Cost of Hiring a Bad Programmer

May 16, 2017

cost of hiring bad programmer

Finding a good programmer is hard, but hiring a bad programmer… well that can be much worse. They say a good programmer (on average) is as productive as 5 average programmers. And a bad programmer can cause projects to implode, be delayed or become stagnant.

Determining the true cost of a bad programmer goes beyond just their salary since they can impact multiple business units.  We calculated the cost of a bad programmer and here’s what we found.

Calculating the Cost of a Bad Programmer

Immediate Costs

Average Salary for a programmer with 5 years of experience is $90k-120k. If the employee stuck around for 6 months but was let go, then you lost $60K. However, the lost salary is the least of your worries.

Lost productivity. This is the big cost. A bad programmer will slow the team and project down. This results in low productivity from everyone to compensate for the bad hire. This can result in the extension of the project by at least 6 months. If this is a 5 member team, at an average salary of $70/hour, then you’re looking at $350,000 in added costs!

Impact on your company and the product (Time and money lost)

Say your project gets delayed because of a bad programmer, that’s going to impact other business units as well. Product launch, marketing, sales, and even support will see lost productivity. Think of the time marketing will spend revving up for launch or supports time being trained on the new features/products. It’s all a domino effect that can cost your company millions.

Making a bad hire is one thing. But hiring a bad programmer for your product team is a whole other can of worms. Here are a few tips to help you avoid making a devastating hire.

1. Hire the best you can afford. Don’t skimp out on paying top dollar for talent. It will save you millions in the long run.

2. Experience is key, but not in ways you might imagine. Time spent programming with a particular language is not as important as diversity of experience. Bonus points if your developer was a systems administrator in a former life.

3. Experts use better tools and care deeply about their craft. They aren’t assembling bits on an assembly line, they are crafting a unique product to solve a unique problem. Look for someone who likes to solve problems using code.

4. Don’t interview candidates just on theory. Interview them to see how they would solve a variety of different problems with the skills they possess. Review how they solve problems, do they simplify or overcomplicate the problem and thus the solution. A programmer who has too much clutter in their minds is usually going to have cluttered code. A big no-no.

5. Take a deep dive into their Skill Sets, how have they used the skills, try to quantify how and for how long and in what capacity. Our platform uses a 3D resume to give you a quick overview of their true skills in seconds. It makes it easy to understand their real experience and how it will apply to your specific projects.

If you need additional help, here’s some resources you might find useful.


Founder and CEO of SkillGigs
A consummate innovator, Kashif is the brains behind SkillGigs. Kashif caught the entrepreneurial bug at age 10 while visiting his father’s manufacturing facility. He developed a love for programming after writing his first lines of code at age 11 and founded his first company, an IT consulting firm at age 25 which he bootstrapped to profitability within its first year. After exiting that venture, he started three additional companies, IQTech Pros, the world’s largest full service IT integration network with over 30,000 members, NursesPro, a travel nurse staffing company servicing some of the largest hospital systems in the US and TAMH a holding and investment company which he took public in the UK. Beyond growth hacking his way to success, Kashif enjoys traveling the world and is an acclaimed songwriter.

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