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Hiring Tips & Insights: A CTO’s playbook for putting together a job offer that will land quality developers
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A CTO’s playbook for putting together a job offer that will land quality developers

08 December 2023, by Marcelle van Niekerk

Despite a tough tech market, great developers remain in high demand. And great quality developers often receive multiple offers when they’re on the market for a new role. If you want to hire the best developers for your team, you need to have the best job offer on the table – and waste no time getting it there.

But what exactly are developers looking for right now? And what will make your offer stand out from your competition?

Sizwe Ndlovu, CTO at Pineapple joined Karin Bothma, Senior Software Engineering Manager at OfferZen, in the most recent CTO Playbook webinar to discuss strategies for making a competitive job offer to developers.

TL;DR: The anatomy of a good job offer:

  • Offer a competitive base salary
  • Provide concrete long-term growth opportunities
  • Provide devs with flexibility
  • If you can’t compete on salary, deliver on upskilling opportunities
  • Sell devs on your culture

Critical factors when making an offer

Competitive salary

The promise of a better salary is the top reason developers leave their current roles, and bonuses are the most desired monetary benefit when looking at a new offer.

Therefore, always benchmark your salaries to offer a competitive base amount:

“We audit our salaries using third-party services. People should be compensated fairly for their skills and qualifications,” says Sizwe.

What’s the latest data on developer salaries for 2024? Check out our report to get the facts:

Download salary benchmarking report

Concrete opportunities for growth

The potential for growth opportunities is the single most important non-monetary factor developers consider when assessing a new opportunity.

Selling developers on the long-term growth opportunities they can expect when joining your company can be a powerful way to make your offer stand out, Sizwe argues:

“A sense of achievement is so quintessential for developers, they want to be the best out there. We see it as very important to offer growth opportunities,” he says.

“We sell the long-term. We want devs to see themselves grow here and becoming 1% better every day in what they do. We also give those opportunities for growth, and the opportunity to climb our Level Up system. As you move up, you get increased responsibility and increased pay.”

Make sure to provide concrete details on the type of growth developers can expect from you. For example, at Pineapple, they’ve developed separate tracks of progression for developers that want to be people managers and those who want to specialise in technology.

Provide devs with flexibility

Perks such as remote work and flexible office times rank highly in the top non-monetary benefits that developers look for in new opportunities. What’s more, work-life balance tops the list of reasons developers stay in a role.

When making an offer, it’s important to show developers that you care about flexibility as a guiding principle in your culture:

“We really need to think more about the developers and where they’re coming from, their lifestyles and how we can adapt to it, and make more effort in terms of offering what they’re looking for and gel it with the requirements of the company. If they’re happy, you will get the output you need. It doesn’t necessarily just have to be from a salary front, offer them an environment where they can thrive and really get the best out of themselves,” says Sizwe.

What does a great remote work policy look like in practice? What do devs want from a work environment? Check out the data:

Download remote work policy guide

How to approach global competition if you can’t match salary

Sell your culture

In the wake of the pandemic, companies are competing on a global front when it comes to making an exciting offer to developers. It is often impossible to go toe to toe with international companies when it comes to matters like salary.

A good strategy to rely on in these cases is to go all-in on your culture and developer brand, says Sizwe — this is especially effective for startups.

Practical tips:

  • Paint a picture of what it will be like working for an exciting, growing company. For example, many developers enjoy the increased sense of ownership that comes with being part of a smaller team.
  • Have developers meet your team, and show them how your team connects with one another.

Upskill more junior hires

Junior developers care the most deeply about their opportunities for growth. If your company is well set up to mentor and upskill them, it can be an affordable strategy to hire less experienced developers and invest in their training.

Make sure to advertise available training opportunities in your offer.

“Have them work on really exciting things that give them a sense of purpose, to the point where they become really good - and compensate them accordingly,” says Sizwe.

Want more data on what devs are looking for in an offer? Check out developers’ most desired monetary benefits, and the other factors they consider in new opportunities.

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