How to recruit better software engineers for your startup


One of the biggest challenges in launching a successful startup is hiring the right software engineers. With a team of talented and hard-working programmers on your side, you can be sure that your vision, whether it’s a new app or something much more sophisticated, will become a reality. Without that equipment, you may never be able to reach your full potential.

Unfortunately, there are many obstacles that stand between you and your dream team of software engineers, including a limited budget, limited professional network, and an uncertain future. So what steps can a start-up entrepreneur take to recruit better software engineers from day one?

Multiple problems in one

Let’s start by breaking the problem down into its basic components. If you can solve the following problems, you will be in a much better position to recruit the best possible people for your business:

  • Get better people. First, you need to hire the best people possible – the talented, experienced, and diligent candidates who are capable of helping you bring your business vision to life. If they don’t have the technical skill or experience to help you, nothing else will be able to bridge that gap.
  • Making people faster. You are also likely working within a tight time frame. You can’t afford to wait months, and certainly not years, trying to track down “unicorn” programmers. Most business owners are eager to get people to the door as quickly as possible.
  • Stay within budget. If you had an unlimited budget, hiring great programmers would not be a problem; you could keep putting money into the problem until it is solved. Unfortunately, most startups are working on a tight budget that prohibits certain tactics and puts a cap on the salary you can offer to your prospective recruits.

Now let’s look at the strategies that can help you achieve all three simultaneously.

Determine your needs

Before you start aggressively stepping up your recruiting efforts, have an internal meeting to clarify your business needs.

  • Technical challenges. What are you trying to achieve exactly? What is the technology you are trying to build or improve? What skill set do you need from your developers and is there any flexibility in that skill set? What are the main technical challenges that you will have to overcome?
  • Budget. How much money are you willing to spend on this team? Consider salary, benefit, and benefit costs. How much are you willing to pay for the entire team and what is the best way to allocate that budget?
  • Volume. How many people will you need? Is this the type of project that is best designed by a single dedicated person? Do you need three different specialists working together with their respective areas of expertise? Or do you need a whole team of different people collaborating for the best results?

Make your startup more attractive

The next step is to make your startup more attractive. The better your company looks, the easier it will be to get people to apply for your jobs. If you’re lucky, your startup’s appeal will serve as your own inbound marketing channel. Otherwise, your startup’s position and reputation will solidify candidates’ desires to work with you.

  • Start with the culture. It’s important to start by defining and solidifying your startup culture. Your company it should look innovative, open and focused on employees; Beyond that, your core values ​​are your own decision. Different environments attract different people; some recruits will prefer a fun and relaxed organization, while others will want something more dignified and refined.
  • Offer a competitive payment. It can be difficult to do this if you are on a limited budget to work with, but do your best to offer a competitive salary. It’s still one of the first things candidates check when deciding whether to accept a job offer.
  • Considering adding secondary benefits. If you can’t afford a competitive salary, you may be able to close the gap at least a little bit by adding peripheral benefits. For example, you can offer health insurance, retirement plans, or other benefits.
  • Offer autonomy and flexibility. You can greatly increase the attractiveness of your startup by offering employees autonomy and flexibility. Even simple additions to work, such as including flexible hours or the ability to work from home, can increase your recruiting potential.
  • Present a path to growth and improvement. Most modern employees want to work for an employer with whom they can learn and grow indefinitely. Make it clear that your candidates will have the opportunity to develop here.

Expand your pool of candidates

After that, you will need to work to expand your pool of candidates. In other words, you will need to find more people to suit your organization.

These are just a few of the ways you can do it:

  • Post to multiple job boards. There are many websites that can help you find good software developers and engineers. Take advantage of them. Write the most detailed job descriptions you can and post them to multiple channels to maximize your reach. If you have access to analytics, study them carefully; How many people are viewing this job advertisement, and how many are actually responding?
  • Make your company more prominent. You can also make an effort to make your startup (and your career opportunities) more visible and prominent. Paid advertising is perhaps the fastest and most convenient route here, but it can also be expensive. Alternatively, you can use organic social media posts and group engagement to improve your business visibility.
  • Network and recruit. Take the time to network with other people and consider hiring a recruiter or recruiting agency. The larger your professional network, the more reach your company will have and the more warm job candidates you can work with to fill your positions.
  • Use the cold scope. You may also want to take advantage of cold broadcast, the process of reaching people who are not familiar with your startup. As long as you are working with a reliable set of data, this can work to your advantage.

Refine your hiring

Finally, you will want to refine your actual hiring process.

  • Focus on talent over credentials and experience. It is tempting to choose candidates based on the years they have worked, the degree they have, or the specific credentials they have earned. While these qualities are important, they don’t always tell the whole story, and there are many qualified and talented candidates who lack these formal credentials. In most cases, it’s best to prioritize talent and capabilities over titles, credentials, and experience. This will broaden the pool of candidates you have to choose from, and at the same time, lower your hiring cost.
  • Find someone willing to grow. As a startup, you likely hope to grow this business significantly. Consequently, it is in your best interest to find someone willing to grow with the business. It pays to find a candidate who will learn new skills and adapt over time, as well as one loyal enough to carry your business through the major challenges that you will inevitably experience.
  • Don’t neglect the personality. Do not forget to the personalities of your candidates. You need to make sure they fit in well with the culture, as well as have the technical skills and talent to design your core products. If they don’t get along with the rest of your team, or if they don’t take leadership well, they may not be worth hiring, no matter how much more they have to offer.

You may not find the perfect candidate overnight and you may not be able to build a perfect team with your limited budget. But if you apply these strategies correctly, you should be able to recruit a team of capable and cohesive people who can help you execute your business plan from day one.

Nate nead

Nate Nead is the CEO and Managing Member of Nead, LLC, a consulting firm that provides strategic advisory services across multiple disciplines, including finance, marketing, and software development. For more than a decade, Nate had provided strategic guidance on M&A, equity acquisition, technology, and marketing solutions for some of the best-known online brands. He and his team advise Fortune 500 clients and SMBs alike. The team is based in Seattle, Washington; El Paso, Texas and West Palm Beach, Florida.


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