How to Keep Software Development Output Without Hiring

If you’re like most companies, the coronavirus outbreak has drastically changed the way you do business. Whether it’s moving the bulk of your meetings to video conferencing, opting for a robust ecommerce solution, or making sure your site can support the increased traffic from people working or shopping from home, the need for your business to adapt to a changing landscape has never been greater.

While software needs are at all-time highs, companies are struggling to fill important software development roles. Either due to budgetary constraints or shifting business models, almost half of all consumer tech companies have instituted hiring freezes or layoffs. Meanwhile, tech candidate hiring assessments have decreased nearly 50 percent since late February, and job site openings for developers are down 32.8 percent.

If you’re concerned about how to maintain your software development while meeting a new (and possibly more restrictive) budget, don’t panic! Now is the perfect time to adapt your technical recruiting efforts to a remote-first world.

Update your technical recruiting playbook

Despite the waning hiring rates among software developers, there is a silver lining. An influx of highly skilled developers entering the job market, combined with fewer companies competing for top talent, presents the unique opportunity to recruit incredible developers.

The question is, as the industry shifts to a remote-first environment, how do you attract top talent?

  • Understand developer priorities: like most people, developers want to preserve their physical and mental health. Consequently, most of them are prioritizing remote opportunities over on-site gigs—and would even be willing to take a pay cut to do so.
  • Build a work-from-home culture: in software development, remote teams can actually be more productive than on-site teams. This only works when the company trusts them to get the job done while also making them feel like part of the in-house team.
  • Keep communication lines open: as you adjust your recruiting efforts, remember to communicate the what and why of these changes to your developers both current and prospective. Transparency about your company’s long-term vision will help them manage their expectations and improve overall morale.

Consider outside help

A solid alternative to onboarding new talent is to outsource your software needs to an outside provider. Paying for an on-demand contractor can actually be more cost-effective than hiring full-time talent. Plus, a ready, out-of-the-box team can help you maintain your software development output without using up much-needed time and resources. Here are a few other benefits to outsourcing your software development during a hiring freeze:

  • Bring projects up to speed with expert help: reducing your workforce through layoffs, or putting the brakes on the hiring process can create a serious bottleneck with important development projects. Outsourcing these projects to a team of experts will not only ease that burden, but also prevent future setbacks.
  • Contract for as long (or as little) as your dev needs last: nobody can say for certain if and when normal life will resume, and it’s possible some of these changes might be here for good. Working with an outsourced team can fill that gap by either fulfilling short-term needs, or as a part of your long-term strategy.
  • Continue growth without using precious full time headcount: In some companies a vendor expense may not be flagged in headcount expenses; it may be seen as a variable expense (e.g., a marketing vendor supporting a marketing initiative may show up on the books as a marketing expense), meaning that if budget allows, a manager may still be able to “hire” great talent during a hiring freeze.

All of this comes with a strong word of caution: when considering outside help, be careful to give as much attention to expertise as cost. If you prioritize cost effectiveness over quality, you run the risk of having a bad experience with outsourcing and becoming reluctant to trust outside help ever again. Make sure you’re partnering with a provider that is both cost effective and competent. Look at their developer pool and make sure they have the experience you need at a favorable price point.

Prepare and press “Go”

Companies will resume normal hiring processes as the market rights itself and restrictions loosen; however, to hit the ground running, hiring managers will need to be prepared.

  • Establish your talent hiring pipeline: even after the pandemic subsides, a remote-first recruiting approach will likely stick around for months or years to come. Make sure you have virtual interview and work-from-home technology in place to ensure a smooth transition.
  • Reinforce employment branding: according to Glassdoor, 86 percent of applicants will look up a company’s reviews prior to submitting an application. Consequently your applicant-facing content (social media pages, job descriptions, LinkedIn page, etc.) need to be consistent in messaging and up-to-date.
  • Build and maintain connections with top talent: reaching out to employees’ talent networks or applicants who have either applied to openings or signed up for job alerts can help reduce the time and effort required to bring in top talent. It will also boost the likelihood of finding candidates who align with your company values.

These are stressful, uncertain times for any business. Hopefully you don’t have to put your software development on hold to outlast a pandemic-driven hiring freeze, but, if you do, adapting your technical hiring processes, partnering with outside contractors, and preparing recruitment efforts for a post-coronavirus world can help you address your software development needs from a safe distance.

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Software Dev cartoon photo.

How to Keep Software Development Output Without Hiring