The motivation for this post is the disconnect I’m seeing between the marketplace and my own experience with hiring developers. It seems an adage these days that hiring great developers is extremely difficult. My experience is that there is enough talent out there and that employers, large and small, are particularly mediocre at hiring. The market is certainly competitive, but I’ve discovered that a well-crafted process, an attention to some key details at each stage, and a healthy respect for the psychology of relationship-building quickly catapults you above the rest.
I can say this with confidence, because my experience with hiring has been tested in cash-poor-equity-rich, cash-rich-equity-soso, and cash-soso-equity-soso situations. The Googles of the world can always outspend you, but you can win by being more scrappy and clever. In this post, I’ll share the details of my process. My diabolic interest in doing so it that I have a soft spot for small companies, where a single great developer can have outsized influence on the success of the business.
The single best way to hire a great developer is to leverage your network. It’s common knowledge. Unfortunately (for us), great developers typically find themselves in great situations. When I’m in hiring mode, I regularly find that the people I want to pull-in are happily employed. I’ll send an email into my network asking for referrals and no leads will come back. More often, folks will remind me that they too are looking for awesome developers. At some point, we need a strategy to explore outside of our network. This post is about the art and science of tapping into a pool you don’t know (yet).
The Job Post
When you post for a position, you are starting a conversation. Measured in that frame, most companies are terrible conversationalists. But it’s important to get it right because first impressions count.