When it comes to hard to fill developer roles – have you thought about this?

The problems companies face when trying to attract great tech talent

If you’re a tech business or hiring manager you’ll know how hard it is to attract great tech talent for developer and engineering roles.  Developers who fit your tech stack and who have the skills and commercial understanding to grow the company and develop the product for the future are Unicorns, very rare and tricky to pin down if you’re lucky enough to find one.

In a report from Digital Ocean, hiring managers ranked the following as the most challenging aspects of hiring for these roles:

  1. Lack of formal software engineering education (39%)
  2. Limited pool of candidates with relevant job/technical skills (18%)
  3. Lack of soft skills/workplace competencies (15%)
  4. Losing top candidates to competing offers (15%)
  5. Salary demands too high (13%)

For a tech business, not being able to hire developers and engineers has a huge impact on revenue.  Not having the right talent in place means missed deadlines, projects being left incomplete and a total inability to scale up.

For hiring managers, developer roles bring an onslaught of frustrations from achieving stretching D&I targets as the talent pool is largely male to huge amounts of wasted time on candidates who are unable to fill even baseline requirements.

Traditional hiring methods aren’t providing the quality or volume of developer candidates required to make a great hire.  Niche job boards, sector focused recruitment agencies and social media go some way to filling the talent pipeline, but there’s a huge database of talent that is currently untapped.

Your employee’s personal networks.

untapped networks at your fingertips

On average, individuals on LinkedIn have 930 connections.  Facebook 338.  Twitter 707.  Let’s take the example of a 20 person organisation.  Potentially you’ve got an untapped audience of 39,500 people.  And that doesn’t take into account the fact that your current tech team are probably active on sites like GitHub, which has a user base of over 40 million tech professionals.

accessing employees networks

It’s no secret that referrals make great hires.  Cost per hire is significantly reduced and retention rates for organisations operating an effective referral scheme average a 46% retention rate in comparison to industry averages of 33%.

Historically employee referral schemes have a high failure rate for one or more of the following reasons:

  1. A lack of ownership internally
  2. Leadership buy in
  3. Manual rather than automated through tech
  4. Lack of employee buy-in
  5. Weak employee advocacy
  6. The wrong incentives

The primary foundation for a great referral scheme is building employee advocacy.

Employee advocacy goes deeper than employees promoting an organisation’s brand.  It’s a culture of believing in the content a firm produces and actively seeking opportunities to share that content and the job roles available.

According to Hinge Research, 80% of businesses do not have a formal employee advocacy program in place.  That’s a huge competitive advantage to those that do.

so what should you consider when using referral to attract great tech talent?

If you’re going to introduce an employee referral scheme where the goal is building a tech talent pipeline, it’s critical you consider the personality traits and motivators of that specific audience.

Your ideal employee referer for development or engineer roles is likely to be your own tech team so you need to carefully consider the following:

  1. They know tech, it’s their passion, so using the best quality employee referral technology is critical to generate engagement.
  2. If you decide to roll out a piece of referral technology, be mindful that the language you use to roll it out to the wider business may be very different to the language you need to use for the tech team.  Stick to the facts and the merits of the tech.  They’ll be interested in benefits, features and the back end development.
  3. Review your content strategy.  Building employee advocacy requires employees to be engaged with your brand, believe in its value and be inspired to share the content you’re posting.  It’s not just about being rewarded for sharing job ads.  Consider the subject matter and the language.  Keep content for a tech audience short, factual and to the point.  Don’t over explain.
  4. Gamification is a great way to create and maintain engagement with your referral scheme.  Putting tech teams in competition against each other to share the most, or increase referrals is likely to appeal to their nature.
  5. When offering rewards for sharing content or referring someone for a role, make sure you get feedback from the tech team on what motivates them.  There’s a tendency to assume monetary rewards work best, but it’s often not the case. You also can’t assume that what motivates someone in the finance team for example will be the same for someone in tech.

Developers and engineers will continue to be a challenging area to recruit for.  There is a war for talent, but if you can become part of the 20% using employee advocacy and referrals effectively, this will position you head and shoulders above the competition, filling your talent pipeline, reducing time and cost to hire and supporting you to scale.

Learn more about how you can source tech talent today.


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