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How to hire a Developer or Software Engineer
Many companies I speak with are surprised at how much difficulty they have when trying to hire programmers. The fact is that even though unemployment is high in the overall job market, in the software development world there is a huge shortage of experienced programmers. This means that employers are facing a lot of competition when it comes to hiring these people . Here's a few tips that might give you the edge over your competition.
1. Spend the time to write a good job postingNotice I didn't say a long job posting. It's not about the length, it's about the content. Programmers can be a cantankerous group of people. They get aggravated quickly and one of the things that aggravates them most is when someone with hiring authority appears to have no idea what they're talking about, or even what it is they're looking for.
For example, I've seen many postings that go something like this:
"We need a programmer with at least 5 years of experience in web development and technologies like Java, ASP.Net, PHP, Database."
Verbiage like this is like a blinking red light, warning developers that they don't even want to talk to anyone from this company. The problem is that the employer doesn't know what they want, and they appear to not even know enough about web development to list the basic skills required for the job.
Something like this would be much better:
"We need an ASP.Net Web Developer who has at least 5 years of experience with C#, Javascript, jQuery and SQL Server. Experience building public facing web services and APIs, or mobile HTML5 development is a big plus."
The text above targets the technology we're hiring for and then gives enough technical detail to 1) enable the applicant to determine if they're a good fit and 2) make us sound like we know what we're doing and might be a good place to work.
Reaching this level of technical detail in a job posting can be difficult for a person without a programming background, but it's not that hard either. Just go to, do a search for the type of programmer that you're looking to hire, and copy the description from that posting. Now customize that description to fit your needs, but don't post yet, there's one more step. Find someone in your circle of friends/family/advisors who is a programmer, send your posting to them and ask them if it looks right.
BTW, these principles also apply to the interview and phone screen. If you don't have the technical background to adequately talk with a programmer about the job in technical detail, then it would be a good idea to have that person from your circle of friends/family/advisors sit in on the interview, even if they don't work for your company. This will give you the opportunity to get a clearer picture of the applicants skill level and it will also give the applicant a much better impression of your company.
2. Post your job on DiceNow that you have your job posting written, where do you post it. The first answer is Dice has emerged as the undisputed leader in the programmer job board niche. Most programmers will check Dice when even passively interested in a new job.
3. Use local meetups and user groupsGood programmers often attend local meetups or user groups for the technology that they work in. If you're hiring a PHP developer in Colorado, do a Google search for "PHP meetup user group colorado". That should give you a pretty good list of the local groups. Then contact the top one or two groups and ask them if they can announce your job at their next meeting. Ask if they have a job board or message board that you can post to. Ask them if you can give them $100 to sponsor pizza for their next meeting and if they would let everyone know that you're hiring and put your contact info up on the board. Most user groups are happy to do things like this and they're a great way to reach the local developer community.
4. Post your job on craigslist and is a great hiring resource and it's cheap. Most programmers I've spoken to do not check craigslist as part of their job search but at a price point of $25, it would be foolish not to use it. Monster on the other hand is going to charge you about $400 for a job posting but they're still worth using since a large percentage of programmers still seem to check monster.
5. Share your job on LinkedIn and TwitterSocial networks can be a great way to let people know that you're hiring. To make it work you need to have a web page that shows your job posting and gives people some way to apply (even if it's just an email link). This should probably be the jobs page on your company website. You then share the URL for that page on Twitter and LinkedIn along with a short message that says "Mario and Associates is hiring an ASP.Net Developer". On Hireflo, we recently added tools to make this process super-easy and we've seen pretty good results, especially from Twitter.
6. If you have lot's of time and money you can search resumesDice and Monster both offer resume searching options. The problem is that 1) they're very expesive and 2) you're going to have to spend a lot of time to reach jobseekers who are currently looking. My experience with resume searching is that I spend a lot of time identifying a list of candidates who look good, then when I try to contact them about 1 out of 5 will respond to my phone call or email. Of those that respond, about half either recently accepted a new job or are already deep into the interview process with another company and are about to take a new job. So you can find good candidates through resume searching, but you have to move fast and it takes a lot of work. These people are already being bombarded with calls from every recruiter within 200 miles.
7. Long-Term LinkedInI think this is the best method but nobody ever uses it because it doesn’t produce immediate results. I get lots of questions along the lines of "I need a Ruby developer yesterday and I can't get anybody to return my calls. How do I find someone??" My answer goes something like, "Okay, first you need to go back a year ago, then you need to attend local meetups, user groups or Ruby forums, ask your current developer who the best Ruby people in the area are, then whenever you meet someone who seems really good add them as a connection on LinkedIn. Do this for a year or two and then when you need a developer just share that message with your LinkedIn stream. Then you need to send direct messages to the Ruby people in your LinkedIn connections and tell them you would like to hire them. If they respond that they aren't avalialble, tell them that you hope the timing will work out some time in the future, but for now do they know anybody who would be a good fit." Nobody likes this answer because there's no immediate pay off, but if you're reading this now, and you know that at some point a year or two down the line you're going to be that person trying to hire a developer, now is the time to start.
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