With the arrival of digital transformation, developers are an increasingly sought-after asset. And because demand for these casually-dressed professionals is outstripping supply, it’s becoming very tricky to hire a good developer. From the day they leave university, they’re headhunted by recruiters who shower them with generous offers to win them over. Developers have become the new royalty, the new stars – and recruiting them often deteriorates into a bitter talent war!
There are generally two challenges that arise when recruiting developers – attracting candidates and choosing the best applicant. But all is not lost. Employers looking for young talent, don’t lose hope – Agorize is here to help you.
1. I can’t attract developers
Like finding a line of code in a haystack
Your company is champing at the bit to get started with its digital transformation, you’ve got plans for technology projects coming out of your ears, but you don’t have a developer – the key to the doors of web 2.0 or even 3.0. You’re working your fingers to the bone trying to find candidates – you’ve scanned the depths of all the online recruitment sites, you’ve hung around the doors to École 42 for five days (even when it was raining), and you’ve acted the spy by starting a forum thread on C++. And still no-one is answering your messages – and they’re even refusing your flowers and boxes of chocolates. Nothing’s working – you just can’t win the heart of a single developer. Why?
You’re not looking in the right place
Obviously, to offer someone a dream job, first you need someone to give it to. But as the traditional recruitment networks are overwhelmed, a better option is to make contact with students early on, for example by organizing a hackathon. A hackathon is a competition in which teams of developers compete to create an app or prototype that provides the best solution to a given issue. These events, which can take place online or in person, are the ideal opportunity to promote your employer brand. And at the same time, you’ll identify solutions and prototypes that are ready to be developed within your company.
By organizing a hackathon aimed at future developers, you get the opportunity to showcase your business culture and values. It means that participants will better understand who you are and what you have to offer. By rising above the fray, you’ll avoid the nightmarish competition that comes with traditional recruitment. The hackathon will be your event, branded to suit your image, and organized using your own rules. And with a good marketing strategy, you’ll be sure to attract hundreds of potential candidates.
Take a look at: Alone in the world? 5 tips to help promote your hackathon
The second problem faced by most recruiters when actively looking for coding masters is that they don’t really focus on developers’ needs. After all, developers are essential members of any innovative tech project. They know their value and they know that they can demand a dream job. And this dream job doesn’t just mean an attractive salary – it’s also a fun place to work alongside a fantastic team.
Recruiters shouldn’t hesitate to highlight their company’s flexible working environment or emphasize its aims. What will the developer contribute to? What could they work with you to build? What are the challenges they’ll need to overcome? Candidates are extremely sensitive to all of these aspects.
Be yourself – show them every side of your employer brand.
And remember that above all, developers are looking for a challenging project, and the thing they fear the most is being bored.
It’s one of the basics of charm – you need to be original and bear in mind the needs of those involved. Forget roses and dinner out – instead, you should offer developers an electrifying atmosphere and spectacular challenges. Your developer will be enthusiastic and motivated as long there’s chemistry between you both – so everyone wins!
2. I always recruit the wrong developers
Not just any developer
You’ve done it! Finally, after months of searching, you’ve managed to find a developer who’s interested in your project and is willing to join your company. You didn’t organize a hackathon (you found this article too late), but your traditional recruitment has paid off. You invited your candidate to a job interview as soon as possible, your eyes brimming with tears of joy. It was a long road, but that doesn’t matter now – you’ve finally found the one! And he’s got the perfect CV, too. You know just what a rare commodity developers have become, so you’re ready to offer him employment terms to die for, not to mention loosening your purse-strings. He could even turn up to the interview dressed as a unicorn or as Darth Vader if that’s what takes his fancy – you HAVE to hire him.
The day of the interview comes. Your hopeful puts in a solid performance. Without hesitation, you offer him a permanent position along with a considerable salary. He accepts! What luck! You’re so happy that you break out your best champagne and caviar – good times are ahead.
Then come the first few days at work, and he hands in his first projects – but you’re in for a shock. Poor-quality code that gives the wrong results, an inability to work in a team, poor interpersonal communication – it’s a total disaster. But you’ve given it your all. You’ve invested everything in this. And the worst has happened.
Your two mistakes? You didn’t assess your developer’s ability to work in a team or whether he could produce quality results.
Welcome to the Hard Skills Café
It’s always reassuring to see that a candidate has qualifications and has the proper training. But unfortunately, when it comes to web development, qualifications are no guarantee of quality code. The only way to make sure you choose the right candidate is to put them to the test. Your company has precise requirements, and you’ll use a specific language when developing your projects. It’s essential that your developer is able to master it. Whether through a hackathon or a custom-made coding test, check your candidates’ hard skills (their technical abilities). There are solutions you can use to assess the quality of a developer’s code and compare it to the best market practices.
Soft skills aren’t for the faint of heart
The third mistake that recruiters make is that they hire candidates based only on their hard skills – their technical abilities – and ignore their soft skills (emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills). However, in general, it’s a lack of soft skills that produces dysfunctional teams and conflicts at work. Aspects of emotional intelligence include communication, listening, empathy and creativity. These all boost teams’ performance, satisfaction at work and inventiveness. But remember – don’t give all your focus to soft skills (too much communication or time spent thinking can be counter-productive), but do make sure you give them their rightful place.
Essentially, assessing a candidate’s soft skills is crucial. But it’s tricky to do this just by looking at a CV. While job interviews can give a glimpse into a candidate’s communication and listening skills, the sterile and controlled interview environment can interfere with the results. And that applies to developers just as it does to other candidates.
Take a look at: Open innovation: the CV is dead, long live the CV!
So what should you do? The answer’s simple – observe developers in action to see how they interact in a team in a real-life situation. And this brings us back to the concept of the hackathon.
Hackathons – the ideal recruitment tool
What’s truly innovative about hackathons is the way they allow you to assess both the hard skills and the soft skills of the developers who are taking part.
It’s what makes hackathons such an effective way of recruiting. During a hackathon, participants are assessed on their final product (the lines of code they produce) but also on how they worked in a team with other developers and non-developers (such as design, concept, marketing, communication and sales teams).
Throughout your hackathon, you monitor the teams of participants as they develop their projects from ideation to the concept stage. Agorize hackathons, which start online and finish in person at a grand final, are divided into three main stages:
- The ideation stage: outlining the project
- The expansion stage: developing and prototyping the project
- The Grand Final: presenting the project to the jury
At the end of each stage, participants need to submit a deliverable, which becomes increasingly complex throughout the process. The deadlines, the demanding tasks and the competition between teams will truly put participants to the test. Only the most agile, passionate and talented of them all will get to the grand final, which is also an excellent opportunity to organize a speed-hack or a prototyping session. It’s a way of recreating the spirit of competition and the buzz of a 48-hour hackathon while ensuring you end up with more complete projects. As an organizer, you can also observe participants over several months and network at the final with those that best meet your needs.
Although they might seem complex, hackathons are well worth the investment, especially given that the average cost of a bad hire is estimated at €50,000. With the best developers, you can accelerate your digital transformation and adapt your company to meet consumers’ new needs. Winning over developers’ hearts is an art form in which organizing a hackathon plays a central role. Now it’s over to your company to turn on the charm!