10 Helpful Hiring Tips for Finding a Good Coder

You can have the best tech startup idea in the world, but without good programming talent it’s worthless. So take heed of these 10 tips that will help you find a coder worth building a company around.

With roughly 530,000 openings, it’s safe to say programming is in high demand. The problem lies in supply. Less than 60,000 college graduates in 2015 majored in computer science.

That leaves you with a shallow talent pool to swim in. Plus, as a startup, you have to compete against bigger companies who can pay more and offer better benefits. How do you find a coder?

Simple, follow these ten tips. They’ll show you how to find and snag the best devs for your next tech startup.

Look at Programming Communities

Massive job boards, like Indeed.com, are your worst enemy. They’ll bombard you with thousands of applications, mostly from bad candidates. It will take forever to sift through them all.

Instead, focus your search on niche communities. Birds of a feather flock together, in this case on Internet forums. You can browse top communities, ask job-specific questions, even give out coding assignments.

The best coders love their work and its challenges. They will always rise to the occasion. Those candidates are the ones to evaluate further.

Hire Slow, Fire Fast

It’s a well-worn adage that permeates corporate America: hire slow, fire fast. Coders are no different.

Rushing a hire will lead you to terrible employees. They waste time, money, and resources. You’ll then have to fire them and restart the process.

To make the right hire the first time, create a rigorous screening process. Start with a series of interviews, then move onto a skils test. You’ll narrow down your list of candidates to the best.

And even after you select the right one, offer them a probationary contract, something like five or six months. That way, you can see how they fit into the company.

Go For Team Players

The best tech never results from a solo effort. You need a team. You also need people willing to collaborate.

Avoid ‘rock stars,’ candidates with well-known reputations, commanding high salaries. Rock stars think themselves above the team. They believe their way is the only way and they don’t take feedback well.

On the other hand, not all devs are created equal. A team of C-level programmers can be as bad as a primadonna with an attitude. The key is balance.

Have your top devs share their knowledge. That way, the team gets better.

Peruse the Portfolio

Past work will always reflect present habits. Never hesitate to ask for a portfolio or a demo of previous work. Most candidates will jump at the chance to show off their work.

Don’t forget to check their portfolio, too. Past clients may offer insight into a candidate’s personality, something you can use in a hiring decision. Never underestimate the power of a reference.

Test Their Skills

When hiring a coder, candidates should be able to, you know, code. Interview questions will allow you to test their knowledge base. But to test a candidate’s mettle, you have to see their skills.

Intensive skills tests will give you an idea of performance under pressure. Is the candidate calm? Do they get frustrated? Can they solve the problem correctly, under a tight deadline?

A skills test will answer these questions with surety. Candidates may say what you want to hear, but the coding will never lie.

Value Talent Over Loyalty

The days of working twenty years at a single company are over. Agility is no longer a perk; it’s a standard.

Don’t pass over a candidate just because they don’t intend to stick around. Focus on what they can do for you while you have them.

The best coders always have an eye out for their next challenge. Likewise, you should have an eye out, for top talent and fresh blood.

Build a Culture

We’ve talked a lot about skills, about talent, but fit matters too. No, not fit as in how often candidates exercise, but how they mesh within the company.

You have to ask yourself: what kind of culture do you want to foster for your company? Do you want self-starters? Do you want to maintain professionality or be informal?

Once you’ve answered these questions, choose the candidate who fits best. For example, if you’re building a remote team, you may want to choose a self-starting candidate.

Culture fit should share equal weight with skill assessment. In fact, some companies incorporate personality tests along with skills tests as a part of the hiring process.

Hack Their Network

No, we’re not suggesting breaking into their computer. Instead, look into their career network. The top devs know other top devs.

If you can get one, odds are you can get more. It takes a bit of the recruiting burden off you. Plus, you gain access to an even broader pool of talent.

Tout Your Size, the Smaller, the Better

What they’re working on matters as much to coders as the work itself. Sure, Facebook and Google pay better. But what sustenance do they offer? Most new hires–unless they’re a wunderkind–start out at the bottom of a giant totem pole.

As a startup, you can offer candidates the chance to make a difference. I mean think about it. Which is more valuable: doing grunt work programming a ‘like’ button or writing software to improve healthcare?

Startups lessen the competition for advancement and focus on the work. If it’s meaningful, talented candidates will take the risk (and the pay cut) to do it.

Know Your Price

We’ve mentioned how to recruit talent, how to position yourself–despite your size–to acquire it. The thing is: it costs money.

Freelancers can set their own terms for payment. The lack of talent gives them more bargaining power. At the same time, the cheaper candidate is not often the best one.

What you have to do is have your budget in mind. Know what you’re willing to pay, know the market for the job you want, and stick to your guns.

It’s a competitive world out there. Coders will do what’s best for them, freely taking advantage of you if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Find a Coder for Your Next Startup

Tech jobs, especially coding, are here to stay. By 2020, most expect the number of open coding positions to exceed 1.4 million. And the talent pool will only shrink.

If you want your tech startup to lift off, you need to find a coder now. But it needs to be the right person. The ideal candidate will fit your company culture, work well within a team, and have the skills necessary to tackle any job.

Want to know more about tech jobs? Want questions to ask at your next interview? Check out our blog or contact us today.

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