Tech Recruiting Guide

Why you don't find any good developers

Code rules the world

That may be a commonplace in 2019, yet it bears repeating. Digital products increasingly determine how we live, what we love – and how companies make money.

Virtually all industries go through radical transformation. These processes are triggered and defined by digitalization. The key to stay ahead of the competition and grow as a business is to employ first-rate developers. The masters of code.

Executives worry about access to developer talent

Naturally good developers are a rare resource. A 2018 study by Stripe and Harris Poll found that C-level executives worry more about access to developer talent than access to capital or the impact of Brexit.

Finding the best coders for your company’s demands might not be easy. The many different recruiting options can seem overwhelming at first. But it is possible – if you understand how developers want to work and live.

The recruiting process starts with one question

Our guide walks you through various recruiting scenarios and their pros and cons. One basic question you will have to answer for your company: Do we want to hire developers for permanent positions (A) or work with freelancers (B)?

We at CodeControl believe in the future of work and strongly recommend working with freelancers, for reasons laid out below.

A. Finding developers for permanent positions

If you’re looking to shore up your in-house IT with permanently employed developers there’s a couple of ways to do so.

1) Hire a headhunter

Ideally headhunters are specialized professionals. It is their bread and butter to research, preselect and audition the best candidates for a position. Working with a headhunter can be a viable way to find your developers.

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However, you need to consider two things. Depending on their experience head hunters can come at a high price. And while there are many qualified head hunters out there, few are specialized in finding the best coding talent.

Pro: You don’t bind internal resources. You might be able to fill the position fast if you work with a highly specialized head hunter.

Contra: You have to invest time to find a specialized head hunter. Even if you do, you give up control of the recruiting process. And of course a good head hunter comes at a significant price.

2) Use a headhunting platform

Headhunting platforms like Honeypot or talent.io offer pools of developers and tech professionals looking for jobs.

talent.io embraces the idea of reverse recruiting. Companies apply, employees decide which offer they like best. Honeypot emphasizes quality control. Registration is realized on an invitational basis for companies and employees. Both parties are evaluated on different criteria before being listed.

Pro: You don’t bind internal resources. You might be able to fill the position fast. You hire from a pool of tested developers.

Contra: You have to invest time to set-up and maintain your company’s profile. You directly compete with other companies. You have external costs.

3) Use your HR department

You don’t need to outsource the search for top-notch developers if your HR department is up for the task.

First you need to define a clear profile of what you’re looking for. Which coding skills are required for the position? How much work experience shall he or she have? What about quality references?

Based on this profile HR can start filtering candidates on platforms like LinkedIn, StackOverflow and GitHub. This step can take some time – and it should. You don’t want to miss out on your rockstar developer because you rushed the process.

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The best candidates make up your short list. Your HR professionals should contact them directly with a short, concise email. Important: It should include the reason why the developer absolutely needs to join your company.

If you’re lucky you’ll get a couple of positive responses and can continue the recruiting process with interviews and coding tests.

Pro: You maintain full control over the process and avoid external costs.

Contra: The recruiting process can take a long time. It binds internal recources, while the position to fill remains vacant. Thus internal costs run up high easily.

B. Finding freelance developers

As we have noted here, working with remote or onsite freelancers has a couple of distinct advantages. Most importantly: Freelancers offer a higher return-on-investment than permanent employees. Projects get done faster and with better results.

More specifically you are able to fill your position in less time. Freelancers are more flexible and readily available. You plug-in the best developers for the specific demands of your project without having to commit long-term. You only pay for the time that someone actually contributes to your project, without having to cover sick or vacation days.

On the other hand more and more people consciously choose to work as freelancers, as the latest “Freelancing in America”-study by Upwork shows. According to the study technology makes it increasingly easy for freelancers to find work. At the same time freelancers are more likely to achieve the lifestyle they want, compared to non-freelancers.

So how do you find these prized assets?

1) Use freelance market places

Market places like Upwork or freelancer.de host big pools of freelancing professionals, developers among them. These kind of platforms work especially well for smaller projects (up to 2000 Euros) with rather broad requirements.

You will find qualified freelancers with all sorts of interesting profiles. Finding the one developer best suited to your specific project can be a challenge, though. There’s no form of curation on these market places. That can make it hard to evaluate skill and fit of any given candidate.

Pro: You have a large pool of talent available. You avoid high external costs. You might be able to fill the position fast.

Contra: You have to go through a huge amount of freelancer profiles, while relying on the platforms’ filter functions. That can be very time-consuming.

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2) Use specialized freelance communities

Specialized freelance communities like CodeControl offer curation and full-service recruitment, as well as project management if wanted. Candidates for your freelance vacany are selected from a preselected pool of tested coding talent.

Freelancers in these communities are among the best developers available. Talent evaluators at CodeControl find those that are perfect matches for your profile.

Pro: You hire from a selected pool of top-notch developers. You avoid binding internal resources. You are able to fill the position fast and with lower cost on average.

Contra: You have external costs and give up control over the hiring process to a degree.

3) Use your HR department

Basically the same procedure as described above. You define a profile for your ideal freelance developer and task your HR to find them on LinkedIn, Xing, StackOverflow, GitHub, or similar platforms.

The search process can be long and laborious. Even if you know exactly what you’re looking for and find good candidates, it’s not a given they’re available at the same time you need them.

On top of that, your HR staff may be more or less well-equipped to hire coding talent – which is not always the same as hiring talent in general. It is easier to look at a designer’s portfolio and evaluate his or her skill then it is with a developer’s coding ability.

Pro: You maintain full control over the process and avoid external costs.

Contra: The recruiting process can take a long time. It binds internal recources, while the position to fill remains vacant. Thus internal costs run up high easily.

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Whichever way you choose to find your coding rockstars, choose it deliberately. The right hiring strategy may decide the future of your business.


Philipp Nagels

About the author

Philipp Nagels is a freelance writer and psychologist, based in Berlin. He has years of experience in online-journalism and copywriting and worked for Die WELT, Axel Springer BrandStudio, Upday and Deutsche Bahn, among others.

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