Tips To Hire The Best Software Developers For Every Budget

Irrespective of what industry vertical your startup operates in, chances are that technology needs to be deeply ingrained in your core business model. And that brings up the challenge of how a startup can hire the best software developers given many are bootstrapped and some funded.

All businesses have essentially become tech businesses and hiring software developers has become a core function that has a huge impact on long term success of a startup. The increasing demand for skilled developers has led to a shortage in the availability of programmers that fits the bill.

Hiring developers is a resource-intensive activity. It takes a significant amount of time and money to source talent, whet them and hire a developer that best meet your business needs. Doing all of this on a startup budget is a challenge.

The fact that you are reading this ensures that you are on the right path to tackle this task. We are going to go over all the nitty-gritty details that factor in while you hire a developer and answer all the questions you might have while hiring developers for your startup.

Hiring developers online

The most common approach entrepreneurs take for hiring developers is searching for talent online. Millions of options show up as soon as you type in “Hire a developer” in Google but there’s a catch. The options that show up on the top of the results may not necessarily the best options available to you. Ranking in search results is an indicator of SEO done right and does not guarantee the quality of talent.

Hiring a developer online has become easier than ever but vetting the available talent can turn out to be a big challenge. So what can you do to ensure that you get access to the top developers for your startup?

The answer to that question lies in knowing the options and involves a little introspection in deciding which option works well for your business.

All the options

From freelance developers to full-time employees, the range of candidates to choose from varies significantly. There are a number of freelancing platforms for connecting with the potential hires.

There are also a number of consultancies that help connect businesses with the developers directly and lastly, there is the option of hiring full-time or outsourcing the job to a software development company.

Hiring offshore developers from countries like India not only gives you access to a wider pool of talent but it also brings down the development costs significantly.

Where can you hire developers?

  • Freelancing websites: Sites such as Upwork, Freelancer and People per hour gives you access to a large pool of talent across a wide range of budgets. The downside is that choosing the best developers to hire can feel akin to finding a needle in the haystack. These marketplaces cater to a range of freelancing services and are not specific to just software professionals and programmers.
  • Freelancing platforms: Toptal, Hired and Gigster are the platforms that make your task of selecting freelancers easier by giving you access to a pool of talent that has already been vetted. These platforms boast of hiring only the top 3-5 percent of talent that applies to work from them which makes them a level above the freelancing websites. Freelancers on these platforms are available to be hired on a contract-to-hire basis. It works well if you are looking to hire just a single developer but falls short if you are hiring a team of developers because of the lack of project management.
  • Developer-specific communities: Platforms such as Stack Overflow and Github are at the core of the developer community. Apart from being the go-to open-source repositories for coders, it is a great place for developers to exhibit their talent and for recruiters to get an insight into the coding skills before hiring them. These developer communities give you access to the top dev talent from all over the world.
  • References from within the niche: Recommendations from industry connections within your niche and have previous experience with developing a software product can help you give a leg up in your search for hiring developers. If you come across websites or mobile applications during your research, reach out to their marketing or technical team for a reference to their development team. Networking with peers at professional events is another great way to get developer references
  • Professional networks: Online communities of professionals such as LinkedIn is becoming the go-to resource for recruiters for sourcing talent. The prior experience and recommendations help determine the credibility of the developer. In case you need to hire a team of developers in the form of outsourced web or app development, checking out the Clutch reviews can help determine whether the development fits your requirements.

Hiring a developer: Freelance or Full-time?

Whether you are looking to hire android developers or iOS developers for your mobile app or web developers for your business website, the range of developers across the freelancing websites and their sheer numbers is mind-boggling.

But what is better? Should you be hiring freelancers or should you look to hire full-time developers for custom software development?

The benefits that full-time developers bring to the table far outweigh the costs associated with acquiring them. Hiring developers full-time or partnering with a software development company that brings in the element of accountability to the equation which is critical in the long run.

Software development is not a one-time gig. The website or the app needs to have scalability and maintainability in the long term. This requires an ongoing working relationship with the developer or team of developers that needs to last the long run.

While hiring full-time makes better sense from the business aspect, hiring freelance developers has significant financial advantages because it is generally cheaper to hire freelancers rather than full-time workers. You definitely need to compute the costs and benefits associated with hiring a freelancer before jumping the gun and making the decision.

Should you hire a freelance developer?

Hiring full-time developers is definitely going to burn a larger hole in your pocket than hiring freelancers but in the software domain, you are likely to receive what you pay for. If you throw peanuts, you are only going to attract monkeys.

While the on-paper cost of hiring freelance developers looks tempting, the hidden cost of trading uncertainties can add up significantly to the bill. Here is the list of things you should consider before deciding on hiring freelance web developers or app developers.

  1. Reliability issues: When you hire a freelancer, chances are you may end up with a great developer but it’s equally probable that you end up with a not so great resource that has a negative impact on your development efforts. Reliability is a big question mark when it comes to hiring a developer. People have a tendency of overinflating their accomplishments on freelancing platforms. Ask for references or take a look at the portfolio before taking the final decision.
  2. No project management: If you are looking to work with a single developer, hiring a freelancer works fine but in case you hire multiple developers on your team, establishing communication and ensuring coordination becomes a challenge.
  3. Vetting the talent: The biggest issue in relying on the popular freelance marketplaces is the fact that minimal vetting of the talent is done at their end which leaves majority of heavy lifting to be done at your end.

Hiring a developer: Remote or in-house?

Traditionally, hiring in-house developers have always been the norm but with advances in technology and communication tools and rise in the gig economy, remote hiring of developers is quickly catching pace. Hiring remote developers also makes financial sense in the early stage of startup.

  • Access to a wider pool of talent: You don’t have to be curbed by geographical limitations when searching for talented developers to hire
  • Flexibility in work: Employees value work-life balance and having the freedom to work remotely makes your startup seem lucrative to potential developers. It also leads to a higher degree of work satisfaction
  • Financial benefits: Hiring a remote or offshore team of developers is more cost-effective than hiring locally due to differences in the remuneration rates. Hiring a remote development team in the initial phases of startup journey makes more financial sense.

Tips for hiring a software developer

1. Defining requirements

The first step in hiring a developer is knowing what you are actually hiring for. Having a clear picture of your requirements and ability to communicate your specifications to the potential recruits can be instrumental in sourcing the right candidates and getting them to apply to you.

If you hail from a technical background, specifying the requirements would be second nature to you but for a non-tech entrepreneur, if you think Ruby and Magento are shades of red, you are off to a rocky start.

Educate yourself on the basics of technology, do your own homework by detailing out the specifics you want your product to contain like the features and functionalities, choosing the right tech stack or the programming language you want your software to be coded in, etc.

As a rule of thumb, if you are looking to develop robust web applications like an e-commerce platform or a blog for your business, you should look to hire WordPress or PHP developers while if scalable software with lower time to market is what you need, you need to hire Ruby developers.

Similarly, if the web application needs to be a high performing server-side software with technology incorporations such as blockchain or chatbot integration, you should hire Python developers.

Map out the wireframes and the low-level prototype to gain insights into what you want and help give the developers hired a clear picture of your requirements as well. Your prototype can be a simple outline of the software product on paper or you could make use of prototyping tools to create one digitally. Either way, it is imperative that you don’t miss out on this crucial step.

2. Screening the candidates

Hiring software engineers is a bit trickier than hiring for other conventional jobs. While the use of Artificial intelligence based applicant tracking systems is a great tool for screening out candidates and removing the bias in the hiring process, the same strategy doesn’t work while hiring developers.

Conventional resumes are not a great indicator of the skill set. They simply list out what projects they have worked on which does not give any inkling of the actual performance on those projects. Individually interviewing and vetting the candidates is a time and resource intensive task, something you likely can’t afford to do in the early stages of startup journey.

So how do you screen the developers at an initial level? Check out their portfolios and ask if you can get access to the case studies or client testimonials of the projects that they might have previously worked on.

3. Shortlisting the applicants

Once you are finished with the initial screening, a coding test is the best way to filter out the candidates. Even if you belong to a non-tech background, several talent evaluation software are available in the market that offer coding tests which can be customized to meet your needs. Automated evaluation of the tests can help you shortlist the best candidates that fit your job requirements.

It is important that you don’t equate lines of code written with higher productivity. Just because a software developer writes more code, it cannot be held as a testimony to more skill. Focus on high-quality code and not the quantity while shortlisting the candidates

4. Selecting the right talent

A one on one interaction is a prerequisite step before you decide upon hiring the developer. This can be in the form of a face-to-face interview or in case of location difference, by using different communication tools available. Both the developer and you need to be on the same page before commencing the work and that is only possible via seamless communication between the two parties.

The developer you hire has to partner with you on your entrepreneurial journey so apart from the technical skills, you need to pay attention to the soft-skills such as the ability to communicate well, team-work, etc.

How much does it cost to hire a developer?

The range of money involved in hiring a software developer varies by quite a margin. Top talent demands top dollar while hiring freelancers at the initial stages of their startup journey may seem like a tempting proposal because of the lower costs associated. The final costs depend on a number of factors.

  1. The tech stack and programming language: Hiring a developer specializing in a popular programming language is cheaper than one that is not so commonly used because of greater resource availability. Similarly hiring front-end and back-end developers may cost you less money than hiring a full-stack developer.
  2. Scope of the project: The duration of the project, the features to be included in the minimum viable product and the features to be integrated within the web or mobile application determine the scope. Naturally, the wider the scope, more would be the time required to develop and deploy and higher would be the costs.
  3. Geographical location: The cost of hiring full-time developers working in a first world country is multifold that of hiring remote workers or freelancers. An offshore development team might turn out to be better suited to the startup budget than in-house developers.

While the costs associated with hiring a developer may seem steep, acquiring skilled developers saves you from the risk of developing a bloated product which would end up costing your start up a lot more if you invest in unreliable developers. If you throw peanuts, you are only going to attract monkeys.

Despite the budgetary constraints in the initial phase of your startup venture, hiring a team of dedicated developers would definitely give you a much-needed head start in the form of a bankable software application.

While hiring an entire development team in-house doesn’t make financial sense when you are starting out, partnering with a team of qualified developers by hiring a custom software development company can turn out to be a strategic business decision.

And that’s where startups hire Arkenea to build their software.