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Published: Jun 08, 2023 12 min read

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The demand for software developers continues to increase, which means the competition for top talent has never been fiercer. Understanding the landscape and how to navigate it is essential to landing the best candidates.

But how do you go about identifying highly qualified candidates and eventually bringing them on board? We’ve teamed up with ZipRecruiter, one of the largest and best job sites for employers and employees alike, to outline the process. Follow our step-by-step recommendations to make the process of hiring a software developer who will bring the most value to your organization.

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What is a software developer?

Software developers leverage their knowledge of coding languages and data structures in combination with soft skills such as communication and problem-solving to develop, test and deploy complex computer programs. These programs range from simple websites to video games to the back-end systems of Fortune 500 companies.

What does a software developer do?

Working across almost all industries, software developers work both collaboratively and independently to create software specific to the needs of their employers. Their responsibilities include software programming, building original data models, writing code, complex problem-solving and software testing.

How to hire a software developer

The process of hiring a software developer starts with understanding what exactly you are looking for in an ideal candidate. You need to know which type of software the developer will be working on, what level of experience you're looking for and what questions to ask to find the best candidate.

Choose the right type of software developer for your software project

Not all software developers have the same responsibilities or possess the same expertise. it is important to differentiate between the types of software developers so you may easier identify the best fit for your company's needs.

Front-end developers

Front-end developers focus on customer-facing systems, such as designing the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). Front-end developers are commonly most familiar with coding languages geared towards visuals and interactivity, such as HyperText Markup Language (HTML), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and JavaScript.

Back-end developers

Back-end developers focus more on the foundation of a website or network, including components such as servers, databases, and applications. Back–end developers are well-versed in the manipulation of data and how it communicates to other components by using coding languages such as Python, Ruby and SQL.

Full-stack developers

Full-stack developers represent the best of both worlds with the ability to execute both front-end and back-end developer responsibilities. Although these developers are more versatile, they may lack the time and training required to reach mastery of specific skill sets.

Create a clear and compelling software developer job description

The job description should provide the applicant with a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities while being persuasive enough to interest them in the position. Specific information should include:

  • Job title
  • Job location
  • Salary range
  • Position benefits
  • A brief overview of the company
  • Preferred experience and qualifications

Regarding the description of specific responsibilities, it is important to be as detailed as possible, including the specific technologies, frameworks, and languages that the candidate will be using.

In addition to providing accurate descriptions of the role and what they will be doing, you need to pitch the company itself to the candidate, who is likely fielding other job offers. Be sure to highlight unique benefits, opportunities and any other differentiators that help you stand out.

It may also be beneficial to do research regarding popular keywords in similar job postings to help your listing stand out. ZipRecruiter offers a software developer job description template that may help you organize these components.

Enter the interview stage

The interview stage of the hiring process is the most important component of screening the best applicants. Use these questions to help understand your applicants' experiences, motivations and skills to find the right candidate for your team.

What coding languages are you trained in?

This will help you determine if they have the foundational technical knowledge for fulfilling their duties. If they do not know the coding language required to complete a project, it may be a better choice to move on to other candidates.

Tell me about a project that you completed successfully.

This question will provide valuable insight into the candidate’s working experience. Look for similarities between that project and your project to determine whether the experience will be transferable. Be sure to probe further into the problems they faced and how they overcame those obstacles.

Why do you think you will be a good fit with us?

Just because a candidate is impressive on paper doesn’t mean they are the right fit for your team. This question will help gauge their interest in the position, their knowledge of the responsibilities and whether or not they align with your values. Consider asking additional behavioral interview questions to help determine if they will be a good fit with your company's culture.

Explain your process for testing a team member’s code.

Collaborating with teammates and having repeatable processes are essential skills for successful software developers. Having them explicitly explain how they work with teammates will help you gauge these skills.

Explain your most frequently used design patterns.

Ideal software developer candidates will be able to communicate abstract ideas and it is important that you screen for their technical knowledge.

These questions provide a general idea of what you should be asking your candidates, but you should try to specialize the questions in a way that aligns with the individual position.

Extend a job offer to your top candidate

Closing the deal is just as important as finding the candidates. After you have completed the arduous process of finding your top candidate, it is time to make them an official offer. This is an important moment for both the candidate and the company, which means it should be handled personally and with enthusiasm.

Once the alignment of both parties is clear, verbally tell the candidate that you are offering them the position, and express how excited you are to have them join the team. After they have verbally accepted, you should draft an official offer letter containing the specifics of salary, primary duties, and company policies. Once the agreement is finalized, clearly outline the next steps and onboarding process, making the experience as comfortable for them as possible.

How to find a software developer for hire

Posting your job listing on major job sites like ZipRecruiter is the fastest way to broadcast that you’re hiring. That’s where most job seekers turn first. These sites provide a wide range of tools to make your candidate search go more quickly and smoothly, including resume scanning software and automated correspondence.

Another option may be to work with a reputable headhunting agency. Although this is the costliest option, these agencies can provide the connections and experience in finding a developer that is the perfect fit for your team.

A happy medium between the two methods may be to find the best recruiting software to help aid in your search. Although not as expensive as a headhunting agency, recruiting software can provide you with helpful tools like applicant sourcing, scheduling and tracking.

What to look for when hiring a software developer

Look for a software developer that can solve the specific issues you are facing, not just a developer that will expand your team. Asking the developers leading each internal project what they need or what they are missing is a good way to identify holes. Understanding exactly what you are looking for will help you communicate the position to potential candidates most effectively.

This may take different forms depending on the team you already have. The right hire may have a specialized skill set in a niche coding language, or they may be a well-rounded leader that can organize your team or an original thinker that offers fresh perspectives.

In addition to thorough technical knowledge, candidates should possess a diverse set of soft skills including communication skills, critical thinking and problem-solving skills and time management skills. These skills will ensure that the candidate can be successful in team-oriented and dynamic environments.

Many of the questions you ask in the interview process should be focused on the behavioral components of the applicant. Just because they have impressive technical skills doesn’t mean they are a good fit for the company. Make sure that the candidate aligns with your company values, gets along with other team members and shares the same motivation and vision as the rest of the company.

Web developer vs software developer vs software engineer

Web developers, software developers and software engineers all possess similar skills and experience, but their specific responsibilities and focus may differ greatly.

Web developers primarily focus on creating websites and applications, with skills that help them design and organize websites to be used most efficiently by the consumer.

Software developers possess a similar skillset to web developers, but they focus on more complex programs, constantly iterating design, functionality, and efficiency to achieve the best software programs.

Software engineers can largely be seen as the project managers responsible for the big picture. Engineers plan and build entire systems, whereas developers typically focus on one specific portion of a project. Software engineers need to understand the duties of web developers and software developers to make sure everyone is working towards the end goal.

As the responsibilities and required expertise increase, so does the compensation for each position. Web developers don’t require in-depth knowledge of database management or obscure coding languages, so they get paid the least of the three. Software developers and engineers are sometimes used interchangeably, but typically the engineers receive more because of their oversight of entire computer systems.

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Software developer FAQ

How much does it cost to hire a software developer?

CodeSubmit's breakdown of hiring costs provides an estimated range of $28,548 to $35,685 for a full-time developer. The cost of hiring a software developer includes expenses such as recruiting costs, training costs and onboarding costs.

How much do software developers make?

The compensation for software developer hires will depend largely on their experience and role within the organization. However, Glassdoor's analysis of software developers' salaries reports that salaries can range from $62,000 to $147,000, with the average developer making $95,379.

Where do software developers work?

Software developers are hired across almost all industries by companies building computer systems and software. Geographically, the trend toward remote work has allowed developers to take jobs across the globe as they can work comfortably from their homes.

What skills does a software developer need?

While high-performing software developers possess a number of skills, the most important include knowledge of required coding languages, problem-solving skills, and knowledge of data structures.

Summary of Money's how to hire software developers

Finding and landing your ideal candidate can prove to be a difficult challenge, but understanding your company's needs, how to communicate those needs and how to screen for the candidates who can meet those needs will greatly improve your odds.

Differentiate between the types of developers to identify the ones that are best suited to solve problems specific to your team. Create a job description that clearly conveys the responsibilities and positions available within your company in a way that makes them want to be a part of it. Use insightful interview questions to screen for the skills and values required to succeed. Finish the process by making an offer that gets you and the candidate excited for the future.

Those interested in using this knowledge to gain an edge as a candidate can apply for full-time jobs near you.

The best companies are made up of the best talent. But acquiring that talent is only part of the equation; it is also essential that you learn how to retain employees.

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