It’s no secret that in today’s tech job market, talented and experienced engineers are a hot commodity, especially those with skills in cutting-edge fields like blockchain, computer vision, machine learning and more. Having the best engineers on your team can make or break your project. As such, recruiting, hiring and retaining these valuable resources make up some of the biggest challenges that tech companies face.
So, how do you do it? How do you get the best of the best to join up with your company and become a part of your team, especially when they have so many other interested parties waiting to snatch them up?
It’s simple: find out what they’re looking for, and then figure out how to give it to them.
And yet, it’s obviously more complicated than that, too. Recruiting and hiring are complex processes, not least because every company — let alone every engineer — is different. Qualities and perks that might appeal to one AI engineer could be a complete turnoff to another.
That being said, research, surveys and our experience show that there are definitely some overarching factors that many talented engineers and developers value in their place of work. Here are a few things below that top engineers are looking for, as well as a few tips for how to make it happen for them.
1. A Good Investment
Let’s not sugar-coat things: competitive salaries are important. Truly talented, skilled and experienced engineers know what they are worth, and they will always be tempted by impressive salary offers. However, perhaps more than anything, what the smartest engineers are looking for when choosing a company is a good investment. Accepting a job means they will be investing their time and talent into that company, and they will expect a great return. That return can take many forms, whether it’s monetary (salary, options, etc.) or more abstract (supporting the advancement of a good company, a fantastic product, or an important mission).
How to Give It to Them: When it comes to the financial details, first make sure you have a good understanding of the market. On one hand, yes, location will dictate costs, but given how feasible, popular and common remote working arrangements are these days, the world’s best engineers are scattered across the world. Companies looking to hire top engineers can no longer rely on location alone to determine what they can and should offer. What matters more are the skillsets and capabilities themselves. In addition, when recruiting candidates, it’s important to make a point to sell your company as a good investment. What makes you stand out against your competitors? What are your company’s long-term goals and growth projections? If top candidates can clearly understand who they’re working for and why, they’ll be more inclined to think it’s worth the investment of their effort to become a part of your success.
2. The Opportunity to Grow Their Skills
When we hear the phrase “opportunity for growth,” it usually means the chance for promotions and moving up the chain. While that’s important to many candidates, more than anything, what the top talented engineers and developers are looking for is the opportunity to grow their skills and learn. We know that they’ve already mastered their craft compared to the average candidate — but for them, that’s not enough. For the most talented and sharpest engineers, they know there’s always more they can achieve and learn, especially in an environment where the technology is constantly evolving. They want a challenging environment where they can pursue projects that test and stretch the limits of what’s possible — what’s possible for them, what’s possible for their field, and what’s possible for the world of technology.
How to Give It to Them: It’s important to give talented engineers and developers challenging and innovative projects and complex problems to solve. But perhaps more important is to empower them to innovate and come up with projects themselves. Dedicating a certain percentage of your employees’ time to allow them to pursue side projects, for example, can be a powerful recruitment and retention tool for top engineers. (As a bonus, their side/experimental projects can have great value to your company, too.)
3. Real Benefits, Not Just Flashy Perks
Ah, the perks. Unless you’re a total stranger to the tech world and especially start-up culture, you’ll know what the trends for employee perks have been like in recent years. It started simple, with maybe a fancy espresso machine, pantries stocked with hip snacks, or a ping-pong table. But now, perks that companies offer their employees range from free housing to $40,000 fertility treatments to travel stipends and beyond. In the end, though, what top engineers and developers look for are benefits that truly impact and improve their lives.
How to Give It to Them: You’ll need to factor in some serious benefits in order to attract and build top-quality teams of engineers. But it’s worth noting that generous perks and benefits can have their downsides, too — not just for the sometimes non-sustainable budget line items, but because employees can become disillusioned or feel manipulated into overwork. Your best bet will be to focus on those benefits that are truly important and sustainable and those that will have a measurable impact on your prospective candidates’ lives.
In today’s modern, global and digital environment, traditional workplaces and schedules have become obsolete. Instead, tech candidates value flexibility in their working arrangements. For just one example, a recent survey by EmployFlex reported that 9 out of 10 people would leave their job if they were offered a similar role with more flexibility, and a majority of those surveyed believed that flexibility is a key way to retain talent. Flexibility can mean a lot of things, but more often than not, what flexibility is associated with is an improved work-life balance. The world’s best engineers want to do their jobs, but they also want the flexibility to do their job in the way that works best for them and for their lifestyle.
How to Give It to Them: Some of the most popular forms that job flexibility can take are alternate work schedules (which allow engineers to choose their own hours), flexible work locations (i.e., remote work), or a mixture of the two. Another option to consider is switching to a results-driven working arrangement rather than a schedule-driven one. Under this type of increasingly popular arrangement, the number of hours worked matter less than the quality and the results of that work. However, the flexibility that works best for your company will depend on your project and your specific needs, as well as those of your engineers. In other words: be flexible about how flexible you are.
Not every engineer out there wants to be a manager or wants to be the boss. Many don’t. But truly talented and experienced engineers do want, and need, a certain degree of autonomy to excel in their work. They look for an environment that gives them some independence to perform their jobs as well as a role in the decision-making that will define their project.
How to Give It to Them: Building a culture of mutual trust in your company is vital here. In order for your top engineers to have some autonomy, you have to trust that they (1) know what they’re doing better than you do, and that (2) they want to and will do it to the best of their ability. This doesn’t mean that everyone should work independently; top engineers usually want and need to be a part of great teams of other talented people. But make sure you take the effort to give your teams a sense of ownership over their projects to keep them fully engaged in your company’s success.
Ultimately, a lot of these items boil down to the same thing: top candidates want to work for a company that truly values them. That value can take many forms, from competitive compensation and benefits to a fantastic and supportive working environment to a deep respect for their work-life balance. When they feel engaged, supported and valued, they’re more likely to invest their full talent in your success, more likely to stay and more likely to refer other top employees to your company as well.
In the end, it will take some time, but building a foundation of a solid work culture that prioritizes your people as your most important resource will pay off dividends when it comes to both hiring and retaining the top-quality talented teams you need to succeed.
Can Genium help your company tap into a powerful market of talented engineers?
At Genium, we’ve made it our mission to recruit and retain the world’s best engineers and developers who are skilled in the most cutting-edge areas of tech around. In particular, we’re leading the way in connecting global companies with one of the most powerful talent pools in the world through our Argentina office. Through both team extensions and custom development projects, we provide innovative companies with the in-demand skills and expertise that keep them powered by innovation while minimizing risk. Contact us today to find out how we can tap you into a wider pool of talent, from Buenos Aires to Silicon Valley and beyond, and connect you with the experts you need to innovate at warp speed.