Whether you’re putting together a team for a new project or looking to grow your current one, finding the right software developer for your business can be quite a journey.
Recent studies reveal that hiring top talent is the 2nd most pressing challenge in software development. The reason is two-fold.
On the one hand, the demand for software engineers is surpassing the current skilled workforce supply. More and more companies turn to technology to pursue digital transformation, better customer experience, or more efficient business tools. And while the number of software engineers is also growing, estimated to reach 28.7 million in 2024, there is still a shortage in top talent, making it hard for businesses to find a suitable, available candidate.
Secondly, talented engineers are hard to both discover and evaluate. There are no shortcuts to hiring great developers. Their technical savviness is not the only criteria to consider when making your choice. A software engineer’s soft skills matter just as much, and checking a couple of boxes on an evaluation grid doesn’t offer too many valuable insights into the developer’s personality and social skills.
So, where do you begin? Although there is no magic formula for finding the best software engineer, there are a couple of steps you can take to increase your chances of finding a top-notch developer for your business.
1. Start with “Why”
The quality of your software product depends considerably on the proficiency of the developers that craft it. To secure the best match between your business needs and the software engineer, it’s essential to define for yourself the nature and the complexity of the project and your expectations with regards to the developer you are looking to hire.
If it’s a one-time, small project, with clear responsibilities and tasks, you’ll most probably want to collaborate with a freelancer on a one-off basis. On the other hand, if you intend to develop a more sophisticated custom software product that requires a long-term commitment, then hiring a full time software engineer could be more appropriate.
Having clarity on the project’s scope, length, complexity, and technical and human resources requirements can in turn provide a lot of clarity on your resource needs.
2. “Let the Hunger Games begin”
Once you’ve determined what kind of developer you need, you can start the actual search. Keeping in mind the project’s goal, financial resources, and the hiring urgency, there are a few strategies to choose from when looking for engineering candidates.
Referrals. The most efficient method to find top software engineers is to reach out to contacts through your personal and professional networks. Reach out to the connectors in your network to receive recommendations of developers that could fit your criteria. The chances are that you will find a highly skilled software engineer that is also a good culture fit much faster because you will get referrals from a similar circle. Besides, this is a low hanging fruit because you are reaching out to the network that you are already a part of..
Online communities. There are several platforms that are very good when it comes to finding experienced software engineers.
For example, LinkedIn or Dice gives you a large pool of professionals to choose from, as they’re not solely focused on developer talent. You can post a job listing and assess the candidates as they apply, or you could perform your search and proactively reach out to developers that match your criteria.
On amore specialized front, there are platforms such as Toptotal, and Sourcing.io, which curate top talent from the software development market, increasing your chances of finding a highly knowledgeable developer for your project.
Other valuable resources are software communities like Quora or Git Hub, where developers share their know-how or technical skills with their fellow engineers. Getting a peek into how a software engineer solves a technical problem, communicates their view, or analyzes the quality of code will help you identify opportunities to find the right candidate for your business through more efficient screening.
Conferences / Bootcamps / Hackathons. You can find software engineers passionate about what they do in this type of event, eager to get involved in the community, stay ahead of industry trends, and create great professional relationships. These are developers that are not only interested in improving their technical skills but also looking to refine their soft skills. These meet-ups allow you to directly approach a candidate of interest and engage in a conversation that will help you understand if the software engineer could be a good fit.
3. Don’t shy away from a thorough evaluation
A software engineer should be evaluated based on both their technical acumen and soft skills.
A high-quality software developer will have had the experience of working with various programming languages and software tools, developing high versatility and willingness to continuously learn and adapt to new technologies, which is essential for software development. However, the technical evaluation should cover more than quizzing the candidate on a specific technology. You want to understand their ability to problem-solve creatively and navigate complex concepts while assessing their coding skills. This will matter significantly in the long run and eventually differentiate and bring value to your software project.
A developer’s attitude is equally important as the skillset. In a software project where teamwork fuels progress, communication abilities, both written and verbal, are essential for a frictionless process. The chemistry between team members is also an important aspect to create a culture of collaboration.
Software engineers often work in a dynamic environment, always balancing stakeholder needs, technical details, and best practices under pressure. While technological know-how is crucial for any software developer to get their job done, it takes a lot more to excel at it. Openness, willingness to improve, passion, versatility, and self-improvement are just a few of the attributes that set top-tier software engineers apart.
Although the process of finding a high-quality software engineer is rather demanding, having access to a top-notch developer that can help you build a superior product is invaluable. By using the strategies above, there’s no doubt that you’ll be a couple of steps closer to your next ideal candidate to embark on your ambitious project