How to Recruit Good Software Developers

Posted at 09 May 2022

When you're looking to add software developers to your team, you want to make sure you're recruiting the best people for the job. There are many things you can do to find the right people and attract talent to your company.

In this article, the experts at Fed IT share tips for recruiting good software developers and mistakes to avoid when conducting interviews.

The importance of hiring the best software developers

You want the best software developers on your team for the same reason you would want the best cooks for your restaurant or the best musicians for your orchestra—talented people can bring your project more success than you ever expected. In a field as complex and constantly evolving as IT, the key to distinguishing your company from the competition is to have the best people on your team.

Part of the challenge is that other companies looking to recruit software developers will be competing directly with you, regardless of their industry or location. With modern technology and the sheer number of collaboration tools and services available today, software developer teams have become notorious for their ability to work from remote locations without sacrificing efficiency or compromising the end product in any way.

The market is currently very competitive, with demand far exceeding supply. Software developers are one of the most in-demand IT professions, and that won’t be changing anytime soon—by 2028, the demand for software developers will have increased by 21%, as opposed to 5% on average for other professions.

The companies that manage to hire the best software developers will be the ones with the best chance of growing in the years to come.

What to look for in a software developer

Regardless of the specific role you want your software developer to fulfill, here are a few general tips that will help you find the right candidate.

1. Look for someone smarter than you

As the saying goes, if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. It’s a good guideline to follow when recruiting, particularly when it comes to software developers. That being said, intelligence comes in many forms. When looking for software developers, don’t limit your assessment to academic achievement.

2. Look for flexibility and familiarity with a variety of software

No one can be a true expert in more than a few areas of software development. There are simply too many programming languages, practices and tools for any one person to be good at everything. Furthermore, there are advances in the industry every day that change the way software developers work and approach problems.

The best software developers always take an open-minded approach to their craft. Even when they don’t know the answer, their problem-solving skills and flexibility will enable them to find solutions. A good candidate will have years of problem-solving under their belt, talent and familiarity with a variety of software.

3. Look for strong collaboration and communication skills

We’ve all heard stories of passionate software developers who spend thousands of hours creating an amazing product that ends up making them a lot of money. Sometimes, they do it alone, but more often, it takes a dedicated team to achieve success. Regardless, once the product launches, it will need a strong, diverse team behind it.

In a professional environment, you rarely want to put all of your eggs in one basket. Considering agile best practices, it’s best to hire more than one good software developer so that you’re never left in the lurch. The best software developers will be able to work well in a team and apply their skills where they will have the greatest impact. You want to find someone who is not only able to do their own work but supports others as well.  

4. Look for creativity

Of course, it’s vital to consider a candidate’s technical and theoretical knowledge when recruiting for IT positions. That being said, it would be a lot easier to find excellent candidates if that were all it took to make a good software developer. After all, most of that knowledge can be found easily in books or on the internet.

The ability to be creative is what drives innovation in software development. If the candidate comes from a different background than you and your team members, even better—a broader perspective is always great for software development.

5. Look for clean coders

The best software developers are the ones who make it look easy. Testing candidates’ coding skills is common practice when recruiting programmers, but few business leaders care about clean code.

Hiring people who can code properly won’t just make your products better—it will also make them more flexible and help your team perform maintenance and install future updates without encountering too many problems. On the other hand, someone who writes messy code could end up slowing down your operations in the future. When recruiting a software developer, it’s important to consider the long term.

6. Prioritize talent over experience

If you're lucky enough to come across a software developer who shows talent and demonstrates the required hard and soft skills, it’s best not to place too much weight on the IT experience in their CV. As previously mentioned, talent is the rarest resource in the industry, and you want to hang onto it when you find it.

What to avoid when recruiting a software developer

Employers can make a variety of mistakes that compromise the effectiveness and potential of new recruits on the software development team. If you want to get the most out of your new hire, try to avoid the following mistakes.

Poor onboarding practices

One of the most common ways to get off on the wrong foot with a newly hired software developer is to throw them into the frenzy of an ongoing project without explaining the particulars of the job. One could argue that it’s the responsibility of the project manager or scrum master to take care of that, but there are many details that need to be clarified during or shortly after the final interview.

Providing new software developers with adequate support is an investment that pays off in terms of productivity and morale. Someone coming into a new environment needs to understand the goals of the project, the work being done and the challenges the team faces. It’s also helpful to go over workflows, company culture and responsibilities.

Unclear expectations

Relying on assumptions and guesswork when hiring a software developer is a risky business. You don’t want people to get the wrong idea about what tasks they should be doing and what goals they should focus on.

It's best to be as clear as possible about the details of the job right from the start of the recruitment process. Good communication will always result in better quality work. Remember that your new hire should complement the skills you already have on your team.  Talk to your team members to find out what they want from the new hire and what skills would bring the most value.

Misleading job descriptions

While we’re talking about expectations, it’s quite common for employers to say they want a software developer to do one thing, but have them do something completely different once they are hired. Not only are deceptive practices like that unethical, but they also lead to high turnover rates.

If you find a good candidate who doesn’t quite fit the profile you’re looking for, be honest and tell them. Software developers rarely want to drastically alter their skills for a job, but if your project is interesting enough, they may decide to do so.

Don't make money your only concern

Depending on your location and the type of software developers you're looking to hire, you’re likely to encounter a fairly wide range of salary expectations, with salary negotiations at the interview sometimes playing significant role in the proceedings. Developers are generally on the high end of the salary spectrum compared to other IT professions.

First, you need to be clear about what kind of return on investment you expect from your new hire. Like any employee, software developers have their own motivations and needs. Retaining top talent isn’t always just about money. Company culture, team structure, the quality of your projects and your company’s goals also factor in.

Trust Fed IT to recruit good software developers for your project

Now you have everything you need to recruit good software developers for your projects. At Fed IT, an IT recruitment agency in Montreal, we know just how much of a difference a good IT professional can make, and we have the resources to help you find the perfect candidate for your project.

Contact us today to recruit the right software developer for your needs. Our experts will be happy to help!