The Ultimate Guide For Recruiting & Hiring Developers

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The demand for developers globally is high and they have many options to choose from. Therefore, your business needs to develop a strategy that is unique and will get you top talent.

Inspired by many companies’ struggles to recruit and hire high-quality developers, I decided to write this guide. To be clear, the guide is not about some magic trick that will bring the best developers to your office whenever you need them. This guide is about understanding developers better, and about learning the ways to attract them, approach and communicate with them.

Let’s face it, the demand for these people is high all over the world, and they have many options to choose from. Therefore, you need to develop a strategy that is unique and different from your competitors. I believe that many HR professionals who are struggling to hire developers will benefit from this guide in many ways.

To put this guide together, I mainly used Stackoverflow. It is a great source of all kinds of information about the tech world. You can also read the full 2017 Developer Survey Results.

Developers’ Characteristics

In order to know how to treat and communicate with developers, I would like to first share some basic data about their demographics and their career development.

Developer Type

Firstly, let’s look at the most common types of developers. According to the global 2017 Stackoverflow research, web developers make up the majority of all developers, 72.6%. Then, there are desktop application developers, mobile developers, database administrators, DevOps and so on.

Developer’s Experience & Career Path

Many people think that developers have been programming since their childhood. This is absolutely not true. This is probably a profession where differences in experience levels are the most obvious.

According to the same research, among professional developers, one-eighth (12.5%) learned to code less than four years ago, and an additional one-eighth (13.3%) learned to code between four and six years ago. Due to the pervasiveness of online courses and coding boot camps, adults with little to no programming experience can now more easily transition to a career as a developer.

Years Since Learning To Code

Years Since Coding Professionally

As you can see, web and mobile developers have significantly less professional coding experience than developers in other technical disciplines. Across all types of developers, the software industry acts as the primary incubator for new talent but sees a relatively low proportion of more experienced developers.

For example, 60% of mobile developers at software firms have fewer than five years of professional coding experience, compared to 45% of mobile developers in other industries.

Among professional developers, 11.3% got their first coding jobs within a year of first learning how to program. A further 36.9% learned to program between one and four years before beginning their careers as developers. Globally, developers in Southern Asia had the lowest average amount of prior coding experience when beginning their careers; those in continental Europe had the highest.

Developers’ Demographics


The vast majority of all developers are male, everywhere in the world. However, the United States’ rates for women developers are higher than anywhere else.


2017 was the first year that Stackoverflow asked developers for their race and ethnicity, and here are the results:

Developers’ Education

Almost half of all developers, 42.0%, have a Bachelor’s degrees, while about 21% have a Master’s degree. Close to 30% of developers haven’t finished their Bachelor’s degrees.

Educational Attainment

However, these numbers are a little bit different if we look at professional developers only.

Undergraduate Major

Regarding developers’ fields of study, as expected, the majority of them chose Computer Science and Software Engineering as their undergraduate majors.

When current professional developers were asked about the importance of formal education, 32% said their formal education was not very important or not important at all to their career success.

Importance Of Formal Education

This is not entirely surprising since 90% of developers consider themselves at least somewhat self-taught: a formal degree is only one, and often not the most important aspect of their education. It is not unusual that their practical day-to-day work depends on their company’s individual tech stack decisions.

Responses to these questions were significantly different based on respondents’ education fields and levels. For example, computer science majors and computer engineering majors were the most likely (49.4%) to say their formal education was important or very important.

Unlike computer science majors, respondents who majored in less theoretical computer-related disciplines (such as IT, web development, or computer programming) were more likely to say their formal educations were unimportant.

Other Types Of Education

Another interesting question asked was about types of education other than schools. By looking at the results, it is not hard to conclude that developers love to learn!

A staggering 90% of respondents said that they were at least partially self-taught.

Ways Developers Teach Themselves

When asked about the resources they use to educate themselves, this is what developers had to say:

Developers’ Employment By Country

The difference in types of employment among professional developers in different parts of the world is not significant. As expected, most of them are employed full time.

The United States has a somewhat lower proportion of freelance or independent contractor developers compared to the rest of the world, and Germany has an unusually high proportion of developers working part-time.

Developers By Industry

Company Size

Now, here’s an important fact about different company sizes developers like to work for. Many small companies have problems attracting developers because of their visibility. However, many developers prefer working for small companies. The key is to communicate your employer brand.

Career Satisfaction

Developers tend to be happy employees. The majority of them are happy with their jobs and careers.

Who is actively looking for a job?

Attention recruiters!

Only 13.1% of developers are actively looking for a job. But 75.2% of developers are interested in hearing about new job opportunities.

How did developers find their current job?

In the world of developing, networking is extremely important. The most common way developers found their most recent job was through a friend, family member, or former colleague who told them about it.

The second most common, however, is being contacted by someone at the company, such as a company recruiter.

Job Search Status

Do you have a referral program?
Do you organize, and participate in, networking events?
Do you know how to optimize your career site?
If you answered with a NO to any of these questions, you have some work to do…

Perfect Job & Work Environment

In general, developers prioritized by far opportunities for professional development over any other factor. This could mean they’re looking to advance up the ranks, but it could also be a sign of developers wanting to stay ahead of the game with their company’s help. IT is one of the most rapidly changing industries in history; it takes considerable work to keep skills sharp.

What Developers Value In Compensation & Benefits

The benefits selected the most often by respondents related to mental and physical health: vacation days, remote options, and health benefits.

Most Important Evaluation Metrics

One of my favorite questions in the survey done by Stackoverflow was: What would developers choose as performance metrics? I think this is a great way of understanding what developers see as an important measure of a company’s success. This is what they answered:


When Recruiting, Employers Should Focus On:

Many companies follow consumer-ceric theories and strategies. Employing developers who feel the same way is extremely important.

The next question is extremely important for a successful developer recruiting and hiring. Even though they are computer and tech-oriented, developers believe that communication skills are important.

How often do developers work remotely?

Remote work has become a hot topic in multiple industries, especially in tech. When Stackflow’s respondents were asked what they valued most when considering a new job, 53.3% said remote options were a top priority. 63.9% of developers reported working remotely at least one day a month, and 11.1% say they’re full-time remote or almost all the time.

Where do developers work remotely full-time?

I believe that these stats have given you some more details about developers’ careers, experiences, job satisfaction, work expectations, and preferences. Knowing these details can really help you communicate your company’s culture in a way that will attract people for your hard-to-fill roles.


Differences in salaries vary greatly in Europe and the United States. However, if we stay in developed European countries, variations get less noticeable.

Top 5 Paying Languages

There are some differences in top paying technologies in Europe. For example, while Ruby is ranked second in the UK, in France and Germany is not even in top 5 paying languages. Compared to the UK and Germany, we can see lower numbers in France.

Employer Branding To Attract Developers

As mentioned before, over 85% of developers are currently employed at least part-time. Thus, for many recruiters, it may seem impossible or very hard to find and hire high-quality developers who are also a good match for the company.

However, there are strategies that some industry leaders use, and they are effective! Promoting your employer brand is important. Employer branding content that resonates with what developers care about can grab the attention of even the most passive candidates.

Here are some of the examples of successful employer branding strategies:


I love SproutSocial’s employer branding strategy. Their main goal is to share their company’s lovely and relaxed culture. It is clear that teamwork is extremely important to them.

They are also known for posting videos with interviews with their tech team, including the company’s CTO and co-founder. These short videos give candidates a preview of SproutSocial’s engineering culture, which is something developers consistently say they look for in potential employers.

Fight For The Future

Fight for the Future is a not-for-profit company that loves talking about its vision and mission. People that work there are clearly proud of what they do, and they are constantly sharing that with the world. Fight for the Future’s mission also talks about how they treat their employees. It is important to enable them and give them all the resources necessary to get things done.

Culture Amp

Culture Amp is a company that 100% lives up to its mission statement. One of their tactics in recruiting developers is by showing off the developer-centric perks that are much more likely to grab their attention and get them interested.

They love to communicate details about their engineering department’s culture, latest technologies that they use, educational opportunities that they offer, reimbursement and scholarship programs.

Job Descriptions For Developers

Writing a clear, yet detailed job descriptions seems to be one of the hottest topics among recruiters. This makes sense because this is the point at which a candidate decides if he or she will become an applicant or not.

First of all, when writing a job description, it is important for it to be SEO friendly, meaning it needs to contain the keywords developers will be using in search engines to find their desired jobs. Think carefully about some specific job characteristics they may be interested in, and list them in your job description.

Since the best way of improving is by learning from the ones that do it best, I decided to share a few amazing job listings for developers.

Full Stack Developer – Small Company, Big Opportunities

This job listing really caught my eye. It’s transparent, simple, yet exciting, and the creativity draws candidates in. Once candidates click on the listing, they see that it’s much more than a solid job title.

The listing gives candidates a lot of drive and motivation to apply by showing them the impact they’ll have. In addition, they provide plenty of details about their incredible and unique engineering culture.

Senior Full Stack Engineer, Data Science (U.S. Based) at Adroll

Adroll really puts a lot of effort in their job descriptions and listings. I like it a lot because it is clear and very transparent, yet it really highlights all the cool things that they do for their employees. They have a concise description and clear “must have” and “nice to have” subsections in the requirements section.

The section in which they really stand out, and which makes them different, is the “About Adroll” section. They communicate their vision and mission clearly. They talk about their relationship with employees, their current funding status, and there is a nice video featuring some of their current employees.

Adroll does a lot of things well in this tech job listing, including their concise job description and clear “must have” and “nice to have” subsections in the Requirements section. But what really stands out is their attention to detail on their “About Adroll” section. There’s a clear statement about what the company stands for and how they treat employees, their current funding status, and a video featuring some of their current employees.

Java Platform Engineer at Wallaby Financial

From their job listing, you can really see that Wallaby Financial understands how developers think and work. The first paragraph talks about what the candidates mean for the company and how will they impact the business. In addition, they give a very clear idea of all the tools used, and about their amazing developer culture.

Why Your Job Listing Is Not Getting Noticed

Many recruiters still don’t pay enough attention to job ads or job listing creation. If you have a tool for HR analytics, you can easily find out how your job ads are performing. It is often frustrating to see those low percentages. As you could see from the previous stats, job boards are not a very common way developer apply for jobs. This is often because they are not optimized to attract them.

After giving you some suggestions on how should you write a job listing, I will not give you a few reasons why your job listing may not be attracting to developers.

#1 Job Titles Are Not Searchable (Poor SEO)

A lack of keywords in your job titles and headlines is probably the biggest reasons why your job ads are not attractive or maybe not even searchable. As StackOverflow said in one of their blog posts, “Coding Ninja Wanted” doesn’t say enough about what you’re looking for, and it’s not exactly search-engine friendly either.

Since there are many different types of developers, make sure that you specify in your job listing which type of developer is you looking for. Moreover, specify further programming languages used, as this may be their deciding factor.

You should also be very clear and descriptive about the seniority level, type of developer, and key languages required for the role. “Senior Full-Stack Developer – Python” is much more likely to draw the right candidate in.

#2 Not Offering Remote Work

In today’s world, developers got used to remote work. Thus, if you are not offering that flexibility, you have a big disadvantage over your competitors.

According to research, 53% of developers consider remote work options to be a top priority when considering a new job. Restricting your job openings to in-office can seriously decrease your chances of hiring someone who might be a great fit for your company.

In addition, working from home has proven to make employees 13% more productive. Employees that work from home say that there are fewer interruptions while writing code. Still not considering offering remote work options?

#3 You Are Not Where Developers Are

Even though 62% of developers are open to new job opportunities, 25% don’t spend any time searching for jobs. Passive candidates who aren’t looking for a new job opening won’t click on your job ad, no matter how good your description is.

To reach out to these passive developers, you need to learn where they spend their time. For example, you can go to programming forums (like StackOverflow) to get feedback on projects and share information. Go to the places that developers call home, and engage with them in ways other recruiters don’t.

If you want to take a step further, you can also show an interest in projects your candidates have worked on. This way, you can send them a more personalized message and start building relationships.

#4 Your Career Site

In one of my latest post, I wrote about how to optimize your career site to get more job applicants. There are some great tips there, so check it out!

Your career page isn’t just a place to post your jobs – it is a place to attract high-quality applicants and sell them your job opportunities.

“Candidates don’t apply immediately after hearing about a job. Instead, 59% look up the company’s website. Sixty-six percent want to know about your company’s culture and values, 54% of perks and benefits, and 50% about mission and vision.” – 2016 Global Talent Trends

That being said, you need to put a little bit more effort into optimizing your career site in order to get more high-quality applicants and improve your recruiting success.

Today’s market is extremely competitive. If you are in an industry with many hard-to-fill roles, career site optimization is a must!

Not convinced? Check out these stats:

  • 91% of job seekers find poorly managed or designed online properties damaging to an employer brand.
  • 75% of job seekers consider an employer’s brand before applying for a job.
  • 38% of respondents who were once fired or laid off had left negative reviews of former employers on a review site, social media, or with a personal or professional contact.
  • 52% of candidates seek out a company’s sites and social media to learn more about an employer before applying for a job.


Here is the list of things you should do on your career site if you want to attract high-quality developers:

  • Optimize for SEO
  • Have career site analytics
  • Make job ads search easy
  • Simple and user-friendly application form
  • Mobile friendly application
  • Add social shares
  • Add a contact form

These are absolutely necessary but if you want to take a step further, this is what you should do:

  • Add your current employees’ testimonials
  • Add videos
  • Introduce your team members
  • Offer useful content
  • Write team blogs
  • Add a chatbot

Learn about how to do all of these from my guide for creating a career page that generates more job applicants.

My absolute favorite company that does this perfectly is Intercom. Check out Intercom’s Engineering Career Site and you will see what am I talking about.

Hiring Developers More Successfully

To sum this guide up, I will finish by giving you a list of tips to hire tech talent more successfully. I would encourage every HR professional and business owner involved in the recruiting and hiring processes to consider implementing some of these ideas.

  • Give them a clear growth path
  • Offer opportunities to be creative and innovative
  • Be clear about your product’s value proposition- they care about work they do, so they need to like the product your organization offers.
  • Offer independence
  • Give them good tools and hardware
  • Share your company’s mission and vision- they like to identify with the work
  • Offer remote work
  • Think twice about contacting them through Facebook- 52% of developers say that they hate being contacted via Facebook
  • Look further than LinkedIn – 22% of developers don’t even have a LinkedIn account.
  • Email them! 65% of developers say that email is a great way to be contacted
  • Personalize that email. They know when you use templates!
  • Be transparent about the salary – 62% of developers say that salary is an important factor when evaluating new opportunities
  • Don’t try to impress them with your technical vocabulary, but know what you’re talking about. If you need help with this one, here’s a glossary of technical terms every HR professional should know.
  • Invest more time and effort in your job listing
  • Be creative with the job title
  • Careful with required skills and education as 70% of developers are self-taught.
  • Share your awesome company culture
  • Be flexible when scheduling interviews
  • Offer remote/Skype interviews
  • Tell them who the interviewer i
  • Show them your workspace
  • Communicate your employer brand



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