7 Actionable Tips to Recruit and Retain Software Talent

By Anirban Guha on June 25, 2015

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If you are an owner or a product manager of a software company, aspiring to launch an amazing product, then hiring quality software talent is inarguably most important for you. At the same time, software developers are also looking for a great company to work and showcase their talent. However, they also look for the right job, which would give them the right exposure and a growth path packed with opportunities to keep moving forward.

So, it is hard for software companies to hire quality talent for its development projects and then to retain them. As a matter of fact, hiring talented software developers is going to be the top priority for software companies in 2015. Therefore, your ability to hire and retain quality developers will considerably impact the future of your software business in long run.

However, finding the right talent and retaining them is not an easy task, as it requires lot of hard work, experience, time, and above all trust between employer and employee. Apple’s founder and former CEO, Steve Jobs, once said that that the secret to his success was the immense amount of effort and time he had invested in hiring the best talent and strategising how to retain them. No matter how much money you pump in your software business, but ultimately it is the people or your developers who are the backbone of your business. So, as a software company owner, you have the responsibility of not just hiring the right people, but hiring them for the right positions.

If questions like “how to hire?” and “how to retain?” have become a behemoth in your path to software success, we suggest 7 actionable tips that you should follow to get the right answers.

1. Follow stringent hiring process – You should follow a recruitment process where the prime objective would be to provide the best fit for the role required by the stakeholder. You have to devise a stringent selection process to select the right people in terms of knowledge, skills, attitude, experience and expertise. Put lot of emphasis on the initial screening as it plays a significant role in shortlisting the right candidates who have the desired work experience, energy, enthusiasm, learning orientation and professional background. You can also consider some other fitments that while screening, such as: culture, compensation, designation, and location.

2. Conduct a thorough reference check – You might come across a candidate who has all the talent and skill to impress you in an interview. However, you might later find out that the same candidate has some issues working in teams or create problems while working with customers. To avoid such mistakes, you can conduct a systematic reference check about the candidate. You can also tap into their network on LinkedIn to see if any of your friends or co-workers has worked with the potential candidate previously.

3. Identify key competencies – The HR team should collaboratively assess the hiring requirements with the stakeholders and identify the key competencies required for the positions. Most often, the recruitment process gets kicked off by drafting the job description and sharing it in the right channels. This would be preceded by in-depth research and analysis on the position in order to meet the expectations of the key stakeholders, internal hiring managers or external customers. The HR team takes inputs for the job requirements from the stakeholders and facilitates the entire recruitment process.

4. Try out alternative recruitment strategies – Check out popular developer blogs to understand how to find talented candidates. Technical posts often provide valuable insights into a developer’s technical acumen, approach to problem solving, and communication skills. The alternative could be to peruse open source projects on sites such as GitHub and SourceForge to find potential developers. This approach will enable you to see and evaluate a candidate’s code samples before even deciding to make contact. Do not miss out developer conference and seminars, which are often a valuable resource for qualified candidates.

5. Introduce career development programs – Try to introduce a culture of open communication, innovation and transparency in policy administration in your software company. These are critical to maintain high professional standards and encourage developers to undergo training as a part of professional development. You can also encourage your software developers to contribute to a broader professional community through blogs and articles that showcase their knowledge and expertise and enable them to share their experience.

6. Create stress free work environment – It is unfortunate to see some software companies treating technical work as if it were a sweatshop and push the technical staff to work as many hours as possible. This is definitely not an ideal approach to manage a team because they will quickly burn out, become unhappy and in the end, less productive. To make your software team more productive, you have to ensure a low stress environment.

7. Implement formal feedback process – Many software companies often consider formal feedback processes to be taxing and time consuming. However, in many cases it has been found that developers themselves wanted regular and formal feedback. The practice of feedback sharing not only prepares the developers to take up new challenges; it also encourages them to learn new things. You can ask your employees or developers to figure out one technical goal and one non-technical goal each year. Every quarter, evaluate their performance and give them feedback on their progress and areas to improve. Also provide them the opportunity to give feedback. The goal of such an exercise is to assess the productivity of employees by the end of the year. 

Software development is all about working with brilliant people to build an amazing product. So, special care has to be taken to hire the right person for development. Hiring is an incredibly important part, but very tricky as well. Do not take this part lightly, as hiring the wrong person will be disastrous, and hiring the right person will bring in the best business results. Similarly, if you mange to retain the best software talent in your organization, then your product development mission is surely going to be a huge success.

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