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How To Hire Talented Software Developers Even If You Don’t Have Deep Pockets

One of the biggest challenges for startups today is hiring talented software developers.

The bag things is it’s getting harder and harder. Especially, when they have to compete with big companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon.

They are well known and liked, they can pay big salaries and they can offer security and certainty to their employees.

Not only that but the demand for software developers is growing rapidly. And the supply is very limited.

Besides the large corporations you also need to worry about all the other startups that are competing for the same talent as you do.

So how can you hire talented software developers in this day and age?

This is what we’re about to teach you in this blog post.

Build your employer brand

For top engineer talent you would need to compete with companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, etc.

Not only are that but there tons of other software companies that also want to hire top talent.

As a result, software developers in Silicon Valley report being contacted 10-15 times per week by recruiters for a new job.

So the best time to get their attention is if they have already heard about your company and they know that you’re a great place to work in.

The second best is if they Google your brand and they found out good things about your startup.

That’s why your best chance for standing out of the crowd and maximizing your chance of recruiting A players is to start working on building your employer brand as soon as possible.

And this could be done even if you’re a small startup and not a big company.

Here’s how:

Make sure your company is a great place to work for – the first thing that you need to focus on is to make sure that your current employees are happy and satisfied with their job.

Because if they’re not, word will spread out and your potential requites are going to find out about it.

And as a result, they wouldn’t want to work for you no matter what you promise them.

What really matters here is to:

  • give your current employees interesting and challenging tasks,
  • give them the opportunity to grow and develop their skills,
  • value their opinion and contribution

Ask your employees to participate in promoting your employer brand – building your employer brand should start from the CEO, the executive team and every single employee of the company.

Ask the people that work for you to commit to promoting your brand.

This means your employees should actively engage in online communities and share their experience when it comes to what it’s like to work in your company.

Your potential recruits are much more likely to believe the honest opinion of other software developers working in your company.

Create great content for your recruits – on your career page you should present to your potential hires what is your company all about.

Communicate the scope of the problems that you solve and your accomplishments. This can help motivate people to work for you.

Be sure to include all of the benefits that people get from working for your company.

It’s also good to have a page where you present your team. That way potential recruits can see with what kind of people they’re going to work with.

If they like the people, they would be more likely to join your company.

It’s also good to have a blog where you show different activities that your team does together.

Use LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great place to find talented software developers that would be a great fit for your company.

So here’s how to do that:

Use LinkedIn’s talent pool reports – they are really powerful tool that allows you to see the available supply and demand talent within specific region.

For example: you can use LinkedIn’s talent pool reports to look for Java developers within United States.

In the graph above you can see the supply and demand for Java engineers in USA.

You can see that the supply is big in San Francisco, New York and Boston but the demand is also huge.

At the same time, there is little demand in Dallas and Denver even though there is available pool of talent.

This means it will be much easier to hire people from those cities and you can easily setup a remote office there.

Also, because the demand for Java developers is much lower in Dallas and Denver, you can expect to pay much less to those people as you would compared to San Francisco or New York.

Write a great inMail – the inMail is one of the most popular ways to reach out to prospects, especially software developers.
It is really important that you spend the time to craft a well-written message here so you can get the attention of potential recruits.

Remember that skilled developers in Silicon Valley might get messages 10-15 times per week. So your message should really stand out from the rest.

Be sure to personalize each message and focus it around the needs of your candidate. This is proven to boost response rate with 15%.

Browse through the LinkedIn profile of each candidate and try to figure out what he is passionate and interested about.

For example: if you find out that someone is interested into block chain technology and you’re currently working in that field, you should definitely mention that in the message.

Utilize referrals

35% of startups use employee referrals in order to hire software developers.

The reason why this works so well is because your employees knows very well what your business needs are.

That way they can recommend you people that they know would be a really good fit for your company.

It’s also a lot easier to get these people on board when they’re referred by a current employee. That way new recruits are much more likely to trust you and consider your offer.

Not only are that, but the people that you hire through referrals more likely to fit within your company culture.
Simply because they already know someone in your company that they get along with.

So the best way to utilize referrals within your company is to regularly share with your developers about the talent you need and the open positions you have.

They won’t be able to help you if they don’t know you’re hiring.

To encourage developers to be more proactive with their help you can even offer them some incentives when successful hire has been made.

Use Developer Blogs

Developer blogs could be a great place to find top talent.

By reading their technical blog posts you can understand a lot about the candidate’s skills and expertise.

You can learn a lot about how he solves problems, what views he has when it comes to software, what he is passion about etc.

The good about this approach to hiring is that you have a lot more information about the candidate that just a standard resume.

The bad thing is that it could be harder to get the attention of those people – as they’re online presence will result in them being contacted more often.

The way to go around this is to look for referrals. Ask the people that you already know if they can connect you with that person.

If nobody is able to do that, then you can try to contact your candidate directly.

Be sure to mention that you read his blog and what you liked about it.

Try to connect that with what you’re currently working on at your startup.

Find talent in the open source community

Just like with developer blogs, you can very successfully use the open source community to hire people.

Just browse through GitHub and SourceForge and you’re going to find a lot of talent there.

The great thing about this approach is that you have the chance to evaluate the candidate’s code before you even consider contacting him or her.

Even though you can’t contact people directly through GitHub, you can visit their personal page and find a link to their website.

You can also find them on LinkedIn and contact them via inMail.

Meet developers on conferences and networking events

Developers that are serious about their career usually go to ton of conferences and networking events.

This is where you can meet potential candidates in person.

The good thing is that right on the spot you can learn about their qualifications and screen if they’re a good fit for your company.

You can also instantly share info about your startup and make them interested into the projects you’re working on.

The truth is that it will be much easier to get candidates on an interview if they have already met you in person.

Another hug benefit for conferences and events is that you have the change to meet a lot of developers.

That way you’re going to have a bigger pool of talents to choose from. And these people normally won’t be as receptive if you just contact them by cold LinkedIn message.

Use the interview to sell the job

The fact that a candidate decided to show up for an interview does not mean that he wants the job yet.

He might be currently talking with a lot of other companies that he considers working for.

The other thing is he might be totally ok with his current job and he might not want to switch to a new one just yet.

This means that you should use the interview to sell them on the idea to work for you.

In fact, according to stats from LinkedIn, the interview is one of the key ways candidates determine if they want to work for that company or not.

87% of talent even says that a positive interview experience can change their mind when it comes to a role or a company they once doubted.

At the same time, 83% of talent says that a negative interview experience might convince them to reject a job offer they wanted to accept in the first place.

According to 49% of developers point that their most important thing to them during the interview is to get their most important business questions answered.

Promise better career opportunity

Most often people change jobs not because of money but for career opportunity.

It turns out that those who are willing to switch jobs do that because they view their current one as a dead end.
So they’re willing to leave it for the one that allows them to grow.

That’s why recruiters should not talk only about the current job opportunity. They should emphasize on the possibilities for growth within their organization.

They should take the time to explain to candidates the opportunities they would have into the future and how that could happen.

Offer better benefits

Startups in a disadvantage when it comes to hiring software developers.

It’s hard to impress your candidates with a huge salary when competing with large corporations like Facebook and Google.

But the truth is that you don’t have to as well. There are many other benefits that you can offer to candidates that can make them want to work for you.

Interesting and challenging tasks – as we already mentioned, most people want to change their job because they don’t see an opportunity to grow on their current position.

That’s why you should emphasize on all of the interesting and challenging tasks developers will have the change to work on.

Talk with your candidates who this will help them develop their skills and improve in the long run.

By the end of the day, everybody wants a job that is interesting and helps them grow.

Strong team and corporate culture – every developer wants to work with a great team in a company with a great culture.

So be sure to introduce your team to your candidates and to explain them what kind of people work in the company.

Let me know about the experience of their employees and how they work together in a team.

Explain to candidates how they are going to fit within the team.

Flexible hours – the main reason why developers don’t want to work for large corporates is that they don’t want to be stuck with a strict schedule.

If you promise flexible hours to your candidates, they will be much more likely to want to work for you.

That way they can choose when to come to work and when to leave.

This will also improve their productivity and performance at work because they would choose to work in the hours that they feel the most productive.

Remote work – there are a lot of great software developers that don’t want go to the office all the time.

They much rather prefer working from home.

So if you offer to your candidates the opportunity to work remotely, they would be much more likely to accept your job offer.

Sell the benefits of being small – in big companies there is bureaucracy. Decisions take a lot of time to be made and things happen slowly.

A lot of developers don’t like that. They prefer to work for small companies where things happen fast and they can focus on what they do best – write a great code.

And this is what you can focus when you’re selling the job to your candidates.

In your company, they’re going to solving great problems while having flexibility in their actions. At the same time, their voice their voice will be heard and they will have a real impact on the projects they’re going to work on.

That way it turns out the work that they do in a startup could be a lot more fulfilling.

Outsource to fill the gaps

Hiring software developers doesn’t always mean getting full-time employees.

In fact, it might be much better to outsource your software development to fill in the gaps.

And here’s why.

According to a study made by Deloitte, 59% of companies claim that outsourcing is more cost-effective.

Outsourcing also frees up resources which startups can utilize for achieving their main business goals.

That way startup founders can focus more on growing their business and serving its customers.

Another great benefit with outsourcing is that you would be able to get access to great talent that you wouldn’t be able to find if you’re simply looking for full-time employees.

The reason for that is very simple – most skilled developers usually work as freelancers or in agencies.

That way they get experience working on so many different projects that they couldn’t get by working for a single company.

Last but not least, if you find a good web agency to work with, you can outsource work for life.

With full-time employees, you’re never sure how long they’re going to stick and at any point they can quit and go work for someone else.

How to find outsourcing software development companies – your first step is to get a list of potential outsourcing partners you can work with.

It’s good that you have at least several companies in your list that you consider working with. You need to have options.

  1. Ask for referrals

You can start by asking for referrals from the people you know.

Do you know of anyone who has outsourced software development? If you do, ask him to recommend you someone you can work with.

Be sure when you ask someone for recommendations that they have worked with these companies and they’re happy with their work.

  1. Go to freelancing website

You can very easily find great developers on websites such as Upwork.

Just post a job and after a few hours you will have dozens of candidates you can consider for the job.

Be sure you check how many hours these people have worked on the platform. Dig deeper into the projects they worked for and the reviews they have received from previous employers.

A really important metric to pay attention as well is there job completion rate.

If it’s too low, this means that this freelancer or a company gives up on projects a lot and it’s not reliable.

I don’t suggest you hire such people even if they have the skills and the experience necessary for the job.

  1. Use Google

You can use the keyword phrase “software development company” + your preferred location where you’d like to outsource.

For example:

“software development company in india”

You’re also likely to find some blog posts listing some of the best companies in that region.

Besides, searching for specific country, you can search partners in certain cities.

For example:

“software development company in Mumbai”

That way you will also see that you get results from Google Maps with all the companies that are located in the city.

You will also see reviews and ratings for each company which can really help you make a better decision when it comes to choosing a partner.

How to hire the right software development partner – start by looking at the portfolio of the companies you consider working with.

What kind of projects did they work on? How related are they to what you need to be developed in your startup?

Be sure that you check out the quality of the code they have written. Is it good enough?

Look at the capabilities that each company has. What kind of people work for them? What are their skills? Do they have the capacity to work on more projects and find talent fast when need?

Other than that, be sure that you understand completely how your candidates manage projects with their clients.

After you do all of this, you will most likely have 1-2 companies that you consider working with.

We suggest you test them out by giving a small project to work on and see how they deliver.

If you’re happy with their work, you can start outsourcing more to them.

In conclusion

Hiring talented software developers is hard.

Especially, when you have to compete with large corporations and all the other startups on the market.

But there is a way to do it. First, be sure you’re a great company to work for.

Second, give the opportunity for your employees to grow and develop themselves. They all want to work on projects that allows them to become better.

Third, consider outsourcing. It could be a great way to get access to awesome talent that you wouldn’t be able to find otherwise.

Do you find it hard to hire talented software developers for you startup? What is your current approach to doing so? Let us know in the comments below.

Priyanka heads the Client Servicing team at Ebizon. With over 10+ years of impressive experience in technology consulting and software project management, she has worked with clients from diverse industries including Ecommerce, Retail, Education, Healthcare and Publishing. With deep tech industry knowledge, Priyanka is known for bridging the gap between those who are highly technical and those who are business minded. She was also invited by Drupal4Design Camp held at MIT, Boston to present Case Study on "Scaling Drupal with Confidence ".