When Hiring Developers, Don't Settle for 'Cheap'

How to source and retain the best development talent

Cheap developers end up costing more

When it comes to hiring software, mobile or web application developers, the rule ‘’you get what you pay for’’ generally applies. The developer labour market is competitive, turnover is high and the best talent is usually remunerated accordingly.

Why should you pay more for good talent?

In general, highly experienced people resources are costlier to obtain and retain. This applies tenfold to the developer market, where the difference between a junior, inexperienced resource and a senior, more experienced resource can translate to massive savings in terms of cost and time.

As we know, time is a precious resource and the sooner you can launch a product, be it an app, a website or a software program, the sooner you can start selling it and realize a profit.

Thus, working with experienced, high-quality talent can actually save you money in the long run. It can also save you potential hassles like having to rewrite or decipher poorly written or unreadable code.

10 Steps to Finding the Right Developers

1.     Do your research first.

Find out what the market is willing to pay for developers with the profiles you need, then try to be on the high end of the pay scale in order to attract the best talent. Note that there will be differences in pay for salaried employees and for freelancers. The latter would typically command higher rates, as they tend to be up-to-date on their skills and are responsible for covering their own social security, taxes, insurance and hardware costs.

2.     Don’t be afraid of hiring freelancers.

When it comes to developers, it seems that the most experienced ones are looking for project-based, remote or interim gigs. That’s normal and it simply means that they are in high demand and prefer variety. This doesn’t mean that you can’t retain them on a permanent or long-term basis, however. Many freelancers seek and appreciate opportunities to work for a company on a longer-term basis. This could turn into a mutually beneficial scenario for both the freelancer and the hiring organization (you).

3.     Don’t shy away from hiring remote workers.

Whether it’s on a permanent or a freelance basis, employers today should not be afraid to hire remote workers who might be located in a different market, continent or time zone. There may be certain financial advantages to this approach, depending on the markets you decide to source talent from. The accountability level for developer talent is higher than that of other professions so there’s no need for concern regarding remote job effectiveness. The code they write, the applications they build and the results they produce are highly visible and can be easily tracked.

4.     Do use websites to source talent.

Upwork can help you make the initial contact with developers worldwide. Using it for continuous hiring isn’t recommended as fees are high, so it’s better to take the relationship offline especially if you’re seeking long-term engagements. Other sources for hiring developers include LinkedIn, Facebook groups, Angellist, Remote.com and others.

5.     Don’t go for full-stack.

When looking for coders, it’s tempting to hire someone who profiles himself/herself as ‘’full stack,’’ meaning they are capable of coding using most front-end and back-end programming languages and frameworks out there. The reality is that very few developers know all languages and frameworks, as the field is very fluid and technologies are updated and upgraded all the time. Unless the person has many years of experience, you should consider ‘’full stack’’ profiles with a grain of salt.

6.     Do go for multi-skilled.

Even if a developer isn’t considered ‘’full stack,’’ they should still have multiple skills when it comes to coding platforms and be willing and able to learn new concepts and languages quickly. If a developer only knows how to code using PHP and has been working in the industry for a few years, chances are they won’t be able to quickly get up to speed with React, vueJS or Angular, for example.

7.     Check their credentials.

A developer with 3- 5 years of experience should already be able to demonstrate a proven track record of success. Ask for recommendations, a portfolio of projects, their GitHub profile (where you can see samples of code they’ve created), as well as proof of education (diplomas, certifications, etc.) before making any hiring decisions.

8.     More experience isn’t always better.

With many fields, the longer the experience on someone’s CV, the more lucrative a candidate they appear to be. With programmers and software engineers this isn’t always the case. There are long-time developers who have stopped evolving in their profession and chosen to stick with languages they learned 20 or 30 years ago, which probably aren’t the most beneficial to your business.

On the other hand, you can find coders with fewer entries on their CVs, who might have started programming as teenagers and have managed to learn and work with some of the most advanced frameworks in existence. Judge profiles by the individual’s skills, not necessary by how many years of working experience they have.

9.     Always test their skills.

One advantage when hiring developers over other talent, is the fact that you can easily test their skills using a coding assignment, not only to see how they manage, but also to evaluate their speed of work, quality of code produced and documenting style (inserting comments and making code readable for others). The latter is especially important for ensuring continuity on projects on which multiple developers and teams collaborate, at present or in the future.

10.  Avoid common developer hiring pitfalls.

To avoid wasting time and resources, having to fire and hire again, watch out for the following developer personality traits which may not be the best fit for your team or project: lack of suitable project experience, disregard for best practices and procedures, negative attitude, lack of motivation, and the inability to work in a team, among others.

Copywriter: Ina Danova

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