How to Recruit a Developer For A Non-IT company

By Sergey Dmitrichenko

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Everybody seems to know that IT specialists – well, really good ones – prefer to be employed by an IT company. But now every company is sourcing for quality IT candidates, especially in the e-commerce area. Unfortunately, it is not mutual: developers seem to be running away when you mention “commerce”. However, there is still a way how to find and hire great specialists.

Unfortunately, an IT candidate might be less interested in a vacancy in a non-tech company.  There is a line of candidates for every other vacancy, but serious efforts have to be made to find a great developer and make them want to work for a small online store. It’s difficult to find a good IT specialist and easy to lose one. When we just started headhunting, the perfect candidates either left in the middle of the job interview or didn’t show up at all. So we changed a lot in our strategy, made real progress in IT hiring process and now we are glad to share our experience.

Let professionals hire professionals

It would be a huge mistake to make a random recruiting specialist, who is in charge of closing all vacancies, to recruit IT personnel. Hiring a good developer requires special skills. It is better to find a recruiter who specializes in IT sector. Look, if your company has German partners, you will hire several German-speaking employees, right? Well, same here.

If you are in constant search of web developers, then you’d better assign a separate person to this process. In case it is a one-time task, it’s easier and cheaper to use a recruitment agency.

It is important for your recruiter to speak the same language with the applicants. It is also important to be able to think outside the box so that a non-conventional question or phrase from the applicant does not send him reeling. Such kind of misunderstanding might make the interested candidate think that the management is out of touch, and therefore change his mind and decline the job.

Masalaryalery research

Conduct market research in order to find out how much it actually costs to hire your dream candidate. Do not rely on just other companies’ offers. Your aim is to understand the professional level or the required candidate – and if you cannot afford it, maybe it’s better to look for a talented beginner and support his professional growth within the company.

The point is that IT candidates are a very special kind of applicants, dramatically less in number than in sales or marketing, and even few if you need a really great one. That is why their wage expectations are pretty high. You won’t be able to find a web developer with a salary below than average on the market. Well, maybe you will – someone who is still in high school.

So, the market research will help you to understand who exactly you’re looking for and offer a decent salary to a relevant candidate. Your dream candidate might demand more money than you have planned. Well, sometimes it is a potential employee who decides on the amount of wage, not you. So it’s for you to choose whether you want a senior or junior developer to be on your team.   

A generous salary is not everything that good developers are seeking, but it is the first step to make them interested in the vacancy. The more special skills you need, the more expensive it’s going to be.

Create an atmosphere of IT company 

No matter what your company profile is, you will need to create a new atmosphere. IT company means flexible hours, comfortable office space, free snacks, lack of dress-code, interesting challenges – that’s what developers are expecting from you. Be prepared to make at least one of your company’s department to look and feel like an “IT company branch”.

It is necessary to understand your dream candidates’ expectations: attend IT events, read relevant online forums (paying special attention to the comments), consult the experts, check market researches. Spend some time to investigate the really important factors, and you will learn a lot (some moments will surprise you!).

Do you know how important the developer’s workplace is? A lot of companies purchase office furniture thinking mostly of design, fitting in, making a nice picture. Well, your IT specialist does not care about the chair’s beauty, price or outstanding design: he needs it to be comfortable so his back wouldn't hurt, and that’s it, because practically he’s always at his desk working (not at conference room meetings, coffee-breaks with partners or random meetings next to printer). The table’s height, the back of the chair’s height and comfort, the right distance towards the display – that’s what really matters. Consult the experts before organizing the developer’s workplace to make it as comfortable as possible but be prepared to change it upon the request of some picky (and the most valuable) specialist.
There are some other conditions to be mentioned. Free coffee! Ok, you got it, but make sure the coffee maker is as close to developer’s desk as possible. It would really brighten up his life – well, coffee and some free snacks.

And of course, if there’s a strict dress code in your office, make an exception for your IT specialists. Wearing a tie definitely wouldn’t make them more productive (quite the contrary, actually).

Use the individual approach

You need a personal approach to each candidate. Once again: good developers are on highest demand now and they know it, so be prepared to meet their expectations.

Generally, our office work hours are from 9.30 till 18.00, and this regime is important for everyone who’s dealing with company partners directly – but developers don’t. All their workflow goes via JIRA, where tasks are prioritized and assigned to the specialist.

That’s why if IT specialists prefer to come to work earlier or later than other employees, you’d better be okay with that. When you set the flexible working hours for the IT department, you’d see that a lot of developers often choose to work “off hours”, stay at the office until late and are ready to work from home and on weekends.

Get real about associated costs

After you explored all the factors that are crucial for hiring a good developer (salary, work conditions, etc.), ask yourself one more time if you can afford it. Can you satisfy all their needs?
Discuss with your colleagues if your company is able to provide such working conditions without affecting the business processes or corporate culture.

Look, your IT specialists are spared of dress-code. How are you going to explain it to the other employees? If you are ready to invest in your dev department and provide the demanded salary and comfort level – okay, there you go! Start all the possible improvements. Evaluate the necessary costs and show the cost estimate to the financial department (please be ready to defend every line: new chairs, canteen renovation, flexible working hours...) and start the recruitment process only after the estimates are approved.

In case you realize that your company is not ready for changes now – hire someone less experienced (and less picky, obviously) or outsource your tasks. (find a freelance dev).

How to conduct a job interview

As it was mentioned before, a separate recruiter who specializes in an IT sector is a must, but the head of the department still should be involved in the hiring process. It is his responsibility to explain the company goals and priorities and, of course, to decide if the candidate is right for the position and for the team.

In some companies, they prefer to conduct several interviews: first with an HR specialist, second with a line manager. Please, do not complicate the hiring process: talking to a candidate without a team leader doesn’t make any sense. It is just a waste of time both for you and for a candidate.

Make sure that a vacancy description contains the complete list of requirements, so you won’t spend your time on an interview with someone clearly unsuitable for the position. Keep in mind that everyone seems to know each other in the IT community, so even one failed interview may damage your company reputation.

If you are not sure that the head of the department can present the current projects in their best, then it’s better to conduct the interview together with the HR specialist. The most important thing is to convince the candidate that his skills are really important for the department’s successful development and that there is plenty of interesting tasks. Elaborate on your completed projects and future challenging tasks – it is always a key to success.

It is also quite easy to motivate a candidate with a higher position, especially a younger one. The “senior” word surely makes any vacancy sound more attractive. We have also found in our experience that it is common for an IT specialist to be a rather multifaceted person, so if you can offer them to prove themselves in a non-IT area, they’ll be more than happy.  

About the Author 

Sergey Dmitrichenko, Founder of AmazingHiring, the web application for technical talents acquisition. It automatically searches for the right candidates across 50+ sources. AI-based technology helps to save time on candidate pre-screening.  

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