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What Are the Best Practices of Hiring Developers For a Startup?


When you’re in the early stages of your business, making sure that you hire the right person for the role is vital. With 20% of startups failing in the first two years, and almost a quarter of failures being due to teamwork issues, getting this right is fundamental. That’s why we’ve put together this list of best hiring practices startups need to know.

1. Consider Your Startup Culture

Working for startups needs a certain mindset; while you may be hiring a developer, the chances are that there will probably be some overlap with other roles because that’s just how it is with new companies; when the deadlines get tight, it’s all hands on deck. So it’s important to make sure that any new hire understands what sort of a ride they’re in for with you, and what your expectations are.

This is particularly important in terms of working hours and deliverables; make your expectations clear when you take someone on. Don’t say you’ll be OK with a 9-5 workday if you’re really going to be a seething ball of resentment as you burn the midnight oil, again, to get something finished.

And as we said, almost a quarter of startups fail because they didn’t have the right team. So, when you’re hiring your first developers for a startup make sure that you introduce your candidate to everyone, people they’ll report to, people who will report to them, the janitor if you’ve got one – you can do this via Zoom or Skype. How they speak to these different groups of people will tell you a lot about them.

2. Widen the Net

If you’re really lucky, or you live in one of the centers for technology like Silicon Valley, then you might just have the best talent on your doorstep. If you don’t, you might have to consider going further afield. You could get lucky and find a rockstar who’s willing to take a bet on your company and relocate, but you’re much more likely to attract great talent if you accept applications from all over the world.

Hiring remote developers makes sense in a lot of other ways, too. It can take as little as two weeks to have your new developer on board, helping you to respond to opportunities as they occur – and it saves you money. With most startups ‘head office’ being someone’s home or garage, for cost and convenience, knowing that you don’t need to get bricks and mortar premises and all the costs they bring with you is a major bonus. Hiring developers for a startup needn’t mean taking on more debt.

Man talking through the computer screen

3. Know the Role

As we’ve mentioned, roles in startups tend to require a little more flexibility than the average, so make sure the job description reflects that in addition to all the skills and experience that your ideal candidate will have. Don’t be tempted to write an unreal – exciting job description; be honest. If this role is going to be long hours of solo coding, there will be a developer who thinks they’ve just been offered a place in heaven. If it’s a multi-skilled role where they will be talking to clients, doing a little bit of tech support, and pitching in with product design that will be someone’s idea of Nirvana too.

The bottom line is, it does no one any favours if there aren’t clear expectations, The worst thing you can do is hire someone only to find out they’re not the right fit. That just delays projects and destroys morale.

4. Avoid Freelance Marketplaces

There is a place for freelancers in the world of software development, but it isn’t as a full-time employee of a startup. If you need someone for a one-off project, or you just need a temporary boost to your team to get something finished? You might (might) find the right person on a marketplace, but some bords are a bit like Mos Eisley spaceport, if you know what we mean.

They are chaotic places, where it’s often a race to the bottom in terms of price which obviously has an impact on quality. Freelancers can overpromise and under-deliver, leaving you worse off that you were before they started. If you’re in the market for a website, for example, you may end up with something generic that has been used by many other clients, that’s why you should hire a web developer for a startup.

If you’re fortunate enough to find a freelancer with great technical skills, they’re still freelancers and not potential employees. While they will deliver for you, they’re also keeping one eye on the next opportunity – or maybe even working for other clients at the same time. These are not the developers you are looking for.

The Best IT Talent for Your Startup

5. Find an IT Recruiter

Not all recruitment companies are equal, especially when it comes to finding the right technical talent. We’ve all had the experience, right? You get a phone call or LinkedIn message from someone claiming to have read your profile, and they see you have the right skills…except you don’t. They looked for a keyword, and it was the wrong one, because they don’t really know what they’re doing.

And who can blame them, really? If they spend their days placing candidates who work in catering, sales, administration, or hospitality then how are they going to keep up with the increasingly complex subtleties of an IT job description. Choose a generic agent and you’ll spend your time leafing through irrelevant resumes.

6. They Should Know Remote

Right now, there are a lot of people ‘working from home’ because of Covid-19, but that doesn’t make them experts. There is a LOT of difference in the usual experience of working remotely and working under quarantine conditions due to a worldwide pandemic. So, look for someone who truly understands the demands of remote working, long-term.

How to Hire a Software Developer for a Startup?

If you’re not sure if such a firm exists, then let us introduce ourselves. We’re DistantJob; A recruitment agency specialized in remote tech talent. We connect companies, including startups like yours, with the very best technical talent from all around the world. If we send you a CV you can be sure that a person meets the criteria of your job description, is technically competent, and has what it takes to work successfully as part of a distributed team.  Sound like just what you need? Get in touch today.

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Sarah Dixon

Sarah Dixon

Sarah Dixon is a remote work advocate and thought leader and a specialist in persuasive writing. She has an MA in Creative Fiction, is a children's author, and a writer of award-winning short stories.