Hiring for technical roles is always a bit of a different story compared to other positions. The trends in the tech community constantly evolve and new programming languages and frameworks show up much more often nowadays than they used to. The need for qualified developers working with the newest technologies is increasing. At the same time, companies are multiplying actions to attract Software Developers with perks such as salaries above the market standards, full relocation packages, events, hackathons, fully remote roles, unlimited holidays, etc. As a startup, you will constantly compete with the unicorns and well-established tech leaders of the markets having more resources to attract their Software Engineers, especially in tech-hubs like Berlin.
With more and more tech startups on the market, developers are in great need. How do you prepare yourself to face the challenge of hiring them? We want to share some learnings based on years’ of experience in recruiting developers for companies such as solarisBank, Contentful, quantilope, and many others. In the Technical Recruitment series, we will answer the most asked questions on how to hire the best engineering talent.
We are starting with kicking-off the role itself. Hiring great tech teams starts with alignment on the process of hiring them itself.
Steps in kicking-off a role
Before you will start looking for the right people to join your company, it’s important that you will have clear expectations and an outline of the whole interviewing process. Here a few steps that will guide you through the role kick-off:
I — Set up the recruitment team
Kicking-off a role starts with choosing people who will be involved in the recruitment process.
Hiring Manager(s) — people who, most likely, will manage the person directly once they are hired. It can also be a CTO or a Head of Product in smaller startups
Interviewers — team members participating in the interviews
Recruiters — people responsible for the talent acquisition process itself
HR Team/Admin — people in charge of sending the contract and planning the onboarding. In a smaller startup, it may be a Recruiter
II — Define the role
The next step is to clearly define your expectation regarding the person you want to hire. This may include things such as:
The vision of the company and how the role will contribute to it
The vision of the role — what’s the possible career path, and what are the potential team and projects
Budget — hiring budget, estimated salary, bonus, relocation costs, etc.
Timing — when do you have to hire the person and how urgent is the role
Location — is relocation an option, can the role be remote
To clearly define the role, sit with the Software Developers from your company and get their opinions and insights. They will know which skills are mandatory for the role and which can be acquired on the go. You will also get precious information about the biggest challenges of the role, the reasons why they joined the company, what the team workflow is, and so on. This will later help you with writing a great job description and shape your reach-out messages.
Here, you can also identify flexibility points. Decide what your priorities are and where you can make some compromises. Usually, you won’t get a Senior Engineer for a low price and as-soon-as-possible. You will have to make some trade-offs regarding budget, timing, and/or skills.
To help yourself a bit, you can use a scope triangle:
For example, a startup with a limited budget wants to hire a tech team and they need developers starting in 3 months. The budget is set and I need three developers to work on the product. A solution is to make compromises on the candidates’ skills. How? You can’t compromise on the tech stack but you can use the knowledge of two senior-level developers that are already on board to train the new-joiners. Instead of hiring people with multiple years of experience, you can recruit talented Junior Software Developers who just finished a bootcamp (top hands-on knowledge!) and are eager to learn.
III — Define the interviewing process
In this step, you will define the details of every step of the interviewing process For example:
Who will be the person responsible for the first phone screen?
Who will do a technical interview (is it going to be onsite or remote)
Who will draft the coding challenge and who will review it
Who will do the cultural interview? (can be a classic interview or more casual, like coffee or lunch)
Who will attend the recruiting debrief
Who makes the final decision
Who will do the offer call
Who takes care of the contracts, visa, and onboarding
IV — Create the job description
The next step is to create a job description that you will use on job listing platforms, such as LinkedIn, Xing, AngelList, etc. Here are some things worth listing, along with some tips to keep in mind:
Description of your company, its mission, and values
General responsibilities and key tasks
Describe the tech stack, technical challenges, and engineering culture
Required qualifications, like required education, previous job experience, skills
Things that are optional but good to have, like knowledge of a specific framework or experience working on a similar product
Keep it short, attractive, and spontaneous. No buzz words, but a concrete overview of the role
Include some open-source projects of the company or technical articles
Challenges the engineer will solve in their role
Impact that the engineer will make on the company
Make sure to have a basic template that you can reuse for future tech roles.
V — Brainstorm on sourcing strategy
The last step of the kick-off meeting is to decide where and how are you going to source for potential candidates:
Which platforms for job posting are you going to use
It’s also worth setting up a weekly stand-up meeting to sync with the recruitment team. In case something doesn’t go as expected, you will give your team an opportunity to share concerns and adapt your hiring strategy accordingly.
Some data to be shared during the meeting:
Number of contacted candidates (with a response rate and interested candidates)
Number of screened candidates
Number of candidates in the technical interview
Number of candidates in the second interview
Number of candidates in the offer stage
Number of candidates who accepted the offer
Bottlenecks and solutions
Action points for the week
Last but not least, a couple more tips:
Document the hiring process to make it clear for the rest of the team