“We’re having a hard time filling this position”

Mythical-Man month issues aside (adding people to a late software project makes it later), there are times when you just don’t have enough people to get the job done, so you’re trying to hire more developers, and it’s just not working.

I could write for days on this subject, both as a former hiring manager and as a developer with over a decade of experience evaluating companies.

Dan Luu, someone who is known for treatises on tech, wrote a piece that is especially relevant to this problem. Take some time, and read it. It largely mirrors my own experiences. Here’s what I would add to it for this audience:

1. If you want young developers without a lot of experience, focus on the glitzy: Free food, foosball tables, happy hours.
2. If you want experienced developers who are good at what they do, focus on the mechanics: developers pick their own computers and work equipment (any price under 10K), developers have quiet working conditions, developers get paid training and conferences (no hoops). This is an especially inexpensive way to lower turnover as well.
3. If you want bottom-line focused developers, focus on the how developers interact with the business: Do they sit in client meetings or have discovery sessions with clients? Or is that walled off from the development team? Do they have KPIs/OKRs that are about the business’s work? (For instance, Initech’s software team is judged by the retention rate of their SaaS product) Or are their KPIs or OKRs focused on developer issues? (Initrode’s software development team is judged by how many bugs are found, or how many features are shipped). Business focused developers will help you improve your retention rate.

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