If you’ve ever started your own technology company, you know how hard it is to split your time between chief executive officer and chief technology officer.
My friend recently left his engineering job to found his own tech company. He built it, developed it and called it his “baby” with no trace of irony. But as babies do, it grew. The technology platform started demanding more of his time. He had to give it up. Fortunately, he found a CTO who rebuilt the platform and took the products to new heights of usability, scalability and form. Best of all, his new CTO made him a better CEO because he was able to focus on running the rest of the business.
This story illustrates the ever-growing value of an A-level developer, especially for budding startups. The demand for these developers is high, but the market is hypercompetitive. If done right, however, finding one isn’t as hard as you think.
The need for a developer is increasing.
Remember life before the iPhone? You got along fine, but imagine the outcry if next year’s model came out late. The product development cycle is short and the market is competitive, so companies must be agile to stay relevant.
To do this, you need engineers with the foresight to build for the future. Remember: Scalability is the watchword, and developers must be able to quickly get on board with a common vision. Luckily, hiring great developers makes it easier to hire other great developers. A-level players will create a culture of performance and in the process, they’ll turn around a few B-level players.
But acknowledging the importance of developers doesn’t change the fact that they’re hard to come by. The tech sector (and the demand for talent) grows each year. Companies with good talent do everything to keep it, and others do all they can to poach it. That’s why top programmers get offers from just about everyone they interview with.
Immigration laws aren’t helping, either. To be the top tech hub, the U.S. must attract the best talent from abroad. Yet the percentage of engineering and technology companies with at least one foreign-born founder dropped from 2006 to 2012, suggesting the U.S. is chasing away entrepreneurial immigrants.
While finding tech talent is a challenge, there are strategies for jump-starting recruitment:
2. Look for people who love your product.
Most of us didn’t love doing chores growing up, even if we were paid. We’d have rather ridden our bikes for free. The lesson? You need to hire people who are passionate about working for you.
Consider Riot Games. The company encourages its engineers to play its “League of Legends” game with co-workers during office hours. This leads to stronger buy-in among engineers for the product they’re building, and it’s a great selling point for recruits who love gaming.
2. Don’t only ask your CTO to code.
As your startup grows, your CTO shouldn’t be involved in day-to-day coding -- especially as you hire more engineers. He should be free to forge relationships with other CTOs, speak on panels and engage with popular tech forums, such as Stack Overflow, Hacker News or Quora. Often overlooked, this strategy gets your name out there and attracts tech talent.
3. Get on your recruits’ levels.
As the CEO, you must be conversant of the engineering world. Even if you only invest one hour a week, you’ll create intangible goodwill that will pay dividends. Having a better understanding of what the engineering job entails (and being able to communicate that during the recruitment process) will instill excitement in recruits and let them know that you value their work.
4. Use the right tools.
LinkedIn shouldn’t be your go-to source. The site is much too schmoozy for engineers who might put up their guard when you reach out. Instead, use Hired for a more traditional approach, or seek out talent on GitHub or social media platforms to get the results you want.
Using these unconventional strategies will help boost your recruitment efforts and land that much-needed developer who can inspire your team and help build for tomorrow.