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How to Evolve Your Software Technology Hiring Practices

The Boston software market is always changing, and the hiring process is evolving along with it. To make it in Boston, start-ups need to overcome their biggest challenge – hiring exceptional software talent. The current unemployment rate for software engineers is less than 3%, so while the demand for engineers is extremely high, the supply is the lowest the market has seen in years.

Free food and drink aren’t enough

To stay competitive with the hiring process, companies are throwing money at the problem: offering up to $30,000 for an internal referral, hosting parties with free beer and entertainment, or making HUGE offers. But, is any of this working? Not anymore, according to most of our software engineering candidates. Talented engineers now assume the companies they will be interviewing with have all the cultural perks they “expect.” So what do companies have to do to build great engineering teams in this market? Get more creative.

Let us tell you our problems

Engineering candidates want to solve problems – very complex problems, and start-ups need to show what their problems are before a top candidate will talk with them. One of the largest consumer device companies in the world is showing off its problems to attract engineering talent. Company representatives invite engineers to their office to listen to and network with company leaders as they describe some of their large-scale challenges, while, of course, enjoying free food and drink. At the end, if the company has enticed the candidate, they can literally hand their resume to a real person… imagine that?

Pass me your card

One of the largest e-commerce websites in the Boston area has developed a new way for employees and others to contribute to their hiring efforts. It provides each employee with a stack of unique recruitment cards. They have an engaging message on the front and a place for the employee’s name and company contact information on the back. Card holders are encouraged to offer the cards whenever they interact with a potential candidate – socially or professionally. The employee gets credit for the referral, and the candidate has an immediate contact inside the company when the time comes for them to apply.

Try before you buy

A small, pre-funding start-up in Cambridge has started to use pair programming (two programmers working together on a project in one workstation) in its interview process to give candidates a peek under the hood. Candidates leave their first interview knowing exactly what they’ll be doing from a technical perspective. The goal of selling the technical challenges is met from the start, and this keeps the right candidates engaged.

Give before you get

Successful hiring managers and recruiters know engineers are smart and want to continue learning and being involved in the software engineering community. With this in mind, they are creating and sponsoring events that are attractive to engineers. While not recruiting focused, these events give engineers an opportunity to get to know a company and its needs while learning about a compelling software topic. Though not immediate – companies are seeing positive long-term results – they are developing relationships with engineers and are positioning their companies in a positive light so these future candidates will take a second look.

Given companies are eager to hire talented engineers and skilled engineers have every employment option in the world, hiring managers need to find new ways to attract top engineering talent and to make sure the roles they are creating give them what they want and need professionally.

Photo Credit: Design Reviver

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