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Hiring Best Practices

What Factors Actually Impact a Developer’s Decision to Accept an Offer?

Written By Ryan Loftus | March 5, 2024

The tech hiring market is tight. While hiring cuts and layoffs have characterized the job market, the need for key roles and skills has risen rapidly. 

Roles like back-end and front-end developers were the most in demand for 2023. And AI skills came alive in the third quarter, seeing explosive growth in the rate at which employers assess these skills.

In this market, the challenge for tech recruiters and hiring managers is to strategically hire, retain, and upskill developers to meet demand for the important skills. And to do so, you’ll need to understand what motivates developers to accept an offer or stay in their current role.

So, what defines the ideal developer opportunity? What aspects drive developers to accept a new job, remain in their current position, or decline an offer? In short, why should a developer choose you?

In our 2024 Developer Skills Report, we asked developers these very questions. We also identified disparities between what recruiters think developers want and what developers actually want. Here’s what we found. 

Top 8 Reasons Developers Accept an Offer

#1. Higher Pay

Over 21% of developers rank higher pay as the number one motivator when accepting a new offer. Meanwhile, recruiters listed higher pay as the sixth most influential factor – demonstrating a significant disconnect. 

To attract top developers, your offer will need to meet or closely match their compensation expectations. During recruitment, aim to understand candidates’ overall compensation preferences, including benefits and flexible hours. Research local market standards to provide realistic yet competitive offers. 

Also, consider being transparent about the salary range in the job description. This could increase the number of applicants you receive.

#2. Opportunities for Career Growth

Opportunities for career growth came in a close second. Recruiters also listed this factor as the second motivator for developers – one of only two factors developers and recruiters agreed on in our survey. 

Despite the challenging market and the waves of tech layoffs, developers still value opportunity over security. Our survey showed that 44% of developers prioritize opportunity, compared to 27% prioritizing security. And 28% of developers did not strongly favor either option. In contrast, managers, leaders, and recruiters believe developers prioritize security over opportunity, with a margin of 40% to 33%.

The key takeaway? Use interviews to learn about candidates’ career goals and preferences. Recruiters who communicate upskilling and career growth opportunities with candidates avoid misalignment between candidate expectations and company offerings.

#3. Opportunities to Learn New Skills

Developers identified learning opportunities as the third most influential factor when accepting an offer. Recruiters weren’t too far off in identifying this factor as the fourth most influential. 

Tech is a competitive and ever-evolving industry. Developers know this and understand the need for continuous skill improvements. Learning new skills opens up career growth and advancement opportunities – supporting developers’ desire for career growth. Developers who continuously expand their skill set are better positioned to take on new challenges, handle more complex projects, and progress into leadership roles within their organizations. 

Employers can speak to this motivation by building and promoting upskilling and internal mobility programs. 

#4. Team & Culture

Team and culture came in fourth for developers. Meanwhile, recruiters thought it was developers’ number one motivator. Despite this disconnect, culture remains a key hiring factor that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Why do team and culture matter to developers? Team and culture directly impact problem-solving, creativity, and innovation. For opportunity-minded developers, driving innovation and overcoming challenges is fundamental. Developers could reject your offer if they think your company culture is lacking or it’s, even worse – hindering growth. 

Of particular importance is the presence of a strong engineering culture, which are the values and practices that foster engineering excellence.

#5. Remote-First Policy

Four years into its widespread adoption, remote work is more popular and desired than ever before. Remote work enables developers to work from anywhere, tailoring their work environment to their preferences and lifestyle. It also reduces commute time and costs. Developers who find an office setting distracting can customize their work setting to increase productivity.

But not every company has embraced this working style that developers love. Companies that terminate or walk back their remote first policies risk alienating developers.

#6. Interesting Projects to Work on

Developers do not like to be bored. They prioritize learning new skills in the context of work projects. Developers want interesting projects that challenge and take them out of their comfort zone. Why not highlight some exciting projects your team has worked on during the recruitment stages?

#7. Flexible Schedule

Along with location flexibility, developers want a flexible schedule. This factor is seventh for developers, yet recruiters rank it fifth. Flexible scheduling allows employees more control over their work-life balance priorities and personal pursuits. 

Implementing flexible schedules benefits developers and employers alike. They’ve been shown to increase employee job satisfaction, health, and work-life balance. And they also benefit employers by increasing productivity, reducing absenteeism, and decreasing turnover.

#8. Four-Day Work Week

Coming in eighth is the four-day work week. This is the only other factor developers and recruiters agreed on. This reinforces just how valuable work-life balance and schedule flexibility are to developers. If your company can offer this, it’s beneficial to highlight it in the recruitment process.

What Makes Developers Stay? 

We’ve reviewed what factors have the biggest impact on whether developers accept a job offer. But what factors motivate developers to stay in their current position? To answer this question, we asked developers what’s keeping them in their current role. Here’s what they said.

Surprisingly, compensation drops in rank from the first to the fifth strongest motivator. 

Instead, learning new skills and a flexible schedule rise on the list. Opportunities for career growth and skill development are still significant motivators.

Here we also see the team and company playing a bigger role in developer decision making, ranking as the second most important reason developers say. So while culture can affect hiring outcomes, its biggest impact is in retaining employees.

Remember, developers aren’t just sticking around out of habit. They’re constantly seeking out better prospects with an opportunity-first mindset. Keep them engaged by offering challenging projects that pique their interest. Stay in the loop with the latest industry skills and regularly assess your developers’ current skill sets to pinpoint areas where they might need support or additional training.

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