In a world that increasingly runs on code, software engineers are in high demand. With many startups and tech giants to choose from, what would convince them to work for you? We interviewed a pool of talented developers and gained insight on what they look for in a job, and what led them to where they are today.
Through the course of interviewing these engineers, we came across several key points that could potentially help in recruiting top talent.
On how they got into their first development role
Ken, a front-end web developer for 5 years, got his first development role when his coursemate approached him to join his startup. “I readily took up the offer after finding out the company’s desire to make a positive impact!” he shared.
For Rose, a QA engineer who was still unsure about her path at that time was contacted by a recruiter, “Honestly, if she hadn’t contacted me, I don’t think I would’ve applied for this role.”
More often than not, it takes a convincing nudge (and a promising offer) to get engineers, as well as other talent, to work for you. Your company might not be their top of mind choice at the moment, but making that first move really counts.
When trying to recruit the experts in development, it is crucial to have a strong online presence. Melvin, a web engineer, found his job after coming across numerous Facebook posts about an opening. Luckily, it was exactly what he was comfortable with. “They were looking for a (jolly) PHP developer, and I’ve been working on PHP for 10 years,” he shared.
For Hui Jing, a freelance front-end engineer it was quite different. After reading up on the best companies, one name stood out. “I googled them and found that their website had a placeholder page that went something like, ‘We’re sorry our website is not up yet because we’re busy making yours.’ And I found that quite charming.” she said.
Today, your presence online counts more than ever. If you don’t come up after a simple Google search, it is almost equivalent to not existing. Companies today should make it a point to have a compelling story about what you do as a company. It does not only attract potential customers but employees as well.
On the ideal working environment
Opportunity for growth
Salary is often mistaken as the most important factor to motivate employees but developers like Wei Liang have a different opinion, “Because I see myself as still early on in my career, I am prioritizing personal growth over salary and other benefits.”
When asked about his ideal working environment, Melvin shares the same sentiment, “Definitely an environment that provides experience and challenges for me to grow not only in my career but as an individual.”
It’s no secret that even the most experienced developers are always looking for ways to learn new skills. Startups that want to recruit talent with in-demand and specialized skill sets need to provide opportunities for learning. Allowing developers to choose courses or conferences they’d like to attend and offering in-house mentoring could potentially lead to higher levels of productivity.
In an industry infamous for overwork, it is important for employees to have a life outside of the office. Giving them the opportunity to take some time off allows them to de-stress, and thus work more efficiently when push comes to shove.
Wei Liang emphasizes on having time to work on projects beyond work, “Leaving enough space in life outside work for personal pursuits.”
Rose concurred. “Work-life balance. I really prize this as one of my top priority,” she said.
The dream boss
Much like an employee’s work life, so too should a boss be flexible. Trust your employees to know their way around their work. Believing in your employee’s competence does a lot for their morale. Trust in your employees and they’ll trust in you as well.
A good employer has the ability to communicate effectively with his people. “His objective should be clear on what he wants in steering the direction of the company,” said Ken.
For Rose, a boss who allows employees to have the freedom to do their work with minimal supervision is someone she would prefer to work with. “An ideal employer does not micro-manage and is quite flexible. A good sense of humor is a plus.”
On choosing the startup life
Fewer politics & more communication
The open-door policy where departments have (literally) no walls to separate them is what attracts engineers and other employees alike to the startup scene. Hui Jing finds that the hierarchy that exists in large corporations creates barriers. “I would consider a startup over a large corporation because corporations tend to have the inevitable problem of politics and bureaucracy.”
People hate having to jump through hoops to get something done. Engineers are no different. Avoiding needless procedures and streamlining the work process is a huge help in both the hiring process and keeping your employees happy.
In the end, most employees, no matter what profession, have to believe in what they’re doing. Without the drive to work on their assigned tasks, hits are taken to both satisfaction and efficiency. Leaving this conflict unresolved only serves to alienate an employee, and could even lead to him leaving the company.
Take Ken for example. What matters most for him is how the product or company will positively affect its end users. “I would decide on working with a startup over a big corporation if I believe in its mission and goals. “
Why does it matter to you?
It is important to understand jobseekers, and learn about what motivates them to work for a particular company. Putting up an intriguing job post, and convincing a prized talent to sign up for your company is just the beginning.
Making sure that your employees fit into the overall strategy of the team allows them to contribute meaningfully to the growth of the company. Keeping them happy, giving them the right projects, and providing an open and positive workplace should stay constant. Striving to meet these ideals will not only attract talented individuals but will also serve to keep them content within your company.
Note: Some names have been replaced in this article to protect the privacy of individuals.
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