IT Employment

30 tips for development managers: How to attract and retain topnotch talent

Justin James provides development managers with excellent tips on how to: write want ads for developer positions, understand why your star is leaving, and attract and retain top developers.

Justin James has written three great articles for development managers in our 10 Things blog. He covers the gamut from writing job postings to understanding why your star is leaving to attracting and retaining top developers.

Here are links to Justin's three articles, along with excerpts from each post:

10 developer want ads that will attract topnotch talent

Show them the money!

While the compensation for this position is ultimately dependent upon the candidate's experience and other qualifications, the approximate salary range that has been approved for this position is $XYZ/year to $ABC/year.

There are some good reasons why most job ads omit salary information. The problem is, candidates don't care about your reasons for omitting it. They want to be shown why they should apply for your open position. Programmers are busy people, and they don't enjoy sneaking away from their desk to have a 20-minute discussion with recruiters doing the ritualistic "compensation dance." Providing an approximate salary range (with all disclaimers, of course) in the job ad ensures that no one's time will be wasted and encourages candidates to apply.

10 reasons your star programmer may be looking to leave

Poor pay

No one works purely out of a charitable nature. So when your best people feel like their pay is severely out of line with market standards, they may start to view other pastures as being much greener than yours. Your worst enemy in retaining the stars is the thought, "I am the worst paid senior developer in this town."

I see a lot of companies that look at what the market is like only when they hire someone. Meanwhile, your best people are often aware of what is happening in the market consistently. If you have not re-evaluated your pay packages in a while, you need to. While the package may have been competitive when you hired someone three years ago, your best employees may be able to get a substantial raise by making a lateral move (if not taking a higher level position) to another employer.

10 non-monetary benefits to attract and retain top developers

Education

Very few companies invest in their employees. Part of the problem is that employee benefits tend to be available to all employees, regardless of the department. So it is considered better not to offer education benefits to developers than to have to offer them to all workers across the board. Unfortunately, developers don't quite see it that way. It is a poorly hidden fact in the industry that developers are expected to learn new skills at their own expense and on their own time, not while on the clock. No one would run a factory and expect the plant workers to learn the safety rules at home, so why does the IT industry expect it?

In addition, developers are in a constant race against the obsolescence clock. Sure, some developers with outdated skill sets might find work maintaining a legacy piece of code - but they might not. Put some money into keeping your developers up to date, even if you don't plan to make use of those skills, and your staff will be a lot happier. Not only will they know you value them, but they will be less likely to jump ship for a job that gives them the chance to stay fresh.

About

Mary Weilage is a Senior Editor for CBS Interactive. She has worked for TechRepublic since 1999.

3 comments
Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

One of the key pieces missing in all these articles for me. Where did the assumption that retention was desired by business' come from ?

Justin James
Justin James

Do you have any insight to the hiring or retention of developers? Share 'em! J.Ja

Justin James
Justin James

Yeah, I know... it seems like some palces actively work to get rid of their best and brightest people. You know, like, "since you're the only one I can count on to get this done, I'll just add another project to your list while the mediocre person next to you gets to leave at 5 PM every day for a paycheck only 10% less than yours." :) J.Ja