Thu Feb 23 2023
Founders & Tech Leaders

8 Tips For Hiring a Software Developer For a Startup

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There are ample aspects to consider when shooting for startup success. From funding, to timing, to the business model, to market demand — the list goes on, and not everything is within your control.

However, there are multiple factors that are within your control, one of which is talent acquisition.

Hiring at a startup can be difficult, and hiring a software developer for your growing team is no exception. Demand for software developers is steadily increasing, and competition is tight.

Recruiting talented developers demands a rigorous hiring process that ensures that the chosen candidate is right for your company in terms of skill set and qualifications, but also values and personality.

The stakes are high, so let's walk through some top tips for hiring a software developer at a startup.

1. Set your specific hiring needs

The first step is to lay out the practicalities and the necessary considerations you need to keep in mind when beginning the hiring process. Here are some points to think about:

- Time constraints: how urgent are your recruitment needs? How long can you afford to wait until you find the ideal candidate? When must they be available?

- Time zone overlap: what’s the maximum time difference you’re able to work with? Will async collaboration work for the team? Do you need someone working exactly when you are?

- Remote, hybrid, or in-person: what can you offer by way of flexibility? What preferences do you have?

- The role in your organization: what does your startup need in order to grow? Where are the skills gaps? Does your candidate need a broad set of skills for future projects?

- Level of experience: are you looking to invest in an experienced software developer? Would a less experienced software developer be able to handle the requirements of the role? Are you able to train developers to meet your needs?

Answering these questions will give you a better idea of who you’re looking to hire and will help you focus on hiring a candidate who ticks all your boxes.

2. Know what software developer skills you’re looking for

Finding the right developer starts with having a clear, actionable list of required software development skills. It’s a good idea to create two separate lists: must-haves and nice-to-haves. Identifying your must-have skills will enable you to efficiently and effectively weed out incompatible candidates from the get-go, and nice-to-have skills will help you pick from your top choices.

Whether you’re seeking in-person developers or looking to hire remote developers, the right talent can help you grow your startup quickly, while the wrong choice may end up costing you time and money, putting all your hiring efforts to waste.

It’s important to know that software engineers will have different specialties. Here are the nine main types of software developers:

  1. Web developer
  2. Backend developer
  3. Frontend developer
  4. Security developer
  5. Desktop developer
  6. Game developer
  7. Mobile developer
  8. DevOps developer
  9. Data scientist developer

When it comes to recruiting tech expertise, you'll need to carry out thorough research to find developers who actually fit your business needs and project requirements. More on that shortly.

Besides the technical skills you’re looking for, you must also think about which soft skills would bring value to your startup team. Whether it's critical thinking, a creative approach to problem-solving, or strong communication skills, you want to work out which soft skills you’re on the lookout for.

The importance of the right hire, particularly for an early-stage startup, cannot be overstated. Hiring software engineers is not an easy task, but a comprehensive understanding of what and who you're looking for, and what they'll bring to your startup team, is essential.

3. Set a realistic budget

You might think you're getting a brilliant deal on a talented new developer who suits your startup perfectly, only to lose them to a company that's offering more. Offering competitive salaries as a startup can be hard, but by setting a budget from the beginning, you can refine your search to only include software developers you can afford. For example, you may only be able to hire a junior developer right now.

Now that we’ve looked at the top tips for hiring yourself, let’s look at the alternative: hiring platforms.

4. Write a solid job description

To attract the best hiring developers on the job market, you'll need a concise and informative job description that outlines both what you're looking for in a candidate and why your company is a good choice for them.

A good job description will include:

- Role and responsibilities: give a detailed explanation of what candidates will be expected to do. Frame the role in overall company operations and discuss how the candidate will help your startup reach its goals.

- Must-have skills: mention the technical skills your candidate must have, for example, a high level of coding ability or familiarity with a variety of programming languages.

- Experience required: outline the demonstrable experience you need from candidates, whether it is tool-related, role-related, or something else. You can also decide whether this is a must-have or a nice-to-have and communicate it as such.

- Company details: describe the company mission, company culture, work environment, and why it’s a good place to work at. Mention company perks, career growth opportunities and remote/hybrid work options.

- Salary bracket: include a realistic salary range that reflects what you can actually afford. This will avoid more work down the line, as candidates who aren’t within the salary range simply won’t apply.

Keep your JD clear and simple. Choose a clear format that’s easy to digest, and use direct, active language that reflects your brand identity. Readability and relevant information are key.

Remember to maintain a positive tone throughout — you want this job to appeal to bright, ambitious software developers looking for an exciting new start.

Top tip: use a job description tool to write an effective job description.

5. Select the right hiring option

When it comes to hiring software developers, you’ve got two options:

Let’s talk about what they involve.

Traditional, in-house recruitment can be tedious and time-consuming, which is particularly draining for startups where free time is limited. You must take charge of the entire process from start to finish, with in-house sourcing, screening, and interviewing.

In addition, startups are less likely to have recruitment expertise, as they don’t often have dedicated hiring teams. Recruiting at a startup is notoriously difficult, particularly when sourcing in-demand software developers. However, difficult is by no means impossible—if you’ve got the time and resources, managing the hiring process gives you complete control.

The second option — a tech recruitment agency — handles a lot of the legwork for you. These agencies use rigorous testing and vetting processes to ensure they only put forward top-performing candidates. This takes a lot of the responsibility off your shoulders.

Hiring time is also massively reduced: tech recruitment agencies, such as Remotebase, can guarantee a fully-vetted remote developer with industry expertise in under 24 hours. The agency also offers a two-week free trial with your developer to ensure they’re a good fit.

Hiring a Software Developer For a Startup.png

6. Utilize developer screening tools

If you decide to take software developer recruitment into your own hands, you’re going to need some tools to help with the process. These tools help with the essential tasks involved in hiring, specifically software engineers.

Let's run through some of the top options for identifying candidates with both strong programming expertise and great communication and problem-solving skills.

Live coding challenges

Real-time coding tests are a great way to give candidates an opportunity to showcase their skills, as well as their ability to think on their feet. Using a platform such as Codility or HackerRank, you can set up a personalized test that assesses candidates' ability to produce high-quality code under timed conditions. This test gives great insight into each developer's thought process and approach while coding.

Automated technical tests

When recruiting developers, a solid measure of their technical expertise is crucial. With platforms such as Tests4Geeks and TestGorilla, you can send out personalized tests to candidates which, when completed, come back to you via email in the form of concise performance metrics. These tests will evaluate candidates' coding abilities with real-life tasks. Quick and reliable with minimal effort required from your end, these tests are a very efficient way to assess a software developer’s technical abilities.

OCEAN personality test

The OCEAN personality test is used in hiring processes across many different industries. A recruiter can get a stronger idea of a candidate's soft skills and personality, which indicates traits such as willingness to try new things, extraversion, conscientiousness, neuroticism and agreeableness. It's a popular test that gives insights that go beyond technical skills.

Using a combination of these tests, plus the insights you gather from interviewing them, will help ensure you get a great overview of each candidate's strengths and weaknesses.

7. Prepare for interviewing candidates

When sourcing your own in-house software developers, you’ll need to interview candidates to check they’re a good fit. This is your time to discuss their skills, experience, career goals, attitude and more. You’ll have gathered lots of information from running skill tests, but here’s where you get some one-on-one time to get the answers you need.

You also want to ask software developers some other questions, not just those relating to programming and software development. For example, how do they handle deadlines?

Hitting deadlines is a must for competent developers and for startups, which often operate on tight schedules and deadlines. When you’re starting a business, you need to move quickly and often have to adapt and overcome obstacles in a short amount of time. Tight resources and limited staff mean that you’ll have to be as organized and efficient as possible, as there’s little scope for error.

During the interview process, you can ask the candidate questions about meeting deadlines:

  • How do you handle tight deadlines?
  • What would you do if you started to fall behind?
  • At what point would you alert your manager?
  • Describe a real-life crisis and discuss how they would handle it

Make sure to plan out the interview ahead of time to ensure you’re asking all the right questions. Consider what’s important — aspects you hopefully defined in step one — and what’s the best way to ensure you and your new developer are on the same page.

8. Check their references

Towards the end of your recruitment process, you'll need to start reference-checking: solid references are key to finding the right software engineer. A thorough examination of potential hires' references can help alert you to possible problems with the candidate.

Go into reference checks knowing exactly what information you're looking for, while keeping your eyes peeled for possible red flags. For example, if you're looking for a software engineer to join and work collaboratively with an existing development team, check with their references about how the developer fits into their team.

Where is the best place to find a software developer for a startup?

So, you’ve got two options for hiring software developers for your startup. You can source, vet, interview and hire them yourself, or you can let a recruitment agency do the work for you.

If you’ve decided you don’t want the risk and investment involved with finding your own candidates, consider opting for a tech recruitment agency.

Whichever you choose, we’ve compared some top picks to help you decide.

Tech recruitment agency comparision.jpg

Ready to start hiring top talent for your startup? Get in touch with Remotebase to find your ideal candidate.

Start hiring software developers today

The right hires at the right time can make or break your startup. If you decide to manage the hiring process yourself, the key is to know exactly what skills you need, what you can afford, and who you’re looking for.

With these top tips, you’re much more likely to land a great software developer. Remember, technical skills and experience mean a lot, but they aren’t everything. Someone who fits your company's values and culture is just as important.

If you’re looking for a quick, hassle-free recruitment process that gets you high-quality candidates, in as little as 24 hours—try Remotebase. The pre-sourced and pre-vetted candidates are ideal for your startup, and Remotebase handles the hiring and payroll processes to make your life easier.

Sign up today and find your ideal hire tomorrow.

Hiring a software developer: FAQs

When should a startup hire software developers?

A startup should hire developers when its current approach to software development no longer suffices. Maybe you previously worked with freelancers but now need to start building out your own team. Perhaps you outsourced to other agencies, but the costs no longer justify the ease.

Put simply, if hiring a software developer will bring real value to your business, it's time to start recruiting.

What skills should you look for when hiring software developers?

Experience and top-quality technical expertise are must-haves when hiring a software developer, but there are also many nice-to-have qualities. These include critical thinking, time management, communication, interpersonal skills and more—and they’re often just as important as technical skills.

What is the cost of hiring software developers?

It typically costs around $4,129 to hire a software developer—and that’s before you start paying their salary. That’s why thorough screening using a variety of custom tasks is more likely to ensure that your investment pays off.

How long does it take to hire a software developer for a startup?

It usually takes around 3-6 weeks to hire a software developer through traditional, in-house recruitment. Tech recruitment agencies reduce this time drastically. Remotebase gets you your ideal candidate in a matter of days.

Hire Top 1% Remote Developers in 24 Hours with Remotebase

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