How To Hire Software Developers For A Startup

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How To Hire Software Developers For A Startup

Software developers today are like the tradespeople of the industrial revolution. Structural engineers, pipe fitters, electricians, bricklayers, and contractors of all types worked together to build the infrastructure that allowed us to live in cities and expand our knowledge, culture, and technology - and the software developers of today, do the things but in code. They build the entire infrastructure on which we do our work.

With the tech industry growing at rates of adoption never seen before in any other industry throughout history, it is increasingly difficult to find individuals for all of these new developer roles.

According to Manpower Group, the software development and IT sector experienced more than 75% workforce shortages in 2022, and CodeSummit estimates that this means 40 million jobs go unfilled due to a lack of talent.

What's more, the US Department of Labor estimates that this number will more than double to 85.2 million by 2030. Because of these shortages, it's vital that you know how to source, identify, and interview quality candidates for your open software development roles if you want to stay ahead of the innovation curve. 

How to hire software developers for a startup:

1. Identify your core needs and set clear expectations: Before you start searching for a developer, it's important to know exactly what skills and traits your company needs for this particular development role. Do you need someone with experience in a certain technology stack or coding language? Does the candidate need specific problem-solving or design skills? These things will help you build a skills matrix as you begin the search.

2. Create the job description. This will help you attract the right talent for your role and make it easier for them to decide whether or not it's a good fit. Make sure to include a comprehensive list of the job qualifications, duties, and responsibilities that a candidate MUST have before applying for the role - also consider removing anything that isn't absolutely necessary.

3. Search for candidates: Your team's LinkedIn network is often the best place to start. Once you've created the job description share it internally with your team so that they can identify individuals from their network who may be a fit.

Posting the job across all of the large job boards is helpful, but you'll probably be inundated with resumes, many of which will not be a good fit for the role. To mitigate the time vacuum that public posting can become, you can search for qualified developers on job boards, digital marketplaces, and recruiting agencies that specialize in finding developers quickly.

4. Evaluate the resumes: After you've collected a handful of resumes, look through them to make sure they match your skills matrix. You can even use automated resume reading and ATS software to speed up this process if you have a large number of applications.

5. Interview candidates: Using interview intelligence software, walk your candidates through a 5- 6 step interview process beginning with a phone screen, HR interviews, hiring manager interviews, team interviews, etc. to know whether these candidates will be fit for the role, company, and culture - and, when you've found the right one - make an offer!

Hiring software developers for a startup isn't easy, but with today's resources and technology, it's simpler than it's ever been.

Hire Developers for A Startup

Now that we've covered the basics in the section above- let's get into the details. How to find developers for a startup:

The fastest way to find new developers is to tell your current happy developers to invite the best talent they know to check out your company. This sounds too easy upon initial consideration, but word-of-mouth referrals from current developers are the fastest, cheapest, and most reliable form of hiring.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, one of our customers - a marketing software startup grew from 2 to 10 developers almost overnight, by using this strategy- and it works because people who have similar interests and similar skills often hang out in groups. They're in close proximity to one another and can share open roles quickly with their entire community.

When you don't have any open positions advertised or your network doesn't turn up a lot of candidates, consider turning to outside resources. Here are some of the best strategies for recruiting developers:

- Use job boards and recruiting agencies that focus specifically on your target employees.

For instance, if you're trying to hire more female developers to stay on track with company DEI initiatives, shecodes may be a great place for you to start. There are also organizations like Coding Black Females and many others that are equipped with the tools to help you find talent to fit your needs.

One place we've found to be successful is locally focused job boards. Organizations like Powerderkeg list all the local tech jobs in the Midwest, and there are similar organizations in New York, Boston, Atlanta, Austin, and of course, Silicon Valley.

- Recruit at universities and coding boot camps. College students are often hungry for real-world experience and love to join startups for the culture and speed of innovation.

Finally, make sure your company is creating a place where people love to work. Remember, word travels fast in tech - if your company culture isn't on point, candidates will post about it on Glassdoor and other review sites and quickly scare away top talent.

How to Hire Developers

Now that you've got a recruitment process for software developers, let's build the interview process and create the tech stack. Here's a checklist on how to hire developers:

Once a candidate is in your pool, scheduling a phone screen is often the first step. A phone screen generally consists of a 30-minute conversation to verify that the applicant has the skills required. Next, the HR manager or recruiter will schedule an interview with the hiring manager who will take them through the first step of the interview. The team interview is usually the next best step.

We like to see the ICs walk a candidate through a real "day in the life" of that role so that they can get a feel for the role, team, and expectations. Once the team has signed off, the candidate should be put through the necessary assessments and skills tests to ensure success in the role. From this point on, many teams differ in how they handle the next steps.

For many, the next step is a reference check, for others, it's an executive interview - either way, these are both vital steps before making an offer. Once a candidate is chosen, send them an offer letter with a timeline to sign it. Having a deadline forces the candidate to make a choice and take action.

You should include all of these steps and any other information vital to hiring software developers on the company's cloud under, "How to hire software developers" so it's easy to access and use as a resource. At Pillar, we also have these resources in our database, and blog - so if you're using our video interview platform, you'll have it in your dashboard.

Startup Developer Job Description

One of the main things we talked about earlier in this article is getting the job description right. Here's an example startup developer job description: 

"We are looking for an experienced, creative software developer to join our team and help us build innovative software solutions. The ideal candidate is a problem-solver who loves working in a fast-paced environment and has experience with cutting-edge technologies and development processes.


- Develop high-quality code that meets user requirements

- Debug and fix existing issues in our software solutions

- Work with other developers to integrate systems and databases

- Design, develop, and maintain efficient databases for applications

- Test and document code changes

- Assist in the design of new features, functionality, and services


- Either a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Information Systems, or a related field (OR) Graduate of a coding BootCamp with the equivalent experience.

- 5+ years of experience in software development

- Experience with C++, JavaScript, Python, PHP, and SQL

- Familiarity with Open Source tools such as Joomla

- Ability to effectively communicate technical information across multiple teams.

- Passion for technology and creating innovative solutions.

- Good problem-solving skills and a keen eye for detail.

Having a good job description that communicates the role clearly, sets expectations, and highlights the responsibilities will make it easier to attract top talent to your team.

One thing I'll add that we've seen work well - Ask a candidate how they stay up to date with new trends, tools, code, and innovations. If they're not passionate about the field and stay up-to-date with emerging technologies, or are part of communities who research those things, they may not be right for the role, but it may not show up as clearly in the interview process.

Pillar was built to help you make better hires. We've made it our mission to help great companies hire great developers. To see how- book your demo or you can find more helpful resources on hiring great software developers on our blog.