Hiring is like marketing: you have to understand the audience and tailor your offer accordingly. Nowhere more so than tech.
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Every company is now a software company. And as software becomes increasingly integrated into businesses, nabbing the top technical talent is one of the biggest challenges many employers face.
Demand is much higher than supply; according to last year’s Tech Nation report, over 50% of the UK’s digital tech community highlighted a shortage of highly skilled employees as a major challenge - and the truth is, the best talent is employed already.
After recent announcements from Deliveroo and Dyson who are both looking to hire hundreds of developers, UK developers are spoilt for choice.
94% of developers are currently employed at least part-time, and only 11% of developers are actively looking for a job, according to Stack Overflow’s 2018 developer hiring landscape report. This means you’ll have to take the initiative in order to attract the top programmers.
The best way to do this is to brand yourself as an employer so good that they’ll immediately want to up and leave their old one.
Your employer brand is essentially an ad for your company - it’s what prospective candidates see when they Google your name or get sent a link from a friend.
When it comes to developer hiring, first impressions really matter - and your employer branding strategy will define how you make that all-important first impression. Here are some tips for an effective branding strategy that will appeal to the best developers out there:
The first step in building a new employer branding strategy is to work out what your current one is. Take a look at your current company website and social media profiles: what tone of voice do you have? What sets you apart from the competition? What type of messaging are you putting out there? What do you offer that future employees would be interested in?
Take a long hard look at yourself
Now take a look at the platforms that you can’t control: check what people are saying on Glassdoor, look over exit interview feedback from recent employees. Does their perception of you match what you’re putting out there? If not, you need to take into account all the differences and analyse exactly why there might be a disconnect here.
Know your audience
The job of employer branding is to inspire, engage and motivate your audience: but in order to this, you have to make sure you know your audience inside out. Know what kind of developer you want to hire and find out what they’re interested in, what they’re looking for in a job and where they go to get information.
When you’re targeting developers, you have to be completely sure that you’re speaking the right language: a minor slip up could incite serious backlash.
Make sure that you collaborate with as many developers and IT experts that you have access to: take advantage of your resources to perfect your developer-focused messages and tailor it to different types of developers.
Developers care about the technologies they’ll be working with. A lot. And they’ll really appreciate you as a company if you’re as upfront and specific as you can about the processes you use.
For inspiration take a look at Varo Money, which understands that there’s no such thing as “too much information” about their approach to software development.
The description they offer is much more than a list of programming languages - it tells a story about how the engineering team uses those technologies to create a top-of-the-range customer experience. Prospective job seekers will leave this site with a much more informed idea of what they’ll be working on and how it fits in with their interests.
Focus on your strengths
Every company has something unique about them that sets them apart from their competitors. It could be your high-tech office space, your flexible work from home policy, or your wellness benefits. Once you’ve identified what this is for you, make it a key focus on your channels.
Of course, if you’re a small business it may be harder for you to offer flashy benefits because of budget limitations, for example. In that case, focus on other key advantages you can offer such as career development and growth, or an excellent stance on work-life balance.
Not that one: small businesses have to get creative about their benefits
Don’t just sell
You may have your messaging down pat, but developers aren’t stupid. They’re highly aware that potential employers are trying to make themselves as attractive to candidates as possible. What will set you apart from the competition is to actually follow through on what your claiming to sell.
Think about the surface level stuff - social media channels and reviews on Glassdoor, for example - as the icing on the cake, not the cake itself. It’s the actual culture and the support an employee experiences working at the company that makes up the full body of your brand offering. Your employer brand can’t just be a sales pitch - it has to be a full blown promise that you make to developers.
Nobody will be fooled if you make it all about you. Let developers know what you can offer besides the obvious. For example, you can design the interview process carefully so that you can really show off that everything you say is true - take candidates on tours of the office, invite them for a casual meeting with the team, or let them experience a day in the life of a developer.
Get the picture
Developers want to know exactly what the office and culture are like before they even say yes to an interview. This means that you need to provide an insight into working life at your company that strikes the balance between positive and realistic.
One simple way of doing this is to demonstrate what your workplace is like in a visual format. Always include up-to-date photos and videos of your office and most importantly, your employees. Showing that you have happy and intelligent people working at your company is one of the most important ways of convincing potential candidates to join you.
Trivago, for example, provides employee stories about life at the company on its careers page, giving prospective candidates a sneak preview of its unique way of working.
Technical talent is more important than ever - and employers looking to attract the best developers need to pay extra attention to their employer branding efforts.
Programmers and developers are looking for different things in a career to marketing or sales departments, so it’s vital that you are aware of what your audience wants and tailor your employer branding strategy to it. And when tech is a must-have, you’ve got to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to recruiting or risk being left behind.