7 Creative Ways to Hire Software Engineers

Since you’re here, you’re probably looking for new ways to hire software developers and reach your KPIs. You might even be a dedicated IT recruiter looking to hire top-notch software talent. No matter what your background is, this list of out-of-the-box recruiting techniques will help you discover untapped talents and find the perfect match for your company or project.  

How to Hire a Software Engineer: A Chance or a Challenge

Gone are the days when recruiters were sitting and waiting for a sea of candidates to appear at their door. Nowadays, the hiring market (especially in the IT sphere) is so competitive that hiring software developers can be a real challenge. Let’s be honest, there are more hot vacancies than programmers. As a result, recruiting is way more than just writing a short “I have an offer for you” message or publishing a “senior software engineer wanted” post. It’s a multi-faceted skill where intuition, creativity, social networking, and technical brightness intersects at a single point. That’s why, to be a winner in the tech talent war, you need to go beyond simple hiring and start engaging. 

But before we walk you through some creative solutions to tech hiring issues, let’s talk about the specific challenges that recruiters face when hiring software engineers. 

Common Challenges When Hiring Software Developers

1. Stiff competition. The talent market in the tech industry is more like a war. Large organizations compete against IT boutiques and small firms to attract software talent. According to US labor statistics, the US risks facing an unrealized output of $162B if the country’s software developer shortage keeps growing. The problem is that there’s not enough candidates for all the available vacancies, so candidates receive multiple offers and are in a good position to choose. Perks like outdoor or team building activities, sports compensation, and wedding bonuses are the new normal and no longer make your company stand out from the crowd. You’ll probably end up either offering higher salaries (to match or go beyond your competition) or thinking more creatively about benefits than you have in the past.

2. Lack of branding. Yes, you might offer the best perks for your potential employees, like paid taxi checks, baby bonuses, and a 50% sports discount, but if candidates have never heard about your company, you are less likely to hire full-fledged software developers. To overcome this, you need to establish a strong online presence. Invest time and money into marketing, publish social media posts at regular intervals, invest in content marketing, and expand your company name. This way, when candidates are researching your brand, they will come across plenty of information and a positive impression of your company. If you’re not sure how to do this correctly, check out our recent blog post with tips and tricks.

3. Lack of candidates with relevant technical skills. Although the number of graduates in the tech industry is constantly growing, there’s still a top-quality candidate deficit. Recruiters find it particularly difficult to fill roles in analytics, big data, security, and legacy systems. This issue compounds because some of the candidates you need are already employed and would need serious incentives to leave the jobs they already have.

4. Lack of comprehensive candidate information. Many recruiters agree that it’s quite difficult to source candidates based on the information available online. Online screening tools can misinterpret information, and resumes leave much to be desired. Sure you can go off of a gut feeling or intuition, but that can lead to some… interesting results. Additionally, the lack of relevant information online can create a missed opportunity for employers, as many great software engineers can come from non-traditional fields.

5. High salary expectations. We’ve already mentioned that the demand for software engineers is higher than supply. That means salary levels for developers are rocketing. Companies try to make more enticing offers to attract more experienced technical professionals. So with the added competition, it’s up to you how to carry out plans keeping your budget within reasonable limits. 

6. High recruitment costs. Many businesses underestimate the importance and complexity of the recruitment process, especially when it comes to hiring a software developer. According to Entrepreneur, business owners spend 40% of their time at work doing tasks that do not generate income, including recruitment. So if you’re thinking of hiring a software engineer, make sure you’ve planned your budget, as it will take your company both time and money. Looking for a software engineer can take anywhere from a week to several months, so it’s crucial to be financially equipped before you start searching. 

7. Recruiting within tight deadlines. It’s extremely difficult to fill the hottest vacancies within a specified period of time. Setting a date can encourage you to monitor your activities and success, but at the same time can put you under never-ending pressure. The best way to solve this problem is to automate the recruitment process. Recruiters can use ATS or other HR tools that can ease the process of sourcing candidates. Online skill assessments can become a helping hand for recruiters and keep their “time to hire” down.

As you can see, there are a lot of challenges haunting recruiters from every corner of recruitment. The techniques that were popular a few years ago are no longer effective, due to huge changes in the job market. At this point, if you want different results, you have to try something entirely new. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some creative ways to attract software developers. 

Alternative Techniques to Hire Software Engineers

1. IT Quiz Show 

One unorthodox approach to hiring software developers was implemented by Exadel, a software engineering company located in Walnut Creek, California. Their idea was an online information technology game where participants compete against each other by answering tricky questions. The rules are pretty simple. The whole quiz show is divided into three rounds. In Round 1, players choose questions from five categories and answer them as quickly as possible. The two players who win the most points can enter the second round. In Round 2, the remaining players answer questions about images on the screen. The round will end when a player either wins or is eliminated. In Round 3, the last player will answer as many questions as they can in 60 seconds. For every correct answer, they will receive $100. After this, they will have the chance to answer one final question. If they risk and give the right answer, they’ll double their winnings. If they are incorrect, they will lose it all. 

To see the latest episode, visit this page

Benefits for recruiters:

  • Raising brand awareness. By promoting the show, companies can be in the public eye and easily recognized by software developers.
  • No need to look for participants through multiple channels. They come through the application form.
  • Long-term recruitment. The show turns into a digital asset and continues to attract technical talent around the globe.
  • Outperforming competition. With an IT quiz show, companies can stand out from competitors and use the show as their calling card. 

Benefits for participants: 

  • Opportunity to test their knowledge through IT-related questions
  • Higher chance of being invited to an interview and getting a job
  • Enticing cash winnings 
  • Popularity in the IT community

2. The Best Developer Parties

Another great idea to attract software engineers is to organize a meetup or a party where people from the IT community meet under one roof. There, tech talents can share ideas, play games, mingle with each other, and hang out with like-minded people. Sponsoring this event isn’t enough, though; remember that people agreed to join your meeting because they wanted to catch up with interesting people. So a good tactic is to welcome everybody at your event, say a few words about your company, and encourage the participants to Google you. If you have some successful projects, you can slip in a reference to them and share a QR code to scan. 

As a rule, software developers come to such parties to meet (shockingly enough) other software developers. So the best practice is to invite technical specialists from your own company. They can bring up interesting topics and talk about the perks of working at your company. This approach will spark interest in your business.  Make sure everyone at the event is included and that no one is left out so that everyone leaves with a good impression of your company. 

3. Finding candidates through Googlereads

Software developers don’t just code! They read, too! Of course, in most cases, the type of literature they choose is closely related to programming languages or software architecture, but that’s even better because that way you know where to find them. Googlereads (or any other database of books) is a great source for you to monitor reviews on popular engineering books and start up a discussion with software developers. By looking through reviews, you can easily get an idea of someone’s expertise and level of technical knowledge. 

How can you find contact details? Googlereads profiles include members’ contact details, as well as a list of their Googleread mates, which means that you can expand your list of software engineers quickly. You can start from a popular book like Clean Architecture, Clean Code, or Classic Computer Science. Since they have so many reviews, it’s likely that you’ll find someone who clearly has the skills and expertise you’re looking for. 

When contacting a candidate, provide reference to his/her review and show that you invested time and effort into finding them. Of course, you shouldn’t only rely on this technique, but it can work as an additional tool.

4. Billboards

The art of attracting high-quality candidates using billboards is underrated. Why are billboards effective? First of all, they help to find passive candidates that already work or are not scrolling through online job boards or other digital media channels. Secondly, even with WFH people still spend a lot of time in their cars. Putting up a billboard means meeting them where they are. Thirdly, this recruitment method might be more comfortable for candidates, since they don’t have to immediately provide personal details.

What makes a good billboard? There are several approaches to including information and integrating it with the rest of your recruitment process. For example, you can give people a mathematical problem to solve or show a system that’s missing a part. The goal is to be attractive, unique, and a little bit challenging. Try to choose the most popular locations in your city and align them to face traffic. Height is also important; if your billboard is placed too high, it won’t be noticed for long.

5. Review developer blogs and websites 

This tip is similar to our Googlereads idea. Before you start hiring a software developer, it’s important to go through their website or blog. By doing this, you will get a clear idea of the depth of their technical knowledge and writing skills. The best part is that you get an example of their practical knowledge, in addition to the theoretical knowledge evident on their resume. For example, if you’re looking at a front-end developer, you can pay attention to the design and source code of their website. You can test for the responsiveness of the page on web and mobile, check the best practices of the general design, and evaluate the overall look of the site. 

If there’s a contact form or a chatbot, ask candidates about their interface and design preferences. This will help you understand their vision for the website and if they reached their initial goal. Note that screening developers’ websites and blogs does not always give you a full understanding of their skill set; this is just one additional way of screening applicants that will give you a more well-rounded view.  

6. Collaborate with third-party companies

If you run out of off-the-wall ideas on how to recruit software developers, try to collaborate with customer service organizations, fast-food restaurants, or public transport organizations to help you get your brand out there. For example, get in contact with a popular coffee shop in your community and offer a free cup of coffee in exchange for a CV. You could even design a coffee cup with a QR code for your vacancies page. Get together with a local business owner to iron out the details and get going! 

In our experience, almost every programmer loves board games, quizzes, quests, and so on. Why not work with quiz/quest providers and organize a customized game where participants compete against each other for branded prizes? In the end, they can win some cool prizes and learn more about your brand. 

7. A recruitment video

There’s a never-ending supply of fun, interactive video ideas. Interview random passers-by what they think about IT and whether they have friends or family in this field. Then create a response video explaining how working at your company can benefit potential employees. Create a narrative that makes people see beyond all the perks. Your current employees can best express your company values and demonstrate how they are respected and supported in the workplace.  

Provide real-life examples of how your company helped employees to cope with emotional burnout and create work-life balance. Discuss how you developed a sense of team spirit in the context of Covid-19. It will create a strong impression of your company as a helping hand in difficult situations and show that your employees are an essential part of your company.


In this article, we’ve shared seven creative recruitment campaigns that will help you hire software engineers. To attract professional specialists, it’s worth getting off the grid and exploring new ways of recruiting and getting your brand some attention. If you stay the course and invest enough energy, effort, time, and creativity, you will definitely get positive results. Just keep going!

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