A Non-Tech Founder Guide in Hiring Programmers for a Startup

July 19, 2022
5 min

Tatsiana Kerimova

CEO & Co-founder

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Hiring software engineers is a pretty tough thing, especially when there is a global shortage of developers. Whichever way you look at hiring, finding the right person in terms of skills, experience, and culture is a real challenge, especially when your startup budget is limited. The demand for software engineers is never low. 

Hiring tech specialists for non-tech founders seems like a mission impossible, but if Ethan Hunt manages to uncover real traitors, you can go through all the hiring hurdles with flying colors. Before jumping into hiring, it's better to understand the ins and outs of the industry. However, programmers are no less than wizards transforming lines of code into a fully functioning mobile app. 

So, we decided to write this article and navigate you through the hiring process for programmers. We've tried to cover most of the hows:

  • How to understand whom you are looking for
  • How to analyze the labor market and salaries
  • How to choose the best market
  • How to hire effectively
  • How to choose the right cooperation model
  • How to organize an interview 

Let's get it rolling and start with the hiring basics. 

Step 1: Clearly Define What You Need

The choice of which specialists you need to hire depends on your project requirements. Every startup is unique and requires different software specialists depending on the project type and tech stack involved. 

Here are a few questions to help you define what and who you need for your project:

  • Why do you need to find and hire IT specialists?
  • Do you need to develop a minimum viable product (MVP) or a full-scale product?
  • Are you going to hire just Android developers, or do you also need iOS developers?

The list of business requirements can help you narrow down your search and identify what type of developers you need. It can give a better idea of where to start your hunting and how much you will need to pay for their work. 

Although, there are two more things to consider before starting your search.

  • Software development is a team job. 

Of course, you can hire a full-stack developer, but one person cannot replace multiple specialists without compromising quality. Especially when it comes to complex solutions requiring in-depth knowledge of multiple technologies. 

  • Not every person can become a software engineer.

Software development isn't cut and dried for everyone willing to become a programmer. It requires not only particular tech skills but also a specific mindset. While hiring developers for a startup, you should find people that are on the same page with you and share all your values. 

Step 2: Analyze the Labor Market

As long as finding a good engineer is not easier than finding a good coffee, it's better to start with research and analysis. At this stage, you need to break the labor market down into its components like market demand, trends, availability of developers, and salaries. 

Market trends can help you determine the demand for particular technologies. The greater the demand is, the harder it'll be to find and hire software developers. To get a full picture of the market, it's better to start reviewing some in-depth industry research like the 2022 State of Software Engineers report from Hired.com. Here are some of the most important points from that report:

  • There is an ever-growing demand for software engineers. The global pandemic and the global trend of turning brick-and-mortar businesses into online ones have propelled the growth of the software industry. 
  • Hiring fully remote engineers allows for greater flexibility and saving a pretty penny when hiring outside from big IT hubs. And, 54% of remote software engineers show better results than in-house teams. 
  • Instead of credentials and diplomas, employees pay attention to experience, skills, and candidate-company fit. 

Glassdoor and LinkedIn can also serve as valuable sources for information like salaries and demand for engineers sorted by skills, experience, and location. For country-specific searches, it's better to choose local job portals for research. For example, nofluffjobs for Poland. Hiring software engineers remotely became a more common practice after the pandemic hit in 2020. So, you don’t need to limit your search to a local labor market only. 

Step 3: Choose a Country to Hire From

With the world going fully remote, you can hire developers for your startup from any part of the world. Some countries can lure with the lowest rates, but language barriers and time differences can burden the development process. Ideally, you will find and hire developers that can communicate in your language, are great at coding, and don't cost the earth. 

These days, outsourcing software development talents can help you get access to a larger pool of specialists at a reasonable cost. Especially when it comes to single-discipline specialists. The financial aspect is one of the most important criteria that may influence your choice. 

1 replaceable table

Criteria:Senior software engineer|Software tester|Business analyst|UI/UX designer  

United States:$137,940|$97,360|$96,380|$102,260




1 ending table

Based on Glassdoor, you can hire a senior software engineer for $12k+ in India and for $137k+ in the US. But don’t get lured by the cheapest rates. Hiring developers from another part of the world like India comes with huge time differences, cultural diversities, and second-rate code quality. 

Step 4: Decide on the Employment Model 

Hiring a sit-at-desk employee isn't your only option for getting your app developed. There are alternatives. Here are two key alternatives to hiring full-time developers:

  • Hire freelancers 
  • Outsource software development services to a third-party vendor

Each of these alternatives has its own pros and cons. It would be best if you considered them well before making your final decision. Here's what you need to know about hiring freelance developers and partnering with an outsourcing company:

Pros of hiring freelance software developers

Hiring freelancers is a fast way to find the specialists you are looking for. The average employee hiring process takes about 23.8 days in the US, according to Glassdoor and can cost more than $4k per employee. The hiring process requires at least three interviews. So, if you need five programmers for your project, it works out to dozens of meetings and interviews just to choose the most suitable specialists. Plus, you need lots of time to get through all the paperwork and formalities. 

Hiring freelancers is faster, simpler, and less expensive. However, there are also downsides you need to consider.

Cons of hiring freelance software developers

Freelancers are a great fit for short-term commitments and project-based roles. But when it comes to maintenance and post-release support, the chances that the same developers can be hired are thin. 

Other issues to consider include the quality of developers and the quality of their code. This is a matter of debate since freelance platforms have no screening process, and you need to evaluate the projects and their skills on your own.

Management and supervision of freelancers is your responsibility and an added task. As a rule, you need to delegate tasks to people who haven't worked together before. There cannot be any team bonding and belonging. And it’s quite a challenging task to make every team member click together. Everyone is an independent element performing their function. 

Pros of outsourcing software development to an agency

There are two undeniable advantages of hiring an outsourcing company specializing in developing custom mobile and web solutions. The first one is years of industry-focused experience.

They can offer battle-tested developers, QA engineers, UI/UX designers, project managers, and business analysts. You don't have to waste your time and money hiring specialists, especially when you don't understand exactly what experience and skills you need. Instead, you find an outsourcing partner that can provide you with the team, advice, and expertise you need. They know how to turn your ideas into a viable business product. Outsourcing companies are fully accountable for planning, workflows, deadlines, and outcomes. All you have to do is to share your business vision and thoughts and then sit back, waiting for them to deliver. 

And advantage two? Outsourcing software development services means you've solved the team problem. Your team has earlier worked together on different projects and has already gone through Tuckman's four stages of team development

Cons of outsourcing software development 

The only downside of outsourcing that comes right to mind is its high cost. But that highly depends on the location. For example, outsourcing to Poland is at least two times cheaper than outsourcing to US-based companies. 

Even if you don't need a complete development team, you can outstaff separate IT specialists and power up your existing dev team. Outstaffing allows you to get project-based and highly skilled developers for any period of time. 

Other issues associated with outsourcing software development services to external vendors are control and security. While partnering with top-rated and renowned outsourcing companies, there are no security and control issues to be uptight about. Just don't forget to check the reviews and sign the NDA. 

Step 5: Choose the Hiring Platform 

Depending on the cooperation model you choose, there are different platforms and venues to consider. Here are the top destinations to look for developers:

Where to find developers for your startup?

  • Meetups. This is where you can check the developers in action. It's better to visit several meetups to find the right developer for your project. 
  • Coworking space. These are venues to look not only for developers but also for founders. They’re melting pots of enthusiasm, talent, and tech expertise. 
  • Hackathons. These are worth visiting, especially if you have at least a basic understanding of software development principles. If you're a non-tech founder, take a technical buddy with you or just ask about the best developers. 
  • Conferences. These are not only a place for finding developers, but you can also bill yourself as a promising entrepreneur and make programmers start a hunt instead. 
  • Universities. Fresh graduates are highly enthusiastic about beginning their journey in a promising startup. Start visiting different universities as a recruit to find genius young programmers. As a rule, fresh graduates are looking for a unique experience rather than high salaries. 
  • Social platforms and friends' recommendations. Don't forget to ask your friends. They probably know someone who can help you with all the tech staff. Putting the word out on Facebook, LinkedIn, or GitHub can also help you find developers interested in your project.
  • Job portals. Hired, Guru, Toptal, Indeed, and Glassdoor can also help you find programmers. 
  • Communities. Check out AngelList, Overflow, Mashable, and GitHub to get access to programming talents from all over the world. 
  • Recruitment agencies. You can take advantage of professional hiring agencies and get the recruiting process off your hands. But they won’t cover the whole process. You still have to review the candidates and conduct final interviews.  

Where to find the outsourcing company that best fits your needs?

  • Google. Do a preliminary search by googling outsourcing vendors that are based in the preferred markets or work with the required technologies. 
  • Online marketplace. Check out Clutch or GoodFirms to compare a spectrum of providers. 
  • Referrals. You can utilize the old-fashioned but battle-tested way to find a developer for your project: ask your friends, peers, and people in your industry. 

Don't limit your search to local options. You can always take advantage of outsourcing and find the right company to deliver your product in any part of the world. 

Step 6: Run Interviews

Whether you are hiring individual contractors or software development agencies, you need to check out their background and hard and soft skills. Nothing works better than having interviews with your candidates. Ask them about their experience with previous projects and try to find out what they are passionate about. 

Compile a list of questions to evaluate your candidate, then compare the responses. It can help you find the right fit for your startup. Here are some basic things you should include in your interview:

  • Experience 
  • Previous projects 
  • Number of jobs and projects 
  • Top products they are proud of 
  • Recommendations or reviews 

But the technical skills don’t matter most. There should be a balance between hard and soft skills. For example, a person with good listening skills and comprehension is more likely to understand the requirements better. And a punctual person shows commitment and completes their tasks on time and with fewer errors. 

Accessing hard skills is a real challenge, especially for a non-tech founder. But getting a CTO on board can help to review candidates’ hard skills. Being a startup, having a full-time CTO isn’t a must. As a part of the C-level executive team, a CTO is involved in all development processes, offering strategic guidance on which technology to use, and leading the company in the right tech direction.  It's better to go with a part-time CTO or get help from an IT development service provider. 

How ODG Helps Early-Stage Startups

What if we could tell you that you don't need to go through all these steps and substeps? There is a simpler way to get your product developed. You can just ask us to turn your business idea into a full-scale application.

Of course, hiring an in-house developer is great in terms of communication, culture, support, and teamwork. But hiring ODG is just the same, but remote and result-oriented. 

We have everything and everyone needed for your startup success. With ODG, you get access to a talented and experienced full-scale team of developers, designers, QAs, business analysts, and project managers. There is no need to spend months finding the right developers for your project. ODG is just a call or an email away from implementing your business idea. 

Our team can help you with idea validation, prototyping, business analysis, development, and release. Moreover, we can help you with fundraising issues. ODG offers a one-stop solution from idea to product.

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