3 Tips on How to Hire a Developer

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A medium sized IT consulting company is looking to hire a database developer. How do they actually go about doing that? Getting a large pool of candidates and selecting someone can be stressful.

Here are three tips that can reduce the amount of time it takes to hire a developer:

1. Present a Programming Challenge

Kids ask A LOT of questions: “Why is the sky blue?” or “How deep is the ocean?”. As they get older they stop voicing their questions but some still wonder: “How can I make this widget work better?”. You should look for people who thoroughly enjoy tearing things apart and rebuilding them. Your company should advertise a programming problem (either real or made up) that you want someone to solve. Advertise it on your website (not on the career page). You shouldn’t use it to filter people out. Instead use it to attract those who like to break down complex problems. As an example, Google successfully hired engineers by advertising a tricky math problem in the Kendall Square T.

2. Attend Developer Events (Meetups, Hackathons, etc)

Don’t be the person that’s cramming your business card down the throat of everyone you meet. Be cool. Be casual. Before you attend an event you should know that developers view what they do as a craft. They want to be treated like people, not just code monkeys. Get to know them and learn what makes them tick. Let people learn about you so that you’re not a stranger. You should be on a first name basis with the organizer. Let the organizer explain how to communicate to the group that you’re hiring. I’ll give you extra credit if you track down a few different groups and learn about each one. Show up to a meetup at least two or three times before before even mentioning that you’re company is hiring. Update!: Chris Requena of Mobinett chimed in with this comment. I agree with him so I’m including it here:

“I disagree with getting to know people well before you tell them what you’re looking for (i.e. hire a developer)…We live in real-time, so you need to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves, as you may not have another chance. Mentioning that you’re hiring shouldn’t be the first thing out of your mouth, but I think it’s fine to mention it (or whatever your need is) to new people before your conversation ends. The other party should do the same. This is normal networking.”

3. Reach Out to Your Network

People want to hire people they are familiar with. You should connect with former coworkers, friends and family. Email them individually. Don’t spam. Write a genuine email that you think is relevant to the person you’re sending it to. LinkedIn was made for this. But remember…don’t spam. Ask people gently for help and don’t take it personally if they don’t respond.

Once you have a pool of candidates, you can ask for their GitHub profile. It’s a way to see the code they’ve already written. In the words of my friend Max“Quality of work samples correlate with work performance better than any other single metric, and Github is nothing but work samples.”

Are you that medium sized IT consulting company who’s looking for a database developer? I would suggest looking at the Boston MySQL meetup group. They have 1,132 members and their next meeting is February 11th. Maybe one of their members would know someone who’d be interested in working for you?


Are you a job seeker? There are some handy tips in this post.

When is the next developer meetup/hackathon/event? This post has 10 calendars to check.



Photo by Flickr user Brian Klug via Compfight