If you’ve ever wondered how to recruit developers for a startup, you most likely know that the recruitment process can be very challenging. But it also opens up many opportunities. In this post, we’ve drawn on our experience to give you a list of seven tips that will help you hire developers for your startup.
To recruit developers for a startup, you need to find candidates ready to work in “a human institution designed to create a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty” (this is how Eric Ries describes this type of business in his book The Lean Startup). For this reason, the first step in the hiring process is to mitigate that “extreme uncertainty” by engaging a team of people who work well together and smart leaders, ensuring high transparency, and creating stable conditions for growth.
But how do you put this theory into practice? Here’s a list of seven useful tips!
First of all, hiring programmers for a startup requires recruiters to make sure that a specific candidate has the right mindset and understands how this type of business operates. In other words, you must find software developers that are the right fit for your organization. We believe there’s no better way to do this than through direct contact with the team. Create conditions to introduce your team to the candidate, describe your company in detail, and show how its history is influenced by its employees. Focus on each of them individually, but also present them as people who play in one team.
Lack of a rigid hierarchy, a novel approach to doing business, openness to innovation, and small teams all create opportunities for programmers to fast-track their careers. The candidates we interview often stress that they choose to work for a startup because they expect ample opportunity for professional growth. There’s an obvious logic in this reasoning. In a startup, it’s a lot easier for developers to prove their worth and use their own initiative, which also translates into faster career advancement.
So if you want to recruit developers for a startup, you should tell them clearly what the current stage of development of your product or service is. Developers will be more likely to join your team when the project is in its early stages because they want to influence it from the outset. Also, don’t forget to add how much decision-making autonomy developers will have in your company. You should create an environment in which every opinion matters, and all members of the team are free to present their ideas and suggest innovative solutions, including new technologies.
If you’re hiring programmers for a startup, you should remember that candidates place a high value on working directly with the founders and experienced developers. They often ask our recruiters about the management team and the structure of the organization. This means that the recruitment process gives you a great opportunity to present the founder’s success story as a concept that your future employees will want to identify with. This will help you create the image of your company as a stable and safe workplace in the eyes of prospective candidates. A flat organizational structure also works to your advantage because many developers see it as a big plus.
Who uses your product? What companies buy it? What is your monthly subscription revenue (or at least the number of subscriptions)? Who has invested in your startup?
Answers to all these questions provide candidates with very important information. For this reason, use the principle of maximum transparency to increase your chances of hiring programmers for your startup. Job security and stability are now particularly important, but that was true for startups even before the pandemic.
You may consider allowing your employees to buy shares in your company. This will help you build a more united team and make its members feel they have influence over the product or service you’re developing in your startup.
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As I wrote earlier, recruiting for startups means finding people with the right mindset. Our clients have long realized that this approach brings considerable benefits. I hope you’ll decide to explore it too. Why do I stress its importance?
When you recruit developers for a startup, ask the candidates what they’re passionate about, what they do in their free time, how they pursue their hobbies, and whether they’re doing anything outside of work to help them “rise to the next level.” This attitude is necessary when you’re working in a startup that is constantly evolving and needs people who aren’t afraid to take initiative, think outside the box, and constantly aim for more.
We are often asked to find developers for startups, so we know from experience that employers often value additional initiatives more than actual commercial experience. We can also say that this attitude on the part of the employer more than pays off in the future.
To answer the question of how to recruit software developers, you have to take into account the type of business you’re recruiting developers for. In a startup, you usually have a limited budget and very specific deliverables. Ideally, you should start by hiring one or more senior developers. Simply put, they’re more efficient, and they will create the code you need faster.
But you should not forget that after recruiting core team members (2–3 senior developers), you should also hire regular or junior developers. It’s important that the candidates you recruit for these posts have the potential for fast professional growth (as we wrote earlier, a startup creates ideal conditions for rapid career advancement). Such candidates may be initially less experienced, but they often quickly “rise to the next level” and bring a great deal of value to the team.
In this way, you can balance your team in terms of experience (you can give difficult tasks to senior developers, while simpler jobs are delegated to junior staff), as well as overall development costs (which are extremely important in almost every startup).
As a recruitment agency, we have been in the market for a long time, so we are well aware that startup managers are often forced to single-handedly juggle their core responsibilities with the tasks of an entire HR department. In the best-case scenario, they only perform some of the HR tasks provided that they have at least one recruitment specialist.
We know that such a situation can be overwhelming. Doing a multitude of tasks often means that you don’t have the time to prepare your recruitment process properly. Consequently, you keep changing the requirements for candidates and the job description. In the best-case scenario, the hiring process drags on for two months.
But if you partner with a recruitment agency, you’ll receive advice on the salary ranges for specific positions, possible fringe benefits, and the organization of recruitment processes in a startup. In other words, if you want your hiring process to run smoothly, but you’re not sure you can handle the task yourself, you should consider entrusting it to experienced professionals.
As a bonus tip, I have two inspiring quotes to help you recruit developers for your startup.
Hire an attitude, not just experience and qualification. Greg Savage
Hire character. Train skill. Peter Schutz
The key takeaway from this post is that all the tips I’ve presented here are based directly on the experience we’ve built up over years of recruiting developers for startups (see our case study: Back-end developer recruitment for Stonly startup). In other words, these are the conclusions we’ve drawn from real-life situations, so you can apply them immediately and expect them to work in your organization.
If you have any questions or need help in hiring programmers for your startup, we are here to help you:
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