Over the last two years around 90% of my day to day activity has been spent talking to developers. It's my job. So it’s safe to say I have had a fair amount of exposure into the thought processes developers go through when it comes to looking for their next role. It's an issue I have been facinated by for some time and to take it to the next level I decided to conduct a survey to get to the bottom of what really attracts developers to a role - the money, the opportunity or the location?
'Money, Money, Money' vs. 'Location, Location, Location'
As part of the research I surveyed, roughly 200 developers within the Berkshire and South London area. A significant majority (60%) stated that their primary motivation to select a role (and therefore employer) was based on 'location'. The remaining 40% was torn between 'the opportunity' (21%) and 'money' (19%).
So, what does this tell us about a developer’s motivations for selecting an employer? The large bulk of the developers I spoke to sat at a mid-senior level. So there is a fair assumption to be made that these candidates already have a house, family or other commitments locally. This potentially swung the results towards the 'location' factor as a result of the consistant struggle to achieve a 'work life balance'. The sample may have been scewed by mid to senior level candidates but employers should still sit up and take note because in reality it's the experienced hires possesing skills in emerging languages and frameworks that are by far and away the most difficult to source.
The other 40% was split fairly evenly between “opportunity” and “money”. It's perhaps rather supprising that money fell so far down the order. It's almost a case of a clash between two age old sayings: 'location, location, location' meets 'throw money at the problem'. It's interesting as money is usually one of the first questions developers would ask me when discussing an opportunity, followed closely by location and then opportunity. Therefore, when I reviewed the results from the survey I decided to dig a little deeper and find out why “location” was so important?
After speaking with the developers in more depth who choose “location”, the general census was similar to the above – local commitments, less change in routine, close to friend and family which all constituted to a better work life balance. Many did state, however, that if they were at a different stage of their career i.e. a junior or graduate level “opportunity” would be higher priority than “location” or “money”. From the junior and graduates I did speak to, it was clear they have less commitments and less experience to dictate the location of their role, hence focusing more so on the “opportunity”
What does this mean for companies trying attracting talent?
It doesn’t necessarily mean all the best developers will fall at your feet if they are on your doorstep, nor does it mean that talented developers won’t consider a move for an attractive opportunity. It highlights that a portion of the market (mid-senior developers) will put more emphasis on location when choosing their next role over the “opportunity” or “money” factors. It also suggests that companies looking to attract talent within this segment need to give serious thought to the value proposition of the role and the organisation - if they work with a recruitment partner they also need to be able to position the opportunity in it's best possible light.
The results also suggest when looking for junior or graduate developers there is more scope to widen the location boundaries of a search to secure the best talent in the market before getting home for the bedtime story becomes an overwhelming motivating factor.
To tackle the 'location' issue employers must hone in on 'work life balance' as part of a best combination package with a compelling opportunity and a salary in line with market rates. The candidates I speak to are career focused - there's no doubt about that - but also want to balance their career with a healthy lifestyle. Companies can compete on higher ground if they show a willingness to allow either flexible hours, additional memberships e.g. gym, sports, work night outs, and other activities which are non-work related, to differentiate themselves against either local or national competitors.