Did you know the demand for software developers could surge by 25% from 2022 to 2032, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics?

This means hiring a talented developer is about to get trickier as competition among employers to attract top talent grows. One misstep in your hiring process could lead to wasted resources, poor software quality, and plummeting team morale. 

Let’s explore how to hire a software developer and the mistakes to avoid to ensure a smooth hiring process. 

We’ll also tell you why outsourcing is a compelling alternative to in-house hiring and why teaming up with a reliable outsourcing partner, Distillery, is a smart strategy for success. 

Further Reading:
Discover all about Software Outsourcing and the massive cost benefits it offers. 
Explore 7 Benefits of Custom Software Development and 9 Tips to Do it Successfully. 

This Article Contains:

How to Hire a Software Developer: 10-Step Guide To Finding the Perfect Candidate

These 10 steps are all you need to follow to find the right candidate who fits your project requirements and company culture perfectly:

1. Determine Your Project Scope and Developer Requirements

2. Determine the Level of Commitment & Flexibility You Need

3. Calculate a Realistic Budget

4. Prepare a Compelling Job Description

5. Find the Right Pool of Candidates

6. Evaluate Candidates Through a Structured Interview Process

7. Conduct Background Checks, Legal and Compliance Checks

8. Offer a Competitive Package + Close the Offer

9. Set Up a Smooth Onboarding Process

10. Initiate a Probation Period

1. Determine Your Project Scope and Requirements

To start with, outline your project’s objectives, the technology, programming language, functionalities, system requirements needed, and the timeline for completion.

By understanding the complexity and requirements of your software solution, you can identify the ideal candidate profile, including necessary technical skills and experience level. 

This will help you decide the type of software developers you need to hire. For instance:

  • Web and Mobile App Development: Front-end, Back-end software engineer, or Full-stack developers (front-end + back-end), PHP developer, mobile developer (specialized in iOS/Android platforms)
  • Specialized Software Development: DevOps Engineer (optimizes software deployment), Cloud Software Engineer (manages cloud resources), CRM Developer, ERP Developer
  • Data and Analytics: Data Scientist, Machine Learning Engineer, Database Developer
  • Infrastructure and Security: Security Engineer (focuses on threat protection), Systems Developer (handles network and system infrastructure)
  • Niche or Specific Domain Development: Game Developer, Embedded Systems Developer

Suppose you’re developing a web application with a tight deadline. You’ll likely need full-stack developers with extensive experience in both front-end and back-end technologies like React.js for the user interface and Node.js for server-side logic. 

If your backend needs complex data processing or integration with machine learning models, a Python developer with experience in frameworks like Django or Flask would be the perfect fit.

2. Determine the Level of Commitment and Flexibility You Need

The engagement level and flexibility you need from the software engineer or developer will influence your project’s efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

You need to take a call on these aspects:

  • Project Duration (Short-term vs. Long-term): Short-term projects will need a skilled developer who can quickly adapt and deliver. Meanwhile, long-term projects might require a full-time dedicated developer for a deeper engagement.
  • Work Setup (Onsite vs. Remote Developer): Onsite developers can offer immediate, in-person collaboration. Meanwhile, hiring remote developers gives you geographical flexibility and access to a broader, global tech talent pool.
  • Employment Type (Part-time vs. Full-time): This decision hinges on the project’s scope and the chosen work setup. A part-time or freelance developer can efficiently tackle specific tasks or phases of the project and may save costs in some cases. Conversely, a full-time dedicated developer offers continuous support and can integrate more deeply into your company culture and long-term vision.
  • Team Size: A small team of dedicated developers might suffice for simple, short-term projects with clear goals. On the other hand, you may need to hire a bigger team with a project manager, QA engineer, and more to tackle complex, long-term projects with broader scopes.

3. Calculate a Realistic Budget

Calculating a realistic budget will help you allocate the right resources, balancing quality and cost-effectiveness. 

Here’s how to do it:

  • First, analyze the project requirements, skills required, training needs, and the project’s duration. This helps you decide whether you need a junior developer, a seasoned professional (front end developer), or an entire team offshore, nearshore, or onshore. All these factors impact costs and quality.
  • Research current market rates, considering variables like geographic location, which can influence salary scales. 
  • Establish the base salary and additional costs (for example, benefits, office equipment, training expenses, and post-launch costs). Consider a contingency fund to manage unexpected costs.
  • Cross-check with overall financial planning so that your hiring budget does not compromise other project or departmental budgets.

If you follow these steps, you’ll be able to calculate a realistic budget that is grounded in the actual demands of hiring rather than setting a budget first without a clear understanding of the investments you really need.

4. Prepare a Compelling Job Description

A well-defined job description helps filter out unqualified applicants. This streamlines the recruitment process and increases the likelihood of finding the right match for the job faster.

A compelling job description should ideally include:

  • Job title
  • Company overview highlighting culture and values
  • Responsibilities
  • Technical skill set
  • Soft skill set
  • Essential vs preferred qualifications
  • Education and experience requirements
  • Benefits and perks
  • Application process

5. Find the Right Pool of Candidates

Next, you need to shortlist the right pool of candidates so that you spend time and resources interviewing only those with the best technical and soft skills.

If you are hiring in-house, these channels can help you find the potential candidate:

  • Partner with recruitment agencies
  • Hire a freelance developer from online platforms or advertise on a specialized job board tailored to the tech industry
  • Leverage referrals
  • Use LinkedIn Recruiter to target and reach out to qualified candidates
  • Post on LinkedIn Jobs to attract applicants from a wide professional network
  • Network with developers at industry meetups, conferences, and hackathons

You can also set up an applicant tracking system to track candidates throughout the hiring process and hire the best software developer.

6. Evaluate Candidates Through a Structured Interview Process

A structured interview process lets you thoroughly and fairly assess each candidate. This way, you can be sure their technical and soft skills, as well as values, align well with your project demands and company culture.

Structure your interview process in this way:

  • Conduct a screening call to discuss the candidate’s background, motivation, and fit for the role.
  • Conduct a detailed interview asking questions that probe technical competencies, problem-solving abilities, and cultural fit. Ask behavioral questions to understand past work experiences and outcomes.
  • Administer technical assessments or coding tests to evaluate skills objectively. 
  • Have your team interview the potential candidate to gauge team compatibility. 

What skills and qualities should you look for in a software developer?

You may need some or all of the following skills depending on your project:

  • Proficiency in a specific programming language (Python, JavaScript, Java, and so on.)
  • Experience with frameworks and libraries (React, Angular, Node.js, etc.)
  • Understanding of cloud services (AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, etc.)
  • Familiarity with DevOps practices and tools
  • Knowledge of containerization and orchestration (Docker, Kubernetes, etc.)
  • Database management skills (SQL, NoSQL)
  • Understanding of software development methodologies (e.g., Agile, Scrum)
  • Experience with test-driven development and automated testing
  • Knowledge of cybersecurity best practices
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Critical thinking ability
  • Communication skills
  • Time management skills

Background checks confirm the trustworthiness and qualifications of your candidate. 

Validate their professional history by contacting references and confirming their history and certifications. 

Verify that no existing non-compete clauses or previous employment agreements would restrict the candidate’s ability to join your company.

These checks can also provide insights into the candidate’s integrity, general character, and ethical standards as well.

8. Offer a Competitive Package and Close the Offer

Once you’ve found the talented developer, offer them a competitive salary package that matches industry standards and the candidate’s experience and software engineering expertise.

Include aspects like bonuses, paid leaves, equity, and health benefits in your package. 

Be prepared to negotiate and be flexible in areas critical to the candidate. This could include remote work options, flexible hours, or customized benefits.

9. Set Up a Smooth Onboarding Process

A well-structured onboarding process actively integrates a new developer into your team and helps them quickly grasp your company culture and expectations.

Follow these steps for an effective onboarding process:

  • Begin with an orientation session highlighting company values, work culture, and overall expectations.
  • Offer detailed technical onboarding with access to codebases, documentation, and tools supported by mentorship.
  • Review new developers’ work thoroughly to identify any discrepancies early on.
  • Schedule regular check-ins, like monthly feedback sessions, especially for remote developers, to address issues and gauge progress. 

10. Initiate a Probation Period

The probation period, typically spanning from a few weeks to months, allows you to evaluate the developer’s technical abilities, cultural alignment, and team contributions. 

To make this effective, set specific objectives, deliver consistent feedback, and ensure they have access to the necessary resources and mentorship.

At the end of the trial, conduct a comprehensive review to decide whether to hire them permanently, based on predefined performance criteria and overall fit with the team.

Next, we’ll look into the mistakes that hiring managers usually make in the software developer hiring process.

7 Pitfalls to Avoid When Hiring Software Developers 

Avoid these common mistakes so that your hiring process is smooth and effective:

  • Hiring in-house without exploring better options: For instance, if you don’t consider outsourcing, you may not get access to a broader talent pool. You may also potentially overlook a more cost-effective and skilled developer available globally.
  • Poor onboarding practices: If you don’t offer sufficient training, resources, support, or mentorship, you may leave even the best software developer confused, reducing their productivity and increasing attrition. This adds to your costs for further hiring and training.
  • Hiring only through references: This limits your talent pool since you’re only looking at a limited number of candidates. There’s also a potential for bias while evaluating them since they were referred to by people in your personal network. 
  • Unclear job expectations and descriptions: An unclear job description attracts the wrong candidates prolonging the hiring process. Without clear guidelines, even highly qualified candidates may struggle to perform.
  • Not running background checks: Not doing so overlooks essential information, like previous employment verification, about a candidate’s past and trustworthiness. This might lead to integrity issues later and affect project security.
  • Failing to consider soft skills and cultural fit: This could lead to poor teamwork, communication breakdowns, and decreased productivity, even if the developer is technically proficient.
  • Focusing only on years of experience: Overlooks a candidate’s adaptability, problem-solving skills, creativity, and growth potential.

Now, even if you manage to avoid these mistakes, in-house hiring of software developers comes with its own set of pain points.

What Are the Drawbacks of Hiring Software Developers In-House?

If you’re tasking your in-house hiring team with hiring an internal development team, it can become challenging due to these reasons:

  • Increasing competition for top-qualified candidates. This will lead to lengthy recruitment and onboarding processes eating into internal bandwidth.
  • Staffing needs may fluctuate faster than you can respond, potentially leading to overstaffing or understaffing
  • Significantly higher costs (because building an internal development team means that you have to pay bonuses and benefits apart from salaries and incur other employment-related expenses and ongoing training expenses.) 

So, no wonder the traditional model of in-house hiring is being challenged by the cost-efficiency and scalability of outsourcing software development. 

The Better Alternative to Hiring In-House: Outsourcing Software Development

Outsourcing software development involves hiring external companies or developers to handle your software development process. 

You can either outsource the entire software development process or specific aspects like quality testing.

For instance, a US-based startup can outsource the UI/UX design phase of a mobile app to a reputable firm in Mexico. This lets them hire remote software developers with specialized skills, scale faster, and leverage advanced tech — at a significantly lower cost. 

Here’s why outsourcing is the superior alternative to in-house hiring:

  • Cost-effectiveness: Outsourcing eliminates a portion of the costs associated with in-house hiring, including hiring and infrastructure costs, perks and benefits, and more. The salaries or monthly retainers you need to pay in some countries are way lower than in the US, so you will cut costs significantly there.
  • Access to global talent: Outsourcing allows you to access expert talent that’s often scarce locally. For example, partnering with a trusted software development company like Distillery lets you recruit remote software developers from Mexico. (Developers in Mexico were ranked #4 globally for their skills in the Coursera Global Skill Report (2023).
  • Faster time to market: Outsourced development teams speed up the development process with their specialized expertise and streamlined workflows, helping you launch products faster. Their experience in similar projects helps them tackle risks quickly and resolve issues promptly.
  • Flexibility and scalability: Outsourcing lets you easily adjust your team size according to project and market changes without having to go through long hiring processes. 
  • Focus on core business functions: Outsourcing allows you to focus on your company’s core competencies while leaving the technical work to the outsourced team. For example, a retail company looking to build its online presence can focus on sales and customer service, while a specialized outsourced web developer takes care of the development and maintenance of its ecommerce app
  • Continuous support and maintenance: Outsourcing firms offer ongoing support and maintenance, ensuring your software remains up-to-date and competitive. This is very useful for businesses without a dedicated in-house IT team.

Remember, you may face reduced project management control, potential quality assurance issues, communication barriers due to language and cultural differences, and information security risks. 

Fortunately, you can bypass these challenges by working with a reliable outsourcing partner. 

How to Select and Onboard the Right Outsourcing Partner

These steps can help you choose an outsourcing partner that best suits your project requirements and budget:

  • Assess portfolios and relevant experience to determine their expertise.
  • Verify skills through technical interviews and assessments to select the most talented developer.
  • Cross-check references and customer testimonials to validate their credibility.
  • Assess their financial health and ensure clarity in cost discussions.
  • Set up effective communication channels to facilitate seamless collaboration.
  • Arrange for knowledge transfer processes to maintain project continuity.
  • Apply risk management tactics to preempt and solve possible challenges.
  • Ensure they offer ongoing support after project completion for sustained reliability.

Now, we’ll tell you how Distillery can be your best software development outsourcing partner.  

Outsource Your Software Development through Distillery

Distillery is a leading nearshore software development company that will help you build a team of talented developers from Latin America. 

Leveraging advanced technology and spanning nine different time zones, we’re equipped to fulfill your software development requirements with precision and efficiency.

Here’s why you should work with us:

  • We expand your team with expert tech talent (for example, QA engineer, front-end developer, web developer, or a diverse team) bypassing the traditional costs and complexities of in-house hiring, recruitment, and onboarding.
  • Our specialists, proficient in all areas of software engineering and development — from mobile app creation to project management — can integrate into your team in just a few weeks.
  • Our custom Service Delivery Approach (SDA) ensures smooth onboarding, minimized risks, and effective communication. 
  • We offer you full visibility and day-to-day control over what tech and software development processes are used.

You can choose from these three software development outsourcing models:

  • Staff augmentation: Supplement your team with one or more team members. Ideal for adding specific skills to your team on a flexible basis.
  • Dedicated teams: Hire a team dedicated to working on your project that operates as an extension of your internal team. Suitable for developing a long-term software solution requiring full-time attention.

Contact Distillery now to supercharge your software development projects with superior expertise and advanced tech.