think your idea is. You need senior devs to get across the finish line. If you can’t afford to pay them, don’t start the project.”

– says Kurt Guntheroth, Software Engineer in a Quora answer

Our advice:

– Offer perks and benefits that developers actually care about.

– Emphasize the ability to further learning and development with you.

– If you lack equal experience and knowledge in your team, set up an outside-company learning hub where developers can share and grow with like minded people.

– Don’t chase senior developers if you don’t have the budget for it.

– Put some effort into finding out exactly what it is that discourages developers from joining you, and fix it.

4. Limited pool of talent with the right tech skills

There is a shortage of tech talent, that’s a fact. 

With very advanced jobs in the tech sector, it’s more vital than ever that the hiring manager and recruiter understands the job description, key responsibilities, methodology and processes. Ensuring the right competence within the HR team will increase the chances of finding the right hire.

If you have worked for a while as a tech recruiter, you start to understand how developers think and act. But that understanding is a piece of art that far from everyone can master. Recruitment demands constant collaboration with the tech team. The more you get to know both your target group and your tech team's needs - the more precise you will be in finding and attracting talent.

And make sure to make the absolute most out of the talent that’s currently in your pipe! Of all the candidates you reach out to, most people won’t be a perfect match for you - but they might know people. Or, they might be a great match - but just missed out reading your first message. Therefore, never forget to follow-up frequently, connect with a long-term approach and always ask for referrals.

Last but not least, don’t forget to focus on the soft skills too! “Hire for potential, train for skills” might be a saying you find cliché by now, but it also might be a very good option moving forward.

Our advice:

– Ask recent hires for their key motivators and what brought them onboard.

– Keep close dialogue with the tech team. 

– Build long-term relationships with candidates and always ask for referrals.

– Don’t try to attract everyone, attract the people that might be passionate about your vision and business. Make it super clear in your communication what journey and reality you offer.

5. The competition is insane

Yep, it is a crazy market and hiring amazing developers is harder than ever before, especially if you’re a startup or smaller business, ready to scale up.

Let’s first state the obvious: salary is very likely to be a key factor. If you have the ability to pay up - good for you! Although pay doesn’t have to be the only factor that wins a great developer over.

Besides offering other perks - like company equity - the core of your company can play a vital role in whether awesome developers want to join you or not. Who the founders and leaders are, what your vision and idea is and if your values align with theirs, might be of great importance for a potential hire.

Don’t try to attract everyone! Attract the people that's not only skilled but also passionate about your vision & business. Make it super clear in your communication what journey and reality you offer.

If your company is built around a certain value, use it as a hook to attract candidates with similar values. But make sure to polish your vision and get your values straight. Always highlight what makes you unique.

And offer flexibility! Many developers want to work remotely, or at least have the freedom to decide for themselves about their situation and environment.

Our advice: 

– Polish your vision and attract with your values, but don’t dance around the salary question (that just seems shady). 

– Be transparent about the journey and reality you can offer. 

– Offer company equity to the right candidate.

– Focus on attracting those who are passionate about what you do. 

– Don’t try to compete with the big sharks, stay true to who you are as a company and keep your uniqueness.

In short summary 

Developers hate recruiters, but only when we’re impersonal spambots. Don’t get stuck in quantity, only trying to reach as many as possible. Approach developers with preciseness, curiosity and a genuine interest in their desires. 

Ensure competence in the hiring team and keep a tight collaboration with tech.
Get creative with your recruitment marketing, say goodbye to comfortable channels that you’ve always used and dive into their world.

Try out our outreach tool to connect, and build relationships, with tech talent.

Offering yoga classes as a perk won’t get you anywhere. Make personal growth and development a key priority in your company, and communication.

Speak their lingo, build wholesome and long-term relationships, ask for referrals, follow up and nurture. 

Don’t chase superheroes if you don’t have the budget to pay them. They know their worth. Although if you can offer company equity - it might be another story.

Don’t try to attract everyone. Focus on attracting the people that's passionate about your vision & business. If your company is built around a certain value, use it as a hook.

And last, but definitely not least, offer freedom and flexibility!

We wish you all the best. Good luck (and have fun) Tech Hunting!

Published: Aug 19, 2022