How to Recruit Great Software Engineers

Ross Bartram

Software Engineers are some of the most critical hires for a business – and some of the most painful ones. It isn’t an exaggeration to say that the market for good Software Engineers is always competitive.

The best Developers are low in supply, while demand for them is increasing. That’s the perfect recipe for a recruitment challenge.

Recent data shows the IT and computing sectors are leading the demand for permanent hires in the UK while candidate shortages are increasing, according to research from KPMG and the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC).

Supply and demand issues aside, what are some of the other reasons it’s so difficult to recruit Software Engineers? We’ll explore these and share some tips on what your business can do to find Engineers with fewer hassles.

Why Recruiting Software Engineers is Difficult

While there are arguably dozens of reasons why businesses struggle to hire Developers, there are a few reasons that appear more common.

Low Hiring Budget

Software Engineering jobs are some of the best-paid positions outside of management, so employers should be prepared to pay a competitive salary to reel in the candidate they want. While salary isn’t the only factor a candidate will consider in their decision, it will always be a core consideration for most.  

Take some time to research what the market is paying for the role you’re hiring for – this data is invaluable for setting a competitive salary, which will increase the chances of your preferred candidate accepting your job offer.

Too Many Unsuitable Applicants

As many Software Engineer roles do pay very well, some apply for these jobs even when they’re not qualified for them. This can be a source of headaches for Hiring Managers when they are trying to recruit, especially when the job vacancy is advertised publicly and anyone can apply. More unsuitable applicants mean more time wasted sifting through CVs that will end up on the reject pile.  

Before advertising a position, it might be sensible to explore other methods such as referrals, promoting a current employee who can be upskilled if necessary, or keeping a record of previous applicants who were qualified but weren’t the first choice for another role.  

Ineffective Candidate Screening

Before hiring Software Engineers, you must assess their coding and programming abilities. The typical approach is to get the candidate to sit for a practical test or coding interview after the initial job interview.

It’s important to use the correct assessment. Your aim is to discover how a candidate can meet the company’s needs, not just their technical ability. Keep the assessment questions as relevant as possible to real-world scenarios the candidate is likely to encounter on the job.

Another method is to base a test on an actual live issue your team is currently dealing with. For Senior Software Engineer positions, it might be best to get code samples from the candidate and go over them together.

Also, avoid focusing too much on the specific languages you use, as you can exclude some excellent candidates this way. Some languages might be non-negotiable for the role but there may be some that the candidate could learn quickly.

How to Find the Best Software Engineers

Some of the qualities in your ideal candidate may include:

  • The ability to code quickly and accurately
  • A passion for learning and acquiring new languages
  • Strong knowledge of computer science
  • Someone who has learned through trial and error and so knows what works
  • Enjoys problem-solving
  • Excellent communication skills

The question that you have to ask yourself is how do you find them? Here are our suggestions:

Call on a Specialist Tech Recruiter

A Software Engineering recruitment agency can help your business navigate the issues mentioned above, and in some respects, bypass them altogether.

Agencies have broad networks of qualified candidates they can tap into, no matter how tight the competition is out there for tech talent. Working with an agency eliminates the need to pore over hundreds of unsuitable CVs because recruiters have already taken care of the hard work.

With their deep understanding of the job market trends impacting employers, agencies can also guide you on current salaries and what will make the most competitive offer for the role you’re hiring for.  

The most talented Software Engineers aren’t necessarily applying for jobs, so a quality agency can headhunt this talent on your behalf. 

Do Your Own Headhunting

Trying your own headhunting can teach you a lot about the talent market, although it does need a range of tactical approaches.

For example, you can search for people on social networking sites, freelancer platforms, and dedicated hotspots like GitHub and Stack Overflow. In the physical space, regularly attending industry meetups and networking as much as possible is another way to build a list of potential candidates you can reach out to.

If it sounds like these activities require a serious time commitment from Hiring Managers, you’re not wrong! Although doing your own headhunting can turn up great candidates, it can take months to bear fruit. Be prepared for lots of rejections – headhunting requires tenacity and patience.

Highlight Your Employer Brand

An often-overlooked factor in hiring is the concept of the employer brand. In essence, it’s the image a company projects to the outside world that influences a candidate’s decision to work there or not.

For small or medium-sized businesses, it may seem unfair that the global giants attract the most developer talent. But there are ways a smaller organisation can highlight its unique selling points to potential candidates.

Unique selling points could include:

  • Strong company culture
  • An abundance of exciting projects
  • Autonomy in their role
  • Long tenure opportunities
  • Job flexibility
  • A diverse workforce
  • Exciting rewards
  • Recognition for employees
  • Any other perks your company provides

Ensure you tell candidates about these selling points in the job interview and when advertising positions, as they can help you to attract the best.


The challenges of finding talent in this market aren’t to be scoffed at. Thankfully, there are few ways of learning how to recruit Software Engineers that are below the tip of the iceberg. Consider which aspects of your recruitment process could benefit from trying new strategies – even a small tweak can deliver some unexpectedly good results!

Engaging the services of a specialist IT recruitment agency can give you access to a tailored solution that takes your hiring to a new level. To find qualified Software Engineers without delays, get in touch with our team to discover what we can do for your business.