Discover the Best Tips for Hiring a Software Developer at a Startup or Company
So, you’ve just launched a startup. And you know that with the tough competition today, only the company that can attract and retain the best tech talent will see success. But where will you find these talented software resources? And how can you be sure that they are the best?
Hiring talented software developers that are the perfect fit for your company can be difficult in itself. But when we talk about a startup, the issue often becomes more difficult, simply due to the fact that in the beginning, many businesses do not have a proper recruitment or HR department. That is why, some businesses prefer to hire a software outsourcing agency or a technical recruitment company to fulfill this task.
Many startups however, prefer a more personal and involved business model for their software development teams. So, lets take a look at the factors to look at when hiring a software developer for your company or startup.
Hiring a Software Developer for a Startup Vs. Hiring a Software Developer for an Established Company
Building a new and innovative product for the market can be a critical and challenging task in itself. But even more important than that is finding the right technical resources to help you bring your vision to life.
The hiring process and experience is often quite different between a startup and a company. bigger, established companies often have dedicated roles assigned to each resource, and finding a tech talent to fill a specific role is comparatively easy. Moreover, you can draw upon the experience and help of your in-house tech talent to shortlist and finalize the right candidates.
The quality of your product, and its popularity is defined by the skills and expertise of your team members, as well as how well they work together as a team. But whether you are a startup or an established company, hiring highly skilled software developers can be quite difficult, unless you have dedicated technical recruitment personnel.
Nevertheless, if you do need to find and hire the right technical resources, there are a few tips and tricks that can help you choose the right candidates, and vet them to find out which ones are best suited to work with your team.
07 Actionable Tips for Hiring a Software Developer at a Startup or Company
Now that you know that finding and hiring good software developers can be difficult, what are you to do? Now, you may opt to engage the services of a professional recruitment agency, but the drawback would be that they would that you would be relying on them to find you the right candidate. This solution might work well for a traditional company, but a startup has a different working model.
So what’s next? You need to know what to look for among the candidates, so that you can know who the right candidates are. To help you do that, we have compiled a list of top tips and suggestions to help you find the best software developers for your team.
Be clear on what you REQUIRE of your ideal candidate
One of the best tips for hiring a software developer at a startup is to be clear about what might be required of the chosen candidate. Now, ideally, that should be clear before you even start looking for the candidates in the first place, as that will help you create a job ad that attracts the right talent.
However, once you start shortlisting the applicants for interviews and tests, you need to have a proper job description for that role penned down. That will be your starting metric for shortlisting the right candidates. Moreover, once you start interviewing the candidates, it will help you get an idea of the potential candidate’s expertise, and where they stand with respect to your job requirements.
Your job description should have a list of required skills, and a few which would be a bonus. Think of it like a software’s functional requirements. Your required skills are those which are extremely important for the role you want to fill. Your bonus skills, on the other hand, are those that are not exactly required per se, but help make a developer a more productive member of the team.
DO NOT hire a candidate based on their resume or years of experience
When talking about what to look for when hiring a software developer, one of the top things NOT to do is to judge a candidate by their resume or cover letter. That does not mean to disregard them entirely. On the contrary, use the resume as a jumping point to see if the candidate seems to have a solid foundation, on which may stand a solid, dependable development resource.
We often see many companies, well-established or startups, hire less-skilled or downright incompetent resources sometimes. And all because the person in charge was impressed by the candidate’s CV alone, and hired them for a job they were not suited for.
What you can do, is use these resumes to shortlist the most suitable candidates, who would then enter the next phase of the hiring process. That’s the best way to use a candidate’s resume to shortlist the best resources for the role.
Test them with a real problem your company has worked on
A portfolio or letters of reference are all well and good, as are claims that a potential employee is a hard-working go-getter who works well under pressure. But a company, especially a startup, cannot afford to hire a software developer based just on that. You need to see if the person can actually do the work they claim they are capable of. And the best way to do that is to have them finish a trial task.
Now, what kind of tasks can you set for a test? And how can you ensure that it will test the developer sufficiently? The easiest way to ensure that your test is able to test your candidates properly, is to assign them a real-world problem to solve. The best way is to assign them a task that your existing team has already solved, so that you can figure out the candidate’s thought process and gauge their skills and creativity.
This is by far one of the best tips for hiring a software developer at a startup or company.
Test how comfortable they are working and expressing themselves in a team
One of the most important skills for a software developer, especially one working within a startup, is the ability to express themselves clearly. Even at a traditional company, a software developer is dealing with highly technical and complicated projects and tasks. The ability to express their thoughts and findings to an audience that might not be as technically inclined can be a great asset.
Moreover, skilled software developers working at a startup may need to present and defend their work in front of a number of people, from other team members all the way to the investors. Similarly, if you are looking for a developer for your software outsourcing agency, you too require a resource who doesn’t just understand the requirements, but is also able to present their work and defend it.
So when assessing the skills of a potential software developer, the ability to express themselves properly is right at the top of what to look for when hiring a software developer for your company.
Problem-solving acumen is better than just knowing a programming language
The right mindset, one that is open to learning and analyzes a problem analytically before looking for a solution, is worth more than a developer’s knowledge of a programming technology or language. That is because a developer can learn a technology or language far more easily and quickly compared to learning an entirely new problem-solving mindset.
The ability to critically analyze a problem into its constituents, and looking at its different facets as well as the big picture before working towards a solution is a skill that only comes with practice. However, many developers, especially those who have worked within large teams, often are not used to this style of thinking. To foster analytical thinking in their process requires them to unlearn and reboot, which can be very difficult to the point of near-impossibility for some.
That is why, the ability to think critically and analyze a problem before looking for a solution should be a higher priority skill compared to expertise with a specific technology or programming language. And that is especially true for a startup or a small company, where the software development duties are more fluid compared to a larger company.
Check if they program for a living or are truly passionate about it
This is one of those tips for hiring a software developer at a startup that is somewhat controversial. Some believe that being passionate about software development does not guarantee skill or expertise. And it is true.
You will come across a few developers who are quite good at what they do, yet coding is not one of their passions. And you will also come across developers who are highly passionate about programming, yet are average at best. And while passion can guarantee that a person will strive to solve an issue, the sad reality is that commercial development software jobs often do not have the resources to let an average developer work towards solving a problem.
On the other hand, there are many analysts, including us, who believe that passion for software development is essential for a good developer, along with the skills to back it up. Hear us out. Programming is a tough job, often thankless with long hours and constant study. To be at the top of their niche, developers often have their passion projects, which they work on after office hours or in their free time.
The dedication and effort required for that is only possible if you are passionate about something. So, on your list of what to look for when hiring a software developer for your startup, being passionate about programming should be one of the most important factors.
Shortlist candidates who would love to learn new technologies
Finally, when studying what to look for when hiring a software developer, one of the most critical things to look for nowadays is a willingness to learn new technologies. In the decades past, development technologies took years and sometimes even decades before introducing a major update. Today however, that timeline has now shrunk to weeks and months.
With software development covering a truly vast field of applications, new and more advanced technologies are released every few months. These updates and upgrades are often more efficient or productive than existing technologies, ad its in the best interest of the developers to learn and use it.
Let’s go back a few years and talk about blockchain. Or a further few years back when IoT, machine learning, and deep learning started becoming more popular. All of these technologies mentioned above allows us to create better, more innovative software products. And if existing developers had not been willing to learn them and integrate them with existing projects, where would the greater development world be now?
Therefore, it is imperative that you hire a software developer who is keen and excited to learn new technologies and implement them to improve the quality of their deliverables.
In short, searching for the right software development resource can be a difficult task, especially if you do not have any prior experience regarding it. However, by following the tips for hiring a software developer at a startup or company given above, you will be able to find and retain the right resources to help you grow your business.
How many developers does a startup need?
How can a startup hire their software developers?
What should I look for when hiring a software developer?
- Create clear and efficient codebases
- Create comprehensive tests to check their solutions
- The ability to express their views and contribute to the development of the software tasks.