Archive for November, 2013

The Ins and Outs of Hiring a Developer

November 15th, 2013

how to hire a coderIn business, hiring a software or app developer can be a critical decision. Whether you’re hiring for just one project or for ongoing work, developers / coders / programmers are key to bringing digital visions into reality.  For example, when entrepreneur Mike Lemovitz wanted to create a holiday app, he turned to the freelancer hub site Elance.com to search for a developer to do the job.

The Perks and Pitfalls of Freelance Developers

TheNextWeb covered the process in detail in their recent article. Lemovitz’s idea was simple: to create an app that would allow parents to have their children to send a message to Santa and also keep track of the good deeds they were doing. He made the app’s graphics himself in Photoshop and proceeded to post his job description on Elance.

Within minutes, Lemovitz received proposals from developers around the world. Bids ranged from just a few hundred to a few thousand dollars from developers with a variety of experience levels. He responded to a Chinese developer with a great portfolio and lots of positive feedback on Elance, and they were chatting on Skype within two hours of his posting. They eventually settled upon a price of $800 for the project paid in $200 installments at specific “milestones.” Lemovitz had hired his developer.

A New App is Born — Eventually

Within just two days the developer had the first version of the app ready to test. Lemovitz was thrilled — but this is about when the hiccups started. Some slight misunderstandings about procedures and money ensued, possibly due to a bit of a language barrier. The developer seemed to want to be paid before each milestone was reached, and at the end briefly held the project’s code “hostage” in exchange for a 5-star feedback rating. The project ended well and Lemovitz had his app two weeks later, but he also learned a lot about the potential pitfalls of hiring and working with developers.

Some considerations that can help you with the developer selection process include:

1. Portfolio

In app and sofware development, experience and proven success is key. Browse the developer’s portfolio and see what they’ve produced so far. Is their style and vibe a “fit” for your project(s)?

2. Recommendations

Ask for recommendations and feedback about the developer. Talk to past clients (if possible) and ask if they were satisfied with both the development process and the final result.

3. Find a Fit

If your developer will be working in-house, make sure they will be a “fit” for the culture of your company. For example, a developer who has mainly worked with small startups may not fare well at an established financial institution.

4. Start Small

Even if you’re hoping to hire for an ongoing relationship, start them out with a basic, non-critical project to get a sense of what they will be like to work with. Look for work ethic, creativity, communication, efficiency, and how they handle the unexpected.

5. Payment and Additional Work

Be clear about payment terms up front and get it in writing. Your contract should cover every base, including how bug fixes, graphics alterations and any other changes will be handled in terms of both time frame and payment.

The Keys to Hiring for Startups

November 1st, 2013

tips for hiringWhen you start up your own company, it seems like there is a never-ending parade of tasks competing for your attention. One of the most important things you need to take care of is making sure you have a good system in place for hiring new employees, as that will dictate the pace and psychology of your company moving forward.

Finding the right people for the right job is crucial, but it’s also very important that each person will be a good fit in your startup, culturally speaking, according to a recent post at The Next Web. Here are four key aspects of the hiring process that startups will want to take into consideration as they bring in more people:

1. Evaluate Outside of the Office Environment

Any experienced human resources professional can tell you that the credentials and skills listed in a resume will only tell you part of the story about your job applicants. You need to take the time to really get to know prospective employees, to truly gauge their capabilities.

One useful technique is to move your applicants from the office to see how they will react. For example, request a lunch meeting or ask applicants to go out and grab a drink. Putting them at ease in a more social situation can encourage applicants to speak more freely than if you were conducting their initial interviews in a stuffy conference room or your office.

2. Utilize Technology to Pick Your Needles in a Haystack

Your HR team is likely being inundated with applications from people who are eager to join your startup. What is the best way to determine who are the most promising candidates to bring in to speak with your team?

For example, if you are hiring a programmer, you can help narrow down the applicants with an online coding test. Similar tests exist for other job categories. The important point here is that once you get some initial results, you can follow up with phone conversations or bring them in immediately for further discussions.

In today’s hiring environment, utilizing applicant tracking software should also be able to narrow this task down. Although humans are great at many things such as communication and picking up on subtleties, software can definitly help a hiring manager’s job by sifting through data and bringing top talent to the foreground.

3. Get Everyone Involved in Finding Applicants

Make it clear to everyone in your company that they are involved in the process of finding applicants. Employee referral programs are an excellent first step. Your team members likely know qualified individuals who could make a real difference.  In addition, a proper referral program will provide incentives to those referring team members which will make them feel involved in the entire hiring process.

Remember to also harness the power of social media when you have a need for job applicants. Potential employees may run across your startup via Facebook friends or by reading tweets from your employees.  Of course, Linkedin is always a great source of hiring potential.

4. Make Sure Prospects Fit in Well in Your Culture

It’s crucial that you preserve your company’s culture, especially when you are still in the startup phase.

Even if applicants are a good fit on paper and meet all your technical requirements to do the job, you still need to make sure that they will get along with the other members of the team. A good way to get an indication about whether they are a good cultural fit is by letting them spend some time with your team during interviews and the evaluation process.

By getting your employees involved in finding potential job prospects and taking the time to get to know each applicant, you will be well on your way toward ensuring the future success of your startup.