How to Attract Tech Talent - What Engineers Want in a Job

How to attract and retain the best tech talent? (It’s not about the money)

Jacintha Verdegaal

If even the big tech corporates are fighting to hire the best tech talent with attractive salaries and interesting perks, how are you to compete as a tech start-up or SME? Having access to the right people is crucial if you want to be productive and stay competitive. So what can you do to attract tech talent? Figure out what engineers really want in a job. And spoiler alert: it’s not all about the money. 

It’s not about the money – but don’t undercompensate 

A quick Google search will show you that there’s a lot of information available online about the average engineering salaries. Engineers know their worth. So if you’re not willing to pay them accordingly, someone else will. 

As the rest of this story will show, there’s more you can offer to make them want to work for you. If you can’t offer a competitive salary right now, compensate it with other benefits. But in the end, money is one of the ways to determine how much you’re valued by your employer. So do your research before making an offer. 

Work with the best on-demand tech talent

Have you ever considered working with on-demand technical talent? It’s a great solution if you need to get specific work done that you don’t have the right people for. With on-demand talent you don’t have to worry about offering competitive job packages. And if you hire tech talent with Tasker, you pay for the output not the hours. So no unexpected costs at the end. This way you can work with the best engineers in the market, even if you’re not able to hire them as an employee. 

attract engineering talent

Acknowledge engineering expertise

Everybody wants to feel valued and engineers are no exception. In addition to giving regular feedback, make sure to showcase their talent. This will work better than a pat on the back or monetary reward. Giving them exposure within and outside your company is like telling the world how great they are. 

Also, encourage them to share their opinions instead of just telling them what to do. Show that you value and acknowledge their expertise. 

Engineers want to solve complex and interesting problems

The complexity of the problems your engineering team is solving can be the reason why top talent will want to work for your start-up instead of one of the big tech companies. Because if there’s one thing that engineers look for in a job, it’s the opportunity to work on exciting, technical challenges. If they’re not feeling challenged or can work on the edge of what they’re good at, they’ll leave. Involve them in solving complicated problems which will motivate them to learn more through their informal network and apply it in the projects.

Does it matter?

In the end, most people – not just engineers – want to feel that the work they’re doing matters. Not just for the shareholders, but by making some sort of difference in the world. This is where the mission of your company comes in. Why are you doing what you’re doing? And how is an engineer contributing to that goal? It doesn’t have to be as big as solving world hunger, but improving the life of a customer by solving their problems can be an important motivator. 

What engineers want in a job - tech talent

Offer room for growth to attract tech talent

Feeling stuck in a job is one of the most important reasons for engineers to leave you. So what opportunities are you offering for personal and professional growth? This is not only important to keep your most valued employees but also to attract them in the first place. 

If you know there’s no path towards a promotion or a better salary at some point, you’ll be less motivated to give it your all. A recent study shows that 80% wants to leave their job because they don’t see a way to advance their career. 

Are you a great place to work for engineers?

Many tech companies are known for their special perks like free lunches, gym memberships, etc. How attractive that may sound on your website, ask if that’s what engineers really want in a job. Provide the benefits that matter to them. Not only will they more likely want to continue working for you, but also encourage their network to join your company too. 

Develop new skills

One of the most important reasons for tech talent to quit their job is to learn new skills. This is especially true for millennials. Engineers want to advance their skills, so give them the opportunity to do that. Don’t give your team the idea that the only way to learn new skills is by developing them somewhere else.

attract engineers to work for you

Engineering mentor program

Never underestimate the value of your most senior employees! Engineers don’t only care about solving complex problems, they also want to work – and learn from – other talented people. 

Maybe you don’t have the training budget to invest in skills development, but you can start an engineering mentor program for free. People like sharing their expertise, so why not encourage the seasoned professionals in your team to involve new employees in projects to learn from the best. 

Let engineers focus on what they’re good at

How much freedom are you giving your engineering team to get their work done? Or are they constantly distracted by non-engineering tasks? Engineers care about the work they’re doing, and they want to get better at it….by focusing on what they’re good at. If too much time goes into the stuff that has nothing to do with the job they were hired for in the first place, they won’t stay for long. Consider delegating the non-engineering tasks to someone else who would probably be much better at it (and actually enjoy it). 

Work-Life balance

There’s nothing wrong with putting in some extra hours to get important work done in time. But don’t expect your tech talent to give up their personal life and spend all their valuable time working. This will eventually lead to unmotivated workers looking for the door. There needs to be enough time to have and enjoy a life outside of work.

Offer work flexibility to attract and retain tech talent

An important step towards a good work-life balance is offering work flexibility. Now that we’ve all experienced the flexibility that working from home offers, we don’t want to go back to being in the office every day. Flexibility means something different for every person. It can be about needing flexible work schedules, the ability to work from home or something else. Show that your company is offering that flexibility and you’ll successfully retain and attract tech talent. 

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