How to Hire a Developer for Your Startup (Video Included)

One of the most important decisions you will take in the early stages of your startup is hiring a developer. Whether you want a full-time website developer or freelance developer, that decision alone will play a significant part in the eventual growth trajectory of your startup or business. Importantly, unlike other specializations, a developer isn’t just another hire you can course-correct later.

LIFESTYLE /
Work and Money
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Adam Taylor Article Writer

If your startup or business is technology-led, then the developer will be building your product. If you are using technology to grow or scale your business, the developer will be creating your distribution channel. Either way, the developer will be responsible for an important part of your startup. Therefore, you must put a lot of thought into it and make sure that you hire the right developer you can partner with.

In a world divided into technology haves and have-nots, it’s not always easy to hire a developer if you don’t have domain expertise, are not from that particular background or do not move in those circles. More so, like most startups, if you don’t have a full-fledged human resources division. But it becomes easier if you go about hiring developers with a clear plan of action in mind. And it begins by knowing what or who you want. 

How to hire a developer: a quick guide

Know who you want

As the founder or project lead, you should have a clear idea about the kind of developer and expertise your startup requires. This may not be similar to companies of different sizes or firms at a different stage in their growth. You should know the domains the developer should be well-versed with, the skill set they have been specializing in, and the number of years they have under their belt. 

Do you want someone working there full-time or would you be happy with a part-timer? Can you accommodate a freelancer, perhaps someone already employed with a tech major? Are you willing to consider the possibility of remote work? Spend some time and write down the profile of the developer you are seeking. 

This is important as it codifies it and makes it easier to communicate. In a paragraph or two, now you have the requirements, specializations, experience and additional skill sets, all rounded up with your contact info. Share this with the tech team if you have one, or with any of your friends who may be able to help you refine it. Once it’s done, you can go about looking for your developer.

Look in the right places

Your target audience is any developer with the necessary expertise looking for work. And if there’s one thing you know about them, it’s that they will be online and part of a platform, network or community. Which means that you will be able to reach out and find them without spending a penny. But first, let’s divide networks according to their functionality and usage. 

Professional network, i.e., LinkedIn

Both on your personal page and your company page on LinkedIn - and your company should have one whether or not the product is ready - post the requirement. Add a bit about your company’s vision and a little bit about the employees already there. Reach out to developer groups and share the profile. Use all the relevant hashtags and make it shareable. 

A word of caution: If you are working somewhere and are focusing on your startup in your spare time, this isn’t a viable course of action. Your boss doesn’t need that kind of a surprise. Post on professional and social networks only if you are completely devoted to your idea.

Social networks

Similar to LinkedIn, post on your social networks but without getting into too much detail. That’s because Facebook and other networks aren’t inherently built for people to share job vacancies. Ask your friends and ex-colleagues to share your post for greater traction. Do remember that this may get you a lot of messages from your family. Be willing to explain why you quit your job. 

Personal networks

This is one of the most overlooked avenues in hiring. Never underestimate the power of a well-drafted e-mail. Write one, ensuring that it will fit in a single mobile screen without the need to scroll, and share it with a few of your closest friends. Prepare a shorter version for instant messaging apps like WhatsApp and share it. Make sure there is a live link along with the message or an e-mail id. 

Professional platforms

This is where you have to be physically present. Search for developer meetups or hackathons in your city. Get in touch with the organizers, visit the venue, post on a job board and interact with developers. Be ready to answer a lot of questions as they too will be assessing you. Know what to say to “But isn’t _______ also doing it?,” “Is it really scalable?” “I know someone else working on it,” etc.

Screening

When you are screening candidates, be flexible to accommodate those who may not completely fit the profile. If someone doesn’t have the necessary work experience but has launched an app of their own for a different category, appreciate that sense of entrepreneurship. Keep this in mind as you screen the candidates: Work ethic towers over everything else. 

Once you have finalized your list to a few, it’s time to meet them, either in person or through video. Prepare a list of questions and answers for questions they may have. Ask them about their experience in similar companies, their working style, etc. If it’s a remote arrangement, it would be worthwhile to have them work for a month or so before you can make it permanent. If you do opt for it, along with the quality of work, watch out for timely delivery and willingness for iterations. Those are crucial things that can make or break your product. 

The right team

Your team is the most important resource you will ever have. They should share your vision, believe in the potential of the product and should be willing to stick together even during the more challenging days. Plus, they should be fun to work with. Hire the right developer and you are well set for an exciting journey. 

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