Why Software Engineering Recruitment Is So Difficult

Why Software Engineering Recruitment Is So Difficult

With the exponential boom in the IT industry over the last two decades, there has never been a greater need for software engineers. As a result, almost every sector has some form of IT running a large part of the business.

Technology makes things easier and should help prevent failure of your software project. Tasks are completed faster, communication takes milliseconds, and it even saves on costs. However, we are still a long way out from ultimately handing everything over to the machines.

Before that, we need to make sure the things we are working on are running right. For this, we need engineers who know how things work. These are people who are proficient in the intricacies of how the software works.

They know how to create, test, launch, and troubleshoot different software. Without a proper IT department in a company, the chances of calamity are very high.

This makes it a paramount priority to hire the right set of people for the job. You could have 15 people doing a job, but you won’t get results if they aren’t competent.

However, if you have five people who know what they are doing, that same job will be done right.

However, a challenge in today’s industry is hiring these people. Unfortunately, recruitment is never given the appreciation it should be – it makes or breaks your company.

The Issues

With software engineers, some issues have plagued the industry for some time. These include, but are not limited to:

Not Enough People With The Right Skills

Not Enough People With The Right Skills

It is common knowledge that there is an acute shortage of talent in the IT industry. There might be more software engineering graduates, but there are not enough with the right skills that are needed.

Software engineering is a vague way of describing a vast field that encompasses multiple technologies and a wide geographical scope. Therefore, companies often need individuals with specific skill sets, i.e., proficiency in certain languages, knowledge of particular industries, etc.

An example of this is the shortage of candidates for roles in security, big data and analytics, and legacy systems.

While there might be applicants for jobs in these fields, this does not mean they have the right skills needed. Moreover, according to TalentNow, 86% of the suitable candidates are already employed because they are in such high demand.

There are also implications of this on the people that are employed.

With high demand and short supply, not everyone has the required number of engineers. This puts an additional load on the ones that they do.

A company will always look to expand the business, but this happens at the cost of the existing workforce. As a result, they will take on more projects than before, with the same number of employees.

This can become a challenge when retaining these skilled engineers because there is so much a certain amount of people can do.

Employees may begin to fumble under the burden of these new projects and start reconsidering their place in the company.

Recruitment Costs Money – A Lot Of It

Recruitment Costs Money

The process of recruitment is criminally underappreciated; the strategy of hiring can make or break a company.

The ball is in their court when it comes to hiring the right people for the job. But, unfortunately, they also have to answer for their hiring, mainly because it costs the company money.

Every time a new candidate is shortlisted, company resources go into interviewing them, taking any necessary assessments, and finally presenting an offer.

This includes the time that the recruitment team takes to get all of this done. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, if you have a company with 500 people, hiring a new candidate can cost $7,645.

Along with the monetary costs that need to be incurred, recruiting someone takes time. A LinkedIn global survey in 2017 reported that hiring a developer can take anywhere between a few days or up to four months.

Most companies choose to outsource their recruitment to a software recruitment agency. They charge an agreed amount for their services while doing all the work on their behalf.

This saves the actual company time and effort that could be used elsewhere.

A Chronic Lack of a Formal IT Education

A Chronic Lack of a Formal IT Education

Simply getting a degree in computer science is not enough. They might teach you a lot of theory and the basics, but it is out in the real world where you actually learn.

The same can be said about any industry, not just IT.

Some people tend to opt for an online boot camp to enhance their skillset. Doing so helps them prepare for the job while saving money on a college degree.

However, when it comes to recruitment, most companies tend to avoid such candidates. This is because the prospect of hiring someone with online education is not the most encouraging.

As per Digital Ocean, 14% of respondents from a survey in the United Kingdom were ‘extremely positive’ about coding boot camps. Moreover, 44% were neutral regarding the matter.

The survey also mentions that 55% of recruiters do not have a specific preference between computer science graduates or boot camp graduates. However, 23% claimed that this depends on the position they are hiring for.

The Competition Is Ready With A Better Offer

Due to the high demand for good employees, there is always someone willing to poach the best talent. If one company does not offer enough, there is always someone else willing.

Additionally, companies will go above and beyond, offering different benefits and perks just to have the best candidate join them.

In a 2018 Jobvites Recruiter Nation survey, it was reported that up to 75% of recruiters met with candidates who didn’t take the offer. 53% of this was because they were offered a much better package elsewhere.

The Competition Is Ready With A Better Offer

These high salary demands can be a result of several different factors:

  • Education
  • Experiences
  • Tech tools
  • Tech stack
  • Location

These are the different metrics that are used to judge how well someone needs to be paid. What must also be considered is that an in-house developer is always going to cost more.

At the time of writing, the average salary for a software developer can is around $150,000. Given the disparity between supply and demand, this is a lot of money that more than one organization would be willing to offer.

How Do You Solve These Issues?

No problem exists without a solution – even the most bizarre of the bunch. Hiring the right team of software engineers is by no means a piece of cake, but there are ways to make it easier.

Leveraging Social Media

In a world of constant social media engagement, it only makes sense to find the best candidates. Besides services like LinkedIn and other such platforms, social media networks can also help in finding people.

Not only is it much easier to find people here, but there are also many other options to choose from. This makes finding a pool of prospective candidates a lot easier.

An ad posted on Facebook or in a group for software engineers could instantly bring in a hoard of interested candidates.

Not all of these might be the right fit, but at least you will have people coming in. Again, they might not be suitable for the exact position you are looking for, but there are other positions that they might fit right into.

Encourage Retention Through Benefits And Perks

One of the most common issues that the industry faces is the inability to hold onto its employees.

They are overworked to the point where they dread putting in the effort. But, with a lack of qualified candidates in the market, those who source software jobs are expected to put in a lot more work.

The work will requirement may remain the same; however, it is up to the employers to ensure their employees are taken care of. How does this happen?

According to a 2018 CareerBuilder Midyear job forecast, perks are essential for employee retention.

Therefore, these were efforts to keep employees motivated while also making new candidates more inclined to join. These were:

  • The flexibility to work remotely if needed
  • Extra paid time off
  • A more relaxed dress code
  • Lunch be made free at the workplace
  • A bonus for signing onto the company
  • Memberships to fitness facilities or a gym
  • Employee discounts
  • Daycare for parents who struggle to find a balance

These are just a few perks that could seem intriguing for people working or looking to work as software engineers.

They might cost the company money, but they will also make the employees more inclined to do their job correctly.


Hiring software engineers has never been more complicated than it is now – there is no avoiding this reality.

Companies can counter this by improving their software project management and, in turn, accessing a better pool of applicants.

Moreover, they can use the right tools, leverage suitable sources, and think about their employees’ well-being. Then, if candidates see that they will be taken care of, they will be driven to do their job right.

Ryan is the VP of Operations for DEV.co. He brings over a decade of experience in managing custom website and software development projects for clients small and large, managing internal and external teams on meeting and exceeding client expectations--delivering projects on-time and within budget requirements. Ryan is based in El Paso, Texas.
Connect with Ryan on Linkedin.
Ryan Nead