July 14, 2022

Hiring and Recruiting Great Software Developers: The Ultimate Guide

By Kevin Huynh

I was a professional job applicant.

Constantly bookmarking positions, sending out my resume, waiting for interview requests. And somewhere along the way I witnessed the variations in hiring and recruiting processes between companies —  especially for software engineering roles.

Some organizations hunt developers on Linkedin or online networking sites. Others have a list of requirements a mile long before you even get a foot in the door. I’ve even heard of companies who don’t interview candidates without a 5,000-word cover letter.

No matter where I went — established tech companies, startups, government orgs — each had a unique process for hiring and recruiting software developers.

Every company has a different set of expectations, with different needs at the time of their hiring. But some general tips and tricks can help tech companies find the best software developers for their team.

We’ll cover those tips and tricks in this guide.

Recruiting and hiring tips for your software development company

Quick refresher: Recruiting vs hiring

Recruiting is all about getting in front of potential candidates that may or may not be actively looking for a new role. That means a software developer could decide to apply or even leave their old company behind to join your team.

Hiring, on the other hand, includes posting job descriptions, interviewing, and signing on new employees. And it’s an especially lengthy process to hire software developers.

One important thing to note is that both recruiting and hiring software developers requires you to reach out to candidates and sell them on your company.

There are a few things to consider before you start the recruitment process:

  • Branding your company
  • Writing attractive and inclusive job descriptions
  • Placing your job openings
  • Preparing for your interviews
  • Measuring your recruiting and hiring success

Without these elements, you risk losing out on qualified engineers or hiring someone that’s not the right fit for your team.

Let’s get started with some actionable tips.

1. Branding your company

If you’re going out in the world to find software development talent, you’ll need to develop a clear and recognizable employer brand. This is how you market your company to potential employees and job seekers.

Your branding should be evident in everything from your website and social media presence to the way you interact with candidates. Why? Because your image impacts your ability to attract the best talent.

Ask yourself:

  • What makes you unique as an employer?
  • Do you offer a competitive salary?
  • What are the benefits of joining your team?
  • What’s the company culture like?

Remember that all employees, regardless of discipline, want to go where they’re valued. For engineers, this consideration isn’t always monetary.

Plenty of organizations are willing to pay software developers what they’re worth. But not everyone treats them like an integral part of their business. Recruit software developers by showing off your engineering culture and promoting the work your team is doing. Make this information readily available on your website, your job descriptions, and where you post your job openings.

2. Writing attractive and inclusive job descriptions

If you’ve ever been on a job board, you know how painful it is to read online technical postings. It can take all of your focus and attention just to be able to figure out what a role actually entails.

Whether it’s too much information or a veritable wish list, some companies go overboard with their requirements and qualifications. The goal of a job description is to find the right candidate — not turn them away with an impossible list.

Make it a habit to write professional job descriptions that match your company’s brand. Introduce your tech stack, relevant programming languages, and the products you sell. You should also include information about your team’s values and culture. Decide which soft skills are nice to have and what technical skills are absolutely necessary.

Additionally, make a conscious effort to create an inclusive job description that doesn’t limit your pool of candidates. Statistics show that companies who place an importance on diversity when growing their teams are more likely to have higher financial returns than the average. And most applicants say they look for companies with diverse team members when applying for jobs.

When Buffer realized that less than 2% of its candidates for developer positions were women, they wanted to know why. One of the surprising reasons was how they wrote their job descriptions.

Company benefits for parents, workplace diversity initiatives, and a brief statement about your commitment to inclusion can make a lot of difference.

Bonus tip: Remove unnecessary corporate jargon from your job post. Not everyone is familiar with the same technical language, so you’ll want to make your posting accessible to a wider audience.

3. Placing your job openings

Whether you’re recruiting or hiring engineers, you’ll have to go through the process of placing your job postings in the wild. There are a variety of ways to do this and each has its own set of benefits.

Recruiting examples

Campus recruiting

It’s common for software professionals to host or sponsor a networking event to get soon-to-be graduates interested in their companies. These days, bootcamps are also producing great software engineers and you can join the fun by offering mentorship.

Employee referrals

Some companies use an employee referral system for engineers in their circle who could be a great fit for the company. Referral programs work well if you have good retention rates and your employees are passionate about their work.

Linkedin outreach

Linkedin is a great resource for hiring because you can reach out to candidates directly with your open positions. Be careful with spam, though. According to G2, the average developer receives numerous unsolicited outreach messages and calls per day.

Personalize your message so that it will delight the person who receives it. And be sure to check whether the skills listed on someone’s profile match your job description.

Hiring Examples

Job boards

Here are the top job boards for hiring high-quality developers, in order of average candidate score:

  • Stack Overflow
  • Glassdoor
  • LinkedIn
  • Indeed

Advertise your opportunity on these job boards as well as on your company’s social media accounts. Remember to add a link to your careers page and/or specific job description to your bio.

Some additional tips:

             Optimize free job boards. First, you need to ensure your job posting is being indexed by Google Jobs. Indeed isn’t crawled by those bots, so make sure that you post your position on other sites such as Glassdoor, Linkedin, or CareerBuilder. After you’re indexed, you can repost on Indeed.

              Speak to remote workers. If your position is remote, you need to make sure you’re in front of tech candidates that are looking for those positions. Sites like AngelList and WeWorkRemotely cater specifically to engineers going through the work-from-home hiring process.

             “Bump” posts. Reposting your listing will keep the position at the top of most feeds and in front of more engineers’ eyes. Just make sure you’re not breaking any rules in the process.

4. Preparing for your interviews

If you think job seekers are the only ones who need to prep for interviews, think again.

You’ll want to make sure that every candidate has a positive experience from start to finish, so it’s important that you’re well-prepared for each meeting.

Here’s how you can get the most out of your technical interviews:

  • Determine who will conduct the interviews. Which hiring managers and employees need to be involved?
  • Decide how many rounds of interviews are necessary.
  • Determine how the hiring manager(s) will use feedback from employee interviewers.
  • Be sure all interviewers ask the software engineer technical interview questions that matter to your company.

At Woven, we’ve found that the best technical interviews reflect what the candidate will do on the job.

A lot of companies give candidates a coding assessment and ask questions about reversing a binary tree or dynamic programming. But those aren’t things that top software developers work on day to day.

Most of the time, software engineers are debugging code, handling edge cases, designing clean abstractions, and so on. Your interview should focus on those types of skills.

In the world of tech hiring, having an experienced partner like Woven who can test software engineers for debugging, architecture, and communication skills is like having a hiring superpower. 

5. Measure your hiring success

If you’re measuring the success of your product by how many people use it, you should also measure the success of your hiring process by how many engineers you bring on.

But that’s not the only metric you should be tracking. You can also look at metrics like:

Consider A/B testing different changes to see what works best for your company. For example, you could try a new job board or a different interviewing technique. Maybe it’s time to invest in an AI-powered tool like Woven that can help you find and assess candidates faster.

Start recruiting and hiring today

We know that hiring software engineers isn’t easy. By following the steps in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to building a strong engineering team.

Not happy with your current hiring results? It’s time to make a change. Start by fine-tuning the way you screen software engineers, and soon, you’ll have qualified candidates pining for the open positions at your company.

Woven can help you attract (and keep!) software engineering talent from around the world.

Ready to learn more? Start a free trial with Woven today.