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How to hire developers without really trying too hard

Finding developers is still tough, but a CIO in the human capital management business does have a hiring advantage. Here's how the CIO of Ceridian finds and keeps developers.

If you're still asking yourself how to hire developers -- and keep them -- it's time to hear how Warren Perlman, CIO of Ceridian HCM Inc., does it. The Minneapolis-based human capital management technology firm has a software-as-a-service offering that lets employers keep track of staff from the first interview through retirement, so it's clear management understands something about HR issues.

And they've put that understanding to good use when it comes to hiring, at least according to the popular job-matching and rating site, Glassdoor Inc. Ceridian gets a 4.2 out of 5 rating from nearly 900 reviews, and Perlman said employee retention -- particularly with software developers -- is quite high.

What's his secret? Perlman and the Ceridian management team let opportunity knock for software developers. For starters, Ceridian's developers can set up environments in the cloud just for fun, to experiment, or to practice learning a new language or skill. Perlman was quick to point out Ceridian is "an old company that's been made new again," thanks to strategic use of the cloud, and it's something developers find very appealing, he said. If all that "playing around" yields a new idea, a nonhierarchical structure combined with an open-door policy means any developer is welcome to share his or her discovery with the CEO, CFO or anyone else.

Developers are routinely moved around -- say, from working on the payroll module to working on recruitment -- in order to broaden and extend their skills.  "We want to make sure you have an opportunity to work on different things," he explained. And then, there's just straight-up training, where developers have the chance to do a deep dive into security or a different area of coding. And teams are regularly surveyed about their level of satisfaction, challenge, ability to explore new ideas and so on, which gives them another chance to communicate concerns and successes to upper management.

When it comes to attracting new talent, Perlman said he thinks the company has how to hire developers down to a science. But he was also quick to note the software developer shortage is not getting any better. "It's a tough world out there, and if anybody says they're not fighting for [developers], they're lying," he said. "We're doing everything we can."

Perlman said Ceridian has partnerships with Canadian and U.S. universities that allow the company to speak to undergraduate and graduate students, and even have access to those looking just for a short-term job. Ceridian management does roadshows, getting out and talking to people about the company and its mission, as well as speaking engagements. Perlman said he also tries to leverage social media as much as possible.

And he said he doesn't forget about internal candidates that can be "skilled up" to a new role if they have an interest. "We have a lot of really good talent out there [who] are all very capable of learning a new skill in a new realm, particularly baby boomers," he said.

It's all of this, he explained, that has helped build the company's reputation. Developers are going to research a company, so they're going to need to see good reviews on a site like Glassdoor. So, how to hire developers? "Reputation is everything."

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