As technology advances and the entrepreneurial industry slowly turns digital, there is an unsurprising rise in the need to find top-tier software developers. And it may be a bitter pill to swallow, but small and mid-sized businesses have it the hardest during recruitment.
See, experienced software developers want to work for big, well-known companies. New, inexperienced developers, on the other hand, are more than willing to work for startups and lesser-knowns.
The problem, however, is that they’re not actually applying for work. They’re applying for experience. They want to become experienced developers themselves, but they’re fresh out of coding bootcamp and they need experience points to start leveling up.
That, sadly, is where your business comes in. You’re going to be the first bullet point under the experience section of their resume, and the chances of them leaving six months to a year after you hire them are extremely high. After all, they’ve gotten what they came for.
This is the frustration many small business owners face right now. It’s exasperating, but it doesn’t always have to be this way. There are ways you can find quality software developers looking for work, and there are measures you can take to make sure they’ll stay at least three years in your business.
Don’t Rush Your Hiring Process
Hiring the first five or ten people who look good on paper and pass the interview might not be the best way to hire true talent. Understand that the recruitment process takes time—as it should. Otherwise you’re going to end up with some lukewarm developers who may or may not perform at the level you need them to.
Rather than accept every applicant that shows an above-average grasp of coding and “x years” of experience to back them up, why not have a trial-period? Narrow your initial search down to fifteen or thirty people that pass the basic requirements and meet your standard, and then ask if they’re willing to do a test run to determine their acceptance.
The trial period should run long enough to tell you all you need to know about an applicant’s skills, work ethic, and overall character. This will then help you decide whether this person is someone you want working for you. You should also ask your existing team for their opinions regarding the new recruits.
It’s essentially using the process of elimination to narrow your choices down until you’re left with nothing but the best possible option.
Explore Coding Bootcamps
As we mentioned earlier, a lot of junior developers come from coding bootcamps. These are comprehensive online programs that typically last 10 to 20 weeks and are specifically designed to help beginner coders hone their skills until they reach the level of junior developer. Covering both theory and knowledge, bootcamps are conducted with the express intent of helping fresh coders find work.
This could work to your advantage.
On one hand, it is a little risky to hire junior developers right out of bootcamp, especially since most people don’t stick to their first job.
On the other hand, you’re assured you’re hiring fresh, high-quality talent by reaching out to potential recruits through these programs. Recent graduates are generally hard-working, eager to please, and hyper-aware of the consequences of their actions. Not a bad list of qualities for an employee.
Always Think In Terms Of “Team”
When hunting for new developers to join your team, it can be very tempting to use all your resources to find that perfect applicant—the one that checks all the boxes, has all the experience, and is clearly naturally gifted.
We mentioned earlier how important it is to take as much time as you need during the recruitment process. We stand by it. Finding those precious few individuals who will contribute nothing but quality to your company is imperative.
However, there’s also the danger of setting the bar too high, taking too much time, and ending up with a single “rockstar” developer.
How is this not a good thing?
One A-level developer cannot replace the benefits of a unified, cohesive, hard-working team—even if that team is made up entirely of B-level developers. Letting one person do all the heavy lifting can be extremely destructive, regardless of how strong they are.
It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in and what projects you need done. You need a development team to make sure your projects get coded correctly without compromising time and quality.
It doesn’t matter how talented this “rockstar” is—they will have a limit to their capabilities, and unhappy consequences may drop on your company once that limit is reached.
Depending on just one or two people to pull a team through every project is an extremely backwards method that is impossible to leverage. Your business can’t hope to sustain growth if one or two areas depend on people rather than a system.
If you do hire a rockstar developer, leverage their expertise in such a way that everyone on the team benefits. Have them share their technique, or ask them to take a hands-on teaching approach to help the software developers who are falling behind. Let them utilize their skills for the sake of your business, but don’t let them lord it over their fellow developers.
You Get What You Pay For
This is one of the most common mistakes businesses make when recruiting new software developers; allowing price be a factor.
Some recruitment managers are reluctant to hire top-tier talent because they know they come with a top-tier price tag to match. Others rely heavily on coding bootcamps (i.e. the program we mentioned earlier) to fulfill all their hiring needs, as fresh talent tends to come with lower salary expectations.
We’re not saying this is the case all the time, but it is worth mentioning—and worth remembering—that you get what you pay for. You can’t offer a substandard salary and expect to hire a superior coder. You can, however, expect that the skills of a lot of your applicants will match your price.
There’s also the fact that a lower salary won’t inspire longevity right away. Very few people love their job so much, they won’t care about minimum pay. On the other hand, people are more likely to stick with a job, no matter how frustrating, if the salary is great.
If you want to hire quality and inspire loyalty, you’ll need to be realistic about your price.
Let Them Know They Make A Difference
At the end of the day, developers apply for your job listing because they want to code. They don’t want to wade through office politics. They don’t want to attend mock marketing campaigns. They want to do what they’re best at, and they want to get recognized for it.
This is an instance where small businesses have a considerable advantage over larger ones. It’s easier to personally keep track of employees. Ergo, it’s easier to know each developer based on their strength, their weakness, and their contribution to projects. In a small to medium-sized company, everything an employee does creates a lasting impact.
While this sounds foreboding, it also has a positive side. It simply means that when something goes right, the people responsible instantly receive recognition. Most small businesses distinguish their employees and treat them as actual human being rather than cogs in a well-oiled machine. This is something a lot of software developers can appreciate, and it’s something they just might stick around for.