Hire Software Developers for Startup — 5 Easy Steps for Founders

18 min read
Hire Software Developers for Startup — 5 Easy Steps for Founders

Find developers may seem difficult especially if you are just starting out as a startup. But if you prepare properly it will surely be more rewarding whether you want to hire a backend developer, frontend developer, or senior tech talent. Even for early stage startups hiring talented developers or team could have a huge impact. That's why it's a good idea to prepare for this and know which developers your company needs.

In this article, we will help you through the whole process of hiring employees for your startup. Let’s get started!

Before you start looking for software developers

What is your project scope, budget, and timeline?

The scope, budget, and timeline are under constant pressure from new discoveries from users’ and customers’ feedback in IT projects. The key to project success is to get a development partner 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.

Benefits of software development planning:

  • In a startup environment with phased funding. The startup will need to know that their runway of funding provides sufficient support to achieve the MVP or next phase of the delivery.

What software development services do you need?

Software development planning is an important part of beginning any new software project. 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 to look for when you're looking for the perfect developer?

Before going through the dozens of resumes you received, you should understand that there’s no such thing as a perfect candidate. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to hire the first person who applied. But keep in mind that time is a limited resource, so you might not find the perfect fit in experience, skills, and personality type. When 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 candidate for your vacancy.

It might seem evident, but we advise you to decide exactly who you need to hire before starting the recruitment process. Hiring the right people to improve your team’s efficiency takes some effort and attention to subtleties to avoid falling into recruiters' common hiring traps.

The most common recruiting mistakes when hiring software developers fall in one of these categories:

  • Hiring like-minded people. If the candidate is just like us, they must be a good culture fit and a great asset, right?

  • Hiring just seniors. A senior candidate must know everything there is to know about this role, for sure. Just overlook candidates with a few years of experience.

  • Hiring another software engineer. Bringing one more engineer into the team will ensure faster delivery and won't be disruptive at all.

All those affirmations are wrong. Why? Because you can’t expect to put together some copies of yourself and magically obtain a highly functional team. Also, keep in mind that your performance as a manager depends on the performance of your team and the performance of the other people you influence.

Successful teams are interconnected. Software development aims to solve complex problems. To do that successfully you cross-functional teams with a diverse range of viewpoints, skill sets, and expertise. Development teams today are also fully functional, meaning they contain all the roles necessary to build software products from end to end. So a typical team will have software engineers, a designer or two, a QA, an agile practitioner, a product manager, and a team lead/ manager.

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 know better local market and abroad.

How to hire software developers in 5 steps

Analyze talent availability and salaries

Start with analyzing market trends. Some research will give you a good idea of the available developers for your startup and the existing demand for 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 on a 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 remain within the project budget.

A rule of thumb is to avoid newer technologies because they generally have lower adoption rates and fewer available developers. Not to mention that newer technologies usually lack libraries and might come with bugs and security vulnerabilities.

Research current salary offers to understand what a reasonable budget should look like and how many software engineers you can hire. 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 profiles and requirements

Assume you’ve already determined your requirements, budget, and skill set. The next step is to find developers that will meet your demands. To determine this, evaluate your software development company goals, identify the required skills, qualifications, and expertise needed to bring that goal to life, and how a developer may assist you in developing it. 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.

Check talent availability

We will take a scenario where you chose to hiring developers in Eastern Europe, specifically Ukraine and Poland. You need to decide on a country. A good way to do this is to find out the number of available developers in each country. This can be done by analyzing market reports and statistics or simply using LinkedIn.

We searched for the term ‘software developer” in the People category on LinkedIn and used a country filter to find out that:

  • Poland has around 102,000 software developers

  • Ukraine reports about 83,000 software developers

We also used LinkedIn to check the availability of software engineers with specific sets of skills. It turns out that:

  • In Poland are roughly 16,000 Node.js developers, and in Ukraine, there are 21,000

  • Poland has approximately 23,000 React.js software developers, and Ukraine has 25,000

Lastly, we recommend evaluating the level of competition before making a hiring decision. Places with a large talent pool will increase the odds of hiring somebody, while places with high demand will require higher salaries to be able to compete in the job market.

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 hiring developers remote.

  • 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 that you’re providing a great place to work.

  • Post job offers on social media - This stage helps your software development company get recognized by the people. 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 assessing them to get to the best performers. 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:

Prepare for interviews using skills tests

Time is a precious resource in an interview. So you must 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 cancelations and ensure that the equipment is functional.

Lastly, make sure the candidate is prepared for remote work. Check for things like previous remote working experience, available working space, time management skills, and the ability to collaborate remotely.

Avoid making biased decisions

In interviews is very easy to be biased. Most people aren’t constantly aware of their internalized ideas, so you need to have strategies to avoid bias. Use a diverse interview panel instead of one-to-one interviews and consider making an interview scorecard to ensure equal chances.

Prioritize communication

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.

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 Softkrat 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 battel is won! It’s time to get your devoted developers ready to work now that you are chosen the best individuals and completed all of the essential paperwork (inclusive of NDA). 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:

  • To minimize any surprises or misunderstandings, lay 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 to set up your development environment.
  • Set up a team meeting to welcome your new dedicated developers and explain their duties and 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.

Challenges and solutions in the recruitment process

There has always been competition for software engineering talent, but currently, there's a bigger demand for developers than the existing supply. This is caused by the increased rate of IT adoption.

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 hire developers and other IT talent is a challenge for start-ups.

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.

Solution:

When it comes to new hires, make sure to focus on accommodating them and providing them a proper onboarding. 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. While recruiters seem to be to 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.

Solution:

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 come with higher competition. When the demand for certain specialists is high, and the supply is lower, it will obviously result in higher salaries and more challenges to hiring the needed staff.

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.

Solution:

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 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 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.

Solution:

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 Full-cycle Software Product Development. 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.

  • Business-minded engineering

    Work with engineers who understand the need for bottom-line results from tech initiatives.

Conclusion

We know startup hiring is no easy feat. You probably won’t get it right from 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. Softkrat is here to make hiring technical talent easy for you.

As a 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!