It's that time of year again -- college football is right around the corner. Soon you'll find coaches roaming on the sidelines hoping that all the great talent they just spent months recruiting are going to produce some wins. Similar nerves are also seen year-round from software developer hiring managers, as both of these recruiting markets are extremely competitive. Below are a few things you can learn about your software developer recruiting from the eerily similar and competitive college football recruiting landscape.
Whether you are the VP of Engineering at a fast-rising tech company in the heart of San Francisco or the head football coach at an SEC powerhouse school in the South, one thing remains the same -- you want the best talent. The problem is that there is a large demand for both software developers and college football recruits, but not enough supply to meet those demands. The top recruits have the option of playing football for just about any school they wish. The same goes for experienced software developers -- with 5 jobs for every 1 available developer, they have the option of working at just about any company they want. Do not be naïve to think that you have the upper hand in the hiring process when looking for experienced developer talent, as other companies are out there to intercept the talent that’s destined for work for you.
Because options are almost limitless for developers when choosing a new company, you must set yourself above the rest. Companies are constantly trying to outduel each other with the next best employee perk. So forgo the ping pong table and go for something that is really going to ‘wow’ a candidate and draw attention to your company. Do you really think that Oregon University was the number one choice for top recruits? It wasn’t, not until they had a new jersey for every game and built a state of the art locker room filled with Jacuzzis, big screen tv’s, and video games in the lockers. So take a tip from Oregon’s program and come up with something that is really going to set you above the competition (even if it is a bit costly) because it will pay off in the end with the type of talent you are going to attract.
With so many companies going after that same talented developer, do not take that verbal agreement as a definite. It is not uncommon for your incumbent member of the team to be poached by another company or their existing company. That means you need to find what the developer is actually looking for. If they want more (reasonable) money and you can afford it, give it to them. If they want to work from home every so often, let them. If they want a new workstation, buy it for them. If you do not, then another company is out there to provide those amenities and take them away from you.
This is exactly what is happening in college football recruitment, minus the money part. If college coaches do not bend a bit then top recruits are going to sign with the one of the many schools chomping at the bit to add them to their squad. That is why top recruits will see their best friend, who may be a bit unqualified to play at a top school, land a spot on the team or that same recruit might even be allowed to be a two-way athlete, playing both football and baseball. The bottom line is, if a top developer candidate has a few realistic requests, make those accommodations because it could be a very long time before great talent is right at your doorstep.
While you are planning your software developer recruiting strategies for the remainder of the year think about what some of these college coaches/programs just had to do to attract and land top talent to their squad. It’s extremely competitive out there so harness your inner coach and do what it takes to land the best talent to your team.