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How to survive the developer shortage

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Are you having trouble finding qualified talent to fill software development job positions? You are not alone. A majority of employers in the US are struggling to source and retain IT talent. It’s a labor crisis that’s only worsening with no end in sight. Here are a few analytical insights showing the extent of the problem:

  • In a Gartner survey, IT executives cited talent shortage as the biggest adoption barrier to 64% of emerging technologies, including IT automation, platform services, and workplace technologies.
  • Software/web development and computer programming are among the top 10 most sought-after tech talents in 2022.
  • The BLS projects the number of software development job opportunities to increase by 22% between 2020 to 2030, faster than the average (8%) employment growth rate for all occupations. This will result in about 189,200 new job openings for software developers each year over the next decade.
  • Analysts predict the IT industry to face a 4.3 million-worker deficit by 2030, costing the global economy over $400 billion in unrealized output.

Why is there a shortage of software/web developers?

To solve a problem, you must first understand its roots. So, what’s behind the ongoing talent shortage in software and web development? It’s actually a blend of many different reasons forming the perfect labor crisis:

Soaring demand for innovative software tools

Digital innovation is at an all-time high. In a PwC report, 60% of CIOs said their companies invested heavily in digital transformation (DX). From a business perspective, digital transformation improves operational agility, efficiency, economy, and productivity.

Software tools and web platforms are the essential bridges that bring digital capabilities to the users’ fingertips. Unfortunately, the rapid DX rate far outpaces the supply of developers. The current developer labor pool simply can’t keep up with the demand. For instance, while the BLS projects 189,200 new developer jobs every year, US colleges and universities only manage to churn out just over 50,000 computer science graduates annually, many of whom never even end up in development jobs.

Increase in project complexity

Enterprise tech grows ever more sophisticated due to the market’s insatiable digital performance and capabilities demands. Engineers have no choice but to design increasingly complex programming tools and languages to stretch the limits of software products. Using some of these tools requires highly specialized skills and a unique knack for creative development. As a result, some projects fall well outside what many developers can deliver. This pressure for exceptional products creates substantial skill gaps in the existing labor pools.

The great resignation

Workers are quitting their jobs at an alarming rate in what has been appropriately dubbed “the great resignation.” The country’s quit levels and rates indicate that millions of employees across all commercial industries leave their jobs every month. A new Pew Research Center survey found the following factors as the main culprits for the high turnover:

  • Low pay
  • Lack of growth and advancement opportunities
  • Feeling disrespected at work
  • Lack of work flexibility
  • Working long hours or not long enough

Changes in workplace outlook

The traditional 5-day workweek is quickly losing favor with the working class, especially developers who can just as easily work remotely on their own terms. In fact, 60% of software developers already work remotely full-time. Most developers say they actually get more meaningful work done this way.

The old-fashioned hiring style no longer appeals to most developers. Many will quickly reject job offers or leave their posts if the employer doesn’t support remote or hybrid work.

High salary expectations

An increase in demand inevitably leads to higher prices. The labor market is no exception to this rule. On average, a US-based software developer earns about $73,000 per year. But many employers are willing to pay a lot more for a qualified developer. This creates a positive feedback loop where developers demand high pay and get even more from desperate employers, pushing the cost of development through the roof. Understandably, many developers come into the job market with high salary expectations and turn down fairly compensated job offers.

Tips and strategies for dealing with the developer scarcity

If you’re looking to hire developers today, you should rethink your hiring approach and talent management style because traditional methods won’t cut it. To that end, here are six practical tips for acquiring developers amid the talent shortage:

1. Make your company attractive to developers

The first thing you want to do is make your company an easy employment choice for developers. Take a leaf from the tech giants’ employee playbook. How do the likes of Google, Tesla, Microsoft, and Apple manage to attract thousands of developers and engineers? The key is generous compensation, work flexibility, and opportunities to learn. A Stack Overflow study confirms these as the top three employment motivators for developers.

Position your organization as an attractive employer by offering competitive salaries and benefits, supporting hybrid work, and creating an environment that fosters intellectual and career growth.

2. Check your expectations

If you demand too much from developers, you’ll struggle to find candidates willing to take on your job. Trim your project or role requirements to fit the readily available talent. Remember, just because something is possible doesn’t always mean it can be done. But then again, you shouldn’t downscale your labor requirements so much that it compromises the project or role in question. The point is: check your expectations against what the available developers can comfortably deliver. That way, you can reach a much broader audience of potential candidates.

3. Focus on employee retention

With the ongoing talent shortage, you simply can’t afford to lose any of the developers you already have. Developers know they can quickly find new jobs if they quit, so give them enough reasons to stay.

Start by making the working environment as conducive and comfortable as possible for the developers. Ensure they have everything they need, from resources and tools to a healthy work-life balance. Second, take a keen interest in employee satisfaction by tracking performance, burnout risks, team collaboration, and work morale, among other employee experience indicators. Doing this will help to identify and mitigate potential risks for turnover.

Embed developer and general employee satisfaction in your organizational culture. Even simple initiatives such as employee recognition, rewards for good work, team-building activities, wellness programs, and open communications can go a long way toward achieving this.

4. Upskill the existing staff

Rather than taking chances with new hires, it might be easier, faster, and more economical to upskill your existing developers to tackle more demanding tasks. The tech world evolves incredibly fast, quickly rendering old software development skills and technologies obsolete or even downright unusable. According to SHRM, 79% of CEOs are concerned about their HR’s lack of essential skills, which they consider a serious threat to growth. Additionally, 46% of CEOs are ready to solve this problem through employee re-training and upskilling.

You can upskill your developers at the individual level or as a group through seminars, online courses, mentorship/apprenticeship programs, or boot camps. Upskilling not only raises your developers’ skill value but also promotes learning and growth.

5. Consider hiring abroad

Although the IT talent shortage is a global issue, it’s worse in some regions than others. It’s particularly bad in the US, where the demand for IT labor is especially high. If all your local talent pipelines start drying up, you should consider looking elsewhere.

Software and web development projects and job positions are quite easy to outsource internationally. So, do not limit your labor search to the US alone. In fact, many employers prefer outsourcing to traditional hires. About 60% of US-based companies outsource application development in one way or another, making it the most outsourced IT function.

Outsourcing application development opens doors to a global talent pool that will never run short of skills or numbers. You’ll also get to enjoy the following added benefits:

  • Low development costs
  • Work and HR flexibility
  • Quick hiring and delivery
  • High-quality products
  • Access to diverse technologies, tools, and skillsets
  • Minimal risk and impact of turnover

Nearshoring has become an increasingly attractive option for US employers, turning the neighboring LATAM region into a bustling IT outsourcing hub. The cultural, language, and time zone similarities between the US and many LATAM countries, such as Argentina, Mexico, and Brazil, cement fruitful IT-based collaborations on either side of the border. More importantly, highly skilled LATAM developers are in excess supply.

6. Partner with an IT staffing agency

We’ve saved the best tip for last. The easiest way to source developers during the crisis is through a staffing agency. Partnering with an outsourcing or staffing agency saves you all the effort, money, and time you’d otherwise lose trying to find developers on your own. And no one does it better than WeDevelop.

At WeDevelop, we understand the demand for highly skilled developers and the intricate dynamics of the IT labor market. That’s why we pair our clients with only the most capable talent, sourced directly from the lush labor pools of Latin America.

Our process is pretty simple. Just tell us what position you want filled or the development project you have in mind. We’ll then translate your requirements into detailed job descriptions, which we’ll use to match potential candidates from a pool of over 200 pre-screened developers, engineers, and designers. But the final hiring or outsourcing decision will entirely be up to you.

You can augment your staff with talented developers, build dedicated teams to work on special or ongoing tasks, or delegate entire projects — the choice is yours.

There’s no telling how long the developer shortage will last. But one thing is for sure: it’s not ending any time soon. So, let’s beat it together by nearshoring application development. We’re only a call away.

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