- Hiring freelance developers is possibly the biggest recruiting mistake to commit when hiring developers for your startup. Freelancers don’t have the accountability required to sustain long-term growth.
- IT staff augmentation removes the risk associated with hiring freelance developers and the high cost associated with hiring full-time developers making it a win-win situation for all.
- Hiring in-house developers gives startup owners a distinct business advantage. Not only do the developers hired have greater accountability, but owners also have higher control over the project and its management.
- When conducting developer interviews, having multiple people on the panel is an effective way of countering any bias that may creep in. It has been reported that diverse teams are more effective as compared to cohesive ones.
- Finding developers can be challenging, especially if unable to offer competitive salaries and benefits. Startup owners typically have limited financial resources, making it difficult to match the compensation packages of large companies.
Hiring talented developers for your startup is something the founders reportedly find tougher than raising finances for their business. In today’s tech-driven world, sourcing and hiring the right tech talent for your team is a huge challenge.
In a world that increasingly runs on code, developers rule. The tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Amazon offer lucrative salaries and associated perks to lure top developer talent.
The existing shortage of developers and an increasingly competitive hiring scenario make it difficult for startups to attract and hire top software developers
What Not to Do When Hiring Developers for Your Startup
The cash-strapped startups cannot compete with other tech giants in terms of salaries and other perks and in an attempt to save on the financial resources, they end up hiring freelancers to meet their development needs.
Hiring freelance developers is possibly the biggest recruiting mistake that you can commit when hiring developers for your startup. Depending on freelancers is a gamble. If you are lucky, it may pay off but if it doesn’t the associated downsides are disastrous.
Freelancers don’t have the accountability required to sustain long-term growth. As a startup, a maintainable codebase is the foundation needed to ensure that your MVP transforms into a fully functional product.
Freelancers also fail to integrate into the company culture which is an important requirement at the outset. They might seem like a cost-effective development solution, they actually pose a bigger financial threat to your startup.
What Should You be Doing Instead?
Go for IT Staff Augmentation
The biggest issue with recruiting freelancers is that it takes a lot of time and resources to vet the available talent. Staff augmentation solves that problem by providing access to pre-vetted, well-qualified resources on a short-term basis to meet specific business objectives.
IT staff augmentation removes the risk associated with hiring freelance developers and the high cost associated with hiring full-time developers making it a win-win situation for all.
In the initial days of the startup, staff augmentation results in the hiring of developers with high accountability with lower associated costs.
As growth kicks in, the startup flourishes and the cash starts to flow in, you can always scale up and hire developers to take the journey onward.
Hire In-House Developers
Hiring in-house developers gives you a distinct business advantage. Not only do the developers you hire have greater accountability, but you also have higher control over the project and its management.
In-house developers are fully dedicated to your startup’s mission and goals. They can immerse themselves in your unique vision and culture. They understand the core values and objectives of your startup, ensuring that the work they do is in perfect alignment with your business strategy.
In-house teams can rapidly iterate on your product or service. They are readily available to make quick adjustments based on user feedback and market changes. In-house developers take ownership of the technology stack, contributing to a sense of responsibility and accountability that’s crucial for startups.
In-house developers can communicate seamlessly with other team members, facilitating collaboration between technical and non-technical departments.
While there are clear advantages to having an in-house developer for startups, it’s essential to consider development budget constraints and cost-of-hire.
Key Actionable Tips to Hire Developer for Startup
1. Look for Talent in the Right Places
Hiring developers for a startup is difficult because the majority of software engineers are already employed elsewhere and may not be on an active lookout for new job opportunities. You wouldn’t likely find them on online job boards and they aren’t likely to be scouring the job postings that you post either.
How do you source passive talent and recruit them to work on your project? But where to hire developers for your startup?
a. Developer Events: Developer conferences, hackathons, and tech events are places where you can connect directly with the tech talent. Hone your pitch, tell them about the problem that your startup intends to solve and why it matters. Strike a chord in conversation and you are effectively one step closer to finding the right talent for your startup.
c. Meetups: This is the place to find a software developer in action. Even if you don’t find an ideal candidate, there’s always a chance of getting recommendations and referrals.
d. Coworking Spaces: This is one of the places to find and hire freelance software developers for your startup. There are people working on individual projects or starting something of their own too.
e. Universities: Fresh talent are energetic and are ready to dive into the work and contribute. Also, hiring directly from universities and colleges is the best way to get skilled professionals at a budgeted pay scale.
Online Talent Sources
a. Social Media: In today’s digital world, everyone is on at least one of the social media platforms. LinkedIn is one of the professional sites to hire developers of your choice and skillset.
b. Online Developer Communities: Online repositories like Github and Stack Overflow are another great place to connect with tech talent. Developers frequently upload samples of their work and the code they have written on these platforms. You can not only make meaningful connections here but also get valuable insights into their coding prowess and ensure that the code written isn’t messy.
You cannot match established companies in pay scale and benefits offered but offering the tech resources the chance to work on something that they find meaningful with the freedom to work according to their way is a huge perk.
Instead of being lost in the crowd of developers, you can offer them recognition which may compel them to prefer your startup over other established enterprises.
2. Ask Them to Work on a Real-Life Problem
The best way to figure out whether the candidate would be a good fit for the role you are hiring for is to give them a problem to solve. A hypothetical problem won’t give you real insights. Ask them to work on a real-life problem instead. This way you can check their basic tech knowledge and advanced learnings too.
The candidate’s approach to the problem would give you insights into whether they are approaching the problem correctly and whether they would be a good fit for your startup.
It also helps the candidates get an idea about the kind of problems and technology they would be expected to work on if they decide to take up the job.
Hiring a developer for a startup is a two-way street. The developer needs to match the project requirements and your startup needs to match the developer’s specifications about the kind of work they want to do. Only then can the relationship can expect to prosper.
It is important that both you and the developers are on the same page when it comes to the expectations from each other right from the start. Clarifying them upfront leads to the foundation of a stronger long-term relationship.
3. Go Beyond the Resume and Qualifications
If you are still going by the traditional way of screening the candidates on the basis of the educational qualifications listed out in their resumes, you are likely missing out on an important pool of talent.
A growing number of software developers are self-taught and using educational qualifications as a screener would only result in the elimination of potential candidates who could have been the right fit for your startup.
In the ever-evolving tech scenario, 90 percent of the developers have reported that they have learned an additional language that wasn’t a part of their academic curriculum, according to Stack Overflow’s developer hiring landscape report. Relying on a college education no longer suffices when evaluating the coding capabilities of a developer.
The same logic applies when shortlisting the candidates available on the basis of past experience. Coding for a startup seldom constitutes repetitive work where more experience equals greater productivity.
In a startup environment, the developers need to find new strategies to solve novel problems, lesser experience may turn out to be a blessing in disguise since they are less likely to be stuck with standard practices and are better equipped to deal with the challenges typically associated with a startup.
4. Get Someone Technical On-Board the Hiring Process
If you are a technical person yourself or have a technical co-founder to take care of the tech side of things, you have the technical interview round covered but if not, you might find yourself out of your depth.
Having a technical person on board when shortlisting and selecting the developers for your startup can make all the difference between a good hire and a potential disaster. Having a second opinion on the hire also results in the removal of any bias from the hiring process.
When conducting developer interviews, having multiple people on the panel is an effective way of countering any bias that may creep in. It has been reported that diverse teams are more effective as compared to cohesive ones.
5. Focus on the Company Culture While Hiring
When you are hiring a developer for a startup, it is important that you don’t just select the people with the right technical skill set but also focus on finding someone who shares your vision for the direction that the startup needs to take and the implementation of the solution to the problem you are looking to solve.
Focus on the company culture and make sure that the candidate you are hiring is a good cultural fit for your startup. Apart from the technical questions that elucidate the technical prowess, asking non-technical questions is also a good practice to ensure that the developer hired would be a good fit in the long run.
In the initial stages, good communication skills are a must-have requirement for all new additions to the team. The developer needs to understand the specifications and communicate efficiently with the team. Hiring for the culture results in better team integration and sustainable growth post the initial stage.
6. Specify Hiring Requirements
Every startup is different, and so is the type of talent you need to hire. Take some time to think about why you need an IT developer. Are you starting a new app project and need to hire developers to quickly build an MVP? Or are you looking for an iOS developer?
Some startups already have a core team of developers working on their apps, but they may need more experts who are knowledgeable about new technologies. For instance, you don’t have a data analyst expert on your team, so outsourcing to an IT developer is the best choice.
Your requirements list will dictate the kind of developers you will need. This will help you determine where to start your search and how much you will pay for their services.
7. Look for Specialists for Efficient Software Development
Before you can start to hire developers for your startup, you need to research the experts you will need. This can be daunting if you don’t know where to start. You may end up working with employment agencies that can be expensive and may not meet your needs.
If you’re a startup owner, you’re better off looking for talent yourself. Talent marketplaces such as Upwork and Freelancer, as well as Guru, are great places to start. If you’re searching for developers who work in different collaboration models, you can choose whether to pay per hour or per task assigned. These platforms let you filter candidates by skills, which helps you find the right developer for your team.
8. Check Eligibility and Expertise in the Field
Whether you’re looking for freelancers or IT development agencies, you’ll need to be thorough when vetting them. You’ll need to make sure they have the skills they claim to have and can get the job done.
If you’re using job platforms, check out the reviews that other clients have left for them. Ask them to provide a list of the projects they’ve worked on. This helps you to weed out candidates who don’t have the skills, including knowledge of the tech stack you need.
In addition to expertise, you’ll also need to make sure that the developers have soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and being prepared for stressful work.
9. Finalize an Employment Model
When hiring developers for a startup, there are a variety of employment models to choose from. The project-based model is best suited for small software development projects with pre-defined requirements. The developers are contracted to the startup for a certain period of time and are paid a fixed fee. However, this model lacks flexibility and is not suitable for development projects with changing requirements.
The dedicated team model is better suited for those who have clear expectations from a software development project. This model involves assigning a team of developers to work exclusively on the project. With a dedicated development team, it is easier to communicate ideas in a group and get feedback quickly. Here, there are no restrictions on making changes during the software development process.
The third option is the extended team model, which is more of a solution to fill skill set gaps by outsourcing IT specialists.
10. Prefer Hiring Remote Developers
Why hire remote developers? Here are the top reasons:
- Greater Productivity: As per a survey by Indeed, 72 percent of the companies with remote work policies state that employees are more productive. Remote work allows employees to work in an environment and time (day or night) where they’re super focused.
- Low Infrastructure Costs: Workplaces that are attractive and well-designed, located in prime locations, and equipped with the best tech infrastructure and systems, are costly to construct. Hiring from home means that startups do not need to invest in a physical workplace that is designed to draw in talent (and retain them).
- High Employee Retention Rate: The will of the employees is shifting. According to research, companies that fail to meet the needs of their employees will struggle to compete in the marketplace and retain their current workforce.
These are the top three reasons why startups can consider hiring remotely. Since a few companies are just at a beginner stage, cost-cutting will be their number one priority, hence these tactics will work for them brilliantly.
11. Conduct Interviews
When conducting interviews with developers, it’s crucial to assess not only their theoretical knowledge but also their practical application. Begin by crafting questions tailored to the specific technologies relevant to the position.
Points to cover in an interview are:
- Tailor questions to specific technologies in the tech stack.
- Assess practical application and programming language skills.
- Inquire about real-world project experiences with the stack.
- Emphasize teamwork and individual contributions.
- Consider coding tests or whiteboard exercises to check technical expertise.
- Evaluate adaptability to new technologies in the stack.
- Assess communication skills for effective knowledge transfer.
- Ensure a well-rounded evaluation of technical and soft skills.
A well-rounded evaluation, encompassing both technical and soft skills, is vital when interviewing developers for startups.
12. Shortlist the Right Talent
Shortlisting developers for startups is a critical step in building a high-performing team. Begin by reviewing resumes and cover letters to gauge qualifications, relevant experience, and certifications. Look for a track record of projects using the required technologies. Phone or video interviews are valuable to assess communication and cultural fit. Pose technical questions or problems to gauge problem-solving abilities.
Additionally, consider behavioral interviews to understand their collaboration and adaptability. Collaborate with a team for diverse opinions and ensure alignment with your company’s values and goals. Shortlisting should identify talent who not only meet technical requirements but also align with your team’s culture and vision.
Challenges of Hiring Developers for Startup
Hiring developers for a startup can be a rewarding endeavor, but it comes with its share of challenges. For instance, startups often compete with established tech giants and other startups for the same pool of talent. Finding developers can be challenging, especially if you’re unable to offer competitive salaries and benefits.
Startup owners typically have limited financial resources, making it difficult to match the compensation packages of large software development companies. This can lead to a struggle to attract experienced developers.
Moreover, the hiring process can be time-consuming, and involves tasks like creating job board, and job description, along with conducting interviews, and negotiating offers. Time spent on hiring can divert attention from other crucial startup activities.
Another challenge is hiring the wrong developers as it can be costly and detrimental to a startup’s success. A poor fit can lead to delayed projects, wasted resources, and a negative impact on team dynamics.
Evaluating technical skills can be challenging for non-technical founders. It’s essential to ensure that candidates have the required skills and experience to contribute effectively. Further, as your startup grows, you’ll need to scale your development team. Managing this growth while maintaining quality can be a complex task.
Lastly, compliance with labor laws, contracts, and intellectual property agreements is essential but can be complicated and costly to navigate.
Overcoming these challenges often requires a well-defined hiring strategy, effective networking, and a keen understanding of the startup’s unique needs and culture. It may also involve creative solutions like offering equity or innovative work arrangements to attract and retain top talent.
Hiring developers for your startup is a strategic choice that can significantly impact the trajectory of your venture. By bringing talented developers on board, you not only secure a dedicated and aligned team but also gain the flexibility and responsiveness needed to navigate the turbulent waters of the startup world.
Their ownership, commitment, and seamless integration into your culture can be the driving force behind innovation and success.
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