talent February 6, 2020

How to do a developer-friendly employer brand overhaul for 2020

In order to win tech talent over from your competitors, you need to focus on revamping your employer brand to make sure it holds strong appeal to the software engineers you’re hoping to recruit. Here are some key elements of building a developer-friendly employer brand.

Versatile and highly skilled developer talent can be tough to find. While there are more than 223,000 open job listings for software developers in the United States alone, only 35,000 computer science majors are graduating from U.S. universities each year. 

Thanks to this scarcity of strong candidates, it can take an average of 58 days to hire a software engineer, twice as long as roles in healthcare. And each day you’re waiting to fill those roles can cost you. If you don’t have the technical talent you need to build out your product roadmap and drive innovation throughout your enterprise, you’ll quickly fall behind your competition.

In order to win tech talent over from your competitors, you need to focus on revamping your employer brand to make sure it holds strong appeal to the software engineers you’re hoping to recruit. 

Here are some key elements of building a developer-friendly employer brand.

Technology

One of the key concerns that developers think about when considering job offers is what their tech stack will look like. What frameworks and programming languages will your development team be working with day in and day out? Will they be tearing their hair out struggling to integrate with outdated technologies? 

We recently surveyed nearly 90,000 developers, and found that their preferred languages included Rust, Python, TypeScript, Kotlin, and WebAssembly. Those they dreaded included VBA, Objective-C, Assembly, C, and PHP.

In order to attract top candidates, you’ll need to show them that your tech stack includes cutting-edge technologies that they want to use and that your company prioritizes learning opportunities. Infact, when developers are assessing potential jobs, programming languages and frameworks came a very close second only to total compensation and benefits as a consideration factor.

To demonstrate your company’s commitment to high-quality, innovative code, give your top candidates a chance to participate in code reviews and to meet face to face with some of your in-house developers. This will help them gauge your company’s approach to collaboration and a good understanding of the technical nature of the role.

Culture

Alongside your chosen tech stack, it’s also important to showcase your company’s culture. For example, Mailchimp publishes articles that showcase the company’s commitment to making employees feel at home, including an epic scavenger hunt as part of each new employee’s onboarding process. A clear values statement will help prospective employees visualize how they’ll fit into your organization and help them understand the intention of their work. Make sure that your most engaged employees are also contributing their positive experiences to external reviews sites like Glassdoor, as prospective employees will conduct independent research there to get a better feel for the company culture.

Work-life balance is also crucial to developers. 46% said flex time or flexible schedules were an important factor for considering a job, and 32% said remote work options were important. Programming is a largely independent role, so if a developer prefers to start working at noon and write code late at night instead of clocking in at 8:30AM or to work from a dedicated home office instead of a noisy open office, they’ll heavily weigh workplace flexibility in their favor. It’s worth making sure that you provide the freedom they’re looking for. The value of a developer’s work to your organization is in their output, so it’s essential to make the right accommodations to help them succeed.

Candidates also want to know that they won’t be blocked from productivity in their role. They found that a distracting work environment, too many meetings, and being tasked with non-development work were three of the prime roadblocks that kept them from accomplishing their professional goals in previous dev roles. Empower your recruiting team to address and overcome these objections during the interview stage, and allow candidates to ask questions of developers on your team to get reassurance about the company’s approach to enabling productivity.

Professional development opportunities

Software engineers aren’t the sort of people who’ll be happy to coast once they land a good job offer. They genuinely love programming and want to use their skills to create real value with the tools they build. 

They’re passionate about growing their knowledge base and learning new languages. 65% of developers said they contribute to open source projects at least once a year, and 85% of them have taught themselves a new language, framework, or tool without taking a formal course. 

Software engineers want to know that they’ll have opportunities to grow in their role. 44% said that opportunities for professional advancement were essential, and 24% wanted assurance that their work output would be widely used or impactful to the organization.

So when you’re recruiting for a developer role, showcase the professional development opportunities that will be available to your team. Spotlight employee profiles of developers who started out as new grads and quickly rose to senior developer roles, or developers who were able to generate a new internal product during the course of a company-wide hackathon. Tell them about conferences that they’ll be able to attend or present their work at. 

Developers care about more than a paycheck. They care about doing meaningful work, and having the opportunity to learn on the job. If you can show them a clear path to growth and learning within their roles, they’ll be eager to come on board.

How to demonstrate that you’re a great company for developers

Now that we’ve showcased some of the key factors that developers are looking for in a career, how can your company make it clear that you share the same values? Simply asking a recruiter to address their concerns during an interview isn’t enough. Most developers won’t even apply for a job with you in the first place if they’re not confident that it will be a great fit.

So what can you do to set up a great first impression for software engineers who are considering their career opportunities?

  • Create comprehensive and honest job listings.


Job listings for developers shouldn’t be generic boilerplate passed down from HR. They should include input from the development team, showcasing the specific technologies and methodologies that the candidate will use on a day-to-day basis. They should be clear on what the job responsibilities are and how the candidate will be successful. Don’t leave out a salary range, even if you know it’s not as high as some of your competitors. We found that when salary ranges were included, click-throughs increased by 75 percent. While the salary may not be the most important factor to a new hire, candidates want to have all the information, so they can make a well-informed choice, or they won’t apply at all.

It’s also important to avoid using gender- or culturally-biased terms in your job descriptions that might alienate women or people of color. Consider using a software tool that can pinpoint problematic language to replace before publishing a listing, so that you’ll be able to attract the broadest group of candidates possible.

  • Create some employer branding content and share it through social media and on a careers website.

    Though much of your website is likely focused on educating your prospective customers, your “Careers” section should be aimed at convincing prospective employees about the value of your brand as a great place to work. Consider developing “employee spotlight” videos and stories that showcase a diverse group of employees, sharing genuine stories about why they love working at your company. Showcase your employee benefits, your company values, and recognition you’ve received for being a great employer.

    You should also use social media channels to drive engagement with your employer branding content. Ask some of your technical leadership to develop blog content or short video segments about projects they’re working on for your company blog, and promote these pieces via LinkedIn and other social channels. This content will reach your current employees’ peers outside of the company, which can help to drive new applicants to your company via word of mouth.
  • Become a valuable part of the local tech community.

    You’ll be able to gain the trust of your region’s developer culture by actively participating in a collaborative and generous way. Consider hosting a Meetup group in your office for programmers interested in a specific language, or put on a conference that invites guest speakers to discuss their work in technology in your region. Even if the event’s content isn’t focused on your company, your team members will be able to network in person with many software engineers who may be passively looking for a new career opportunity. You might also look at ways to spotlight other tech innovations happening in your region through a podcast, video series, or email newsletter, helping you gain a larger audience of tech industry locals who you’ll be able to market career opportunities to over time.

Building trust in your brand

The key to developing a strong employer brand is to clearly identify what your prospective candidates are looking for in a workplace, and providing clear proof that you can deliver what they’re looking for. 

If you know that candidates are seeking roles that give them valuable learning opportunities, get your existing dev team involved in creating employer brand content that showcases all the opportunities they’ve had to learn and grow on the job, through seminars, trainings, hackathons, and creative freedom to develop their own innovations. When you know they’re focused on flexibility, spotlight your generous PTO and remote work policies prominently on your careers page.

Talented software engineers know that they have their pick of job opportunities. So to attract the best recruits to your organization, you need to convince them that you can offer a welcoming, supportive environment for them to grow within. Take the time to invest in an employer brand overhaul,  and you’ll see more strong applicants eager to find a home at your company.

Podcast logo The Stack Overflow Podcast is a weekly conversation about working in software development, learning to code, and the art and culture of computer programming.

Related

tech stack employer branding
talent February 24, 2020

How Your Tech Stack Can Attract Top Developers

For developers, the single biggest factor in evaluating a job offer is the technology stack they’ll be using. The tools and technologies selected as part of a company’s core tech stack will heavily impact that company’s ability to develop and deploy code quickly and to scale seamlessly. Know what to highlight to candidates about your tech stack.
talent February 3, 2020

How the right metrics help you achieve your tech recruiting goals

When consulting to the companies advertising on the Talent platform, we see a repetition in most pressing challenges across industries and company sizes. We might hear from recruiters “We need to find more (quality) candidates.” A sourcer might say: “We need to find talent with a limited recruiting budget” or talent acquisition managers tell us…
Avatar for Medi Madelen Gwosdz
Content Strategist
code-for-a-living July 3, 2020

How Stack Overflow hires engineers

At Stack Overflow, one of our main missions is to close the gap between companies and developers during the hiring process. Though you may know us primarily as a Q&A site for developers, we are also a talent platform, and are in a unique position to connect developers with companies and jobs that they are…
Avatar for Jon Chan
Team Lead, Community Development