9 tips for hiring a developer in Chicago

by Doug Pitorak
April 27, 2015

[ibimage==46825==Original==none==self==ibimage_align-center]In case you didn’t know, tech companies need developers. In fact, there were 250+ developer and engineer positions posted on our job board when this article was published. Needless to say, the market for developers is competitive, and finding a great one to bring into a company is a challenge.

Fortunately, we talked to a few team members from local tech firms to get their advice for finding a great developer. Read on to get some fresh tips and ideas!

Attend meetups

Amelia Baer, the marketing lead at Punchkick Interactive, a Chicago-based custom mobile app development company, said one good place to possibly find candidates is by attending various developer meetups around town. The key, Baer said, is attending with a desire to genuinely meet people, not just fill a role.

“Go to meetups, but not in a sales way,” Baer said in an email. “Go to genuinely learn more about what's exciting for developers so that you can connect with them on a more knowledgeable level.”

Look internally 
[ibimage==46787==Original==none==self==ibimage_align-right]
Additionally, an underrated source of candidates can be found right under your nose, according to Baer (pictured right).

“In looking for great developers, at Punchkick we've found great success in turning to our own team members and their networks of friends in the profession,” Baer said. “Because culture is so important to us, we’ve found that we get referrals for engineers that are not only amazing skills-wise, but great fits culturally, as well.”

Start looking ahead of time

John Wood is the lead developer at UrbanBound, a Chicago-based startup that creates web software designed to make relocation more efficient. As a developer himself, Wood is familiar with recruiters’ techniques — both good and bad.

His first piece of advice for recruiters is to start the search as soon as possible.

“Finding a developer takes time. It’s not something you can just put up a job posting one week and expect to have somebody working the next week or even the week after,” Wood said. “It can take months, so it’s important to get started with the process pretty far ahead of when you actually need to fill that role.”

Make research easy for developers

To help attract appropriate candidates, Wood suggests companies have a designated page on their website for the tech projects they work on and what the work environment is like. Even better, Wood said, would be a blog with articles about how the team solves problems, and how the development process works.

“Candidates like to do their own research and see if your company is a fit,” Wood said. “You want the people coming to you who actually want to work there, and not so much the people who don’t.”

Focus on building relationships

However, as recruiters know, candidates don’t always come to a company. Sometimes recruiters have to go to developers, and when they do, Wood said they must keep in mind that “the relationship building part of the recruiting is by far the most important.”

He said recruiters must “build a legitimate relationship, something that’s mutually beneficial.” After all, one never knows what connections someone has, especially in the developer community.

“Good developers know other good developers, and if this person you’re meeting with — if they’re not looking at the moment or the role you have isn’t quite what they’re looking for — they may know somebody who is a better fit, and if you have that legitimate relationship, they’re a lot more willing to refer you to their friends or colleagues, people that they know that are looking for a role.”

[ibimage==46790==Original==none==self==ibimage_align-left]Always be upfront and honest

The old adage that honesty is the best policy holds true when recruiting developers, and Wood (pictured left) said it should be manifested on a company’s website and job description, as well as in any in-person meetings.

“Don’t start what you hope to be a longterm relationship by stretching the truth or outright lying,” Wood said. “If the candidate asks you a question and you’re afraid or unsure if the answer isn’t what they want to hear, you need to be honest anyways.”

He added that if companies are dishonest about the job, developers won’t hesitate to resign within their first week.

Make your name stand out

That sort of attention — for being dishonest — is unwanted. But, tech companies do need to find ways to get their name out there for positive reasons, according to Hayes Richardson, a recruiter at STATS, a Northbrook-headquartered global sports technology, data and content company.

He said putting on events is one way to do so.

“We’re a sports data company. Everything we deal with in one way or another deals with sports,” Richardson said. “So we have an event based around the NFL Draft. We’re going to have drink tickets and food at Harry Caray’s on that Thursday night.”

He said the goal is finding unique ways to get people through the door and getting your name out there.

Understand that developers are looking for a career[ibimage==46791==Original==none==self==ibimage_align-right]

Once recruiters are talking to developers, Richardson (pictured right) said they must keep in mind that developers are looking for a career. They are looking to take a next step and to find a better culture fit.

“Use this to your advantage,” Richardson said. “Explain why your products are unique, emphasize there is room for growth if there is, and make them feel like they’d be working with the products for a purpose instead of just getting through the day.”

Tailor the experience to developers

Since developers are looking for a career, they are going to want to work with a company where they are most happy. So, if recruiters find a candidate that is a great fit, they need to be willing to be flexible.

“Whether it’s work from home for a day and just really being able to let them get into their comfort zone — coming in an hour later, leaving an hour later,” Richardson said of things recruiters could agree to. “Tailor the experience to them because … they’re getting calls and emails everyday.”

Have a tip for us or want to share news about your company? Email us via [email protected].

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