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How to attract top software engineers (and keep them!)

How to attract top software engineers (and keep them!)
Key Results

Instead of diving into the hiring process blindly, consider what well-qualified candidates look for and learn where to find them. Then, protect your time and financial investments by attracting quality candidates while developing a system that engages and retains current staff.



In what is often referred to as a candidate’s market, hiring engineers isn't getting any easier. Recruiting tech talent takes more than just offering high salaries. It involves understanding the motivating factors that drive engineers and programmers.

Although important, attracting top technical talent can divert time away from other critical business tasks. For many recruiters and hiring managers, the process is challenging and costly. From designing a purposeful job advertisement to navigating various job boards, the recruitment process requires investing countless hours. When you finally list your position, there's a good chance that unqualified applicants will flood your inbox, which will only add to your workload.

Unfortunately, even when you do get qualified candidates, without an easily repeatable system and an influential company culture, there is a risk that candidates will join your company only to leave the job within a short time. That's why your hiring process must include retention methods as well.

Instead of diving into the hiring process blindly, consider what well-qualified candidates look for and learn where to find them. Then, protect your time and financial investments by attracting quality candidates while developing a system that engages and retains current staff.

Difficulties in attracting engineers

Although salary is still a priority, these days, we're seeing job applicants who desire more than just a paycheck from their company. Recruiting tech talent takes knowing what engineers want and need from your job opportunities, then finding ways to sell those benefits to them. Applicants increasingly look for employers that:

  • Provide ongoing training
  • Offer space for professional growth
  • Implement an inclusive environment
  • Deliver a satisfactory work/life balance

To target top technical talent, you need to be prepared with answers about the company that surpass salary. How do you talk about opportunities for growth? What actionable methods do you utilize to ensure work life balance? The better your answers, the better your pitch.

Identify your ideal candidates

In our research, we found that a top motivator for the majority of technical candidates is the opportunity for growth. This fact holds true regardless of whether you're looking at junior or senior engineers. However, once you look more closely at the data, you'll see that motivators differ significantly. For example:

  • Unsurprisingly, junior engineers prioritize mentorship opportunities
  • Mid-level tech talent seeks impressive co-workers
  • Senior engineers focus on work/life balance and meaningful work

As you break down the information, you'll find that candidates' priorities shift further according to their ability. At Triplebyte, an estimated 30% of applicants pass our initial interview. For research purposes, we define great candidates as those scoring between the 95th and 98th percentile, while the best candidates score at or above the 98th percentile.

In our research, we found that great candidates care about autonomy, salary, and a challenging work environment. The best candidates care less about pay and instead prioritize comfortable work arrangements and have a product-driven focus. Since factors vary significantly among candidates, it's imperative to consider which employees you want to attract, then tailor your recruitment process to these individuals.

Keys to recruiting tech talent

Once you understand which candidates your company wants, it's crucial to put that information into play during your recruitment process. The top motivators for candidates are opportunities for growth, salary, and work/life balance. Depending on your ideal candidate, you may also want to focus on highlighting other areas of your business that may attract technical candidates, such as your impressive team or high-quality codebase.

Opportunities for professional growth

Of Triplebyte candidates', 54% list opportunities for growth as a top factor in accepting a job offer. The importance of growth opportunities stands out across the board from junior to senior applicants. To recruit top talent successfully, your organization must demonstrate not only how you support growth, but also provide real-life examples. Hiring experts recommend:

  • Listing specific ways your company helps employees learn new technical skills; perhaps you offer paid hours for training or ongoing programs
  • Sharing testimonials from current engineers about how your training program ensures they keep up-to-date with contemporary innovations
  • Highlighting a mentorship program for junior and mid-level engineers that includes information about why your company considers this essential to its growth

Selling the salary

Salary is listed as a top factor for 42% of Triplebyte candidates. Although smaller companies that hire engineers may not be able to compete with the high salaries offered by the tech giants, it's still important to understand a candidate's expectations. Our research shows that the average salary for a Software Engineer in the US is $149,769. For a small company with one to 50 employees that's looking to hire a junior engineer, the pay ranges from $108,000 in Seattle to $126,000 in New York. However, to attract a senior engineer with five or more years of experience, a small business would have to pay in the ballpark of $148,000. If you are on the lower level of those brackets, find some non-monetary perks that could give you a competitive edge. Unlimited PTO and flexible work options - for example - are great ways to get engineers excited about the offer.

Promoting the work/life balance

Across all levels of technical talent, work/life balance is important, with 32% of respondents listing it as a top motivator when they're seeking a new position. Although engineers, like most employees today, are connected to work more than ever, they want to have control over achieving the best balance for themselves. Employers who support this balance stand a better chance of recruiting the best tech talent. Some of the ways to emphasize this balance include:

  • Providing good health coverage. This, of course, includes health benefits, but it also includes wellness stipends, preventative health care programs, and other self-care benefits.
  • Flexible hours and remote working are a high-impact way to give employees the power to manage their own schedule.
  • Offer community engagement opportunities - either together as a team or by giving paid volunteer days.

How to develop a reliable recruitment process

Developing a robust recruitment process means creating an easily repeatable system automated for efficiency and delivers top-notch results every time—anything less and you risk wasting time and money.

Create an Ideal Candidate Persona: List attributes that you want in a candidate, from experience to interpersonal skills. Understanding your perfect candidate helps you create a targeted job advertisement.

Use a Platform Designed for the Needs of Engineers: While channels such as LinkedIn or job boards may provide plenty of applicants, you may not receive enough qualified candidates. Instead, use there are options, like Triplebyte, which will provide a prescreened pool of elite candidates.

Develop a Useful Job Ad: Don't merely list job duties in your job listing; today's job market requires companies to sell the benefits of working with your organization. Leverage your company's culture to determine top priorities and emphasize those advantages in your ad. Also, if diversity is important to your company (hint: it should be), make sure that your job description doesn’t alienate diverse candidates.

Look at Passive Candidates: By definition, active job seekers are prioritizing finding new opportunities for themselves. They can be very competitive. However, Passive Candidates are a much wider and much less competitive pool. When you’re on the Triplebyte platform, you can browse and reach out to passive candidates who would be open to an interesting opportunity. Doing so will allow you to target those who fit your company culture and requirements best.

Design a User-Friendly Recruitment Process: Candidates value communication and an organized process. Increase your offer acceptance rate by:

  1. Outlining your hiring process and timeline upfront
  2. Responding to emails and other forms of communications quickly
  3. Leveraging Triplebyte to technically pre-screen candidates - this will help you create a better onsite candidate experience.
  4. Following up with encouragement and referencing an upcoming offer
  5. Providing a thorough explanation of your offer and scheduling a follow-up call
  6. Enlisting help from your team to support the candidate and offer extra information
  7. Selling your culture by demonstrating the benefits of working at your company

Act on Direct Feedback: No process is perfect, which is why feedback from job candidates is essential. Triplebyte offers a Candidate Feedback Analytics and Benchmarks capability where you can discover what works and where your process can be improved. Exit interviews for those who refuse your offer also allow applicants to disclose the reasoning behind their decision.

Engineer retention for the win

Lastly, employee retention saves you a significant amount of money and stress in the long run. When people look for a new job, they look for qualities that make a company seem like an excellent fit for them. However, these desires don't change once they get the job. To follow through after hiring engineers, your organization must:

  • Assess and improve your employee engagement rate
  • Finesse your company culture with a focus on inclusivity and transparency
  • Empower employees with flexibility and work/life balance
  • Ask for— and act on—feedback from your team

As your team grows, retention may become more difficult. For example, junior engineers who once prized mentorship options may outgrow this desire. Instead, their focus may turn to more flexible work options or a need for meaningful work. Companies that engage employees with varying experience levels improve retention rates across the board.

Start hiring engineers with a seamless recruitment process

Today's workforce expects more than a list of job duties on a random job advertisement. In a candidate's market, the perfection of your recruitment process is more crucial than ever. Recruiting tech talent starts with knowing who your ideal candidates are and delivering what they want. The best way to do this is by creating an employee acquisition and retention strategy designed to deliver results while using tools like Triplebyte to prescreen candidates.

Request a demo with our team to learn more about how Triplebyte can streamline your hiring process.

Book a demo to start reviewing top engineering candidates today.

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