Software development involves a great deal of collaboration; you’re in a partnership with the person you choose, usually for many months or even years. Though there’s no shortage of places to find a software developer, the challenge lies in finding someone with the right skill-set for your company. While technical ability should be a top priority, so should ‘soft’ skills, those that make someone a joy to work with. Your developer does more than just write code; they’re tasked with bringing your vision to life – so you want to find a software developer who is as driven and excited about the project as you are.
We can’t overstate the importance of finding a good match, and in the age of the internet, the pool of candidates is neverending. According to SlashData, there were 18.9 million software developers globally as of 2019, and that number is only growing. So, with this abundance of potential candidates, where do you start?
Where To Find Your Perfect Match
There are several places to turn to when looking to find a software developer, and the best places may not be where you’d expect. To find top talent, you have to go where top talent goes.
Your network may very well be the best place to find a developer you’ll love to work with. Many of the biggest names in tech, such as Microsoft and Facebook, began as a partnership between friends. Of course, not everyone knows a skilled developer personally, but finding someone through friends of friends is a great way to vet your talent; if the people you value the opinions of trust this person, you’ll likely find them trustworthy too.
An excellent place to start is with LinkedIn. If you have already established yourself in the software industry, you may not need to look any further than your own first-hand connections. If you’re new to the game, you might find a real rockstar through your network’s contacts. Most of the time, if you’re looking to build software, it’s likely that your network includes others who have done the same. Turn to the people you know who have commissioned impressive applications; maybe they’ll connect you with their developer, or perhaps they’ll have some insider tips on where to take your search.
Another way to find stand-up developers is to physically go where talent goes. Relevant networking groups and conferences are a hotbed for skilled coders, and you can learn a lot about a person’s expertise from the discussions they lead. While keynote speakers are often highly sought after, you might find them right when their current project is ending, and if not, they may be able to connect you with other skilled developers.
There are also ample places to find a software developer online – if you know where to look. Many highly skilled developers publish articles to share their knowledge. These publications are a great way to vet a lead before you even contact them; from someone’s writing, you can get a good sense of their personality, area of expertise, and how they approach problems.
Another great place to find a software developer, and perhaps the most telling, is on open source platforms. Great coders love what they do, and open source software is an excellent way to find the people who code just because it interests them. You can easily see who wrote a beautiful piece of code or found a creative solution to a problem, and those people could be an excellent addition to your team. The best part? These open-source platforms have all sorts of code, so if you have a general idea of what you want in your own software, you can likely find someone who has built something similar.
While it may take more human-effort on your part, you can also find newbie coders for a fraction of the price. University job sites and freelance platforms are saturated with young and hungry coders; the challenge is finding the right ones. The benefit of this is that new coders have something to prove, and they’ll want to build impressive applications to jumpstart their careers. The downside is that new developers likely won’t have much work history to show, so newbies are riskier than experienced professionals.
If your online search is proving to be less than fruitful, you also have the option of drawing people in. Posting articles on coding is a great way to find a software developer; you just have to make the piece so intriguing they can’t help but reach out. Another way to get developers to come to you is a stand-out job description – one they can’t pass up. This is your chance to get creative; maybe your post includes “a day in the life,” what success in the role looks like, a short blurb on your company’s culture, or, if you’re feeling innovative: post an exciting problem for applicants to solve.
What To Look For In A Candidate
The best leaders know how to express their ideas to the people they work with; it’s what makes them so effective. Most coding problems are solved by teams, not just an individual, so you want someone who works well with others.
As you will be working closely with the people building your application, you also need someone who can explain complex coding problems in a way that makes sense to those of us less versed in the terminology. This is harder to do than one may assume; it takes a tremendous understanding of the software to translate technical concepts into something non-coders can wrap their minds around.
Of course, not everyone is an excellent verbal communicator (I’d argue that few of us are), but that isn’t a reason to remove someone from the applicant pool. You need a developer you can collaborate with, and if verbal communication isn’t their forte, there are plenty of other ways to keep the collaborative spirit alive. Some people are better at expressing themselves through written communication, which you can conduct through message boards or email. Others may find visuals a better route to share ideas, in which case they may explain their solution to you on a whiteboard or through annotating the code. No one form of communication is superior to another; you just need to hire someone (and be someone) willing to find common ground.
One of the pillars of good communication is professionalism. You want to find someone who shows up to work on time, gets projects in by (or before) the deadline, and is respectful to those they work with. Your software is important to you, so you need someone who treats it as such. If you can’t trust someone to be professional, you probably can’t trust them to prioritize your application.
A lesser-known aspect of professionalism is approachability. Great developers will speak with you about the code, explain their solutions in lay-mans terms, and do so in a professional manner. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hire an introverted or extremely focused developer, just that they should be willing to answer your questions and collaborate with you.
When you think of coding ability, it can be tempting to think in terms of programming language, but language doesn’t constrain the best developers. There are almost always multiple solutions to a problem in code, and strong candidates think about that problem conceptually, not just in terms of their favorite language. Software development is a rapidly evolving industry, and it would be nearly impossible to keep up with every emerging language. Truly exceptional developers don’t need to learn a new language; they can use critical thinking to pick it up as they go.
A great way to assess a developer’s actual coding ability is through their work history. Ask them about the code they’ve written, how they came to the solution, their style, and what patterns they utilized. You can also ask about open source code they have contributed to, which is an excellent way to gain insight into their teamwork abilities. If you have a fairly solid idea of what you want in your own application, this is a great way to see who has experience with similar problems.
The most critical aspect of a strong developer, hands-down, is their problem-solving abilities. Testing abstract skills such as problem-solving can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. One way to do this is by presenting a programming question for candidates to solve in whatever way they feel is best. By doing so, you aren’t just assessing their knowledge of a specific language, but their ability to think conceptually. You can come up with the scenario yourself, or choose one of the many practice problems available online.
Find a Software Developer That Will Love to Work With You
The hardest part of hiring a highly-skilled developer is finding the right fit. At Vice Software, we employ only the best, so you can rest assured that the person you’ll be working with is at the top of their game. Vice Software offers both onshore and offshore teams to meet any project’s scope and budget needs, and our experienced architects will work with you every step of the way to ensure the application goes above and beyond your expectations. If you’re ready to find a software developer you’ll love to work with, contact us for a free quote today! We look forward to innovating with you.