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Developers are continuous learners — whether it’s staying up to date with the latest technologies or focusing on soft skill development to become an Engineering Manager.

We surveyed thousands of developers from all over the world to get insights on how employers can better support strong and growing engineering teams and attract engineering talent.

Companies have never done as much technical recruiting as they do today, and they’ve never spent as much money doing it. In our latest global developer survey, we investigated how leaders can engage their current engineering talent to increase satisfaction and problem-solving (like investing in soft skill development), ultimately resulting in improved recruitment and retention strategies.

The Global Developer Survey: 

In 2019 we kept encountering a similar thread in conversations with our customers on technical recruiting: they were spending a lot of time on making sure they are hiring developers that  are right for their engineering team — but a lot less on figuring out what makes their best engineers stay, and how to engage those developers further into their company’s main purpose.

With the market conditions surrounding technical recruiting becoming more challenging each year, we circulated a global survey to developers from all walks of life to better understand the trends, methodologies, motivations, and preferences which are shaping the future of work in engineering teams to help you in hiring developers that are right for your organization and retain them.

The questions we asked shed light on how developers like to work — do they prefer to work remotely or in the office? Do they test first and what is the impact? Is becoming an Engineering Manager the ultimate goal? If so, do developers know how to get there? What qualities make up a dream employer? All questions that are important to advancing your technical recruiting effort and hiring developers that contribute to a high-performing team.

Here’s what we learned:

1. Remote teams and online learning are becoming the norm

The trend towards more flexible work schedules continues to grow and developers are very open to considering remote roles. No matter if teams work in a distributed or centralized office they feel fairly similarly. As shown in Graph 1*, 61% percent of developers who work remotely want to continue doing so — and 46% of those working in a traditional office today said they’d like to work remotely in the future.

This is extended by research that Google completed on their own remote teams showing that there’s no difference in the effectiveness, performance ratings, or promotion frequency between distributed and in-office teams. Recruitment and retention strategies that accommodate remote teams and online learning will be most effective as this trend is currently shaping the future of work.

Senior Engineering Management Recruiter at Google, Amy Miller, told us that “although Project Oxygen started as a Google project, it remains influential for enterprise across various industries and specializations. Project Oxygen brings together a trove of research into the undefined world of soft skills. Soft skills are essential to forging a great leader who is capable of bringing out the best in their employees.”

*Graph 1: Remote teams enjoy working this way

Survey question: In the future, how would you like to work?

Results on remote teams from Codility’s developer survey.
Remote teams are the future of work.

2. The promotion path to Engineering Manager is not clear enough

Sixty-three percent of developers don’t know how to get promoted, even though a vast majority are interested in becoming Engineering Managers in the future (see Graph 2*). Without an understanding of what the promotion path to manager looks like, developers may look for opportunities elsewhere in order to grow. When hiring developers, it is important to touch on career and professional development opportunities so the path to promotion is clear.

Soft skill development training, tracking, and closing the internal skills gap are among the three top learning and development priorities for developers. To better attract top engineering talent, employers can start by understanding what interests candidates, what motivates them, and what they’re looking for in a long-term opportunity. Employers that invest in soft skill development training and professional growth might in turn get loyalty from their engineering team.

According to Senior Director of Engineering of Malwarebytes, Darren Chinen, “…sometimes you can’t afford to hire the best, but you can afford to develop them into world-class engineers. By giving each individual professional security [by encouraging them to work on their skills], they became more confident and contributed more. ”

*Graph 2: Do developers know how to get promoted?

Results from Codility’s developer survey shows how to attract top engineering talent.
Career development is crucial in attracting top engineering talent.

3. Developers that code together feel success more often

Sometimes working in silos can be detrimental to sharing knowledge with the rest of the team and being able to quickly move through tasks. Engineering teams that are structured to be agile, collaborative, and communicative contribute to an individuals’ perceived sense of success.

Data suggest that test driven development (TDD) and pair programming are tied to more frequent feelings of success for a majority of developers. Graph 3* shows how engineering teams that pair program see  higher rates of feeling success. Though there’s no correlation between the two, we found that 85% of developers who test first experience feelings of success at least once a week.

Engineering teams that work on their hard skills together also move from idea to the implementation phase faster. Sixty percent of developers that pair program declared delivering to implementation within a week. Not only does this raise business performance, but for team performance, there will be improved well-being due to more frequent feelings of success.

*Graph 3: Pair programming vs. time to implementation

Survey question: How long does it take your engineering team to take something from an idea to ready for implementation?

Codility’s survey shows engineering teams that code together feel success more often.
TDD and pair programming contribute to successful engineering teams.

4. Dream employers are those seen to have strong aspects of culture

For developers, strong aspects of culture is the most important factor when choosing an employer, followed by professional growth opportunities and staying up to date with the latest technology. Overwhelmingly, survey respondents said that companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook, were their “dream employers” — companies which have publicly promoted, and which work very hard to uphold their unique brand, company culture, and innovation (see Graph 4*).

Having positive aspects of culture typically concerns the people that you work with, the environment that you work in, and the resources that you have access to. After all, a strong work environment is one that facilitates learning and development. Showing strong aspects of culture is important to incorporate in your recruitment and retention strategies to express the uniqueness of your company. 

Lead recruiter for Microsoft‘s Data Centers, Domina McQuade, shared how it wasn’t until the appointment of Satya Nadella to Chief Executive Office in 2014, that Microsoft saw a change “from a culture of know-it-alls to a culture of learn-it-alls.” Microsoft has worked hard towards becoming a people company instead of a product company. Domina said that “the ‘new Microsoft’ is collaborative and very much rooted in a growth mindset.”

*Graph 4: Most common “dream employers” mentioned by developers

Survey question: If you could choose your dream employer, who would it be?

Codility’s survey shows dream employers to have strong aspects of culture.
Companies with strong aspects of culture are highly sought after by engineering talent.

Read the full Survey Report

At Codility, we’re observing the urgency that companies across all industries are experiencing around a need to build and maintain strong engineering teams. We’ve dug deeper into the data from our survey to create a full 14-page report covering: 

  • Actionable insights that can be used to optimize your recruitment and retention strategies
  • Highly effective tactics that can help you attract and retain top engineering talent
  • Powerful data that gives you a glimpse into the software engineering community

We hope that our findings will be useful to you! To ask questions or discuss the methodology, please email us at [email protected]. For more technical recruiting insights, visit our Knowledge Hub.

Content Marketing Specialist at Codility. Shelby devotes most of her time to creating content strategy and executing on it. Currently residing in SF, she was born and raised in Connecticut.

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