How to hire developers when 92.2% already have a job?


Boris Borisov

29 August 2018


Only 5.0% of the developers are unemployed and looking for a job

92.2% of the developers are already employed, according to the 2018 Developer Survey of Stack Overflow. Furthermore, 3.6% are not employed but do not look for a job. If you're having difficulties finding the right developers – the reason is simple: the competition for finding good developers is fierce.

This is the breakdown of the developers according to employment status:

Worldwide developers according to employment status

This ultimately leads to only 15.9% of the developers being active job applicants:

Worldwide developers according to job search status

It's a competitive market when it comes to hiring developers, so companies need to rethink their hiring approach.

Even though not applying, 59.8% of the developers are open to offers

The best developers do not follow the job boards. As Joel Spolsky from Stack Overflow puts it, "the average great software developer will apply for, total, maybe, four jobs in their entire career". It's hard to put an exact number, but the point is certainly true: most of the really good developers find their jobs outside of job boards.

The question becomes: how do you find great developers when they are not looking at the job boards?

Solution A: Make a better offer for more applicants

This is the traditional solution. If you want to attract (and retain) great talent, you have to make a compelling offer. This is especially true for job boards, where the candidates can easily compare the different job openings. It's worth noting that the number of job applicants varies greatly from one job opening to another (within the same field), so it helps to make a better offer.

Benefits are the quick solution for making a job offer more interesting. When developers are asked about what they value in a job offer (in terms of benefits), here is the resulting data:

What developers value in compensation/benefits

Note – at RemoteMore, we wouldn't call remote just a benefit. It's a defining part of the position, which gives many different benefits for both the employees and companies.

Solution B: Hire remotely for a bigger pool of candidates

Remote work is the 2nd most valuable work benefit that you can offer. It's a great way to attract talented developers (and it can even reduce your costs!).

According to Stack Overflow, the job listings that offer remote work get 3-6 times more applications (!). This is a result of two factors: (1) the possibility to work remotely makes a job opening much more interesting and (2) a remote job opening is relevant to a much wider audience. Both of those factors make remote work a perfect solution to the talent shortage crisis.

Hiring remotely gives you many benefits, not just a much better access to a bigger talent pool. The other benefits include: improved employee productivity, lower salary expenses, lower overhead expenses, happier employees. If you want to know how hiring remotely puts you ahead of the competition, you will love this blog post and this bestselling book.

Solution C: Be proactive, reach out to the relevant developers

Reach out to the developers, don't wait for job board applicants. As we wrote earlier in this article, 59.8% of the developers are open to offers (but not applying), while only 15.9% of the developers are applying for jobs. When you source through job boards, you don't reach the majority of the interested developers and you hardly reach the really good ones. You have probably noticed that most of the job board applicants that you get are not as good as you want.

There are channels that are successful at reaching those developers that are not applying. Among them: personal network, referrals, LinkedIn, physical meetups, hiring from universities, unsolicited applications.