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Hiring software developers by changing quality of life

Does the developer shortage indicate that few people want to be coders, or does it show flaws in businesses' hiring, training and handling of tech talent? Her experience in outreach to, and training of, tech professionals has led Twilio Inc. infrastructure engineer Dominique DeGuzman to lean toward the latter interpretation.

Rather than there being too few tech professionals available to hire, she said, the developer shortage comes directly from the way companies are treating and recruiting them. Twilio, based in San Francisco, develops cloud communications APIs.

"People are hiring, hiring, hiring software developers," is a sentence DeGuzman says she hears often. It leads her to wonder if companies are hiring tech professionals mostly because their businesses are growing or because of their low retention and high turnover rates. In this video interview with SearchCloudApplications, DeGuzman shares her observations and what tech professionals have told her about their jobs, hiring software developers and businesses' missteps in dealing with the developer shortage.

Many employers of IT professionals offer a lot of perks but do not address working conditions, said DeGuzman, who has learned a lot about that subject as Twilio's co-chair of diversity and inclusion. The lack of quality of life perks creates a revolving door of tech talent burning out and leaving and new employees, if they can be found, taking their places. Or, it leads to the remaining staff taking on the departing employees' duties because a replacement can't be found.

What good is it to have meals catered and a great salary if an employer's continuous deployment plan requires developers to work 80 hours a week? Or what if, DeGuzman added, "you're the only person of color in the room, not even on your team, but in the whole engineering department?" These are just two of several stressful and common situations that lead to turnover.

DeGuzman meets many junior developers after her frequent tech conference presentations, such as Life as a Diverse Engineer and Ways to Cope with Brogrammer Culture. They're having trouble getting hired. "Everybody wants to hire a senior developer right away," she said. "If you're only looking in one pool, of course you're going to feel like there's a shortage."

In this video, hear more of DeGuzman's insider views about hiring software developers.

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Has your organization noticed a shortage in hiring software developers?
It is definitely difficult for us to hire good software developers, yes. It's not necessarily because of a shortage - they are out there, if a bit difficult to find. But we do have quite a bit of turnover, and our HR processes are so unbelievably inefficient, so those things really compound the problem.
I agree. Perks only go so far if you are uncomfortable with your working conditions. The two issues mentioned here, long hours and lack of diversity, are definitely problems at my company. And honestly, we don't even have any great perks to speak of.
I have heard about this shortage for many years and I don't think this is a new shortage. It is possible that the newer developers want more life balance and not prepared to work 80 hours as others have done in the past.
I don't think there is a shortage of software developers in general, but there is a shortage of GOOD software developers.
When I think quality of life, it is not just have time for family, avoid working me 80 hours a week.  Little things like reimbursement for expenses at a gym or pool to help encourage better health in employees can do a lot to help the quality of life.  Heck, when things are crammed and stressed, having a manager pay to bring in lunch so the team can take a break talk about what they are working on can do a lot to build the team.  More companies need to focus on team building instead of just adding the proverbial full stack unicorn developer.
Perks can be a plus provided there is no financial incentive. All the positions I have held since the late 80's did not provide overtime pay. It's tough when they start asking for a 50 - 60 hours or more for a  work week. When you start breaking down the hourly rate and the toll it takes on family and other things it may not be worth it.
The other aspect is the real productivity when one continuously work 80 hours a week. It goes down. Employees, who respect themselves, will leave. Others will burn out. Hiring new people into the same environment continues the cycle of turnover.