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Post by Rich Moy on Jan 31, 2019 12:00:00 PM

In 2006, our CEO Joel Spolsky wrote that one of the best ways to attract developers is to let them work on something interesting. Based on what we’ve learned over the years, this still rings true for many programmers. In 2018, over 17% of our Developer Survey respondents said that the technologies they’ll work with are their top priority whenever they consider new job opportunities.

We featured batches of our developers’ favorite Company Pages a few months ago, many of which stood because they included specific details about their tech stacks. The feedback we received then was consistent with our survey results, and it led us to speak with engineering execs about how their tech stacks impact their employer brand. Here’s their advice for fellow technology leaders.

Tech stacks motivate developers to take action

Tyler Love, CTO of Bustle Media Group, recently announced that the company fully adopted serverless architecture. Last month, he and our engineering manager Sara Chipps sat down to discuss the technical reasons that made it the right decision for Bustle. Near the end of their conversation, Love mentioned that Bustle’s tech stack also had a positive effect on its employer brand.

“One of the more surprising benefits of Serverless for us has been in recruiting,” Love said. “Really good engineers have reached out to us because they were curious about the tech we’re using.”

But what if an employer isn’t using as many cutting-edge technologies? “It’s been amazing that we’ve gotten these cold emails, especially since we hired two of the engineers that reached out to us,” Love added. “But before fully adopting Serverless, we attracted developers because we were intentional about what we were building and socializing it to developers.”

Developers want to see what they’ll build, not what they’ll fix

Anand Dhillon is the CTO at Cover, a start-up based San Francisco. As companies of all sizes in the Bay Area struggle to attract tech talent, Dhillon told us Cover’s most effective employer branding tactic is simple: let the team’s current projects speak for themselves.

“One of the worst things about being an engineer is fixing code that someone else cobbled together,” he said. “We go out of our way to show candidates that we prioritize quality code, and we’ve found it helps them feel confident about stepping into a role here.”

While the most in-depth code reviews are reserved for active candidates, Dhillon said the company’s commitment to quality is showcased in more subtle ways. “Candidates have commented on the design elements of our app and website as a draw to apply,” he said. “It suggests to them that there’s a commitment to quality throughout the entire process. They might not see the backend right away, but they see the results.”

Programmers (still) want to meet the people behind the code

Love and Dhillon have both found success through technology-driven employer branding tactics. But they agree that even if you can offer opportunities to work with cutting-edge programming languages, it’s important for candidates to meet the people behind the code.

“We participate in a lot of meetups to spread the word about what we’re doing, and that’s been positive for two reasons,” Love says. “New candidates have expressed interest in working here, and the people that already work here are spreading the word that it's a nice place to work.”

Dhillon’s team accomplishes this with the tried-and-true tactic of introducing candidates to current developers during the interview process. “These interactions allow both sides to gain insight into how the collaborative environment would be, how experienced their peers are, and how the team works in general,” he said. “This also provides an additional opportunity for people to feel confident in their choice to join us.”

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