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How to hire developers & keep them for longer: A guide by The Software House

Mateusz Kubiczek

Mateusz Kubiczek

Chief Executive Officer

Every tech company is looking to hire developers. But the hiring competition in this economy is difficult. At The Software House, we grew steadily to over 150 full-time specialists in just a few years. We’re not quite on par with Google in recruitment capability, but we can definitely say that our approach to hiring and keeping top development talent works smoothly. Would you like to know how we’ve managed to hire the developers for our company? Well, let’s get started!

Who is a great developer, actually?

So you have jobs to fill. Before you can hire a developer, you need to define who the best developers, the kind you want to have, actually are.

To us, outstanding developer candidates have all the necessary programming and soft skills to thrive in the job environment we’re trying to create. That’s because not only do we need to find talent with web and app development expertise. Candidates also have to be willing to share their knowledge and be of use to other developers. It’s vital to incorporate that thinking into our developer hiring strategy.

Since our primary job is to help with our client’s business problems, they also need to be able to talk to such – including those who are non-technical – empathize with them, and understand their needs. To make it happen, a decent command of English is also necessary. It’s another key factor that needs consideration if we want to hire the market’s best.

Many of these soft skills can be taught, but the right attitude from the developer at hand is necessary. When it’s there, such developers are true growth-drivers. They are a pleasure to work with, follow project requirements, bring friendly developers on board (from a vast network of skilled contacts), and contribute to a healthy, fun, and safe-to-fail working environment.

How to hire developers – industry’s best practices and more

The Software House was always a developer-friendly company; a go-to place for skilled professionals specialized in providing the best conditions to work and grow. Of course, the usual suspects include:

  • a competitive salary
  • a variety of employee benefits
  • dedicated training budget for each employee

But all these points are quite obvious, as they’re baseline industry practices mobile and web developers are used to. Following standards is not enough for businesses to communicate that we are indeed a top developer-conscious business, or even just to stand out in the crowd. So, how to hire a developer for that next mobile app project? For us, that means running various initiatives that connect dedicated tech brainiacs.

TSH’s Uszanowanko Programowanko has become the biggest event of its kind in Poland, with the latest edition attracting over 2000 people. There’s great potential to hire a developer from such a pool.

1. The biggest meetup for developers in our region

As early as 2015, we created Uszanowanko Programowanko, a meetup for mobile, cloud, and web developers held every month in our city (Gliwice). Over time, it has become a leading event of its kind in Poland. At the time of writing, we have held it 36 times, gathering a community of 2,000 people on meetup.com and over 150 attendees at every meeting. The meetup is not only a way for us to give back to the community but also for our developers to share and improve their knowledge.

The recognition The Software House receives for organizing a popular meetup goes a long way to position us as a company where hiring knowledgeable developers play a central role. Get started on yours, really. Community-gatherings draw the attention of many great candidates and help hire developers that our clients find irreplaceable.

2. Even more knowledge to share – webinars, workshops and conferences

Companies might find that a self-hosted event is a newfound gold mine for hiring. Yet our efforts to share knowledge and give back to the community, drawing attention to the quality of our work and our values, aren’t limited to the Uszanowanko meetup. They are expressed in many forms.

One of them is a series of technical webinars for developers and tech managers. 5 editions rich in personal-experience stories attracted close to 1,500 sign-ups. The latest one, discussing Microservices in Node.js, alone brought almost 500 sign-ups from app developers in Poland. By showing our skills, we could connect with talent counted in the hundreds (either now or in the future).

An important part of it is also the participation of our developers in several top conferences in Poland and abroad as both speakers and participants. Believe the hype and know that event-going converts for most businesses. Just recently, TSH developers spoke at SymfonyCon and Dutch PHP (you’ll see our developers Tomasz Kajtoch and Szymon Szymański on the speaker). But the choice is only limited by the creativity and passion of our employees.

We also organized a conference of our own called Frontendalia. Back then, clients thought that The Software House is mostly a back-end, PHP-focused company. It was important for us to show that we’re also great in front end development in Angular and React. Frontendalia made people realize that our business offers a place where any development team can grow while exploring major tech trends. With over 150 attendees, the event gave us a lot of good press and put The Software House on the map of great JavaScript and front-end companies of our region. It sure added our efforts to hire developers we aimed at.

3. Choosing the Old Post Office as our new headquarters

Now, a story that may be surprising. Why has the decision to move our headquarters to the popular Old Office in Gliwice been so important for our employer branding efforts? First, we improved working conditions for all of our employees (most of them are full-time employees so that matters especially for them) – 1600 square meters means everyone gets as much space as they need. Our brand recognition improved too because of heavy media coverage of our move and a shower of awards we received for the design of our new office. We have become the true center of activity for the local community of developers. With great headquarters, we can organize top events and have a much bigger overall impact on Poland’s technology scene.

Our HQ at Old Post Office is a place which adapts to the needs of our employees and attracts the attention of potential candidates. Web developer hiring is much easier with fancy surroundings.

4. Recruitment process with partnership and fairness at its core

Let’s say you could hire the best web developer that fits your project. What now? Once the developer applies, we interview them and pick those who impress us most. The process itself is pretty straightforward:

  1. A developer sends their CV.
  2. If we like it, it is followed by a quick test assignment.
  3. The result is verified by the head of the department.
  4. If it’s good, the developer is invited to an interview. This eye-to-eye meeting is also meant to find out if candidates have the needed soft skills, such as the ability to think of the business aspects of the code they create, or being able to explain their choices in an easy and concise manner, etc.
  5. The decision is made by those who participated in this particular recruitment process, not by a disconnected department.
  6. If the candidate gets the job we start with a two-week boot camp introducing new employees to the life and practices at The Software House, followed by work on some internal projects of ours.
  7. And what about those who don’t make it? We provide them with feedback, believing they should come back to try again. It’s alright to fail until… you don’t.

For us, honest and constructive feedback is a must, regardless of how well the process goes for a developer — they need to know what they should work on.

Honesty is necessary to establish a partner-to-partner relationship with the candidate developer.

5. It’s highly recommended to… recommend

Many new recruits come from the network of current TSH employees. A good deal of our developers is involved in tech events and other community initiatives. As a result, they have a lot of developer friends. They are happy to recommend The Software House because they know they do them a favor. Our HR will in fact hire a lot of them. Hiring a developer from recommendations can create a snowball effect that will bring in even more interesting candidates for an interview.

6. Are you doing something awesome? Tell the world about it!

To find a good web developer for hire, businesses need to increase their own visibility as many hi-traffic platforms as they can. We believe that if you do great things, it’s perfectly fine to be proud of them, even to boast about it. This is why our marketing team makes sure that all of our benefits and initiatives make their way to the local community of developers in the form of articles, videos, social media content, memes (they really do like memes!), and whatnot. The same goes for all the recognition we get, such as a spot on the annual list of the fastest-growing companies by Financial Times as well as our impressive Clutch record. It’s an efficient way to increase your chance to find great and ambitious developers to hire.

Remember: it’s good to tell others about your affairs only if you really have something to be proud of. So, take care of your employees first – think about marketing it later.

Hiring a developer is one thing. Keeping skilled talent onboard is another

I’ve just briefly explained how we make sure that there is a sizeable stream of possibly best developers The Software House can draw from. But that’s just the first part in hiring developers. How to ensure that once you hire a software developer, they don’t leave you? 

1. Making sure it doesn’t feel like a daunting job

At first glance, it might seem that activities such as playing football and video games together, organizing running challenges on Endomondo, an ever-growing base of custom emojis and a long-running meme series are not part of your typical job day. But we found out that not only do they not have a negative long-term impact on productivity, but also ensure that working on development at The Software House feels like something you choose rather than an inconvenient obligation. It’s a place where people enjoy themselves – with just the right amount of project-focus needed to shape ambitious technology services.

2. And when it does, it’s challenging and rewarding

First of all, as a company, we tend to target the most challenging and fascinating projects.

We never tried to seize every single business opportunity because having fun with a project matters.

We also decided to specialize each development team in a limited number of areas (especially JavaScript, PHP, and mobile). In the long run, it earned us the appreciation of talented developers and helped us ensure that their typical workday doesn’t feel like a shift at the guard post.

3. Advancing fast on clear terms

Once our app developers are board, we make sure that they know what kind of future jobs await them at The Software House. Each development department has its own requirements for junior, mid, and senior positions. They are written in detail and available for all employees to see so that they can choose their path towards a promotion efficiently and at their own pace.

While our devs themselves know what needs to be done to earn a promotion, they aren’t left without help. To make sure that experts we have feel like they’re growing, our heads of departments listen to what they say. Based on that, they can for example change their role in a team, a project, or even assign them to something entirely different. It’s even possible to rotate or completely switch to another department when a person changes their web development technology of choice. In the long run, it’s beneficial for both them and clients, because only satisfied and motivated developers can provide the level of care we strive for.

4. Internal initiatives and open-source projects

There are also a lot of slightly less conventional ways of making sure that developers don’t dry out from boredom. For example, in order to test new technologies, we develop project after project for internal use, such as our HR web and mobile apps. Our developers are also encouraged to spin their creativity by creating content for webinars, meetups, conferences, blog articles, and more.

And how about taking part in open-source projects led by The Software House? Some of our most popular works include KakuninFogger, and Babelsheet. They were all created to solve real software development challenges we face, and every developer is welcome to contribute to their continuous improvement. And why not suggest a whole new open-source project for The Software House to back? Not a problem. We even host coding challenges for our developers during which many new ideas are presented.

Design concept of an onboarding app for The Software House’s new employees

5. It’s all about trust

Above all, when we’re hiring, we look for dedicated people that we feel we can trust. They are given a lot of space and they themselves participate in creating policies that shape our organization from their career experience. For example, our senior developers prepare tasks and take part in job interviews with new prospects.

There is no point in running an organisation this big if you don’t trust the people that make its core processes work.

6. A great atmosphere

As you hire developers, prioritizing soft skills as an important factor has the added benefit of bringing in people that contribute to a pleasant mood in your company. Employees are less likely to leave when they feel good about where they are.

Hiring developers and keeping them on board is a cycle (seriously!)

You may have already noticed that based on what I have written so far. The process of creating a successful development team in the long-term is a cycle:

  1. You create initiatives and talk about them in order to draw the attention of software developers.
  2. You get a solid pool of prospects to choose from and you hire a developer with the best technical and soft skills.
  3. You engage in interesting projects and provide proper conditions for software developers to thrive so that they want to stick around.
  4. By doing so, you create even more proof you can use to show potential candidates that this is the right place for them.

Like I said in the beginning, while running this cycle is not exactly a piece of cake, the really difficult part is setting it in motion. You need to earn that “first million” somehow. If you think it’s time to go for it, I encourage you to use our experience to create an invaluable team of software developers of your own.

Make a commitment… if it makes sense for you

Of course, you also need to actually have a business reason for going this far to attract software developers. If you’re looking for ready-made options, you can also (simultaneously or alternatively) turn to us – a full-stack software house that has already done all this job for you – and outsource development to a remote team of qualified, job-satisfied developers. Check out our web development services and hire remote programmers if your development needs a boost. You can also hire developers that are freelancing (then Toptal is your go-to platform), but you need to apply the same requirements for them to get proper quality.

Either way, you’ll be able to hire a developer who is an experienced, full-time professional with a strong liking for their job. In the world of software development, it’s the best scenario you can imagine.

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