3 traits developers look for in a company’s culture

It’s no secret that corporate culture is an increasingly important factor for both passive and active job seekers, and the numbers back this up. In its 2016 Talent Trends report, LinkedIn surveyed more than 20,000 of its users for insight into what influences the decision making process when candidates are searching for a job, and as you might expect, 66% of respondents reported that company culture plays a significant role in their final choice.

But that “culture” word can be terribly vague, and it seems to imply the existence of a one-size-fits-all approach that will address the needs of every potential candidate. Just as marketers must tailor their sales messaging to individual customer personas, however, so too must recruiters tailor their cultural messaging to individual candidate personas.

To that end, we’re here to help with three traits that should be part of your cultural pitch whenever you’re communicating with software developers.

1) Dedication to continuing education

 

Why it matters. For some industries, continuing education (CE) is a requirement. Medical professionals, for example, must earn a certain amount of CE credit each year to maintain certifications and licenses. While CE may not be a regulatory mandate for software developers, constant learning is crucial to their long-term success. Aside from the most obvious reason (i.e., they want to be better developers), consider the breakneck speed of the industry. Each year, dozens of new languages and updates to existing languages are released, and developers must stay current with the latest tools. Like any other profession, devs want to ensure their skillset remains competitive, and they expect employers to provide them with opportunities to learn and grow.

What you can do. Are you developing products and services utilizing the latest technologies? Do your developers attend industry events that help advance their skillsets? Do you set aside time each week for your dev team to contribute to open source projects, a la Google’s famed “20% time” policy? When communicating your corporate culture to potential candidates, make sure to highlight your dedication to CE and professional growth with more than a bullet point in your job postings. Utilize your careers page, social media channels or culture blog to demonstrate how you’re helping your developers learn, and how they’re benefiting as a result. This last point should go without saying, but if CE isn’t a priority for your organization, it’s time to rethink your approach.  

2) An innovative mindset

 

Why it matters. Whether they’re established giants like Google and Facebook or relative upstarts like Airbnb and Zillow, tech companies routinely dominate the horde of “Best Places to Work” lists you see each December, and with good reason. Yes, most of them are pursuing the best talent out there, and offering the sort of jaw-dropping salaries and benefit packages you’d expect. But they’re also among the world’s most innovative companies, and offer developers the chance to work on projects that could shape the future of technology. Aside from the general satisfaction associated with meaningful work, contributing to such innovative projects helps developers build an impressive resume and advance their future career prospects.

What you can do. Few companies can go toe-to-toe with the giants of Silicon Valley in a battle of high-profile technology, but that doesn’t mean innovation isn’t in your DNA. Whether it’s developing unique solutions to challenging problems or building products and services that are disrupting traditional industries, innovation can take many forms. But you can’t count on candidates always recognizing this on their own, so you’ll need to be proactive. Showcase exciting projects in your employer branding materials. Demo the sort of ambitious work a candidate will contribute to during the interview process. Work with your marketing team to promote your high-tech offerings through industry media. This isn’t the time to be humble, so go ahead and show off.

3) The right team

 

Why it matters. Anyone who’s spent time in an office setting understands the importance of chemistry (and personal hygiene, but that’s a different story). Many of us spend more time with co-workers than our friends and family, so creating the right mix is essential. This is even more important for developers who are often working long hours under very tight deadlines. Junior devs will need mentors they can lean on for advice and guidance as they launch their careers. Established pros will need creative thought partners to help push their work and drive the best code possible. Managers will need collaborative and capable reports that can work together to get the job done right. From entry-level to senior leadership, the right team dynamic is essential to software developers, and they weigh this factor heavily when considering job opportunities.

What you can do. Simply put, show them what you’re working with. When it comes to highlighting internal chemistry, your existing developers are your greatest resource. Employee testimonials provide a behind-the-scenes look at a day in the life of a developer at your company. Interviews and case studies offer your devs a chance to expand upon what makes your team dynamic so great. Having your devs participate in the new-hire interview process provides candidates with tangible interaction and can be a great barometer of cultural fit.


Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to defining your corporate culture, and this list by no means encapsulates everything developers are looking for. But by tailoring your efforts to a few of their top priorities, you’ll create a culture that developers will want to be a part of and put yourself in a strong position during your next recruitment initiative.