Hiring your first developer can be overwhelming. And whether you're developer yourself or not, knowing the best way to balance betweeen cost and the current stage of your business is a delicate task.

But if you're sure you need one or more developers to join your team, you need to put in a bit of planning before hiring. Some things to consider is the cost, the set up and how you can make your business attractive for a software engineer. They often get tons of LinkedIn requests every week, especially if they're based in a larger city. That's why you as a company need to stand out from the crowd, or else you won't get their attention.

We work with companies everywhere from early-stage startups hiring their first developer, to large organizations with a fast-paced hiring pipeline. We've put a few thoughts together in this blog post to help you better understand what you can expect when hiring your first developer.

When to hire

The biggest question to ask, is whether or not your business is actually ready to hire a developer. It can be a costly affair, especially when you employ the first time.

A general rule of thumb, is not hiring before you have solid funding in place - it's a monthly cost that they depend on you for providing. The new hire could have a mortgage to pay or family to support, so it's vital that you're sure to have the funds, either through an investment or organic income.

If you don't have enough funds for a full-time employee, you could maybe consider hiring part-time or finding an intern to join you. Be aware though, that you generally already should be able to mentor a developer before offering internships - that's kind of why internships exist.

A general rule of thumb, is not hiring before you have solid funding in place - it's a monthly cost that they depend on you for providing.

At Jobflow we're trying to minimize the cost of sourcing and hiring tech talent, so underneath there's a small camparison on Jobflow vs traditional agency fees:

How to hire

Listen, hiring tech talent is difficult. Not only for first time employers, but for larger organizations as well. Actually, software engineers are globally the fourth most difficult position to fill. That's an issue, and you might be running in to the same problem.

But there is some hacks you can use to get a leap in front of competing companies. We've listed some of them below:

  • Meet the developers where they are. Participate meetups, go to tech conferences or maybe organize a hackathon and make them come to you. The possibilites to meet software engineers are endless, you just have to be creative.
  • Make an interesting product. I know, your product is your baby, but for a developer it might not be the same. If you use 15 year old technology and there's no potential to grow as a developer while working on your product, why would they?
  • Use a tech jobs marketplace. Yep, shameless plug - but we really feel like we've cracked the code in tech hiring. On Jobflow, software engineers can find their next it job and companies can hire software engineers really easily and in an honest way. Companies apply to get to interview tech talent along with salary and other job info known up-front, and it's then the candidates choice if they want to go forward with the company or not.

It's also worth mentioning, that there's a lot of tech talent out in the world. So looking beyond the 10-mile radius can be a big help in hiring your first software engineer. Maybe also think about the opportunity to hire on a remote basis.

Who to hire

Anyone who has ever been in the position of hiring tech talent, knows that it's very much multi-faceted. It's a combination of technical knowledge, social networking and intuition. But the real challenge is the soft criterias: How do you evaluate their creativity? How to you know if a candidate is a good team player? And are they able to receive and give feedback in a constructive way?

The best source of qualified candidates is personal networking - statistics show that the highest percentages of hires is from referrals. But if you want to easily find qualified developers, theres a few more sources to look at:

  • Open-source contributors. Looking for candidates in between open-source contributions on GitHub or GitLab can be a very valuable resource in finding qualified candidates. You can directly see the code they're writing, what technologies they use and you know that they're active in the community.
  • Conferences. Conference speakers and attendees, are often the top of the line candidates - they are active in the community, is investing in their knowledge (conferences aren't always cheap) and they're often genuinely interested in networking. Get to know folks, or write to people who are speaking or attending - they might be looking for a role at this very moment.
  • Personal websites and blogs. Technical blogs and writings on Medium by tech talent can be a challenge to find, but when you do, it is again a very good indicator of a qualified developer.

The nice thing about these resources, is that you've had time to vet the candidates before contacting them. That provides value to you, but the candidate might also like to be contacted based on their experience and technical knowledge.

The best source of qualified candidates is personal networking - statistics show that the highest percentages of hires is from referrals.

If you go by the traditional route of receiving resumes and applications, a good way to check the qualifications of a developer is by doing a technical test. On Jobflow, we have already tested the candidates on our challenges platform, and their results are totally available to companies looking to hire. This means you get a good idea of their technical and problem solving abilities, you can skip a good part of the interview process and ultimately save sourcing hours.

Ultimately, the technical process can be a long journey. But if you go into it prepared, you will get much more value out of your hires in the long run.

If you aren't already on board, you can sign up as a candidate or read more about hiring tech talent! If you're already a user, I would love to hear any feedback you have at nicolaj@jobflow.io. You can also follow us over at Twitter @JobflowHQ