The prospect of finding the right developer can be daunting even in the best of circumstances. What kind of developer do you need? Where do you look for them? Once you find prospects, how do you make sure they’ll fit in with your company and can do what they say they can do?
We’ve put together a guide to the four-step process we use at Tyrannosaurus Tech to find world-class developers. Give it a shot next time you’re filling an empty developer position!
Step 1: Know what to look for
For the purposes of this article, we’ll look at two kinds of developers: frontend and backend. Although they work with each other, they are two separate roles that specialize in different things.
Backend developers write code in languages such as Ruby, C#, or Java. They build the underlying logic and services that the “front” of the website or app will leverage to be functional and dynamic. They wire together the frontend parts of the website or app to make a cohesive and functional whole.
As a general rule of thumb, marketing websites, redesigns, and work that will be done on the visual part of your website or app requires a frontend developer. Work that requires work on the logic or “behind-the-scenes” functionality of your website or app is going to need a backend developer.
If you still aren’t sure which you need, it might be worth getting a consultation. A consultation will provide you with feedback on the state of your app and help you to decide if you need a frontend developer, a backend developer, both or something else altogether.
Step 2: Know where to look
Once you’ve decided on the type of developer you need, the next step is to start looking. With so many options, it can be difficult to know for certain which job boards are going to bring in the best candidates.
Your easiest option will be local and regional tech publications. These can be blogs or newsletters that are usually written and distributed in your nearest tech hub. They often times have job boards that are inexpensive (if not free) to post on. For example, here in Atlanta we have a tech and startup publication called Hypepotamus that offers a free job board.
Another option is to go to the developers. Meetup.com is an under-appreciated resource for those looking to hire. Searching “front end developer” on Meetup in your area will likely yield many results. Meetup groups are almost always looking for sponsors in the form of small donations, pizza, or drinks in exchange for a short speaking session at the meetup… which translates into you getting to address a bunch of developers all at once.
Recruiting agencies are also an option for finding a developer. A major benefit of recruiters is their ability to help you hone in on the type of developer you need. Furthermore, they will often conduct some pre-screening interviews for you so that you are only sent candidates that best fit your hiring needs. Pricing models vary widely among agencies, so the decision to work with one ultimately comes down to your budget.
Step 3: Know how to interview
Interviewing potential developers is the next step. When you have the developer in for an interview, here are a few tips for ensuring you are maximizing the limited amount of time you have to get to know this person.
Have as many people on the team as possible meet the potential developer, particularly the people who will be working with this person the most. Hiring a great developer is awesome! Hiring a great developer that nobody gets along with isn’t. Ensuring culture fit is just as important as ensuring competency if you want to make a successful hire.
What does their Git repository look like? Are they active in any open source projects? A robust Git repository indicates that this person genuinely enjoys coding and that they are consistently working at getting better. This is a skill and attitude they will bring with them into your business.
Get out your pencils
Can they solve a problem using pen/paper/whiteboard? Doing so implies that they have a grasp on the fundamentals of programming and can problem solve using more than just a keyboard and text editor.
Explain it in plain English
Find a non technical person at your company, ask the candidate to explain a complex development concept to them, and gauge whether or not the non technical person left the interaction understanding the concept. This will go a long way in getting a grasp on their communication style.
Some agencies (Tyrannosaurs Tech included) offer consultation services to help you find the right developers for your team. They can run the technical interview process and guide you to the best decision for your business. For non technical founders in particular, interview consulting is a worthwhile investment that will help you get hiring right the first time and avoid additional recruiting expenses and employee turnover.
Step 4: Sealing the Deal
You’ve followed the path and interviewed a phenomenal pool of candidates. How do you make sure you can get the ones you really want? There are so many opportunities out there for developers, so they can be relatively choosey in deciding where they want to work. These tips will help your organization stand out.
Good developers like to code and they like the opportunity to learn how to be be better. Providing ample opportunities for developers to grow their skillset will go a long way to attracting top talent.
When people hear “perks,” they usually think endless snacks and sodas, company funded trips, and ping-pong tables. While these are nice, companies can offer lifestyle perks that don’t cost much money and can make your company stand out from the rest. Think flexible schedules, work from home options, and ample PTO for a healthy work-life balance
Appeal to people
Remember that developers are people first and foremost. Money is certainly a strong draw, but so is working on something bigger than one’s self. Selling developers on your company’s vision and mission statement will get potential hires excited about the work they will be doing. You’ll also ensure that your hires are invested in the future of the company rather than developers that are just happy to have another job.
Don’t be flakey
Ghosting isn’t cool in the dating world, and it’s not OK in the recruitment process, either. If you’re slow on replying to your candidates, chances are another company will get to them first. Similarly, if your interview process is tedious and unorganized, candidates may not look so favorably on your organization. The last thing you want is negative Glassdoor reviews, so make sure every candidate you communicate with has a positive experience even if they don’t get an offer.
Hiring a developer can be difficult, but with the right planning and approach you can find highly capable developers that fit seamlessly into your company culture and are invested in the organization’s growth and success.
Also published on Medium.