What You Need to Know About Attracting Tech Talent

September 22, 2016

 startup tech talent busy at work

“When these tech jobs go unfilled, it’s a missed opportunity for the workers, but it’s also a missed opportunity for your city, your community, your county, your state, and our nation”

– President Barack Obama, National League of Cities Annual Conference March 9, 2015

With an estimated 500,000 open tech jobs across the U.S., chances are you work with one of the many communities looking to attract tech talent. But, old economic development marketing rules don’t apply to this group. Before you can market to them, you need to learn what’s important to them.

To find out, we spoke with a handful of software engineers, who also happened to direct us to the opinions of 56,033 other coders through the Stack Overflow Annual Developer Survey.

Here are some of the top takeaways on what makes tech talent tick:

Money Matters

When it comes to job priorities, 68 percent of developers list salary. If your community can’t offer the same sky-high Silicon Valley wages, make the salary and cost of living (rent, especially) differences crystal clear. Also, market to the other factors that developers value – including work-life balance (listed as a priority by 50.4%) and company culture (listed by 41.8% as a priority). When we asked software engineers what would make them consider a job with a lower-than-Silicon Valley-salary, they said equity in the company and “being excited about the work.”

Magazines…Not So Much

While WIRED and Fast Company are undoubtedly well-read media outlets, the software engineers we spoke with said “they’re for the masses.” Instead, they’re constantly checking reddit, Y Combinator’s Hacker News, and blogs run by the software engineers at companies like Airbnb, Etsy and Google. They’re also paying more attention to hackathons than events like SXSW.

Age is Just a Number

The “mid-to-senior level” title doesn’t necessarily correspond with age when it comes to software engineers. Coders can come in the form of 40-year-old beginners or fresh-out-of-high-school gurus. On top of that, you can’t narrow down potential talent by college degrees either. Since most coders’ experience is non-academic (either self-taught or in coding schools), someone with less years on their resume can actually be more advanced than someone years older.

Most Aren’t Looking for a Job

A majority of developers report that they are not actively looking for a job, but they are open to new opportunities. In fact, only 15% of developers are actively looking for a job. This means having a talent attraction website is not going to cut it unless you have an aggressive marketing plan around it to get it in front of coder’s computer screens.

As talent attraction—and attracting tech talent specifically—becomes a growing priority for economic development marketers, it’s important to keep track of the rapidly changing tech industry and the people that create it. To see creative ways other economic development organizations are attracting talent, be sure to follow DCI’s talent attraction blogs.

Rebecca Gehman

Written by Rebecca Gehman

Rebecca Gehman is an Account Manager in DCI’s Economic Development division. Since joining DCI in 2012, Rebecca has played a pivotal role in content creation, media relations and marketing strategy work for clients across the globe.

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