Hiring software developers as a startup is harder than it's ever been. When you publish a job listing, you're competing against the over 980 unicorns worldwide, countless enterprises, and other early startups who are vying for the attention of the golden few software developers who are even considering a new position.
Everyone is trying to secure the best software talent. It's not easy to compete against compelling benefits packages and salary offers that are now lingering, on average, around $155,000 for software engineers.
We're going to help cut through all of this noise and give you a blueprint for hiring software developers for your startup. Let's dive right in!
- How to prepare to hire developers for your startup
- How to hire developers in 5 steps
- Recruitment challenges (and solutions)
- Hire developers with Softkraft
How to prepare to hire developers for your startup
Before you even begin looking for an individual backend developer, frontend developer, or other tech talent, you should have a detailed plan in place, especially if you are considering hiring software development companies. Being really clear on what you’re trying to achieve when you hire developers will help you to find developers who are best aligned to your needs.
What is your project scope, budget, and timeline?
First you should think through what the scope of your project looks like. What do you need to hire developers to achieve? To what degree is your scope, budget, and timeline under constant pressure from new discoveries from users’ and customers’ feedback?
The key to project success is to build software development team that can handle the dynamics of validated learning smoothly with a solid software development process, both on the software design and engineering side.
Software development planning is an important part of commencing any new software project. A perfect project plan covers planning, ideation, development, documentation, deployment, launch, and often maintenance.
What software development services do you need?
Software development variety of skills, often acquired over many years of working with particular technologies or domains. In order to determine the size and scope of your outsourced team, you will need to consider the following software projects factors:
- Scope of the software project and how the scope can be logically split into either module, journeys, user stories, features, or other splits
- Expected pace of software development and project delivery phases
- Required project team members (Designers/Front End/Back End/QA/Platform Engineers, Project Managers, etc)
- Critical path of delivery for project's success
- Dependencies along the software development project progress
What should startup founders look for in developers?
When you hire developers for a start-up, you need to ensure they will integrate well and be an excellent addition to your team. We have prepared a few questions to help you find your hiring priorities and recruit accordingly:
- What are the main technologies you use?
- What kind of hard skills do you need in a developer?
- What’s the experience level you need for a candidate?
- Do you need a candidate focused on leading or team working?
- Do you require a generalist developer or a specialist?
- What personality type would integrate best with your existing development team?
Answer all these questions, and you’ll have the profile for the ideal developers for your startup.
Hiring new team members is when you should take a good look at the bigger picture and understand how your software development team works. It is also worthwhile to do market research and understand what the going rate is for developers in your local market and overseas.
How to hire developers in 5 steps
Analyze the market
You should begin your search for developers for your startup by analyzing broader market trends. Some basic research will give you a good idea of the available developers for your startup and the existing demand for skills working in a specific tech stack.
A greater demand will translate into higher salaries and higher competition. We did some research and found some interesting facts in the research paper - 2021 State of Software Engineers, published by Hired:
The demand for software engineers is seeing steady growth despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Many employers opted to hire outside large IT hubs and collaborated remotely instead of relocating.
It seems like remote work is here to stay, as shown by the 54% of remote developers who surpassed in-house teams in productivity.
Skills and company culture fit is the main criteria for evaluating candidates. Credentials, diplomas, and certificates continue to lose their significance in the software development market as more and more engineers are self-taught.
The pandemic also normalized and encouraged hiring software engineers remotely, which wasn’t a widespread practice before.
When analyzing talent availability, you should also look at technology adoption levels. By analyzing technology adoption levels, you will understand how difficult it is to hire a software engineer with expertise in a particular technology. Knowing this will help you make better decisions when hiring and help you stay within your project budget.
Research current salary offers to understand what a reasonable budget should look like and how many software engineers you can hire given your own budget. Hiring outside major hubs is a great way to find cheaper talent. Consider looking at hiring portals from other countries to get a clear image of the expectations in that particular country.
Define candidate requirements
After you have done some market research, you might find you need to adjust your initial ideas of what you were looking for in a freelance developer. Maybe costs are higher than you expected. Or perhaps the skills you were looking for are harder to find than you expected.
At this point, utilize the initial work you did above and rework anything that needs to be adjusted. Come up with a final list of requirements you have for the startup developers you are looking for:
- What is your development budget? And what part of it can be allocated to hiring developers?
- What are the required skills or technical knowledge you are looking for?
- What is your highest priority? Is it staying within budget? Finding a highly skilled developer? Or working with someone in a particular location?
- What will you offer as startup owners to the developers you hire? What’s in it for them?
Once you’ve decided what your company needs are and how you want your expectations met, you’ll be able to attract developers who are more enthusiastic about working with your software development company.
Build your hiring funnel
Efficient recruitment starts with building a hiring funnel. A hiring funnel allows recruiters to visualize all the steps in the recruitment process, beginning from attraction to the final hire.
The recruitment process is quite straightforward: at the top of the funnel, you should try to capture as many applicants as possible and narrow it down until you get at the bottom of the funnel. When you get to the bottom of the funnel, you should have one or more high-quality applicants.
The hiring funnel is ideally sectioned into several stages so you can focus on the parts of recruitment that require the most effort and time. This way, you can also determine whether you’re spending too much time and effort on the bottom of the funnel stages instead of the top of the funnel ones.
Once you understand your hiring funnel you’ll be able to create a robust recruitment strategy. While the hiring funnel differs from company to company, these are the main 4 stages:
- Post your job openings to job posting portals - Once you’ve determined the job requirements and created an adequate job description, you can publish the vacancy on job portals. You can opt for local job portals or even international ones if you’re looking to hire developers remotely.
- Create a careers page on your website - Creating and maintaining a career page on your website helps with both recruiting and employer branding. The career page will basically tell the world how you’re providing a great place to work.
- Post job listings on social media - This stage helps your software development company get recognized by the folks looking for jobs.. Job seekers go through a lot of online advertisements; making your company name and logo known increases the chances of them clicking on your job posting. This stage focuses on awareness and showing potential candidates that your organization is a great work environment.
- Have a good screening process - The screening process or the initial assessment consists of a call with the HR specialist to determine which candidates fit the role. While some companies prefer doing a technical evaluation first, we recommend starting with the general assessment. The reason is simple: if there isn’t a culture fit, you won’t waste the valuable time of the engineers responsible for the technical interview.
Interviews and hiring decisions
When you reach this point, you’ve already put a lot into attracting candidates and doing a first round filter based on resumes and sample work. But this doesn’t mean you get to slack when it comes to interviewing them. Here are some basic principles you should follow to ensure a great interviewing experience for both your candidates and internal interviewers:
Prepare for interviews using skills tests
Time is a precious resource in an interview. You should ensure you can make a hiring decision based on the few minutes you had with the candidate.
This sounds tough, but you can do it if you’re efficient with your time. For example, there’s no need to test a candidate if they have already taken a skills test. Analyze the results, look for the mistakes or drawbacks, and use this opportunity to ask the candidate about it.
Maintain the quality of remote interviews
While we can’t predict the future, one thing is sure: remote work is here to stay. This means that a lot of companies opt for remote interviews as well.
Remote interviews come with their own challenges. Just because it feels like an informal medium, you can’t assume candidates will overlook mistakes. Our advice is to remain professional at all times, keep the candidates informed, avoid last-minute cancellations and ensure that the equipment is functional.
Avoid making biased decisions
In interviews it is very easy to be biased. Most people aren’t aware of their internalized ideas, so you need to have strategies to actively avoid bias. Use a diverse interview panel instead of one-to-one interviews and consider making an interview scorecard to ensure equal chances for all candidates.
All the candidates that have reached the interview stage need to be informed about your decision, regardless of the result. Make sure to thank them for interviewing and let them know about the next steps and expected timeline for the decision making process.
You shouldn’t neglect unsuccessful candidates because you’ll ruin their impression of your company. Tell them the interview result and express empathy and encouragement towards them. Kind words can go a long way.
Of course, if you decide to partner with Softkraft you won't have to deal with the hassles of the recruiting process. We will provide the best candidates for your job requirements, skill-wise and culture-wise.
Onboarding and integration
Half the battle is won! Now it's time to get your new devoted developers ready to work. A professional vendor will surely assist you in organizing the onboarding process so that you may integrate your new hire into your existing team as quickly as possible.
But here’s what you can do to help the process go even more smoothly (especially if you are hiring freelance developers instead of a full-service software development company):
- Minimize any surprises or misunderstandings by laying out all of your expectations for your new hires.
- Provide a list of tools and all essential access for your new developers’ work ahead of time.
- Prepare step-by-step instructions on how the developers should set up their development environment.
- Set up a team meeting to welcome your new dedicated developers and explain their duties on the project to their in-house colleagues.
- Make sure your new team members are up to date on the project’s status. Make sure they understand the goals and have access to all current documents.
Recruitment challenges (and solutions)
There has always been competition for software engineering talent, but currently, there's a stronger demand for developers than the existing supply can provide. This is caused by the increased rate of IT adoption across industries.
Companies are trying to optimize work and ease their employees' workload by implementing new software. These companies need tech staff to help them learn about functionality while also training their employees on the new software.
We have to admit that hiring developers and other IT talent is a challenge for early stage startups especially. Startup founders need to understand the competitive market and provide a suitable hiring package to win over and hire freelance developers.
In the next paragraphs, we will discuss the main challenges start-ups face when recruiting software engineers and what they can do about them.
A limited pool of candidates with relevant skills
Good developers exist, but they’re usually passive about looking for new roles. Cold pitching engineers on LinkedIn isn’t the best approach. Recruiters need to understand subtleties because a direct approach without previous rapport often fails.
You should gather from this that your next employee probably already has a job and isn’t really looking for a new one.
When it comes to new hires, make sure to focus on accommodating them and providing them with proper onboarding support. Even the most experienced developers will need time to get used to your company’s workflows.
Don’t forget to assign mentors to new hires. Learning and getting used to new codebases, workflows, management tools, and documentation standards won’t seem so daunting with proper guidance.
Lack of interpersonal skills/competencies in the workplace
Software developers and IT staff, in general, tend to fall on the introverted side, usually lacking interpersonal skills. Recruiters seem to be the complete opposite: confident, happy to start a conversation at any time. So it’s no wonder that when these two polar opposites meet, the results aren’t always great.
We recommend that recruiters approach tech candidates on the social platforms they prefer. Or even better, try to get the existing technical staff to connect with potential hires on their preferred platforms. This can help bring the right person into your recruitment funnel faster.
While you can teach hard skills like programming languages, you can’t do the same with soft skills. Communication skills are an asset in every job, but the high demand for coding skills and the limited supply of candidates can make recruiters overlook them.
But still, communication is essential, especially in the remote work environment. A candidate with average technical skills but with good communication, analytic thinking, and time management can, at times, be as valuable as highly technical candidates.
Excessive salary requirements
When recruiting developers for your startup, we must understand that certain skills have higher demand. When the demand for certain specialists is high, and the supply is lower, it will obviously result in higher salaries and more challenges associated with hiring programmers (or even just putting together the right job offers).
While we encourage you to compensate your talented developers fairly, you should know that more money isn’t the answer.
You don’t need to pay top-range salaries, but you should align with the compensation your potential hires could receive in their position in your geographical location.
As a start-up, paying high salaries isn’t always possible, but you need to remember you can always compensate with additional time-off, a flexible schedule, free subscriptions, and other perks.
While you can’t compete with giant companies salary-wise, you still must ensure fair remuneration. You won’t be able to grow as a company on the back of underpaid talent.
Here is where the power of perks shines through. Maybe $10 on their salary is not worth that much, but $10 lunch feels like a nice perk. At the end of the day, it’s not really about money or a free lunch. It’s about making your hires feel well taken care of.
Before going all out with ping pong tables, you should focus on providing the basics to your hires. For example, everyone should have access to health insurance. When you convince candidates that your company cares about their wellbeing, you are able to get away with somewhat lower salaries.
Desire for opportunity and challenge
Many developers are motivated by a challenging work environment that enables them to experiment, test, and create. To attract and retain this kind of candidate, you want to create an environment that answers their need for challenge and make sure to mention this in your job description.
Early-stage start-ups can answer well to this need for a challenge. It is characteristic for start-ups to offer new hires various responsibilities and opportunities beyond what they might have at a larger, more established company.
It’s easier to retain talent than attract it. We are not talking about simply giving your software engineers more money. Your responsibility is to create opportunities for learning and growth for your developers.
Remember that interviews work both ways. Your company is also the one being interviewed. So make sure to share your company’s qualities and objectives and why they should join your startup.
Hire developers with Softkraft
Need to craft an end-to-end software application with a complete cross-functional team? At SoftKraft we provide Software Product Development Services. We take project ownership and responsibility for decisions that were taken during the development. Success of the project is the only metric that really matters to us.
Engage quality tech professionals
15+ years of experience in engineering custom software solutions for startups and SMEs.
Results-driven design thinking
Design Workshops to clarify your business idea and build a much better product faster.
Work with engineers who understand the need for bottom-line results from tech initiatives.
We know startup hiring is no easy feat. You probably won’t get it right on the first try. You’ll make mistakes and learn along the way. While this can be a great learning experience, you can always move your focus to the more important matters. Softkraft is here to make hiring technical talent easy for you.
As startup founders, your time is extremely valuable. Why spend it assessing dozens of candidates when you could focus on building your business. Managing time, budget, employees, and prospects is a lot for just one person. Fortunately, there are options, and you don’t need to handle everything.
Outsourcing can be the solution to getting the right talent in your team or finding your dedicated team. Don’t hesitate to reach out!