A lot of companies are investing a lot of money looking for developers. It’s a good time to be a developer but not a good time to be an employer.
Matt Assay, a columnist for TechRepublic.com, thinks he has the solution. He says, ” … smart companies not only invest more in recruiting developers, but they also optimize for developer productivity. After all, it makes no sense to set up artificial impediments to developers getting work done.”
According to research Asay has done, “Over the past 20 years, hardware costs have plummeted, even as developer costs have boomed from $28,000 per year — even in competitive markets like Silicon Valley and New York — to over $100,000 in those same markets.”
So what to do? He advises, “The first step in attracting great developers, then, is not to dig into your bank account. Rather, you should focus on solving hard, interesting problems. Jocelyn Goldfein has given great counsel on how to find strong engineers, but often great engineers already work for you. You just need to give them room to express their creativity.”
He adds, “This is similar to Gartner analyst Svetlana Sicular’s suggestion that ‘Organizations already have people who know their own data better than mystical data scientists.’ So, rather than scour the planet for data scientist unicorns, companies should look within and nurture the talent they already have.”
The counsel he is referring to from Goldstein includes advice like this, “The personal cost of job switching is high. So most great engineers aren’t looking most of the time, and an email from you probably isn’t going to kick them into job-hunting mode if they’re happy staying put.”
She also adds, “The referral (a mutual introduction of candidate and employer) is the single most effective sourcing technique. The match-maker vouching for both parties means there’s a strong chance this person is qualified to work for you, and a strong chance they’re willing to talk to you, a huge win/win. People are always going to be more willing to talk to you when there’s an introduction.”
Here is a more in-depth look at the advice Sicular gave that Asay likes. “The picture, as well as my more in-depth research, show that companies should look within. Organizations already have people who know their own data better than mystical data scientists — this is a key. The internal people already gained experience and ability to model, research and analyze. Learning Hadoop is easier than learning the company’s business.”
Of course, sometimes developer talent has to be attracted from the outside. Ron Miller, a TechCrunch.com writer, says, “With so many platform plays out there though, it’s exceedingly difficult for them all to achieve the necessary critical mass to get the developer attention they crave. The old chestnut holds of course. Just because you build it doesn’t mean they’ll come.”
He suggests, ” … companies proactively try to attract developers to the platform by showing up at events like the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon, where they have a large captive audience of developers at their disposal. And they are trying a number of strategies including offering cash and merchandize for the developers who write the most creative programs on their platforms. Many of the vendors are also holding free API workshops to help the developers who are interested in them get started or learn tips and tricks to make it easier to build applications.”
When all is said and done, though, attracting developer talent may not require thinking out of the box. It may mean looking at your current staffing levels to solve the hiring needs.