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Hiring Tips & Insights: 5 Cost-effective strategies for hiring developers in EMEA
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5 Cost-effective strategies for hiring developers in EMEA

18 July 2023, by Alexandra Hanson

Finding cost-effective ways to attract and hire and appoint developers continues to be a top priority for many companies. This is especially crucial if you’re looking to hire in highly competitive regions, such as EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa).

Hiring costs don’t have to be a deterrent to finding high quality candidates. During a recent webinar, OfferZen Co-Founder Brett Jones sat down with Aaron Chazen (Country Lead at Playroll) and Elijah Elkins (VP for Partnerships & Services at Comeet) to discuss strategies for practical hiring in the EMEA market. The session was moderated by Danyon Lamb, Playroll’s Head of Revenue Operations.

5 Cost-effective strategies for hiring developers in EMEA

Danyon kicked off the discussion by highlighting how fragmented the EMEA region generally is. This poses a unique set of challenges for hiring teams to overcome. These include legal and compliance complexities, language barriers and timezone considerations.

How prevalent these are depends on the company location, according to Aaron. “A European company that’s entering into the larger EMEA talent pool might not experience the same challenges as an American company, for example”.

For him, cultural nuance also becomes an important factor to keep in mind. He referenced the South African context, where people are generally known for their politeness. Across other cultures, people “might adopt a more direct fashion”, which could pose communication challenges later on.

Brett believes that hiring managers should start off on the right foot by laying a solid foundation first. He encouraged them to make sure they know why they want to hire abroad, and why in the EMEA region specifically. It could be because of not being able to find enough talent elsewhere, a bid to save on costs, or a combination of both. The reason “should help guide hiring teams about the practical logistics like salaries,” he added.

Cost-effective hiring techniques to consider for your team

Once a good foundation is in place, these five cost-effective hiring techniques and strategies can be adopted for hiring in the EMEA region:

  1. Get access to the right tools and a cost calculator upfront: Aaron believes that having access to the right tools and a cost calculator upfront allows for educated decisions and projections “before you dive into the deep end”.
  2. Elijah echoed these sentiments, noting the importance of using the right platforms and channels to attract the best talent. LinkedIn job posts are a low-hanging fruit and there are free features that can be tapped into. He advocated for outreach and network building on the platform, with a caveat to be mindful of GDPR compliance at all times.
  3. Elijah also encouraged hiring managers to market roles in the EMEA region in a way that emphasises their remote nature (and subsequent flexibility). He believes that not doing so is a wasted opportunity to attract candidates who may otherwise assume a role is hybrid or office-based.

Remember that remote work is a major drawing card for developers: When assessing new opportunities, it’s a top consideration for developers in both South Africa and Europe.

  1. Brett mentioned that AI tools such as ChatGPT could be used to help write job ads, which should always be a “pure and simple sell” of the business. “The purpose of a job ad is to get people interested in your company, not just post the job’s requirements.”

He sees this as part of a broader strategy to “make sure you’re thinking about the time spent on doing something”. Not doing so can be a hindrance to the hiring budget at the end of the day.

  1. He also talked about teams doing what they can to uncover bottlenecks to avoid additional costs. “Recruiting is very similar to sales, like a sales and marketing funnel,” Brett told attendees. You need to look at conversion at every stage to uncover any gaps and opportunities for improvement.

“You need to look at your funnel and see where your drop-off is occurring. For example, you might be turning off developers by sending them an assessment before speaking to them. It’s an ongoing process to keep examining and optimising your hiring funnel,” said Brett.

Leverage data-driven insights for better decision-making

There are many metrics that hiring teams can work with these days, but for the panel, it’s essential to be tracking the right data.

Elijah is an advocate for talent mapping when it comes to hiring across the EMEA region — do your research on where developer talent and specific skillsets are located by using tools such as LinkedIn Recruiter and local data reports. He believes there are three essential metrics to tap into, namely quality of hire, talent pool size and candidate experience. He encouraged companies to synchronise their data as much as possible.

Brett touched on the software available to do so, while warning that “you can only do so much analysis” at the end of the day. There is a lot of data out there, with many places to find it, but a passive approach won’t necessarily yield results. He encouraged companies to post ads and start talking to people directly, as this is a tangible way to get on the ground information and test internal hiring hypotheses too.

Optimise for candidate assessment and selection

Once a great EMEA-based developer has been sourced, there are ways for hiring teams to optimise how they assess and eventually select the right candidate to fill the vacancy.

Elijah spoke about the importance of having a good ATS, especially one that is budget-friendly. He believes these are important for businesses of all types, including the smallest of startups. For him, the tool is essential right from the very beginning of the hiring phase. He encouraged teams not to try to “hack the system” with standalone tools like Trello, as the short game won’t result in a long-run payoff.

Aaron encouraged teams to “speak with someone on the ground or a company that has local insights” before making hiring decisions. For him, effective assessment and matching of a candidate to a role can only happen by understanding the hiring market and the expectations of candidates first.

He also spoke about leveraging existing networks, reiterating the importance of a multifaceted approach to hiring in the EMEA region. Companies should use all the resources they already have at their disposal and adopt a learning mindset to make smart hiring decisions.

Build a captivating employer brand

A well-crafted job post is one way of grabbing a candidate’s attention. The key to attracting as many top candidates as possible, however, is to build a captivating employer brand.

For Brett, this goes beyond how the company presents and markets itself. It starts with how employers treat people in their hiring process in general. “For example, we often refer to people as candidate, making them into an object or a thing. Humans don’t have empathy for ‘things’, we have empathy for people”.

He believes that effective hiring “is all about getting people to want to join your mission as a company”. The best way of doing this is to build a strong employer brand, as this is the way to encourage developers to join your cause.

He added that hiring teams are “selling interest in the company” at the end of the day. Brands should tell everyone why things are great and be able to answer the question of why people would want to join the company in the first place.

Elijah points out that transparency and a feedback loop are important to maintaining a positive employer brand too. This is backed by the latest data from OfferZen’s Developer Hiring reports: Transparency about the role and interview process is the top factor that developers appreciate in an interview process, in both Europe and South Africa.

To help achieve this, Elijah recommends that you gather direct feedback from candidates about their experience in the hiring process. There are tools available to help you do this, such as Candidate Voice. “You have to open up that feedback loop and really listen to people, which helps to mitigate risk on your public-facing employer branding as well”. Positive sentiment about the brand is an easy way to attract top talent.

By incorporating the advice and strategies shared by the panel into operations, companies can start to move the needle on hiring across the EMEA region. Expanding into these regions is a great way to reach top-tier remote developer candidates that may previously have been inaccessible.

Better still, they can do so in a way that complements the bottom line of the company too.

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