Attract and Retain Top Java and .Net Developers

by Liz Allen on July 31, 2012

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It’s a candidate’s market. Java and .Net developers are like the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow — highly desired and seemingly impossible to find.

The demand for IT talent is growing and many employers are feeling the squeeze, but for some, it’s still a matter of educating them on the conditions of the labor market.  Many employers look to the overall unemployment rate as an indication as to the availability of talent. The reality is that although the national unemployment average is about 8.2%, the unemployment rate for college educated professionals is running about half that.  Furthermore, unemployment for IT professionals in many markets is below 3% – basically the equivalent of a fully employed market. Web development is one of the most in demand skill sets and finding talent with Java and .Net skills is particularly difficult.

So, what does this mean for employers? To attract and retain top developers you have to:

1. Be Creative

More than ever, you need to get creative to attract and retain the top talent and if you don’t already have a strategy in place, you have to begin now!

IT talent, particularly Java and .Net professionals have many options available to them and it’s important to know that it is not always about the money. Salary and benefits must be competitive but studies show that it’s rarely money alone that attracts talent to a job and keeps them there.  In our experience, Web developers love to be a part of something big so it is important to make sure they understand how their role fits into the overall strategy. Also, don’t underestimate the value of things like:

  • Exciting work and challenge
  • Career growth, learning, and development
  • Great people to work with
  • Supportive management/good boss
  • Flexible work schedules
  • Health incentives
  • Company events and perks

2. Be realistic and flexible

For example, if you are asking for a candidate with Java and C++ realize that you’re limiting your pool of available talent from which to choose. Instead, ask the following questions:

  • What is the primary skill needed to perform the job?
  • If the candidate possesses the primary skill and can pick up the secondary skill, can they fit?
  • Would some other object oriented programming language suffice?
  • If you have a very strong Java candidate, could you leverage your other C++ developers to shift the workload? (Java person takes some Java related work off the C++ developers’ plates and vice versa?)

3. Be on the move

Engaging a search firm can help you tap into talent you wouldn’t otherwise have access to on your own; and quicker than you’d otherwise be able to find them, since good recruiters will be building their networks long before your need arises. When you see a good candidate, realize that they have many options and that you have to move fast in order to secure that talent.  It is also important to note that your recruiter isn’t trying to hound you with those follow up calls; they are simply trying to help make sure you get the candidate you want.

Most importantly, love what you do and whom you do it with and for because that genuine enthusiasm shines through when you’re speaking with a candidate and everyone wants to be a part of something great!

Liz Allen manages Modis’ Direct Hire division, specializing in the direct placement of IT professionals into that perfect opportunity. Thinking about your next move?  Connect with Liz on LinkedIn.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

E. A. July 31, 2012 at 11:28 am

Hey Liz, it’s good to hear your refreshing and positive take on the IT job market.

Janet Armstrong August 1, 2012 at 11:30 am

Interesting but not surprising that salary is not on the list which reinforces the fact that it’s not just money that attracts the best talent. There are many other factors and employer/team attributes that attract the best skills and resources and the best employers realize this.

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