How to Find and Hire Great Software Programmers

How to Find and Hire Great Software Programmers

by Lynna Peterson

Finding a great software programmer isn’t an easy task – most superior programmers aren’t out of work often, and you have to compete with technology behemoths like Google and Facebook who can offer salaries and job perks that might be out of your budget. But there are a few simple steps you can take to find and hire some of the best programmers on the market:

One of the best times to find and capture a pro-star programmer is while they’re still in school

1. Post On Niche Boards As Well As The Big Dogs

Craigslist, Monster, Indeed, and the like are excellent resources to bring in a ton of resumes. If you’re willing to do the sifting, these sites can be a cheap or even free method to find quality applicants. But don’t neglect the smaller niche sites, like 37signalsjobboard and GitHubJobs. Niche boards will likely garner more experienced applicants and less bulk resumes. Some of these sites will even do the pre-screening for you, like InterviewStreet which requires programmers to solve sample coding problems before they can search for jobs.

2. Offer Internships At Local Colleges And Technical Schools

One of the best times to find and capture a pro-star programmer is while they’re still in school. Through internship programs, you can build a relationship with a student who would otherwise be snapped up as soon as they graduate. Be aware that most software programming internships are paid, so this is an investment, but one that can pay off handsomely with a quality, tested employee. The key here is to treat your interns to generous pay, perks like free lunches, and most importantly, the opportunity to work on fun and exciting projects.

3. Offer Employee Referral Incentives

Money talks. If you offer significant incentives for employees to refer their friends, family members, and acquaintances, then you’ll have an army of recruiters working for you. Once hired, you’ll also have an army of trainers/mentors, because employees that refer candidates will feel accountable for their recommendations. The one caveat is that employees occasionally recommend a friend because of the relationship, not because that person is truly qualified. To sidestep this issue, all referrals should be interviewed, background checked, and tested just like any other potential hire.

See examples of your candidates’ work – their portfolio can demonstrate their aesthetic and creativity, as well as their functionality”

4. Always Test Programmers Before Hiring

Because programming is a highly skilled position, it’s important to confirm candidates’ knowledge and ability to perform job requirements. There are a few different ways you can (and should) test your applicants: first, you can use a simple online screening test to weed out the completely unqualified. Next, you should ask to see examples of your candidates’ work – their portfolio can demonstrate their aesthetic and creativity, as well as their functionality. Finally, you could have your top 2 or 3 candidates complete an “audition project”. This should be a real project you actually need completed, representative of what the candidates will be doing in their new position (for which they should receive a standard freelance fee.)

Because quality software programmers are in such high demand, finding great candidates might not be the hard part – convincing them to commit to your company may be the real challenge. For this reason, make sure your salaries are competitive, and whenever possible offer extra perks that make a difference to your employees’ quality of life. For instance, Team Treehouse gives their employees every Friday off, and Fog Creek provides free meals. At the very least, always provide your programmers with a cushy chair and a modern technology suite to do their job to the best of their abilities.

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Robert Lockard is a guest blogger and is a copywriter with Fishbowl. He writes for several blogs about inventory management, manufacturing, QuickBooks, and small business.


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