As the fight to secure talented software developers intensifies, Claire Anderson, principal consultant at Scottish recruitment specialists Eden Scott, offers her advice on building your software development team.
The tech sector in this country is being driven by Scotland’s two largest cities. Outside of London, Edinburgh and Glasgow are being heralded as the top locations in the UK to build a tech business.
The general consensus is this is down to access to the right funding, a collaborative tech community, strong governmental support and, of course, access to a phenomenal talent base; the result of world-leading universities.
However, attracting this talent to your organisation in such a competitive market is extremely tough.
So, we thought we might offer some advice on how to build your software development team.
Think ability over language
Obviously bringing in a specialist for every position is everyone’s dream scenario. However, in a small business, where money is tight and most people wear many hats, there isn’t always the luxury of recruiting a C# maestro or a master of Java.
You might be building your product in C++ or Python and, while a specialist in this space will hit the ground running, we are noticing a change in mindset. Small businesses are recruiting for ability and cultural fit over language specialism.
The general feeling is that the very best developers are capable of adapting to the specific language and the superior problem-solving prowess and passion they bring to the role are of more value.
In addition, when you’re recruiting on cultural fit as opposed to technical specialism, there is a stronger chance you’ll find someone who will show loyalty while the business grows - avoiding the arduous process of replacing them.
This is probably the most controversial point and is certainly where we meet with most resistance, as for many business leaders this flies in the face of what they are trying to create.
We understand that as a growing business you want to establish a strong culture where everyone lives and breathes your values. However, this isn’t always possible. Finding a compromise where you can engage talent from around the globe will accelerate your growth and lead to a far more effective and efficient team.
It is a candidate led market and if you want the very best for your business, more often than not, you will need to make the most of the various project management and communication apps available that will make remote working a serious consideration. Much as we would all like to find the talent on our doorstep, the reality is that it’s just not practical.
Making a success of remote working is highly dependent on success of your recruitment, the strength of your culture, and the quality of your management.
Recruit to suit your candidates
Developers are problem solvers, but they are not fans of practical tests.
In terms of interviewing techniques, organisations often make the mistake of throwing their work-based norms out of the window.
In their day-to-day life, the prospective candidate is likely to be in an integrated environment where discussions around a problem are fluid, probably whiteboard based and certainly not with the use of a textbook and set answers. Yet in an interview process all too often candidates are asked to complete technical tests that are focused on rote learning as opposed to how they would actually complete day-to-day tasks.
Some of the most successful organisations, in terms of their ability to attract top talent, do this by ensuring that the process reflects the culture.
Instead of a technical test, a discussion point is raised, normally involving the interviewers and other members of the team, and a free-flowing discussion is held. This provides dual benefits; the chance to see if the candidate has the technical knowledge in a much more practical format and also to see how they would work with the team.
If you want it by the book, you’ll get it - but you won’t get the developer you want.
Inspire their creativity
By their nature developers are problem solvers. They spend their day finding creative solutions to normally quite complex problems, so it is important you embrace this and support their growth.
You can provide lots of additional distractions within the office. The usual table tennis tables and beer fridges always go down well - beer always fuels some creativity. However, you will find that freedom to test and explore different theories and hypotheses will be exactly what your developers are looking for.
Have the confidence to give your team the freedom to think and you will be rewarded.
Develop Tech Teams
The growth of a strong tech economy in this country will ensure we are at the forefront of groundbreaking, life-changing technological advances.
Attracting and retaining the talent to do this is vital.
Claire Anderson is principal consultant at recruitment specialists Eden Scott, who have offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Belfast and recruit across a wide range of sectors for businesses of all sizes. They have a specialist TalentSpark service aimed at helping startups and SMEs.
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