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Software Engineers: Switching Jobs in 2023

Calendar icon 6th April 2023

By Dan Clouting. Dan is a Senior Consultant at Zeren, building Software Engineering teams for high-growth technology companies across the UK.

As the famous quote goes, “If you are not moving forwards, you are standing still,” and this adage holds particularly true in the tech industry. As a hiring manager or internal recruiter responsible for bringing in top talent, it’s essential to constantly evaluate and refine your recruitment processes to ensure that you’re staying ahead of the curve.


Over the past six weeks, I’ve been delving into the priorities of Software Engineers to better understand what drives their decisions when it comes to choosing a new role. The data I’ve collected is eye-opening and offers valuable insights for anyone looking to attract and retain top talent in this field.


Despite the challenges of the past year, unemployment in the tech industry has remained remarkably low, dropping from 1.8% in December 2022 to just 1.5% in January 2023. This suggests that those who were laid off were able to quickly find new opportunities and that the tech industry as a whole remains robust and resilient.


As businesses begin to navigate the shifting economic landscape, those who remain optimistic about their sales and revenue streams are ramping up their hiring efforts. This means that the competition for top Software Engineering talent is once again becoming fierce, and it’s essential to stand out from the crowd if you want to attract the best candidates.


So, what are the key factors that Software Engineers are looking for in a potential employer in 2023? The data I’ve collected highlights a few key areas that are particularly important, such as opportunities for growth and development, a supportive and inclusive workplace culture, and what I will discuss first a flexible work schedule.


As you read through my report, I encourage you to think about how your own recruitment and talent engagement processes stack up against these priorities. Are you highlighting to Software Engineers the things they’re looking for, or are there areas you could shout louder about? By taking a proactive approach to recruitment and staying attuned to the needs of your candidates, you can position your company as an employer of choice and attract the top talent you need to drive your business forward.


Flexible Work Schedule

As the world of work continues to evolve, it is becoming increasingly clear that flexibility is the top priority for Software Engineers. In fact, in my conversations with professionals in this field during this period, a staggering 74% of people ranked flexibility around their working hours and schedule as their primary concern.


The reasons for this are clear. Software Engineers are keen to have control over their schedule so that they can give their best work at the time of day they are most focused. They also want the flexibility to manage other parts of their life around work, whether that’s attending to leisure activities, running a side hustle, or supporting their families.


In particular, a flexible working schedule supports working mothers and fathers who are juggling the demands of work and family. By allowing parents to set their own schedules, companies can encourage more women to return to work after having children, while also ensuring that fathers can play an active role in supporting their partners.


But flexibility isn’t just about working hours – it also relates to how often Software Engineers come into the office. While many candidates still prefer to work remotely, there is a growing desire to have an office space where they can work and socialise with their colleagues. However, they don’t want to be forced to attend the office a set number of days per week – they want to come in on their own terms and as often as they choose.


Ultimately, companies that prioritize flexibility for Software Engineers will reap the rewards of a more engaged and productive workforce. By recognising the importance of work-life balance and allowing employees to set their own schedules, businesses can create a culture that values its employees and fosters long-term success.


Opportunities for new challenges

According to our recent data, the most common reason cited by Software Engineers for entering the field in the first place is the opportunity to continuously learn and take on new challenges that have an impact on the end user. In other words, they want to be challenged and make a difference.


So this has always been an important factor that Software Engineers take into account but, this year, it is even more in the spotlight with over half of our sample stating this as what they will take into account most when next looking for a new role.


Therefore, when seeking to attract Software Engineers to your business, it’s crucial to highlight your company’s roadmap and how the Engineering function will play a crucial role in achieving the company’s goals. By doing so, you are conveying that there will be ample opportunities for Engineers to take on new and exciting challenges and contribute to the success of the business.


In addition to this, Software Engineers crave the ability to work with modern technologies and have the freedom to explore innovative solutions. By providing dedicated innovation days for your Engineering team, you are demonstrating that you value their creativity and willingness to explore new technologies that could be beneficial to the business.


Finally, it’s important to show Software Engineers that their ideas and suggestions will be heard and implemented. During interviews, discuss times when ideas from the engineering team have been implemented into the platform. This demonstrates that their contributions will be valued and can make a significant impact on the growth and success of the business.


In summary, attracting Software Engineers requires more than just competitive salaries and benefits. It requires highlighting the opportunities for growth, challenging work, and creative freedom that your business can offer. By doing so, you can position your company as an attractive destination for top Software Engineering talent.


Co-workers they get along with

While traditional recruitment tactics may have been successful in the past, the data suggests that creating a positive and welcoming company culture can now make all the difference.


Our research shows that Software Engineers value their relationships with their co-workers more than ever before, with the ability to get along with colleagues ranking as the third most important factor when considering a new company. With this in mind, it’s crucial for employers to not only focus on speed and efficiency in the hiring process but also on building strong relationships with potential hires.


By allowing time for informal introductions and cross-functional meetings, candidates can gain a deeper understanding of the company culture and develop a sense of belonging before they even start. In addition to making the candidate feel at ease, this approach can also lead to better long-term retention rates.


It’s important for employers to humanise the recruitment process and emphasise the importance of building rapport with potential Software Engineering hires. By doing so, companies can create a welcoming environment where candidates feel valued and excited to join the team. Taking the time to explain the onboarding process and what it will be like to work at the company can also go a long way in making candidates feel comfortable and confident in their decision to join.


Overall, while speed and momentum in the recruitment process are important, it’s crucial for employers to balance this with building relationships and creating a positive company culture.


According to our recent data, in 2023, Software Engineers prioritise a flexible work schedule, opportunities for new challenges and growth, and getting along with co-workers. Companies that prioritise these areas can create a culture that values its employees and fosters long-term success. Attracting Software Engineers requires more than just competitive salaries and benefits; it requires highlighting the unique opportunities for growth and creative freedom that your business can offer.