Showing posts with label recruitment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label recruitment. Show all posts

13 October 2010

A Lesson from Vegetable Gardening for Hiring (and Keeping) Better Software Developers

Right now I'm in the midst of Busy Season in the Veggie Garden: Spring Planting Time. Even busier than harvest time. You see, you can almost always delay a harvest by a few days or a week without serious consequences. But you can't delay sowing seed without reaping serious consequences 4 to 6 months down the line. Veggie gardening is all about strategy.

Just the other day I heard about a successful and growing Cape Town company planning a hiring spree for Java developers. They'll be looking for quite a number of Java developers at all skill and experience levels.

But they face two key problems:
  1. There is an extreme scarcity of Java developers at any and all levels in Cape Town and surrounds.
  2. They'll be competing against a very large number of other employers looking for large numbers of Java developers. I have, over the past couple of months, heard of numerous companies searching for 10, 12 and more "skilled Java developers".
If you're in Cape Town you can probably take a reasonably accurate guess as to who those companies are. And they're not finding any developers, are they. Let alone really excellent developers...

This is great news for Java devs: Salaries are pretty competitive, even if not quite up to Jo'burg levels just yet.

Hell for employers, though.

Strategy is about Time

My main problem this Planting Season is that I don't have any compost for the garden. The key to making great compost is adding plenty of water, and the key to great veggie crops is building the soil by adding compost, year after year after year. But we're (still) in a drought, so no water. Successful crops are going to be a serious challenge this Summer...

CEOs, CTOs and Development Managers who get it know that investing in their developers' skills, knowledge and experience is investing in their own success and the success of their business. And the secret is that it can't be done overnight. It takes long-term commitment to helping their developers build their skills. And intelligent developers reward real, honest commitment to skills- and career-development with loyalty.

And developers talk to each other. In their mailing lists and user-group meetings, on Facebook and Twitter, word-of-mouth ensures that developers have a pretty good idea of who is doing the interesting software, who is providing a stimulating development environment. In short, who the good employers are. (Especially in Cape Town! The software world in CT really is a very small village.)

Compost making and soil-building is a strategic practise for farmers and gardeners everywhere, whether they are organic growers (like me) or not, soil-building is of vital strategic importance. Without healthy soil we have nothing.

Likewise, CEOs, CTOs and Dev Managers of companies for whom software development is a strategic business activity have a vital interest in developing their developers.

Planning to Hire Developers Any Time Soon?

If you are planning to attempt to hire developers (particularly Java developers; particularly in or around Cape Town) within the next 6 months, ask yourself the following 3 questions:
  1. How are you going to source the best and brightest devs when they're almost unreachable at any price?
  2. How are you going to make your company more attractive to those devs than all the competition you face?
  3. How are you going to keep developers from job-hopping when they get that email from a competing employer or headhunter offering them a huge raise?
If you have good answers to all of those, then please don't call me!

If you'd like help creating fertile ground for interesting minds who can help drive your software development to greater successes, call me.

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