Here’s some key advice for hiring a developer


Kevin Troy, director of insights at Stack Overflow, examines some of the most common mistakes in the developer hiring process and offers some advice on how to attract the best developers to your company.

The success or failure of modern businesses greatly hinges on the quality of their software. Whether this is software that helps businesses communicate with their customers, manage their workflows or access their data remotely, software is ubiquitous in businesses across all industries. As a result of this, the role of the developer  – the person writing that software – has never been more important.

According to a recent study by Tech City UK there are more than 1.5 million digital tech jobs in the UK and the sector is still growing apace. Demand for developers is exceptionally high in the current climate and the market is unique insofar as it finds itself at a state of near full employment. In fact, our own research shows that the unemployment rate for UK developers is less than 2%. With demand for developers so high, and the supply of available developers so low, the would-be employer’s role becomes all the more difficult.

With pressures on both the demand and supply side recruiters can ill afford to let the top tech talent slip through their fingers. This article will explore some of the most common errors in the hiring process and offer some advice on how to both attract and retain the top tech talent.

Common mistakes

Developer unemployment may stand at only 2%, however, our survey revealed that 60% of UK developers are open to new opportunities. This is a significant figure – but only if recruiters are able to understand both the skillset and desires of an individual developer.

All of us, at one time or another, have been targeted by recruiters for roles that do not fit our skills or desires. This will often be based on a specific word or phrase in a job title. A director, for example, may mean different things in different industries and the term developer is no different.

The job title of developer can encompass a huge range of different coding languages and skills. There are an enormous number of different roles that deal with vastly different aspects of the business that would all come under the umbrella term of developer. It is key, therefore, that recruiters are familiar with the specific requirements for the role they are advertising as well as the skills they are looking for.

Developers are writing the script for the future and therefore tend to move away from some of the more traditional job titles that might be found in business elsewhere. It is not uncommon to see terms like “guru”, “ninja” or even “rock star” in connection with a developer – though obviously this depends on the individual developer. Every developer has their own personal preference and understanding the personality and mindset of the person behind the CV is key to an effective tech hiring strategy.

What do developers look for?

Unsurprisingly, salary is a key motivator for developers when they are looking for new opportunities. With pressures on both the demand and supply side wages will naturally be pushed up and developers want to ensure that they are being paid the fair market rate.

Interestingly, another of the most important aspects that developers take into consideration when looking for roles is a company’s culture. Some 44% of developers consider this the most important aspect when seeking to change roles. The company culture, the way it perceives developers and the environment that they have to work in, can be a key influencing factor. The least important consideration – with only 25% of developers strongly influenced by this – is remote working opportunities. Technically, you do not have to be in the office in order to perform your role as a developer – coding can take place anywhere with a computer and internet connection.

Salary and feeling at ease in the workplace are important in any job – but day-to-day activities are what tend to constitute job satisfaction. Developers excel in different areas, some are most adept at scanning code for errors and rectifying them, but commonly the preference is for committing code. Committing code on a regular basis is strongly linked to job satisfaction. Committing code means creating something tangible that makes an impact – that’s what keeps developers happy.

How to retain top talent

Generalist recruitment sites often overlook some of the more nuanced aspects of what it means to be a developer. It is key to keep the specific developer’s skills in mind and sophisticated tagging features – based on a developer’s expertise in a particular field – simplifies the process and makes it much easier to fit the developer to their ideal role.

Developers are the scriptwriters of the future and their importance to business is perhaps best illustrated by the all-time high in demand for developer hiring. Finding the right developer to take your company forward isn’t always easy – but to attract the top developers you need to think like one. Put yourself into the mindset of a developer and use the channels and approach that they would – it could be the hire that takes your company to the next level.