How to Hire Software Developers: Steps and Strategies

The race for hiring software developers has hit a new level in recent years, and it’s about to get even more competitive as companies embrace digital transformation and position for growth. In the United States alone, about 1.63 million software developers and quality assurance (QA) workers were employed in 2022, with this figure projected to climb to two million by 2032.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for software developers will grow by 25% over the next decade. However, while the numbers indicate a bright future in this field, there aren’t enough qualified developers to meet the high demand.

Although the competition for top talent may lead recruiters to snatch up the first interested software developers with vaguely relevant experience, finding the right person for the job is more important than ever. To help you source the best candidates for your business, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide so you’ll have a better understanding of how to hire software developers.

How to hire the best software developers in 5 basic steps

Finding competent software developers in a highly competitive market is no easy feat. But you can conquer one of the biggest recruitment challenges with these five fundamental steps to a successful hire.

Step 1: Create a detailed job description

Whether you’re looking to hire remote software developers or an entire technical team, you must first identify your software development needs. Outline the specific features you want to include in your software, the language or tech stack you want to use, and where you want to deploy your product.

Once you have determined your needs, develop a candidate profile. Include the reason for hiring a software developer and a detailed description of the technical skills, knowledge, expertise, and experience you need. Creating a comprehensive yet concise job description increases your chances of attracting the right software developer.

Beyond describing the position you need to fill, share what makes your company a fantastic workplace. Just like you’re looking for the ideal developer, your potential candidates are also deciding if your company’s a good fit for them.

Step 2: Review the portfolio of potential candidates

Once you receive resumes and cover letters, it’s time to evaluate and screen applications to find the best fit for you. Check each candidate’s personal and team projects — their roles, responsibilities, contributions, and overall performance. Shortlist developers with the skills, experience, working style, and approach matching your needs.

You may also evaluate software developers by reading client reviews and testimonials. This will give you an idea of whether the developer has worked on similar projects in related industries.

Step 3: Assess aptitude

With the traditional resume and interview recruiting process, getting a clear indication of a candidate’s abilities can be challenging. Resumes can be misleading, and bias can corrupt subjective analysis. In fact, according to a recent survey from StandOut CV, 55% of Americans have lied on their resume at least once. An estimated 42.5 million applicants have lied about their personal details, skills, experience, or references to get a job in 2022.

When recruiters eventually hire a candidate after searching through hundreds of resumes, they sometimes find the employee isn’t a good fit for the position or the company culture. To find the best technical talent, incorporate objective assessment criteria into the recruitment process.

At Andela, we use our own proprietary assessments to move beyond the resume to assess attitude and aptitude. We analyze the top skills needed for an open position and then evaluate candidates for those qualities. We assess skills like communication, work ethic, problem-solving, and time management to determine the candidates who best fit the job.

Step 3.1: Conduct interviews

Whether you hire software developers online or in person, make the most of the interview process. The right set of interview questions is critical to accurately determine your prospective developer’s capabilities and proficiency. Include both technical and soft skills-related questions to discover a remarkable software developer with the right skills, knowledge, and behavioral attributes.

Step 3.2: Conduct practical assessments

Aside from interviews, facilitate a practical exam to test the candidate’s skills and knowledge of software development fundamentals. Because the field is complex and constantly evolving, you need developers who can walk the talk.

Just ensure that candidates can complete the task in a fair amount of time to give them a chance of success. You also don’t want to give them an unreasonably long exam that may create a negative experience.

Step 4: Keep track of the hiring process

Maintain a list of all candidates interviewed for a position, and create a document for each candidate. Include the role, job description, application documents, screening results, and the reason for hiring or not hiring the candidate.

Take notes during each interview so you can easily compare candidates afterward. You could also implement a procedure within your recruitment team for managing applicant-related documents.

Step 5: Decide, make an offer, and onboard

After you’ve completed the assessments, review each candidate’s qualifications and choose the one that best fits your needs. Once you’ve made your decision, make an offer and, if they accept, provide them with the resources and support they need to succeed. That is the core of a structured onboarding process.

Help your new developers with the legal paperwork, establish effective communication channels, and give them access to tools and software. Introduce the company culture by sharing a digital employee handbook and a presentation of the company’s mission, vision, and values. Finally, assign one of your in-house developers to provide more in-depth training and answer any questions your new hires might have.

5 Hiring strategies to attract top software developers

Now that we know the basic steps of the hiring process let’s discuss the best strategies for finding and interviewing qualified tech candidates.

1. Embrace remote hiring and working from home

Recruiting is no longer limited by location. In their book Remote: Office Not Required, 37Signals founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson explain that limiting hiring to one geographic region means recruiters are missing out on the best talent. They argue that employees and employers can successfully work together from any location.

Don’t limit the search for quality candidates to the local talent pool — the right programmer for the job may not live nearby. Use job-listing services like We Work Remotely, LinkedIn, and ZipRecruiter to reach a larger hiring pool.

Moreover, a remote work culture promotes flexibility and work-life balance. While many companies have shifted to a hybrid model, requiring employees to work on-site a few days each week, 55% of employees prefer to work remotely full-time. Therefore, consider offering remote work options to attract skilled developers who can’t visit a physical office.

2. Find talent in areas with lots of people but few opportunities

Emerging markets may be the best places to look for great software developers. For example, we source much of our talent from the most populous countries in Africa, South America, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia. The growing IT industry combined with the vast population in these countries allows us to be selective with our aptitude and attitude criteria scores and still have many candidates to choose from. Look to fill positions in areas where the talent pool is large and hungry for new opportunities.

3. Consider hires with different levels of experience

Hiring IT positions is competitive, and finding experienced candidates with the right skills is challenging. So, look for aptitude and potential, not just experience. Software developers can often learn the specific skills needed for a position, complete on-the-job training, and absorb lessons from peers and mentors. On the other hand, skills like leadership, teamwork, and problem-solving are hard to teach, so keep an eye out for individuals who possess them.

They will likely grow into valuable team members, no matter how much or how little experience they have.

4. Be mission-driven and consider the cultural fit

In the competitive market for IT talent, candidates have their pick of firms and positions. With similar salary and benefits packages, corporate cultures and missions are often bigger factors in a person’s job decision. To stand out from competitors jockeying for the same talent, highlight the company’s mission and how the candidate will help contribute to it.

Also, pay attention to cultural fit from the get-go. Based on a report by the Robert Walters Group, cultural fit is crucial to 98% of employers and 97% of workers. A shared vision among individuals, teams, and the organization defines a great culture. When the employees’ personal and team goals align with the organization’s mission and purpose, they feel more engaged and motivated to perform well. They’re also more likely to refer qualified tech professionals to your company, helping reduce hiring costs.

5. Provide a competitive compensation package

Without a doubt, software developers are vital to business success not only in the IT sector but also in other industries, including fintech, healthcare, retail, and more. To hire a brilliant developer — particularly one with extensive experience — you should offer benefits and perks that can entice the most qualified individuals to join your team.

Keep in mind that benefits and bonuses are not always monetary. Besides salary, incentives like flexible working hours, paid leaves, and training opportunities are excellent motivators for developers to choose and stay with your company.

Partner with Andela & hire the best without the stress

Hiring top technical talent is never simple, but following these steps and strategies can make the process easier.

Ready to scale your engineering team but not sure where to begin? Join Andela today, and we’ll be with you every step of the way to hire the best tech experts for your software development needs.

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