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Career development and growth should be a top priority for employers in any industry but especially in tech.

Now that your recruiting strategies have proven effective in attracting and hiring the right engineers for the role, how do you ensure that you can keep them happy long-term? Investing in your engineer’s learning and development is one of the most important aspects of employee retention. Developers that want to rise through the ranks of their organization can advance into senior roles that eventually lead to management positions. Whether they want to head towards the position of CTO or become a people manager, it’s essential that they garner the support of their managers to help them develop and grow. Preeti Kaur, VP of Engineering at Carta says “As a leader, the number one job we have is to help our engineers grow and get to that level that they want to get to.”

Not only does providing engineers with support in career development help to build trust but it also improves employee retention and engagement. Engineers want to know that they’re being valued and that their company is invested in their learning and development. 

Communication Is Key

As a leader or manager, it’s important to communicate clearly and often with your employees about growth opportunities within the organization. Whether it’s encouraging your engineers to take courses, learn new skills or go for job promotions, that encouragement can build strong bonds of trust. 

By communicating often with your employees about growth and development opportunities, managers are able to provide a safe space for candidates to confide in them about their future. When employees discuss reaching higher levels within the organization with their employers, it presents an opportunity to create a mentoring and leadership program that helps developers understand the skills needed from them to advance to the next level within the organization. 

Gap Analysis

As an engineering leader, it’s important to understand the skills gap between your engineers, especially those from entry-level positions that want to work their way up towards management positions. Managers should structure training sessions, training, strategies and conversations around gap analysis, which helps them to understand the skills gap between job roles. 

For candidates, Preeti says that it’s important to convey to your developers to find 2-3 people within the organization that they admire. By finding employees within the company that engineers admire and aspire to be like, they can understand what they’re doing well and the skills involved to step into that position within the company. 

The Two-Track Method

There are usually two tracks that engineers can develop and progress through. The first track is for developers that progress through an IT track, working their way up from an entry developer position, all the way through to CTO. The second track entails working up through people management; overseeing projects and leading other employees. These two tracks aren’t parallel ladders, but rather intertwined steps.

Amanda Townsend, Director of People & Culture at FiveTran says “We had every single department head create competencies for every single role at the company, including engineering; we also have an IC and a manager track”. To progress through those tracks, engineers require certain skills and requirements that enable them to have the knowledge and competencies to work at their current level or to push up to the next level. 

At FiveTran, Amanda also says that they have core competencies for all of their engineers so that employees are aware of the competencies at their current level and all of the ones above. Amanda also says that FiveTran implements two processes for their employees to reach higher levels. The first is a promotion that happens after a performance review cycle which is held twice every year. The second way an engineer can move up is through an internal hire where candidates can interview for a position at a higher level. Interviews are only held for candidates that want to change tracks or shift from an IC to a manager. If employees want to move up a position within their own team or the same track, they need their manager to assess their competencies and sign off on it for the next level.

This is a great way to promote your engineers and managers throughout all IT teams. By implementing processes such as assessing core competencies and allowing managers to evaluate them for the same track helps to show your engineers there’s fairness and equality for everyone at the company. Furthermore, allowing employees to shift tracks helps to restructure your teams seamlessly, increasing employee retention and reducing time to hire. 


Your engineers are always your greatest investment and helping them build, learn and grow is a great way to drive up employee satisfaction and engagement. As a manager, it’s important to be clear and communicative with your engineers about career growth within the company. Establish processes that clearly illustrate which core competencies are required for the current position and levels above so that developers can work towards growing their abilities to fill skill gaps within the organization.

To learn more about ways to succeed at “Recruiting and Engaging Developers at Work,” watch our webinar with Carta, Fivetran and ITCraftship.

Sally Lee, Senior Lifecycle Marketing Manager at Codility.

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