Hiring software developers can be a headache for software development managers. If you hire the wrong people, that not only costs you time and money but can also hinder your team’s productivity or even cause serious trouble. But you can avoid this potential pitfall if you go about hiring software developers the right way. In this article, we will introduce you to the best practices that you can adopt to find and hire the right developers for your team. Let’s jump right into the details!
Who is a software developer?
A software developer is someone who writes code to build computer programs that do specific tasks. We use software to help us make life easier in many facets of our lives, and it’s the software developer’s job to build the complex systems and networks that run behind the scenes to accommodate mobile and desktop applications.
There is a multitude of technical skills existing in the field of software development, but some of the skills that are most commonly sought by employers are:
Next, let’s go into what qualities you need to pay attention to when looking to hire software developers so that you can narrow down the host of applications you may receive.
Define What Type of Developer You Need to Hire
The areas of technical expertise in software development are wide and diverse. If you’re not familiar with how developer recruitment gets done, first, let’s walk through the most basic types of developers you can hire and what role they play in a software development project.
- Backend developers: Backend developers write code and logic that enables applications to run. Backend development includes elements such as database management, caching systems, and pipelines. C++, SQL, PHP, Ruby, Python, and ASP.NET are some common languages for backend development.
- Full-stack developers: full-stack developers specialize in both backend and frontend development. They are proficient in many coding languages and have experience in many types of development projects. A full-stack developer is often known as a “jack-of-all-trades”.
- Web developers: a web developer, as the name implies, specializes in building websites and web applications. Their skill level can extend to different areas of frontend and backend development, but most of the time, they specialize in one or the other. Java, C, Go, Ruby, and Swift are common web development languages.
- UX/UI designers: Though UX/UI designers aren’t always considered developers, they play a vital role in the software development cycle. Their job is to create engaging and user-friendly user interface designs that attract users and make software easy to navigate.
- Data science developers: A data science developer designs software solutions that help collect, analyze, and generate actionable insights from data. They have deep analytics and statistical analysis expertise and develop predictive models to power business growth. Python, R, SQL, Scala, and Julia are common data science languages.
- DevOps engineers: DevOps engineers are IT experts that oversee and manage both the development side and operations side of software development. They build, deploy, operate, and maintain software and distributed systems via agile software development models.
- Testers: Testers are responsible for determining if an application is fulfilling its objectives. They use a range of software testing practices to identify bugs, flaws, and points of improvement. Testers are essential to developing high-quality software products.
- Support engineers: These engineers specialize in the maintenance and support of software products, ensuring uptime, reliability, and optimal functionality. Support engineers play a vital role in large-scale projects that need constant monitoring of activities and performance.
Best practices for hiring software developers
1. Hire People Smarter Than Yourself
If you are, or once you’ve become the smartest person in the room, it’s time to hire somebody else. That is a recipe to make your company more successful if you’re hitting a plateau with your level of competence. When it comes to recruitment, nothing can attract talent better than talent itself, so if you focus on bringing in the best people you can afford in your team right off the bat, you will have an easier time hiring more competent people down the road.
2. Test Them With a Real Problem That You’re Facing
Don’t give your candidates a code challenge that you take home somewhere from the internet. Give them a problem that you’re facing or have encountered to find out if they are a good fit for the type of projects you’re carrying out.
3. Be Flexible With Coding Languages and Tools
Programming languages can get stale faster than fashion in Paris in this fast-paced world, so if you’re still interviewing with questions like, “How would you merge two arrays in Java?” you’d better upgrade your approach. Focus on software algorithms and how the candidate approaches a problem instead. It can be easier for a great problem solver to pick up a new language than for a master of various languages to learn problem-solving.
4. Have More Than one Person Interview the Candidate
Let’s be real, we all have biases to some extent, so it’s critical to get a second opinion from someone else with competence before you make the final decision to hire someone.
5. Don’t Underestimate Communication Skills
Some people say that communication skills don’t matter when you’re looking for a developer. Well, developers also need to be able to express themselves about things like problems that they face or opinions that they disagree with so that they can help steer the project in the right direction. Developers don’t have to be public-speaker good at communication, but at least they need to be able to give clear utterances to their opinions.
6. Set Clear Expectations
Hires that end up with a messy breakup happen when the employer and the candidate are not on the same page regarding expectations of each other. Make these clear right off the bat before both parties pair up. For instance, is there the flexibility to work from home, or how often is it allowed? Or If you need the hire to be available at some odd hours, this needs to be established and agreed upon before the contract is signed.
7. Ask About Their Favorite Project or Subject
If you want to know if someone is truly an enthusiastic software developer, ask them about their favorite subject or project they’ve done. If someone doesn’t brighten up when talking about their favorite thing, you may not want them on your team. Of course, you want someone who can code, but that should be because they enjoy it, not just because they have to grind it out to pay bills.
8. Make Sure They Can Write Lean Code
This is often one of the understated skills in developer recruitment. Still, anybody who has worked with developers who wrote messy code can tell you that pretty much nobody wants to deal with the code that these people write, no matter how good their functionality/algorithm is. How can you understand what a good book is about if the text is barely readable?
9. Lack of Experience Isn’t Always Bad
If you need your new hire to perform something repetitive, then more experience generally would bring you more productivity. However, in software engineering, your new hire will need to tackle new problems the majority of the time. In fact, more experience can result in people being stubborn/opinionated when it comes to improving a method or process because they are already familiar with the old way of doing it.
Last but not least, we want to emphasize that as no two situations are the same, there are no universal tips that work every time. So we encourage you to collect as many practices as you can but apply them only after you modify them to your needs.
What to Avoid When Hiring Software Developers
There are many mistakes that discourage or even scare off new hires that employers can make if they’re unaware. If you want your next round of developer hiring to be successful, it’s best to avoid the following pitfalls.
Poor onboarding practices
One of the most common mistakes made by a newly hired software developer is to bring them into an ongoing sprint without explaining anything. While one could argue that this responsibility is on the project manager, there’re a lot of things that need to be explained clearly during or shortly after the final interview.
Giving proper support and information to new hires is an investment that pays off in morale and productivity. Introducing someone to a new environment always requires orientation on the project’s objectives, the completed work, and the challenges that the team is encountering. It’s also a good idea to walk them through workflows, work culture, and responsibilities. And don’t forget to provide them with the project documentation!
Assumptions and imprecisions are detrimental to a team. When you bring in new software developers and don’t tell them what you’re expecting from them, you’re actually introducing a lot of guesswork. You don’t want to have people with confusing ideas of what tasks they’re responsible for and what goals they should prioritize.
It’s best to be as detailed as you can about the nuts and bolts of the job. Proper communication will pay off in higher-quality work. Keep in mind that your new hire should complement your current team, so talk with them to see what they expect of the new hire and where that person can generate the most value.
Misleading job descriptions
It’s also pretty common for employers to say they expect a new developer to do something of the developer’s interest to attract them. Still, once that person is brought on board, they end up doing something else completely different. Misleading approaches like these are not only unethical but also often lead to a higher turnover rate. And you can guarantee that person will not speak of your company as a good place to work.
If you meet a good candidate whose skills aren’t exactly the profile you’re looking for, be honest with them about it and make the offer anyway. Developers rarely want to adapt their skills in drastic ways for a job, but if your project is appealing enough, there’s a chance they will go for it. You may lose the candidate, but that’s still way better than relying on misleading practices.
Make it about money, but not all of it.
Depending on where you’re based and what types of software developers you’re looking to hire, you’ll probably run into a fairly wide range of salary expectations. In such a situation, you might ask yourself if someone who asks for twice the offered salary will do the job twice better. Or if someone who proposes a lower salary than what you’re willing to pay will be able to satisfy the task.
Just like any other employee, developers have different motivations and needs. In any case, retaining top software talent will go beyond money. Your work culture, quality of projects, team structure, and a sense of purpose your business offers will then come into play.
Well, it is true that recruiting software developers can be a real challenge, especially when you extend your options to the global talent pool. That is why it is necessary to follow the right practices on how to hire great developers. We hope that this article has provided you with many of those practices and helped you find the people you need.
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