With IT employers struggling to find talent amid an increasingly competitive tech hiring landscape, some companies are turning to unique—and often generous—perks to sway opinion and bag the best and the brightest.
Employers who use Dice.com to attract tech pros in four hot fields—software engineering, cloud computing, big data and mobile development—seem to be relying on one perk in particular: a free lunch.
That perk cracked the top three in popularity with every niche of highly skilled tech pro, the study found.
Lunch on the house squares with other perks that topped the lists for each field, including free gym memberships and sponsored social events, an indicator that an employer has taken steps to create a "one team" culture.
The report also found that, for those with cloud computing or big data experience, working across from ping-pong tables or working from home are attractive options, as companies seem to highlight their casual work environments to professionals in these fields.
For example, on a listing for a senior Windows engineer at Higher One, which partners with colleges and universities to lower administrative costs and improve graduation rates, perks included free lunch, casual dress, "fun events" and flexible work hours.
Tuition-reimbursement programs also ranked high across each category Dice analyzed—though this benefit resonated most with employers seeking to find talent in the software engineering field, where the unemployment rate stood at 2.7 percent for software developers for the fourth quarter of 2013, compared with 3.5 percent across all technology fields during that period.
"The best of the best in tech continue to show great interest in challenging assignments, personal growth and cultures that encourage innovation and flexibility," Dice President Shravan Goli wrote in a company blog post. "In other words, when it comes to employment, they want the whole enchilada—on the job and in the lunchroom."
The unemployment rate for technology professionals fell to 3.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 from 3.9 percent in the preceding quarter, according to the January jobs report from Dice. For the year, the tech unemployment rate averaged 3.5 percent, edging down slightly from the year before.