One of the greatest tasks that companies are becoming more aware of when recruiting and hiring talented software engineers, it is imperative to have a relevant and modern technology stack. In a world where quality engineers are sought after on an international scale, an outdated stack could make your company less competitive in an ever changing marketplace. The lack of up-to-date software can also negatively affect the efficiency and productivity of one’s company. Tasks that require manual data entry, for instance, could be taking up too much time and money and should be streamlined. Though a CEO doesn’t need to be constantly responding to capricious trends in technology, he or she does need to need to be aware of how this could be
affecting the recruiting process.
What is a Tech Stack?
Before diving into this relationship, it would be beneficial to go over what exactly a technology stack is. According to The Silicon Valley Software Group, “A tech stack is a combination of software products and programming languages used to create a web or mobile application. Applications have two software components: client-side and server-side, also known as front-end and back-end (Edelman, 2017).” Put simply, the tech stack is composed of all the code that is used behind the scenes (back-end) which ultimately produce what a user will see and use (front-end). Front end being the application, usually a website or phone app
while the ‘back-end’ are the databases that have data front-end applications by giving it information.
More importantly, these users may be prospective employees and for many software engineers in the midst of the recruiting process, it can determine whether they would want to work for you or not.
So Where Is Your Stack Holding You Back?
In his 2012 article in Bloomberg, Norman Matloff cites former Intel CEO Craig Barrett in arguing that “the half-life of an engineer, software or hardware, is only a few years” (Charette, 2013). He then follows up with Zuckerberg’s preference for “hiring younger coders” due to their greater capacity for using and learning the latest technology trends. Looking more closely, if engineers seek to remain relevant in their field, Matloff concludes that an engineer “would have to spend roughly 10 hours a week [in addition] studying [in order] to stay current” (Charette, 2013). Thus the best way to help curb this study regime, is to ensure that the company an engineer is working for also provides tech most cutting edge technology stack.
From this train of thought, we can see how this is also critical information for recruiters seeking top talent. A recruiter must now be highly aware of his or company’s technology stack as it will determine which talent pool they can reach into.
Thus we can conclude that of course everyone wants the world’s most talented software
engineers, but if your company doesn’t have an up-to-date tech stack, you may need to reel in your expectations.
How Can Your Company Help?
Of course the best solution to this problem, and also a better long-term answer if a company can afford it, is a sweeping modernization of the company’s software. Although expensive and often times time consuming, the benefits are immense. Not only does your company become a much leaner more efficient business model, but it also becomes a lot more attractive to young software engineers seeking to work with the most recent technology.
Can Recruiters Help?
An aforementioned solution to aid the recruiting process, would be to simply reduce the pool of talent from which a recruiter is drawing from. Perhaps your company’s outdated tech stack is in the exact source language that a potential employee feels most comfortable in. He or she will certainly provide a great service will all things considered, but perhaps they aren’t the most talented engineer for hire. That being said there are still a number of other ways that recruiters can hire highly qualified engineering talent.
- Sell on Future Engineering Plans
Get help from the current engineering department. If your company’s technology stack is slightly outdated, are there plans in place to modernize the software in the near future? If so, in which direction are they heading? This can be highly appealing as it allows new employees to be on the front-lines of the development at the company.
- Focus on the Mission of the Company
Recruiters should put the company’s values at a high priority. Of course there may be a handful of highly qualified software engineers in your area, but do they really fit with the company’s mission? A good fit can make a world of difference in a field prone to high employee turnover.
Moreover, it’s important to remember that a healthy work-life balance is becoming more and more coveted by engineers. With a rather brief half-life of knowledge in this field, at a certain point employees can burn out as they attempt to stay one step ahead of the curve. According to Forbes, there is a reason that the work week consists of only 40 hours, “Working a 60-hour week isn’t the same as working three 20-hour weeks. Toward the end of a 12-hour day, the mind starts to drift and you just don’t get as much done. You might only be 10–50% as effective in those last four hours. Even if you optimistically assume you’re 50% as effective, you’re spending 50% more time get an additional 25% productivity. (In the 10% case, you spend 50% more time to get 5% more productivity.) Individuals may vary but most people start to see a decline after 40 hours. Hence the 40-hour work week (Young, 2016).”
- Expand Your Hiring Territory
If your tech stack represents that of yester years, your company may also face regional recruiting obstacles. With the talent pool as overwhelmingly inflated in cities like San Francisco, New York City, and Boston (Petrone, 2015), software engineers have the lay of the land. So a quick solution if you aren’t able to compete? Simply look elsewhere. Denver, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis in contrast have a much lower level of competition of talent (Petrone, 2015).
Charette, R. N. (2013, September 4). IT. Retrieved from IEEE Spectrum: http://spectrum.ieee.org/riskfactor/computing/it/an-engineering-career-only-a-young-persons-game
Edelman, G. (2017, January 8). News and Events. Retrieved from Silicon Valley Software Group: https://svsg.co/how-to-choose-your-tech-stack/
Petrone, P. (2015, December 8). Talent Blog. Retrieved from LinkedIn:
Young, P. K. (2016, July 19). #LifeHacks. Retrieved from Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2016/07/19/these-are-the-secrets-of-work-life-balance-according-to-a-google-engineer/#1da67d3c3d63