How to Attract Graduate Developers Part II: We ask top Graduate Developers what they REALLY want from 2018 graduate schemes.

Welcome to the second section of the two-part series ‘How to Attract Graduate Developers.’ In part 2, you’ll get to hear from the developers themselves as they tell us what they REALLY want from a graduate scheme in 2018. With such diverse and competitive graduate schemes on the market this year and a surge of software developers looking for experience within rapidly advancing technology, it’s natural to get lost in and amongst the speculation over what is ‘trendy’ to grads and what graduates are actually looking for.

So, hopefully this blog will help you get a picture of what 2018 graduates will be looking for as they begin to research and apply for graduate developer roles in the next few months.

Let’s get started!

First we hear from James, a top-tier final year MSc Computer Science student, studying at the University of Bristol. James’ engrossment in technology reaches far beyond his degree and he is now the Technical Director and Founder of two highly successful tech businesses within the digital security and app development sectors. James was happy to share with us his motivations when it comes to the opportunities available to him once he graduates, here’s what he had to say:

James, MSc Computer Science, University of Bristol

“Here’s my two pennies worth so to speak; I’d be interested in any workplace that offers the flexibility of pursuing a research-based project into an area that is both beneficial to the company and of interest to me. I’m not personally a fan of working 9-5, I would prefer start-up style companies who work varied hours and measure a workday not by time, but by productivity. In addition to this, I’d also like it if companies would adopt the latest technologies both from a development standpoint and from an organisational point of view.

To sum up, I want to feel that the technology pioneered at university would continue to be utilised in a working environment rather than taking a step back in technology to older methods.”

Next we hear from Toby, a first-class Software Engineer who studied BSc Computer Science at the University of the West of England. Toby has worked with two of the world’s most advanced international consumer electronics companies, producing world-class software and Set Top Boxes to the digital TV industry across Asia and Europe. Toby was happy to share with us his two-cents on what he and his peers are really looking for in 2018 schemes for young developers and draws on some of the experience he had in his work placements:

Toby, Embedded Software Engineer (BSc Computer Science, The University of the West of England)

“For me, it’s all about the technology I’ll be working on. In 2018, myself and I expect many of my peers will be looking for the opportunity to work on exciting projects in the latest technology such as the surge of virtual reality.

When it comes to the overall graduate package, I would personally be looking for companies who demonstrate a clear and proven dedication to training and developing the skills of their graduates, and also the ability to choose the types of projects I’d like to get involved in. As a graduate, I would be looking for a company who values the input of their graduates and gives them the responsibility and freedom to deliver their ideas to the team.

My main ‘tick-boxes’ if you like are; proven opportunity for skills development and clear career progression, the responsibility to tackle challenging problems and have my ideas valued, work in multiple technologies, methods, and tools, in a state-of-the-art development environment – I don’t want to be backdating myself after working in such advanced environments at university.  

Although some of the perks I’ve seen advertised as part of graduate benefit packages are great, the real ‘sell’ for me is the projects. However, some things that stood out to me were private healthcare, on-site free gyms and the opportunity to work abroad. Developers like myself are inherently looking to learn and whilst working with [confidential], I was flown to Venice to help the Italian team on the Set Top Box project I was heading-up over in the UK. This was one of the biggest learning experiences I’ve had to date; on my own, helping another company solve a problem, using my initiative and producing a successful solution. It was great. I think this covers it, I’m just really excited to graduate and get back out into the world of work!”

So there you have it, thank you to our two successful developers for offering their ‘two cents’ and telling us what they are really looking for this year!


To summarise, even with all of the competitive benefits packages available on the market, it still really comes down to the technology and projects graduates want to work on. However, in addition to this, there were some clear common themes in both James and Toby’s accounts of their experience:

  • Graduate developers want a voice
  • Opportunity for skills development and training is essential
  • Clear career progression is highly sought after
  • Graduate developers want to work on fun, interesting technology
  • Graduate developers look for companies with state-of-the-art development environments, or at least those which do not take a step back from the standards of university development environments
  • Healthcare and wellbeing are great perks
  • If you have projects being carried out abroad, don’t restrict your graduates from them, giving them the opportunity to work on such projects is a great learning experience that may set you apart as an employer from the vast competition out there.
  • Graduate developers want to work on projects that they too are interested in, so having input over which projects they can choose from is a great attraction point!
  • Graduate developers will be excited by companies who are involved with the latest research and becoming a part of such innovation could be a big selling point for graduates this year!

So there you have it, for help attracting graduate developers this year, give us a call and one of our specialist consultants will be able to help you recruit in the skill frame you are looking for.

This post originally appeared on the ISL Recruitment blog. For more of our posts click here.

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