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10/21/2013
04:02 PM
Scott Staples
Scott Staples
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How To Attract, Keep Gen Y Software Engineers

Gen Y software engineer all-stars are easy to find, but hard to retain. Try these steps to keep them happy and productive.

Attracting talent is one thing, but you also need to understand the core skill sets that this talent brings with it and what training is required to fill gaps.

While most graduates have a good grasp of coding, they do not understand the software development lifecycle (SDLC) and how to write business applications. They also do not have soft skills on how to interact with businesspeople, how to write effective e-mails, how to use basic Microsoft Office applications such as Outlook (yes, most graduates have never used Outlook), and so on. Even things like how to dress properly, how to apply for vacation and how to submit expenses all need to be taught.

All of this might seem daunting, but if done right recruiting Generation Y software engineers will bring your organization a huge payoff. Here are some lessons learned on recruiting and training the "The New Software Engineer":

-- The best way to find great Generation Y talent is to have a recruiting and HR team of Generation Y leaders.

-- Resumes can be deceiving, so test every candidate. A master's degree does not necessarily mean the person will be a better software engineer. Testing is the only way to determine the baseline knowledge and experience of candidates.

-- There is a complete misrepresentation of compensation in the market because university professors and the reputation of Silicon Valley have put inaccurate figures in students' heads. Address this early and it will be a non-issue.

-- Compensation, career path, training, mentorship, and so on are not as important to the Generation Y software engineer as are work hours, work environment and dress code.

-- Create a "Starbuck's" work environment (cafés, wall-to-wall whiteboards, bean bag chairs, etc.). This is how they like to work and this type of environment will dramatically increase productivity and collaboration.

-- New graduates bring great energy and are "sponges" for information. They are excited to learn, so encourage involvement in industry webinars, TED talks, YouTube broadcasts, and so on

-- Look for graduates who have done relevant internships as they bring a better understanding of the business environment.

-- Look for graduates who have built things on their own (e.g. online apps, mobile apps, gaming apps, etc.) as this shows initiative and a better understanding of tools and technologies.

-- Have a structured training program to teach SDLC and programming techniques.

The Gen-Y software engineer needs help getting started, but is incredibly energetic and eager to learn. If you recruit from the right places, train properly and set your new hires up in a Gen Y work environment, the productivity and output will be fantastic. From what we can see, the future of software engineering is in good hands.

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Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
10/24/2013 | 8:48:30 PM
re: How To Attract, Keep Gen Y Software Engineers
A positive work environment, enlightened management and engaging challenges trump a high-salary at a dysfunctional organization.
D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
10/22/2013 | 9:22:24 PM
re: How To Attract, Keep Gen Y Software Engineers
I just met with an exec from ACE insurance at The Big Data Conference in Chicago. The firm is pioneering big-data approaches that are reducing claims and underwriting costs. She said she drew young big data talent away from a bank, phama firms and casinos with the promise of joining an autonomous, dot-com-like innovation team with its own budget and innovation agenda. It was all about the challenges, not the pay. Kaggle also proves that many bright people respond to big challenges. Keep that in mind before assuming you'll have to pony up big, six-figure salaries.
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
10/22/2013 | 2:25:55 PM
re: How To Attract, Keep Gen Y Software Engineers
As someone who complains that college does not prepare you for the real world, it's encouraging to hear more technology courses are being added to curriculums. It's also encouraging that Gen Y software engineers are more concerned with work environment and culture than compensation and career path. Yet, it's that very characteristic that makes them hard to hold on to. They know they have the needed skills to land a job somewhere else.
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