How to Find a Developer: 5 Tips

    By Christina Desmarais | Small Business

    Need a good coder? Here's how to find and attract tech talent.

    You need to build an app, website, or software but you don't code yourself. Where do you begin to find a talented developer who can help knock your project out of the park?

    Chris Wood, managing partner and chief organizational alchemist at technology consulting and staffing company Paige Technologies, has some ideas.

    Hire a technical staffing company.

    Yes, it's biased advice, but Wood says unless you've got a really robust HR department, outsourcing your talent search with a firm that knows the tech landscape is going to yield the best results.

    Or, use online resources and local meetups to do it yourself.

    But maybe you're a startup operating on a shoestring. You can find a wealth of developer talent at freelance platforms such as Elance and oDesk but, the question is, how do you vet prospects to know they're any good? Get and check references, for one thing, which is something Wood says his company does hundreds of times a day.

    He also suggests checking out the code repository GitHub, where the developer community spends a lot of time. "It's an independent way to verify that this person has done what they said they've done and other people are using their code so it must be halfway decent," he says.

    Any large metro is also going to have user groups for the various programming languages. "Just scout it out and ask questions and listen to who's contributing and gauge for yourself whether or not they seem like they know what they're talking about," he says.

    Make your company attractive to developers.

    These people are in high demand and attracting them, especially for longer-term assignments takes some intention. For instance, in an interview, let the candidate know the person hired can choose his or her own computer, workstation, and chair. "Developers come from a place where their fingers fit and they're used to working on a certain type of machine and if you ask them to not do that anymore…it's not as attractive to them," Wood says.

    Flexible work hours, ongoing training, and the opportunity to work on challenging and cool projects also go a long way in attracting technical talent, a demographic that tends to appreciate organizations open to change and growth. Remember, it's not just about money.

    Research your firm's reputation.

    "The bad environments, the shops that nobody wants to go work at [are] known entities and word travels fast," Wood says. "The good environments are the ones where everyone says 'How do I get in there?'"

    To determine how your company is viewed by the tech community, talk to other noncompeting companies familiar with your space. "Find out what the perception of your company is because, if your company is on the no-fly list for the developers in your city, you're going to have a hard time."

    Assess candidates for more than just technical skill.

    Before Paige Technologies matches tech talent with a company, it sends an organizational psychologist in to meet with the company and find out what it's really looking for in a person--nuances that might not come through in a mission statement or job description. Then, when assessing candidates, Paige Technologies gauges not only a candidate's technical skill but also the person's personality, values, motivations, and decision-making style. It then uses that information to let both companies and applicants know where there's a good fit and where there may not be.

    "In today's market you can train just about anybody on any technology skill but you can't really change the spots on a leopard," Wood says. "If someone's DNA is set in a certain way, you can't change that and you need to know that going in.'"

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