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 definitely rule. The tech giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon offer lucrative salaries and associated perks to lure the top developer talent.
The existing shortage of developers and an increasingly competitive hiring scenario makes 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 hiring 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 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 full-time developers to take the journey onwards.
Hire in-house developers
Having a team of talented developers in-house 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.
Here are a set of actionable tips that you need to follow in order to hire the best developers for your 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 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? Be where the developers are.
1. Developer events: Developer conferences, hackathons and tech events are places 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.
2. Online developer communities: Online repositories like Github and Stack Overflow are another great place to connect with tech talent. Software 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.
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 which wasn’t a part of their academic curriculum, according to Stack Overflow’s developer hiring landscape report . Relying on 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 out 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 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 that 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.