For a role that’s high in demand, developers are the most challenging to find and retain — with only 1.71% of professional developers actively looking for work while being unemployed. To be successful in a high-value-added field of other giant tech companies, startups have to go beyond compensation and conventional methods to hire the best developers. 

From being systematic about defining the right tech stack to taking a thoughtful and considered approach to hiring, here’s how you can hire the best developers for your startup:

10 steps to hire developers for your startup 10 steps to hire developers for your startup

1. Define your hiring needs accurately

Start by creating a hiring plan. Once you have those details, identify the right technology stack you want to use for your product. It’s crucial for a startup to recruit developers familiar with the tech stack needed to build the app. 

This is the first step to ensuring your product meets the company’s goals and also improves your chances of hiring quality developers. Here’s how you start figuring out your business needs to get there: 

What problem is your solution solving for, does it need an interactive UI, and whether it’s user-friendly or fast-performing — it all depends on your business goals before you get any code written.

Whether it’s web-based, mobile app, cross-platform, or even desktop applications. 

Different projects require different development stacks. With a multitude of programming languages, technologies, frameworks, and tools in the market, choosing the right stack ensures your product meets your business goals.

If you need your product to be launched soon, you can choose from some basic readily available libraries on the Ruby on Rails framework or other no-code solutions.

The tech stack you use must have the potential to scale if you plan for fast growth.

Not all technologies are identically secure, you must build with best practices of security and risk mitigation. 

After you work out the core functionalities of your product, create an efficient recruitment funnel. It will help you streamline the process and get through the hiring process end-to-end seamlessly.

2. Establish if you want an in-house or outsourced developer

Startups have the luxury to choose their developers’ type of employment according to their needs — whether you want to outsource, hire freelancers, or get in-house developers to work from the office or remotely.

You can even hire developers on a project basis which will allow you to pay developers a fixed price for their contract period. For more flexibility and if you’re an early-stage startup, you can outsource a dedicated team to help you with your evolving needs. Outsourcing, however, adds more cost which can be avoided by using the right HR software to automate bigger parts of the hiring process.

Hiring an in-house development team has more pros than cons—you’ll have the benefits of better communication and coordination and continuous product improvement, and your in-house team comes with more context and expertise that you cannot find outside.

For a startup just getting off the ground, remote developers prove to be a more cost-effective option. It all comes down to choosing the kind of employment model that works best for your startup requirements. 


3. Decide on a budget

Whether you’re a cash-strapped startup or flush with capital funding, budgeting is important every step of the way — even when deciding your budget for hiring developers.

Of the many priorities, while allocating the budget, choosing an expert and high-quality developer should be one of them. The competition is heavy with tech giants sweeping away any available developer with perks and bonuses but startups still have the high ground by being more creative. By offering more flexibility, stock options, and better relationships with the company, startups can still get a head start on getting the right candidates. 

With a limited budget and high tensions, startups can do more by being economical. For instance, instead of dishing out a lot of your budget to recruitment agencies, you can instead invest in a software solution that significantly reduces the cost of recruitment. You can further minimize costs by hiring developers from less competitive regions to work remotely.


4. Create a Job Description

Before you start posting jobs for developers, you need to know what kind of specialist you’re looking for. The more clarity you have about your requirements, the better the search results. For example, a front-end developer is very different from a database developer. 

Start with defining what the role entails, its responsibilities, and the skillset you need your developers to have, and then create the perfect job description. While it is painstakingly long to draft job descriptions with all the details, startups may find it wise to use templates from reliable sources. 

A few tips to help your job description stand out and attract the right developers:

Write in the second-person point of view by addressing the reader as “you” and ensure your JD is readable. It needs to contain all key information, be structured, and be quick to read.

Detail the list of main technologies and skills required for the role.

Be authentic about your startup culture, describe your mission, and let that tone show on JDs.

Startups fare well when they showcase the benefits they can offer to developers upfront. If your company believes in good work/life culture and promotes flexible working hours, it should go on the JD.  


5. Source the right developers

Finding the candidates can be exhausting without knowing where to start. Here are some of the best platforms to find the right developers for your startup:

You can even meet and make new connections at Hackathons and developer networking events. And the best way to reach out to all of them without burning through your budget is by using an ATS like Freshteam which lets you post to multiple job boards in a single click, for free.

Startups can also view real-time data that shows which job board is giving them the best developers and ROI from the same. This helps you focus on hiring the best developer and not worry about the admin work. 

While employment agencies and software development companies can also do the sourcing for you, it becomes an expensive affair and they may not necessarily be doing it solely in the interest of the startup. 


6. Shortlist the right candidates

Traditional methods of screening applicants are neither cost-effective nor efficient. By the time you go through the list, talented developers may have already gotten other offers. Modern HR tools allow you to screen and shortlist the right candidates proactively. Since all developers bring their unique skills to the table, researching for reliability and filtering them out based on your needs is the easy way to shortlist.

HR software like Freshteam automatically screens the resumes you receive and filters applications based on skills, education, and experience that don’t meet your criteria for the developer’s role. 

7. Set up the initial call

The first impression can make or break your search for the best developer. Your first touch email should be compelling enough for top talents to join your startup. Clearly set your expectations and the advantages you can bring to them. 

Once you’ve set up the next call with the shortlisted candidate, you’ll have an overview of their interests and expectations, and whether they meet your requirements. 


8. Set up interviews - HR & Technical


The best way to find your ideal candidates is with the typical interview process and a technical evaluation. While it can be harrowing to do it all by yourself, the right tool will help you organize the process and narrow down your candidate list easily. 

An interview scheduling tool like Freshteam helps you handle the entire process end-to-end in the same platform by automating assessments, scheduling interviews, and enabling collaboration between the startup owner and team about the interviews, and candidate viability. 

Once you have held interviews and evaluated the potential developers with a programming assignment, here’s what you need to look out for:

- How excited are they about the role to drive your startup, learning curves, and their ability to contribute directly to your startup’s mission and vision? 

- Experience, portfolio, or expertise: it should be something tangible to work 

- Are they team players? Do you see this person getting along with your team?

- Do they have leadership qualities? Does this person show enough initiative to own their field within your startup?

- Hire for their skillset, knowledge, and competence over experience or associated brands.


9. Roll out offer letters


The moment you find the right candidate and hash out all the offer details, ensure that the terms and work orders are clear and detailed in the contract. It’s important that both you and the potential candidate mutually agree to the same. Finally, it’s best if you roll out the official offers as soon as possible so you don’t lose your top hire.

Freshteam’s offer management software helps you do that quickly and efficiently. It provides built-in offer letter templates and enables SLAs for offer rollouts, and paperless document signing, with insights into offer acceptance and rejection metrics. 


10. Onboard new developers

Now that you have hired developers for your startup, how do you ensure they are not left in the dark about how things work in your office? The first impression matters — how you introduce them to the team and make them feel included, how you equip them with all that’s necessary to begin work confidently. A streamlined onboarding process with a proper plan and best practices in place will help your startup retain the developers you hire by 82%. 

Employee onboarding software can help you focus on building your new relationships and actual work. A solution like Freshteam can manage all your onboarding tasks — from the paperwork to engaging with your new hire.


Where to find programmers for your startup?

1. Freelance work platforms like Upwork, Toptal, Guru, etc. are top choices for freelance developers. 

2. If you’re posting jobs, choose from job boards like Github, LinkedIn, Stack Overflow, and other social media sites. In fact, with Freshteam, you can save money while hiring from LinkedIn.  

3. You can also hire outsourcing firms or even meet developers at Hackathons, meetups, and development conferences.


When to hire coders for a startup?

While this varies from startup to startup, you typically hire your first developer when you want to solve a problem within your product. For instance, if you need a prototype, an app, or come across some problems that can’t be fixed with no-code solutions, that would be the right time to hire your first developer. If you’re a startup owner with no tech background, it helps to have a developer with you from the time you build your product roadmap. 


How many developers do I need to hire for my startup?


The number of developers needed depends on the scale and complexity of your product. Early-stage startups only need one or two developers to build the minimum viable product. If you’re building a mid to large-scale project and plan for rapid growth, you may need to hire an entire team. You can even break down the entire project into multiple micro-services so you can hire two to three developers at every stage.  And the best way to attract, interview, hire, onboard, and retain them all is by using Freshteam ATS—The award-winning software trusted by 8,000+ growing businesses. Try it for free!