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What are the best ways to find qualified developers for my company?

We've had some limited success with traditional routes like posting to job sites and hosting open houses, but I'm trying to find some new ways to locate candidates.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

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closed as not constructive by gnat, Kilian Foth, Dynamic, ChrisF May 25 '13 at 15:22

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StackOverflow has a place to post jobs: careers.stackoverflow.com/?campaign=PrettyFooter –  Pemdas Feb 13 '11 at 3:12
Networking and word-of-mouth always provided me the best results. –  Vitor Feb 13 '11 at 3:15
@Seth P. - Staffing agency or internal recruiting? –  P.Brian.Mackey Feb 13 '11 at 3:58
@P.Brian.Mackey - We have tried staffing agencies before, but I don't think we've been more successful with that than our other techniques. We would absolutely be open to internal recruiting if an employee showed interest. –  Seth P. Feb 13 '11 at 4:07
Finding qualfied devs is tough work. Do you have anyone on staff capable of performing a technical interview? Its difficult to offer any useful feedback without knowledge of your business or why past developers have failed. Just from what I've read thus far I think you need a consultant to help you answer some basic questions first. This forum isn't geared towards specific topics such as this. Its too general. –  P.Brian.Mackey Feb 13 '11 at 4:39
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8 Answers

up vote 21 down vote accepted

I wrote a blog post about this not too long ago "19 Tips for Recruiting Great Developers"

Here are the major points, follow the link for details on each one.

  1. The big job boards like Monster and Dice have become practically useless for hiring top tier talent.
  2. Niche job boards will get you qualified leads, but not very many of them.
  3. Use LinkedIn Strategically
  4. The best candidates aren’t going to come to you.
  5. Networking is as essential for you as it is for the candidate.
  6. Focus your search on finding developers, not job hunters.
  7. Programming competitions
  8. Don’t expect to pay median salaries for top talent.
  9. Get the muggles out of the process as early as possible.
  10. Be flexible with your requirements.
  11. Branding is not just for cattle and marketing.
  12. Understand your needs and recruit for that.
  13. Ignore your instincts during the interview
  14. Trust your instincts when making the final hiring decision
  15. Just say no to puzzle problems.
  16. Write an interview script and test it on your current team
  17. Don’t leave people hanging.
  18. Recruit former employees
  19. Mind your karma and don’t make enemies
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The best way to recruit talented developers is to have talented developers representing your company in the community. Good developers are attracted to environments where they will have the opportunity to interact with other good developers.

The trick to finding that first "seed" developer is to get involved in the community. Go out to user group meetings and chat it up. If necessary find a technical person that you trust to help you evaluate potential talent on the fly.

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Or start by advertising in that community. That at least shows you're interested in better programmers rather than lower-wage programmers. Also, support the programmers you have in their interaction with the community (it sounds obvious but a lot of companies don't do it). If you're big enough, sponsor a relevant open source project or two. –  Мסž Feb 13 '11 at 11:03
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The best way to recruit developers is to be a place potential employees want to work, so that you don't have to recruit.

Joel has a lot of suggestions about it, but at the end of the day everything boils down to just being a great place to work. If that's the kind of company you are, then word should get out organically. If not advertise it.

Everyone has incentives. You want someone who will treat your company well (Value! Profits!). Programmers want a company that will treat them well in return. Generally, you want a win-win fit between you and the programmer. Being a great place to work ensures the win on their side, so you should have no (er...much less) trouble finding the win for yours.

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+1 I agree with this, although the real trick is how do you do this when you are small and no one has heard of you or you're a large cooperation that has a relatively small number of developer's (well treated or not). –  Ken Henderson Feb 13 '11 at 4:39
This is true. But, the OP wants help with his company. This answer only tells where and why developers flock to other companies. Seth P. can email me if he wants, but the question should be closed as too localized. –  P.Brian.Mackey Feb 13 '11 at 4:40
@confusedGeek: that's where Mike Brown's answer comes in: get your existing developers active in the community and word will spread. It's usually the more talented developers who make the effort to attend community events. –  Tom van Enckevort Feb 18 '11 at 16:18
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Difficult to know what you mean by "qualified". Anyway, some tips that would make me want to work for you:

  1. Don't use a useless agency to recruit for you.

  2. If you're a start-up and the work is totally green-field that will impress me more than anything else.

  3. Salary isn't everything, but a job spec with a huge list of requirements wanting a supposed top expert and offering far less than market rate is not likely to impress me unless (1) applies.

  4. I would want to know I am being employed to do a task, not just to fill a head-count, and if not totally green-field then to at least start up a new component rather than take one over from someone else who has moved on, either to a different "green" project or left the company.

  5. Well thought-out job spec expressing what you really want. Do not let HR scan CVs/resumes for buzz-words, they are really not that important.

  6. Don't have the expectation of a developer having to "hit the ground running". They won't - it is impossible. They can't possibly know your system. A great developer will be able to learn fast so it is more important to find one who has capability rather than simply one who has toyed with all the right gadgets. There may be a few "must-haves" but ideally forget all about the "desirables". Either you need them or you don't.

  7. I am being recruited as an expert so treat me like one. Give me responsibility but don't micro-manage me. Review my code by all means, all developers need their code reviewed, but don't instruct me - just make constructive suggestions for improvements.

  8. I am a developer, not a salesman.

  9. If you see a clear talent that can be utilised within your company but are not sure yet where you can utilise it, offer them anyway. Change your structure a bit maybe to fit them in, however you may find they are just general problem-solvers and will help you more than you had imagined.

  10. Don't discriminate against past career choices. Trust a developer who was contracting and says they want perm. Do not assume a history of moving regularly means the developer was either inadequate where they were or that they just get bored too quickly. By the way, if developers get bored too quickly in your company that may be a problem with your routine.

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That's a good question that I've never given a great deal of consideration to although my first thought would be to try breaking down the issues.

Hiring a new developer usually boils down to one of two different sources:

Gain a lead from a current employee

In a lot of ways leads from current employees are your best bet. (Note I'm assuming you are only really looking at the leads from your quality employees.) A good developer will most likely never really recommend someone that they don't want to work with. I personally (although, granted this may be unique) have never really run into a situation where a friend was recommended that wasn't a good fit both temperament and ability. That being said no matter the source of the recommendation you will still need to go through a full interview process to ensure that the individual will in fact be a good fit.

Recruit a new candidate

If internally supplied leads can't meet your needs then your next option is to go recruiting. Probably one thing to consider is that good developers (assuming a fairly normal job market in their region) will generally be gainfully employed. By this I mean they are fairly satisfied in their job and employer. However a certain percentage of them will be open to new opportunities. How they go about being open to new opportunities varies among individuals but two things seem to be fairly common.

  1. Post resume/experience/etc. on a listing like Monster.com
  2. Occasionally peruse classifieds (which ones are fairly locale specific).

The developer's I know that have changed jobs have typically either accepted a position with a company that they applied for directly or been a lead developed by a recruiter. If the applied directly the it comes down to selling your company in a (guessing here) 200 word ad to get them to apply. Recruiter's are difficult since many of them will shove any warm body at a position in the hopes of making some money. That being said it doesn't mean that they can't handle the leg work of find those individuals posting on a job board for you and forwarding their resumes to you.

Honestly I'm not sure this is really much of an answer to your question. I think I can state fairly strongly that it's hard to find good employees (whatever your company does) and it's hard to recruit new good ones. Based on that and given how much of this is up to the each individual I'm not sure there is a good answer.

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Have you ever asked candidate to program on the spot? Please read this blog post, which says most programmers cannot really program.

You may also use online services like NvnTest to filter out most of the candidates.

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NvnTest looks very interesting and I will definitely look into it further. We do make the candidates go through a real world scenario of how they would attack a software problem. –  Seth P. Jan 16 '12 at 5:06
We had also encountered Jeff's issue. In response, we tried to make our phone screens better at filtering out candidates who did not have even minimal coding experience. –  Seth P. Jan 16 '12 at 5:08
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You may want to try this! :)

enter image description here

Source - http://thedailywtf.com/Articles/Classic-WTF-Desperate-Recruitment.aspx

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If you want to test their brain, ask them to solve these puzzles:


and see what they come up with

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to be honest I think it's puzzles like that that can put developers off. I would say a good profile incl. a list of projects, and demos would be good enough. –  TeaDrinkingGeek Feb 13 '11 at 18:05
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