Supercharging Growth: Defying the Software Engineer Shortage
Despite tech layoffs, 76% of IT professionals
If you want to lead your industry, you need to integrate workflows, automate systems, and build applications that provide the features your customers and employees crave.
You also need clear data insights to make proactive, strategic decisions.
In short, you need digital solutions. And you need software engineers to build them.
Unfortunately, the software developer shortage makes it nearly impossible to find and retain great talent. And without IT talent, you can’t keep up with existing demand.
Here are eight ways to address the shortage of software engineers so you retain your existing talent, grow your team, and stay competitive.
1. Focus on Retaining Current Talent
Start by retaining the software developers on your team. On average, only 29% of IT workers wish to stay in their current role.
Software development has become increasingly complex over the years. Customer and employee demands continue to grow.
Even worse, leadership priorities can often misalign with IT needs. For example, 91% of IT leaders feel pressured to compromise on security. Leaders and team members want solutions quickly. Without a background in IT protocol, they can see compliance and security processes as obstacles. This puts IT teams in stressful positions that drive them out of an organization.
Instead, you need to work with your existing IT team.
Get leadership and team members on the same page. And find ways to reduce stressors. Encourage collaboration between your departments. Even get your teams together outside of work hours to interact and build relationships.
While you can offer competitive benefits and compensation, your software developers are more likely to stay at a job they enjoy. A huge part of that is being part of a great team.
2. Promote Remote Work
In a report by Terminal.io, 75% of developers stated that they prefer to work remotely at least 3 days a week. And more than 60% already work remotely full-time.
If your organization hasn’t already embraced remote work, it’s behind.
Developers are in high demand. Salaries are competitive because they understand that they possess a skill that businesses need.
And if your organization won’t provide remote support for your software engineers, they can easily find a business that will.
You can also stand out from other companies that require developers to be on-site, helping you attract more top-tier talent to your organization. Even better, hiring remote workers extends your talent pool beyond state lines and borders.
3. Remove Degree Requirements
You don’t need a degree in programming or computing to become a talented software developer. In fact, 57% of senior HR professionals want to remove the traditional four-year degree requirement as a qualification.
Software developers are curious, creative, and hardworking. They also know how to find information. And with so many developer communities, resources, and training programs, it’s easy for developers to find the information they need.
In fact, some coding boot camps can skill up developers in a few months (not years.)
Requiring developers to have a four-year degree puts an unnecessary obstacle in your path to finding great talent. Plus, there’s no guarantee that a degree will make them a better software engineer.
4. Upskill Developers
Software development is a rapidly shifting field with new languages, tools, and frameworks emerging constantly.
Helping your developers upskill makes it easier for them to knock out complex tasks efficiently. It also helps reduce their dependency on other developers. Instead of constantly trying to keep up or asking questions, they can gain ground and scale output.
Software engineers are curious. And they enjoy creating solutions. It’s exciting. As a business leader, you need to nurture that curiosity. Help them keep their passion alive.
At the same time, upskilling gives your developers the tools they need to innovate and create which drives business growth and success.
All of these points working together increases job satisfaction, leading to higher retention rates while opening up the door to referrals. After all, when people enjoy their jobs, they share their experiences.
5. Improve Talent Sourcing and Hiring Process
Sometimes the biggest obstacle to hiring new talent is in the hiring process itself.
For starters, boring, copy-pasted from a blog post or template is a no-go. (You can use templates as a starting place, but don’t stick to them completely.) Your job description needs to sell the position. It should be clear, exciting, and targeted.
The more detail you can provide, the better.
You should also leverage the right social media channels, communities, and forums to attract a wider range of potential candidates.
The job application process is the first interaction your potential employees have with your business. It should be streamlined. If there are too many steps or the process is too long, candidates can get frustrated and give up.
Create a careers page on your website to simplify the process further.
Finally, you don’t need to wait until you have an open position to hire new developers. Reach out on LinkedIn and connect with developers. This gives you a talent pipeline you can tap into as needed.
6. Outsource Development
Outsourcing development reduces the headaches and obstacles associated with finding, hiring, training, and retaining internal software engineers.
By outsourcing custom application developers, you can focus on your critical business tasks. Meanwhile, your development team will work on building, integrating, and automating systems.
There are a few downsides to outsourcing.
While offshore and nearshore development can expand your talent pool and decrease costs, it opens you to risk. For example, there may be cultural differences or time zone distances that make collaboration difficult. They may also create weaker solutions or solutions that address symptoms instead of the root cause of the problem.
You can face similar challenges with outsourcing to onshore developers but at a higher cost.
Before outsourcing to any developer (freelance or consultancy), you should take time to do your research, read reviews, ask for references, and interview the team.
You’re looking for a partner who can provide value without adding more unnecessary work to your plate.
7. Scale Output with Low Code
Low-code tools allow developers to scale application development.
These tools use a simple drag-and-drop interface along with prefabricated snippets of code to create custom applications rapidly (days and weeks instead of months or years).
While some developers are antagonistic about low-code tools, adoption rates are increasing. It’s no longer “pro-code” vs. “low-code”. Instead, developers ask, “What tool can I use to complete this task effectively.”
Low-code applications are cloud-based, SaaS platforms. This means that costs scale with use, making them more affordable than custom application development. And they leverage the cloud-based infrastructure, making them secure.
For organizations struggling to fill developer roles, low-code tools are powerful force multipliers. They amplify your team’s capability, making it easier for them to keep up with existing demand.
8. Launch a Citizen Development Program
In many cases, it’s not possible to hire more software engineers. This can be due to hiring freezes, budget constraints, or other issues. When this happens, you should consider citizen developers.
Citizen developers are non-technical business employees who use low-code tools to design simple, powerful digital solutions.
Instead of a technology background, they leverage their experience with workflows, customers, and data to create custom solutions. As a result, customer and employee satisfaction increase. Plus, adoption rates are much higher.
Citizen developers also drastically reduce IT backlog. Instead of submitting tickets every time they have a problem or need a solution, they can build it out using low-code tools.
For any citizen development program to be successful, you need the proper framework and governance. With that, the program can spiral into shadow IT.
Still, it’s a great way to extend the capabilities of your existing software engineers.
How Are Tech Layoffs Impacting the Developer Shortage?
Companies laid off nearly 145,000 tech workers by May 2023. Up from around 93,000 tech layoffs In the whole of 2022.
Despite headlines, many of these roles are supporting functions, not developers. As such, there’s still a shortage of developers.
The current demand far outweighs the supply of talented developers. And as customer expectations continue to rise, businesses will need more digital solutions to meet those needs.
How Will AI Impact the Developer Shortage?
AI can speed up application development.
For example, low-code platforms are in the process of adopting AI to streamline app development. This will make it easier for users to create applications and automate systems faster.
That said, a rising tide raises all ships.
As more companies develop more systems using AI, the level of competition will increase. This increases demand for better systems and features, driving more application development.
Ultimately, demand will scale with output and businesses will still need software developers to help them build solutions.
How Long Will the Developer Shortage Last?
The software developer shortage isn’t going away anytime soon.
As mentioned, technology complexities and increasing customer expectations will drive demand for the foreseeable future.
According to the US Labor Department, “About 162,900 openings for software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers are projected each year, on average, over the decade.”
That rate is higher than the average for other occupations. What Is the Impact of the Developer Shortage? Businesses need to innovate at scale to remain competitive.
Without digital solutions, your team gets trapped in menial tasks that waste time and burn resources. Productivity suffers greatly. And your team is forced to work longer hours to meet deadlines, driving them to burn out faster.
You also need developers to integrate applications, collate data properly, and use those insights to create features your customers and employees crave.
In short, you need software developers to grow your business. Any shortage in that talent supply puts your business at risk.