How to Hire
Rockstar Developers

Ideas are cheap. Execution costs. There are lots of challenges that can derail a great idea (see our article, “Look Before You Launch,” for more on risks) but the one that teams seem to have the hardest time with is finding the right development resources. I can’t tell you how often people suggest that we’ve got some secret sauce. The secret is there is no sauce. We spend weeks and months evaluating candidates through their work and commitment before we make someone part of our core team.

We don’t hire based on resumes. We only hire people who have done work that truly impressed us, or who have worked with someone we trust and know well. The market for software developers—and mobile developers, in particular—is extremely limited. Great developers demand a lot, both in terms of who they want to work with and how much they expect to be compensated. Here’s our honest advice—not just quick and dirty tips—about how to get the right talent on your side.

Put Coding Skills to the Test

How can you tell a good coder? Well, that depends on what you’re building. We wish we could give you a list of surefire questions that would bring the cream to the top. But the truth is, there’s no substitute for bringing the candidate in for a day or more of coding alongside your existing team.

That’s where you’ll get the answers you need. Of course, it always helps to take a look at software they’ve put out into the world. And a referral can go a long way. But, no resume, recommendation or track record can tell you if they’ll mesh with how you build. For our money, we like to see it in action. If you’re worried about intellectual property or confidentiality, have the candidate work on something that is not your bread and butter. Not only will you get a chance to see the candidate’s skills—you’ll get a chance to see how he or she works with others.

Bridging Long-Term and Short-term goals.

Let’s assume you’ve made the decision to hire an in-house development team. You should expect to spend months building it. As we mentioned in our previous article, “To Hire or Not to Hire,” what will you do in the meantime? The competition marches on, and with every day that goes by, your opportunity cost of not getting to market sooner increases. In most competitive markets, by the time you staff up internally, parts of your app idea will likely have been encroached upon in some way. At that point, does the team you’ve been building have the right expertise to pivot to whatever’s next?

Consider how you might get started in the short term. One of the primary reasons people engage with outside teams is to address immediate needs and stay flexible for future development projects. In full disclosure, we’re an agency, and naturally we excel at jumpstarting projects for our clients—in the right situations. An agency isn’t some silver bullet, and hiring a competent one isn’t necessarily easier than finding the right in-house team. But it is faster. Should you choose to look to outside help, our advice is to find a team that gets what you do. One that cares about your business strategy as much as it cares about helping you start building. You’ll be better positioned for success, now and in the future.

Searching for Talent Abroad

One final point about widening your talent pool. As a team that actively engages a global workforce, we’ve learned a few things about hiring overseas. First, “overseas” can mean entirely different things depending on where you chose hire. In our experience, the quality of work is vastly different between countries. Some countries are better trained to design, and others to develop. Be aware of and prepared to handle those cultural differences.

Second, quality software development is as hard to find overseas as it is in the United States. Broadening your search is a valid reason to look elsewhere, but saving money isn’t. You get what you pay for. And good talent costs, wherever you go.

Finally, developing your app overseas still means that you need at least one or two people on your local team who know what they are doing. Projects rarely fail because of software development. They usually fail because of poor product management.

BoomerangSF is a product strategy and development team that empowers businesses to thrive. If you’d like to talk more about how we can help you manage your projects and build faster, reach out to us at contact@boomerangsf.com.

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