5 ways to find and attract the best engineers in Philadelphia

Top talent pros share their strategies for finding the perfect fit in a city worlds away from Silicon Valley.

Dev Conference 2018 attendees.

( file photo)

Full disclosure: Power Home Remodeling, Linode, and Elsevier are sponsors of Dev Conference 2019. Azavea is a talent client of

Recruiting tech talent isn’t for the faint of heart. Opportunities for job seekers are vast, making the competition for top talent just that — a competition.

In 2017, a survey from staffing firm Robert Half reported that 66% of Philadelphia’s CIOs say it is extremely or somewhat challenging to find workers with the skills they need to grow their business. But as the tech community grows, companies are finding new ways to attract the talent they need to make Philadelphia a thriving tech community.

We went straight to the source: top companies in the city that have mastered (and remastered) the fine art of talent acquisition. And, spoiler alert, there’s a lot more to it than promising big salaries and beer fridges.

1. Look inward.

“Highlight what makes your company stand out from the crowd by talking with your current employees,” said Michelle Bauer of Power Home Remodeling. “Everyone has ping pong tables and an agile workflow, but what makes your current employees love working at your company? Make sure you are highlighting those differentiators in all of your talent acquisition strategies.”

2. Open doors.

Modern job seekers aren’t just looking for opportunities to grow within a company, they’re looking to advance their skills: Companies that foster growth are seeing serious success in hiring for once hard-to-fill roles.

“Prospective candidates are looking for growth opportunities and to be valued as an employee,” said Matthew Plasha and Keith Wilson of Linode. “People want to be challenged and develop skills that will keep them relevant and marketable for future roles… prospective candidates want to be a part of a company that will invest in them, not only from a financial perspective but emotionally.”

3. Host more.

From apprenticeship programs to rigorous bootcamps, there are now dozens of options for career changers and students to gain a deeper understanding of tech careers. Hosting one at your office for employees or outsiders is a simple way to invite talent right into your space.

“People walk right through where our developers sit [for workshops and meetups],” said Patrick Irwin of Elsevier. “They can see what our office has to offer before they even apply.”


4. Support (friendly) local competition.

Aspirational workplaces are still very much something potential employees are seeking in their job hunts. But that aspiration is less about the literal style and more about work styles. The simplest way to showcase your company (without looking like you’re trying too hard) is by supporting your local tech community.

“We’ve now been in Philadelphia for over a year and in that time we’ve tried to focus in on the local tech community,” noted Plasha and Wilson of Linode. “While we do sponsor events on a national level, it’s important for us to sponsor and attend local meetups. We’ve bolstered our presence at conferences, and even hosted events and hackathons in our office.”

Start with an event like the Dev Conference at Philly Tech Week: Dozens of developers from the Greater Philadelphia Area come together for insightful talks, innovative programming sessions and expert discussions on what’s to come in the tech community at large.

5. Tell your company story.

Storytelling is about capturing the imagination of your candidate. Craft a story that not only speaks to job details but connects with the candidate on your organizations’ diversity, cool office space or future growth plans. Companies such as Azavea have taken advantage of’s expertise with storytelling that could improve their employer branding efforts.

What were their results?

“In 2018, 17% of our job applicants mentioned that they read about us on or specifically or clicked-through from jobs listings,” according to Karissa Justice, Azavea’s people operations manager. Incorporating storytelling into your tech recruiting strategy is a tested way of increasing your talent pipeline.

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