What Do Developers Find Most Appealing About an Employer?

The low tech unemployment rate, combined with organizations’ constant hunger for technologists skilled in everything from the cloud to cybersecurity and app-building, means that hiring managers and recruiters everywhere are scrambling to find the tech talent they need. That’s great news for technologists: whether they’re developers, cybersecurity experts, or something else, they have quite a bit more leverage when it comes to negotiations over salaries and benefits.

But what do technologists—and particularly software developers—care about as they evaluate their latest opportunities? Stack Overflow, the web’s massive repository of tech-related questions and answers, recently posed that query to its developer audience. In return, those developers opened up about the things that made a prospective employer particularly appealing.

For example, of the 500 developers who participated in the survey, some 53 percent said they wanted a company that prioritized the “developer experience.” Another 41 percent wanted transparency in salary calculations. As you can see from the following chart, significant percentages also said they wanted to learn more from co-workers and experts throughout the organization, as well as a structured onboarding process:

“Whether passively looking at companies they might want to work for in the future or actively searching for a new job, developers tend to turn to the same four sources to find out what it’s like to work there: their personal network, media, company content like blogs and culture videos, and reviews,” added Stack Overflow’s blog posting about the survey. “For those that come across companies that they might want to work for, they ask friends or family first and read media coverage about the company.” 

Developers were equally vocal about things they’d find unappealing about a particular company, including a too-rigid schedule (some 56 percent disliked the idea of starting and ending their day at a precise time) and not having access to Teams, Slack, or Stack Overflow. Check out the chart:

What can we conclude from this? Developers want to work according to their own schedule, and they want full access to the right tools and resources to get that work done. From an employer perspective, attempting to constrain or limit what developers can use might end up harming the ability to attract new, top-tier talent.

For startups and smaller organizations that don’t necessarily have the budgets to compete with the country’s largest companies for tech talent, this kind of survey data is good news: Developers care just as much about work-life balance and having the right tools as they do about compensation. If they can offer interesting projects, easy access to resources, and a great working environment, chances are good that organizations of any size can land the talent they need.