How to Find and Hire the Best Software Developers

Software developer pointing to her computer showcasing her coding skills.

Developers play a critical role in most modern organizations, building desktop and mobile applications that help companies work more efficiently and serve their customers better. A good software developer has a creative mind, a knack for problem-solving, and a healthy helping of patience.

However, identifying and hiring these talented individuals can be daunting for many businesses. The competition for skilled developers is fierce, as they are in high demand across various industries. This blog will guide you through how to find and hire software developers efficiently!

Are Software Developers Easy to Find?

Though most business leaders recognize the importance of recruiting the best software developers, it’s a notoriously challenging position to hire for. With an industry unemployment rate of a mere 1.4%, developers are in sky-high demand, and the good ones are snatched up quickly. 

It’s especially tricky to source and screen developers if you’re not one yourself; with a language all its own and a seemingly never-ending list of acronyms (GUI, CRUD, and SDK, anyone?), even the smartest non-developer can quickly get tripped up while interviewing candidates. Thus, it’s important to have a solid strategy in place to attract and hire for this role.

The great news about hiring software developers is that there’s a vast pool of talent worldwide from which to recruit. If you’re open to hiring remote workers, you can significantly expand your options while simultaneously reducing costs. 

To consistently hire top-notch developers, your best bet is to build a talent pipeline. Hence, you always have great candidates coming your way, even when you’re not necessarily looking to hire immediately. This way, when you do find yourself with an opening, you won’t have to scramble to bring in applicants quickly. 

Follow these strategies to create your own talent pipeline of software developers.

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How to Find Software Developers

Ask for referrals

We’ll kick things off with a recruiting tip that ranks at the top of the list no matter what job you’re hiring for: referrals. Referrals from current and former colleagues are among the strongest sources to find great talent. For software developers specifically, turn to your existing in-house technology team first to see who they might be able to recommend. Hiring a referral has proven to be not only cheaper than going through other recruiting channels but also leads to lower turnover. 

Related: How to Make Your Employee Referral Program a Powerful Recruitment Tool

Tap into freelance marketplaces

Contract work platforms are ripe with talent and have exploded in popularity recently, with Upwork alone boasting over 18 million registered freelancers. These platforms allow you to browse the digital resumes of hundreds or even thousands of software developers and then send out invites to those you think might be a good fit for your job. And since a freelancer’s past clients can give them a rating, there’s a vetting system built right in, which may save you some time during applicant screening or reference checks.

Scour social media

One advantage of the development community is that its members are highly active online, including social media. LinkedIn is always a strong place to start, especially to identify people who are actively looking for jobs. Using LinkedIn Recruiter, you can see whether a candidate is open to hearing about opportunities and reach out to them with a compelling message. 

Though LinkedIn is the obvious social media platform for searching for candidates, it’s not the only one. You can discover talent on other channels by being a little more strategic. On Facebook, join groups that are geared toward developers and observe to see which members are most active. Some Facebook groups have dedicated threads for advertising job openings. 

You can also find loads of developers on TikTok, where coders share their latest projects and give talks on all things tech. Don’t just look to the top personalities themselves; look at their follower lists and browse their comment sections to find other engaged developers. 

Participate on Discord

Discord is a platform where groups of people can gather online and connect via text, talk, and voice. Think of it like a cross between Slack, Reddit and WhatsApp. Discord users gather in designated communities called ‘servers’ to share ideas, troubleshoot problems, and shoot the breeze. It’s a great place to connect and find top talent. Here is a selection of the top Discord servers for developers to get started. 

Open-source data mining platforms

On open-source platforms like Github, software developers from all over the world can collaborate to build applications. But they’re more than that–they also function as a professional social network of sorts, much like a developer-centric LinkedIn. When you view a developer’s profile on Github, you can see the various projects they’ve contributed to and peruse their code, which should give you a good idea of the type of work they’re comfortable with. 

An added bonus: since coders on these platforms contribute their time freely, you can be sure you’re dealing with someone who’s truly passionate about what they do. Stack Overflow, a Q&A site for coding, is another good place to look. 

Check out Amazon reviews

Here’s an unusual method to source development talent: find them while they’re studying up on their craft by browsing public book reviews online. On Amazon, for example, you can sort reviews from newest to oldest, letting you see who’s recently read a software development bible like Clean Code. Many readers leave reviews using their full name, and some are even accompanied by a picture that can help you in your sleuth work. This method can be particularly useful if you’re hiring for a niche skill–search for popular titles on the topic. 

Attend top tech events

Now that live events are back in action; we expect to see a surge of interest in professional conferences and summits. This is great news if you’re looking to hire a software developer, as these events will be packed with professionals who are ready to network. If you need someone with certain expertise, go with a skill-specific conference like PyCon for Python developers. There are also plenty of general conferences like DeveloperWeek for coders of all types.

Host a hackathon

As you can infer from the name, a hackathon is a marathon-like event where developers gather to work together on a collective project. Usually held over 24 hours or a weekend, hackathons are known for their fast and furious nature, drawing participants to sacrifice sleep to move the project across the finish line. 

Hackathons draw developers of all skill levels, from green devs who are new to the field to seasoned professionals. In addition to being a great source of development talent, they’re also a lot of fun!

How to Hire a Software Developer

1. Define your needs

Create an outline for what you need in a developer. Be specific, defining the must-have skills, deliverables you’re looking to develop, and most important indicators of success. 

2. Consider remote candidates

The great thing about development is that the syntax is the same regardless of spoken language. This makes recruiting across international borders less of an issue than with other fields, which is an advantage because some of the best development talent can be found overseas. Recruiting remote candidates can broaden your talent pool while contributing to lower hiring costs. 

3. Ask for prior work examples

When hiring developers, don’t rely on resumes alone. Ask for a portfolio link during the application process. Strong developers should have no problem showing you examples of their work and providing references from past clients or supervisors. 

4. Prioritize talent

Development is one field where hiring for potential over experience often makes sense. In this creative role, a young developer who’s hungry to learn and eager to demonstrate their value may be a better choice than a more seasoned candidate who just wants to write code and clock out. 

5. Don’t neglect soft skills

Though developers do a lot of independent work, their projects also require much input from others. Thus, strong communication and collaboration skills are necessary. Flexibility and problem-solving are also desirable traits for development roles. 

6. Interview effectively

When interviewing developers, use a mix of behavioral and situational questions to ascertain better their skills and how they would apply them in your organization. Here are a few examples of good questions to ask development candidates:

  • What are your preferred programming languages?
  • One of our biggest goals for the person in this role is [insert specific goal]. How would you go about achieving that goal?
  • What’s your approach to quality assurance?
  • What would you do if you worked on a tight deadline but realized you wouldn’t finish on time?
  • What would you do if you received conflicting directions from different colleagues?

7. Use skills assessments

Hiring developers presents a unique challenge in that the people responsible for hiring don’t always have a concrete understanding of the skills they’re looking for. This is the perfect use case for pre-hire assessments. Skills assessments allow you to objectively test candidates’ subject matter expertise, understand how they approach projects, and see their work in action with mock assignments. 

Additional Tips for Recruiting Software Developers

Recruit early

Don’t count out students in your search for development talent, especially for junior roles. College kids have the perfect schedules to accommodate night and weekend shifts, which might be just the thing to supplement your more senior full-timers. Plus, hiring developers as students gives them a chance to learn the inner workings of your company while they learn the ropes of the job, so they’ll be prime candidates to move up the ranks after graduation. 

Related: 8 Benefits of Using Internships as a Recruiting Tool

Use recruiters who know their stuff

Software developers perform a critical function in their respective companies. This isn’t a position where a ‘fake-it-til-you-make-it’ approach works when hiring. You need to make a fantastic impression to entice the best candidates to work for you. Working with a recruiter that specializes in hiring developers can help.  

From writing job descriptions that sell the roles correctly to speaking candidates’ language during the interview process, a niche recruiter will make your company look great in the eyes of candidates and give you a better chance of reaching top talent the moment they start looking for a job. 

Related: How to Select the Best IT Staffing Agency for Your Business

Bring in other perspectives

Having multiple perspectives can be incredibly helpful when hiring software developers rather than relying on a single hiring manager or recruiter. For example, a recruiter might identify core programming knowledge, a department chair can assess problem-solving skills, and a prospective colleague can weigh in on culture fit. This leads to a more well-rounded assessment and prevents personal bias from negatively influencing an important technical hire. 

Make compelling offers

In the current market, talented developers have their pick of exciting roles to choose from. This means you’ll need to go above and beyond to stand out. Offering attractive compensation is a starting point, but your offer should also communicate the total package of working for you. Focus on the most important perks to IT candidates, including flexibility, continuous learning, and career advancement opportunities. 

Hire the Best Software Developers with Help From Our Staffing Experts

Our experienced technology headhunters have the industry intel you need to fill high-value software developer positions quickly and confidently. Whether you’re a startup looking for quick-thinking coders or an established firm seeking an innovative leader to head up your IT department, we can assist in identifying candidates with the right mix of hard skills, soft skills, and experience. Don’t settle for developers who merely get the job done. Make hires that will help your business reach new heights. Get in touch with us today, and let’s talk more about your hiring needs.

Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the President of 4 Corner Resources, the staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. 4 Corner is a member of the American Staffing Association and TechServe Alliance, and the top-rated staffing company in Central Florida. Recent awards and recognition include being named to Forbes’ Best Recruiting Firms in America, The Seminole 100, and The Golden 100. Pete also founded zengig, to offer comprehensive career advice, tools, and resources for students and professionals. He hosts two podcasts, Hire Calling and Finding Career Zen, and is blazing new trails in recruitment marketing with the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Connect with Pete on LinkedIn