6 Tips on How to Attract & Retain Great Software Developers for the Long Haul

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Since 2010, we’ve been continuously trying to improve our recruitment, retention, and training strategies to hire, keep, and grow the tech people that work with us. And over the years, we have managed to build a solid reputation on the job market as one of the best companies to work in for software developers in Cebu and beyond.

It feels good—every morning—to not only walk in an office where you have people who are happy to be working but also notice that the quality and quantity of the output is very high. And we do everything to make our employees’ lives as easy as possible so that they can focus on what makes them and our clients grow.

After years of being extremely focused on the day-to-day, we have been able to build a strong team and, as founders, we are now finally able to passionately focus on the long term, which is where everybody wins. Our customer attrition rate is near zero while our team’s is below 8% for this year. (But this was not the case in earlier years, and we believe we still have significant room for improvement.)

Now, where do you start looking to build a strong team? How do you sift through the metaphorical “talent pool” hay? And how do you make the offer appealing enough for great tech candidates to accept, sign up, and choose to stay? Talent acquisition is crucial, and it’s a bit like matchmaking. We’ve got to get brightest minds pick us as we choose them. At Arcanys, we do this by working a lot on the company culture, top-tier benefits, and a thorough real-life evaluation process. Want to find out more? Here are 6 tips on how we at Arcanys recruit and retain great tech people for the long haul.


1. Build a strong company culture and provide excellent benefits


Great company culture has been at the heart of everything Arcanys does. In fact, one of our top goals is to be the best software development company to work for in Cebu, Philippines. We strive to create a great working environment that offers not only top merit-based compensation and challenging projects but also other game-changing benefits. We now provide free healthcare for the whole family, free lunches, gym memberships, and other fun, exciting activities such as hackathons, yoga and Muay Thai classes, team dinners, board game nights, and more. By taking care of our employees, Arcanys has created that positive drive necessary to engage people, power the business, and impact critical metrics. Arcanys looks after its employees, so its employees care about the clients, and in turn, the company.

As a matter of fact, satisfaction and happiness index in the company is so high that half of our new hires are employee referrals (which we offer good referral fees for, too!).

Arcanys 2018 Summer Outing

2. Have a thorough evaluation process


Now that we got plenty of passionate candidates through the door—thanks to our reputation and most importantly, employees referrals, we need to make sure we spot the brightest of them all (which is below 8% of our applicants). Our evaluation process includes customized interviews and meticulously designed exams by our technology-specific Sr. Architects and CTO. The tests, in particular, present real-world coding issues that measure intelligence and problem-solving skills, on top of the basic knowledge of programming concepts and facts.

Moreover, we make sure that the right people assess potential candidates, gauging their passion, communication skills, business understanding as well as attitude and work ethics. We only hire smart and highly motivated individuals rather than those who merely learn from books but can't think on their own.



3. Know how to recognize a good software developer


Creating a great tech team means recruiting the right people. However, how do you know which ones to hire and keep? Well, here are some characteristics of a good developer that might help you understand whom to look out for.

• Has a real passion for their craft and is not just doing the job for the money (although software engineering is among the best paying jobs in the country, according to statistics)
• Knows the art of clean code that is easy to understand and reuse
• Has a keen eye for quality and assumes that when it does work, we are only halfway there
• Seeks to understand the goals and objectives of the project as well as the impact of their work for the end users
• Listens to other developers and is willing to learn from them, and whenever possible is willing to teach them, too
• Knows when, how, and which parts to focus their attention on and how to prioritize their tasks
• Perseveres when meeting hurdles and does not sacrifice quality over speed
• Exercises self-discipline and strives to avoid technical debt
• Accepts their shortcomings and learns from them instead of finding excuses to escape the blame
• Acknowledges limitations, has a capacity for self-evaluation, and knows when and how to ask for help

As you may have noticed, there aren’t a lot of technical skills on this list. Naturally, we also ask for those. But as they can be taught and learned, we prefer to hire developers with a proper mindset who are willing and able to grow, instead of highly intelligent ones who have a terrible attitude.


4. Empower your employees with trust and freedom


We show our staff that they have our confidence. Yes, we hired them because we think they're capable, so we trust them to do their jobs. If they don’t, it’s because we didn’t do our job well. Besides, we have realized (multiple times) that micromanaging people will get us nowhere. So we have changed the organizational structure to empower every one of our employees. We have enabled our teams in the decision-making process, so they're more engaged and eager to help in projects, which in turn increases their productivity.

We act as mentors, not managers. At Arcanys, we have a flat organization, in which we've removed layers of management to empower people. We also have an "open door" policy to make ourselves easily accessible to them. Yes, we take a genuine interest in our employees as individuals, but mostly, we let them do their jobs and manage their own time.


5. Create growth and learning opportunities


As we take great care in selecting our developers, we do the same with the projects we take on. We only take projects where we match, in values and technical level, with our clients. This guarantees that we find projects ambitious and exciting enough to challenge our skills and enable us to further develop our expertise over time. On top of that, to make sure our clients grow fast in capabilities, we offer our employees incentivized training in relevant new technologies and encourage them to conceive innovative tech solutions, resulting in a strong workforce and outstanding performance. We are consistent “improvement” aficionados.

Arcanys 2017 Startup Reactor

6. Let them go… and welcome them back!


As Sir Richard Branson said, "Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough, so they don't want to." Also, we’d like to add “welcome them back if they do leave, but decide to come back.” Yes, despite our low attrition rate, people do come and go. However, about 40% of them come back! The grass is not always greener on the other side, but it is for them to find out, after all.


For years, we at Arcanys have been able to hire, mentor, and keep some of the most highly skilled tech talents we find, and these are just some of the ways we accomplish all that. However, we also believe that being considerate of people and showing them respect, in general, is critical. In the end, you can only inspire true loyalty from others if you respect and care for them first.
Contact us today to find out how we can build a strong dedicated development team that will boost your project.

About the author

Fred had been working on IT and operational projects in the finance and software industry in Switzerland for 10 years before co-founding Arcanys in 2010. He carefully negotiated with and managed outsourcing suppliers as a corporate buyer on the one hand, and led delivery teams as an internal provider to operational departments at an executive level of listed companies in Switzerland, on the other. With nearly 20 years of experience in the industry in Switzerland, Hong Kong, and the Philippines, Fred is now leading the worldwide sales and marketing efforts of Arcanys.

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