8 Tips to Attract Highly Qualified Software Engineers

The demand for top software engineering talent is high. According to projections, the profession will grow by 21% between now and 2028—much higher than average. This means that competition for the best-qualified engineers will be fierce in the coming years.

In order to recruit highly qualified software engineers, you need to differentiate your company from the competition. Here’s how to show engineers that you value their contributions and attract the best job candidates.

1. Develop a competitive compensation plan based on standard salary benchmarks

Most software engineers prioritize salary in determining where they want to work. You need to make sure that you are offering a salary that is competitive with other companies in your region. Research industry standards for software engineer positions. Account for a variety of factors, including how much experience and specialized skills a position requires. Don’t simply rely on blanket averages.

Ideally, you should try to offer a salary that is on the higher end of the salary range. Even if you are not able to do that, aim for a salary that is average. Assume that your job applicants are applying for other positions and know what their colleagues are earning.

If your salary is on the lower end of the salary range, you can compensate by offering additional perks and benefits. You may also have to sell applicants a little harder on your company culture and professional development opportunities.

2. Outline opportunities for professional growth within your organization

Top software engineers are always looking to get better and learn more. Show your job applicants that you can facilitate their professional growth. Explain how you help your engineers acquire new skills. Providing an allowance for professional development signals that you value your engineers’ development.

During the hiring process, your current engineers can discuss their own professional development and how your company has facilitated continued learning. They can also talk about the merits of your own training program. If the engineer has been able to work on a diverse array of projects and pick up new skills, they can talk about that. You can also ask job applicants about their professional development goals. Respond by explaining how your policies can help them to achieve their goals.

3. Demonstrate that engineers are autonomous within your organization

Engineers want to feel autonomous at work. Provide engineers with plenty of opportunities to take the lead on projects and work in their own way. During the hiring process, discuss examples of engineer-led initiatives and how engineers work at your company. Say, “We developed this product because of input from the engineering team” or “engineers have X hours per week to experiment on new projects.”

4. Use key phrases that appeal to engineers when writing your job ads

A great job ad is possibly the most important asset when it comes to attracting quality applicants. Your job ads should clearly define the salary range and major benefits.
The description of job responsibilities should appeal to top software engineers. Your engineers should be involved in the process of writing the ads. When non-tech people write ads, there is the potential for incorrect lingo to creep in. This turns off serious engineers.

5. Create a candidate-centric interview process

The interview itself will shape applicants’ perceptions of your company. Establish an effective interview process that shows off your company culture. Although evaluating applicants’ skills and work habits is critical, avoid a process that creates unnecessary anxiety.

Include engineers in the hiring process, offering plenty of opportunities for candid conversations. The opportunity to talk with other tech people puts many engineers at ease and gives them a glimpse of what it’s like to work at your company.

6. Emphasize work-life balance culture in your company and other benefits

Work-life balance is important to top software engineers. Communicate that you want to enable them to enjoy work-life balance by offering flexible work options, unlimited PTO, and paid leave for new parents and people who are experiencing family emergencies.

This is another topic that job interviewers can bring up when the occasion arises. If, for example, an interviewer recently had a child, they can discuss how the parental leave policy helped them.

You should also clearly communicate your expectations for work hours. Many engineers may assume that 50+ hours per week is the norm. If you allow your employees flexibility in when they arrive into work, clearly communicate that.

Traditional benefits such as health insurance and retirement benefits are important. But non-traditional perks can also make a difference and help to differentiate your company.
Good options for perks include a fitness allowance, pet health insurance, and assistance with repaying student loans. These perks are particularly attractive to younger employees who may be less concerned about their retirement at this point in their lives.

Encourage interviewers to discuss how these perks have impacted them personally. Do they take a weekly yoga class with the fitness allowance? Have they paid off their student loans more quickly thanks to your company’s assistance?

7. Improve your employer branding and emphasize your company’s mission 

Even when you are not hiring for a specific role, you should always be focusing on your employer branding. Make sure that your branding specifically appeals to engineers. You should have a presence at major events attended by engineers in your area. Consider hosting your own events just for engineers.

In all of your employer branding efforts, emphasize the importance of engineers to your company’s success. Feature interviews with engineers on your company website and in other job candidate-facing materials.

Contrary to some stereotypes, engineers care about the mission. Engineers want to know that they will be making a difference in their positions. Let job applicants know why what you do is important and how your company’s values shape your operations

8. Evaluate your company culture and make necessary changes

Engineers generally want to be able to exercise autonomy and creativity in their work. They also want transparency with regard to company policies and operations. Engineers want to be able to express their honest opinions without fear of reprisal. Job candidates will look for a company culture that embodies these values.

In today’s job market, it’s pretty much a given that job applicants will read reviews of your company on websites such as Glassdoor. They may also have contact with your current and past employees.

To that end, you need to take an audit of your company culture. An employee engagement survey can be helpful. If you identify areas for improvement, take action to change your culture. Frankly discuss changes you are implementing during the interview process.

By implementing these tips, you can attract top software engineers to your company—and retain them for the long haul.

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James Meincke

Director of Marketing @ CloserIQ. Previously Recruiter @ ManpowerGroup & Freelance Social Media Strategist. University of Wisconsin Journalism & Strategic Communication Grad.