Increase Retention by Hiring Software Engineers in Cohorts

September 28, 2022

If you are leading a non-technical organization and want to hire software engineers, one of the best things you can do is hire two or three at once.

Why do this?

Often times non-profits or public interest organizations are not hiring software engineers at market rates. Software engineers get lonely. Making sure there is a peer that understands their work and they can lean on makes for a much better experience as an employee. They might stay longer.

These roles are still stepping stones

My experience

Regardless of how much someone says they want to stay forever or they care about the mission they leave after a year or so. I helped a lot of engineers train up and get projects on their resume that looked great in their interview at Google.

Dealing with high churn

If you have to hire folks you know are likely to leave after a year or two keep your technology simple:

  • Pick one stack and hire for and use it. Don’t let a new hire try a different programming language because it’s easier for them. It turns into another programming language or library for the next hire to learn.
  • Abstract DevOps with tools like Heroku or Netlify. Many newer software engineers do not know Linux and server administration.
  • Use the two week (one sprint) rule: if it takes longer than two weeks to implement a feature it is going to be too complicated for the next software engineer to maintain.

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This work by Matt Zagaja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.