The demand for tech talent is reaching new heights with every passing hour. Today’s IT industry comprises tech listings, and as Forbes’ recent account indicates, large enterprises compete with startups to hire employees. Modern-day startups are driven by unprecedented growth and funding. These, combined with exciting job perks and pay, empower them to hire talent quicker than many large-scale companies.

However, it’s not all smooth sailing. Many growing startups still struggle with recruiting software engineers. This can be due to various reasons, from unclear candidate requirements and incorrect budget decisions to not having a proper hiring process. If these sound familiar, then this blog is just for you. Here you will find a practical, step-by-step approach to understanding how to hire engineers for startups hassle-free.

Let’s dive in!

Step 1: Determine your Ideal Candidate Profile

Spending adequate time building a candidate profile is key to hiring the right way. Here, you need to clearly state the skills, experience, and knowledge you want from your candidate. For instance, think about the following:

  1. Technology expertise
  2. Optional technical skills
  3. Seniority level
  4. Your objective for hire (what your expectations are from your new engineer)

Once you’ve set up a basic candidate profile, start thinking about your expected desirable outcomes from this position. These will help you understand the additional skills required to achieve those outcomes.

Ask yourself what impact this role will have on your team, the project, or the business. What results do you expect to accomplish with your candidate? For example, you can expect your hired engineer to help you build a web service MVP within three months, or they can be a technical leader, heading your project while you focus on scaling your company.

By forming this candidate profile, you will have a detailed picture of whom you want to hire in terms of experience, responsibilities, and competencies.

Step 2: Check Technology Adoption Levels

Assessing technology adoption levels will help you understand how challenging it will be to source an engineer experienced in the technology you want.

Studying industry reports is a great way to do this. Taking Stack Overflow’s 2022 Developer Survey as an example, it has listed the most popular web frameworks, which include the likes of: –

  1. Next.js (69.23%)
  2. React.js (68.19%)
  3. Node.js (67.36%)
  4. Nuxt.js (64.15%)
  5. Vue (63.16%)
  6. Express (59.15%)
  7. Laravel (54.47.1%)

While the entire list has various other frameworks, let’s take these and compare them. Based on the popularity percentage, finding a Nuxt.js engineer would be twice as hard as a Next,js engineer and almost twice as easy as an engineer experienced with Laravel. Evaluating tech adoption levels this way can help you strategize accordingly and understand how hard it will be to recruit for certain skills.

Step 3: Compare Salaries

After the first two steps, you will narrow your search to an engineer with the required skills. The next step is to scope salary expectations across various locations to determine which engineers will be more suitable for your budget.

Hired’s State of Software Engineers report covers an overview of salaries offered to top candidates in various markets and roles. It’s based on data from 366,000+ interactions between software engineers and companies and can be used as a great example to check average annual salaries in popular tech hubs, such as –

  1. Bay Area – approximately $157,000
  2. New York – approximately $148,000
  3. Seattle – approximately $145,000
  4. LA – approximately $143,000
  5. London – approximately $98,000

Thoroughly studying reports and comparing salaries can allow you to understand which locations to hire from. If you’re hiring remote engineers, you can scout other locations, such as India, Southeast Asia, Europe, etc., to find more budget-friendly candidates.

Step 4: Establish your Hiring Funnel

A key area many startups neglect is their hiring funnel. Skipping the main elements or not having a proper funnel can ultimately lead to an unrewarding hiring process. Here are the five critical elements your funnel should include: –

  1. Sourcing – Creating a list of potential candidates after posting jobs on job portals and picking the most promising ones.
  2. Screening – Getting on a call with your HR or recruitment specialist for an initial assessment to check which engineers meet the role requirements best.
  3. Interviewing – Further assessing candidates’ tech background and personality by interviewing them (this can also include test assignments).
  4. Making the Offer – Extending an offer to the candidate based on the interview and assignments’ outcomes. You may choose not to do so if they don’t meet your requirements.
  5. Negotiations – This is where your chosen candidate can reconsider their paycheck or ask for other perks, or there may be negotiations from your side.

Once your hiring funnel is in place, you can formalize it as a roadmap with clear time/cost expectations and responsibilities for every stage. This will help keep your team members on the same page about the hiring process and align for success.

Step 5: Optimize your Hiring Procedure

Upon assessing the costs and time spent on each stage of your hiring funnel, you can start optimizing it to get better results. Here are a few tips for this: –

  1. Establishing your budget and contingency plans – Apart from having a clear budget in mind, planning for a budget-exceeding hire is advisable, and deciding how much you’re prepared to spend. For instance, if your budget is $5,000 a month, you could afford an engineer to exceed that by an extra $1,000 if they’re worth it.
  2. Preparing interview questions in advance – Preparing questions ahead of time can easily optimize your hiring process by timeboxing the interview sessions. The faster your conduct the interview, the quicker you can decide and hire your desired candidate.
  3. Deciding quickly – Once the interviews are done, it’s good to decide on your next steps within 24 hours. This helps in giving candidates a quicker response and closing the deal fast to scoop up talent before your competitors can.

Step 6: Start Checking for Talent Availability

Once your hiring funnel is ready and you’re set on your requirements, you can start scouting for talent. There are two main ways to do this: –

  1. Hiring Platforms – Indeed, Glassdoor, Monster, and Careerbuilder are just some of the many hiring platforms where you can post your vacancies. You can also do it on LinkedIn, as the platform has a dedicated jobs section.
  2. Outsourcing Platforms/Vendors – An essential part to remember when deciding how to hire engineers for startups is how the entire process is on your plate. As a startup, you may find it challenging to handle every aspect of hiring, especially if you want to hire an engineer ASAP. The best solution here is to choose an outsourcing platform or company that will do everything. If you have the budget, you will simply have to pay the platform while they source, hire, and provide you with engineers and manage them.

Bonus tip: Avoid these Common Pitfalls

As mentioned earlier, hiring engineers for startups is not easy. There are apparent mistakes startups make, the most common ones being: –

  1. Finding perfect engineers
  2. Scouting talent locally
  3. Not checking a candidate’s motivation and cultural fit

To avoid these, make sure you keep an open mind. Trying to get a 100% match can quickly slow down your hiring process, so focus on the critical skills and hire an engineer for the same. Next, instead of restricting yourself to local marketplaces, choose remote developers. This will help you find the best talent from around the world, suitable to your budget and ideal for your requirements.

Lastly, during your interviews, have candid conversations to understand if your potential hire is a good culture and company fit. If not, they cannot be a good addition, even if they’re experienced in the technologies you want.

Wrapping Up!

It’s nothing new for startups to make mistakes while hiring. Be it early-stage or late-stage; a startup is always subject to certain roadblocks an enterprise isn’t. But overcoming such obstacles is what pivots a startup towards unprecedented success. I hope this blog helps you do the same by understanding how to hire engineers for startups seamlessly.