In the modern world, the demand for new technology is increasing exponentially.
Rising with it, of course, is the demand for the people who design this new technology: software engineers. Use this as your guide to hiring talented developers.
In fact, few businesses today can get by without one. No matter what your company focuses around, chances are that website design will be an integral part of advertising.
According to CTO Ken Mazaika, “Developers are the people who are capable of building stuff for a world that is becoming increasingly more reliant on technology. That’s why the demand for developers is only going to increase more and more over the next ten years.”
Sporting an astronomically low rate of unemployment–half the national average–software developers can essentially pick and choose wages and conditions to their hearts’ content. With such a low supply of workers, big companies are more than happy to oblige with their demands.
In fact, according to Sarah Kessler of the Quartz, “There are almost 10 times more US computing jobs open right now than there were students who graduated with computer science degrees in 2015.” With so many options out there for developers, your company needs to not only reach out but stand out as well. Although it may seem daunting to compete with big companies for candidates, remember that you don’t necessarily need to offer six-digit incomes and fabulous vacation benefits to hire the right workers. Keep these seven tips in mind to stay on track and reel in the right people.
No. 1: Go slow
The rule of quality over quantity is a great one when looking to hire talented developers. Instead of going straight for 10 people with okay skills, try just finding a few with spectacular talents in the same period of time. After all, you will be relying on your employees to refer to new ones, and starting out with fantastic workers will often mean that they will refer more amazing workers for you in the future.
In fact, studies have shown that mediocre employees tend to refer even worse employees in order to make themselves look better, while exceptional workers tend to refer more exceptional workers, as they refuse to work with anything but the best.
A great strategy to employ is to offer short, two-week consultation contracts to “test out” the employee before hiring them. That way, you can assess not only their skills in programming, but also see their teamwork and socialization skills in motion.
No. 2: Don’t go for superstars
Your end goal is always to hire a team of amazing developers, not one singular highly ranked coder. Rather than focusing your energy to find the one world-class engineer, try to find a team of awesome workers. After all, the last thing you would want is for the entire team to be dependent on one amazing tech-savvy engineer. Truly amazing teams will always have a plethora of great workers with a variety of strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore, depending only on one or a few people also raises the issue of emergencies. If your top coders have emergencies or suddenly resigned, you will find yourself in a difficult situation indeed. That is why you should always have an entire team of talented software designers.
That being said, it is more than fair to recognize that one or two designers might be somewhat more skilled than the rest. Rather than depending on them for the heavy-duty tasks, however, you should attempt to raise the other employees up by sharing their secrets of success. That way, you will have a team full of innovation and collaboration rather than one of mismatched skill levels.
The end goal is to drive every designer to their full potential. Thus, instead of being content with a few out of the world spectacular employees and the rest average, push for everyone to be brought up onto the superstar level.
No. 3: Quality over Longevity
Believe it or not, you know you’re hiring right when your top talent does not stay put. Studies have shown that the most talented employees are also the ones who are more likely to move on to higher positions and better things. However, that doesn’t mean you should go for the average coder. In fact, this is why you need to find the talented employees and get the most out of them with the time you have.
When you find the few spectacularly talented employees that you just know will move on, encourage them to put their best work in while still with you. When you search for talent, it should never be for employees that will stay with you for decades. While it would be favorable to find extraordinarily talented people that will also stick with you for life, most of the time this will not happen. Instead, polish your selling points to improve the skills of the talent that you bring in.
Especially with the Millennial generation, more and more people are looking for mobility in job positions and the opportunities for bigger and better things. Rather than encouraging them to stay for life, spin your story so that you offer them valuable skills and knowledge so that they will leave you with more refined qualities than they came in with. Furthermore, it is to your company’s advantage to constantly have fresh ideas and innovative employees sharing their coding secrets rather than dedicating a position to someone for twenty years.
No. 4: An addition to the community outweighs coding finesse
An additional reason for not hiring “rockstars” to your team: they can be extremely difficult to work with.
Most organizations would benefit more greatly from a cohesive culture than a team of excellent coders. When employees at Famo.us vote to decide to bring a new hire onto the team, half the deciding factor is coding skills, and the other remaining half is how well the applicant clicks with the rest of the company, says Newcomb.
Cornerstone OnDemand, a cloud-based talent management software company, employs an approach that requires new developer hires to think through complex problems and solve them. Says CTO Mark Goldin. However, it’s also crucial that they work well as part of a team.
As a matter of fact, the team could be the most influential factor in persuading developers to accept the position, because it’s what separates you from the other employers, says Stack Overflow’s Marzewski. Marzewski further elaborates with examples that include sending one’s developer team to conferences, having them host events that appeal to candidates and being open about their mission in order to encounter candidates who possess the same goals.
No. 5: Being a small-scale company can be your greatest advantage
In certain scenarios, being a smaller company can be more enticing in the eyes of top developers.
Coders are simply concerned about coding; they would rather not have to maneuver through layers upon layers of bureaucracy or feel like a small part within a systemic machine. Companies that are small to midsize can use this to their benefit when competing with vastly expansive companies such as Facebook or Google, says Box’s Schillace.
Schillace mentions that when his 900-person firm is directly competing with Google for an employee, he puts his trump card to use: Microsoft. He makes sure to emphasize the fact that despite Google’s massive success, it has grown to such a scale that makes it impossible to be as adept as a smaller company could be; at Box, his company, developers are able to work on problems of the same size while moving faster and having more impact.
Schillace adds that if the candidate still decides to choose Google, it’s usually due to the draw of comfort and security, two factors that are incompatible to the startup mentality Box cultivates in its developers.
Despite the fact that startups are unable to match the substantially large salaries that companies like Facebook and Google offer, they offer the unique option of an experience that is much more personal, which can be especially appealing to engineers that have recently graduated or are new to an area, remarks Will Harlan, director of new business for Yeti. The 10-person mobile and Web apps design and development shop hosts weekly barbecues for its employees and their friends on its rooftop space.
Because the tech world contains multitudes of professionals who have the same abilities, ultimately, you want to go to work with a community of people you can relate to on a personal level, says Harlan.
No. 6: It’s just about the work
The companies that are able to offer the most appealing financial payouts and perks have a tendency to lack abstract rewards like job satisfaction. The bigger the company, the less significant or impactful your initial role is likely to be. This is definitely something that should be considered when looking to hire developers.
The work is what truly motivates the developer, according to Dan Pasette, director of kernel engineering for MongoDB. Most people will choose the riskier option of going with a company that pays slightly less than a global corporation due to their desire to see the impact their work and their codes have.
Just like the rest of us, developers want the satisfaction of knowing they are creating something useful to the world, even if it is a minor accomplishment like finding a more effective way to store and share work data, says Tom Carpel, a senior software engineer at Box.
Establishing advancements in social media that make it easier to like others’ photos is commendable in its own right, but the concept of creating a system that allows hospitals and schools to function on a higher level is much more desirable, says Carpel.
No. 7: Be Open to Open Source
One of the last factors that a developer might look at when deciding to choose a company is if the company is open source.
Tim Clem who oversees product and corporate strategy for Github, an open-source platform says that the biggest pro for being a company that is open source leverages you to a larger talent pool.
At Github they publicly refrain from posting a job opening and use personal referrals and look at the history of the code of the developer. Remember the code that a candidate produces is the most accurate form of their skills and capabilities.
With the right form of leadership, having an open source community in your development team will foster innovation in your team and in your company.