Having worked on websites now for almost ten years, the single most important thing for years has been learning how to manage programmers. It’s something which on the surface sounds very simple to do, but can be extremely difficult. It can lead to a lot of money wasted, a lot of time wasted and the worst part is even when things seem fine, little errors going forward could cost companies fortunes going forward. This is Succeed.com, we are a Career Site and this is how to hire programmers better.
Starting off, before we begin on the rules of hiring a programmer and advice there, let’s just list the best places to find programmers and in different roles.
- Succeed.com-This might be an obvious judging from this being a Succeed article, but just to brag a bit. We offer job and career matching 100% for free to people hiring. We also offer data, advice and testing for our users to get an easy match.
- Indeed.com-Indeed is a very good site, but does suffer some drawbacks. Expect a lot of applications, but a mixed bag of people. A recommendation there would be putting a link to surveymonkey an an email on the application. This could filter out questions easier.
- Ziprecruiter-This sure is much better over indeed, but suffers a big problem. Cost. To hire on ziprecruiter, they try to put people in monthly payment models. This is great for larger businesses, but bad for smaller ones.
- Succeed.com-We do match for freelancers also. Are 100% free and save time.
- Toptal-Toptal is a great site for finding programmers in freelance. They unlike others screen freelancers heavily and provide a strong list of users.
- Guru.com-This one is a strong pick holding 3m total users as freelance options, but more importantly does escrow through the site itself. Meaning even if one option is bad, the most that can be lost is time.
- Upwork-More or less the same as Guru. Possibly stronger list and better in international freelancers.
- Craiglist-Final one and probably best and worst on the list. Best being that it’s easy for users to find local people. For businesses of individuals who’d rather work with someone 10 minutes from their homes, this is number one. Problem though is it does cost money to use to just put up an ad. Not much though.
- LinkedIn-Probably recommend this one the least of any option. While LinkedIn prides itself in great content, the struggle is spam. For any user, putting on even just an informal post on a LinkedIn account hunting for programmers could lead to hundreds of messages coming in for months if not years. There are agencies which monitor LinkedIn constantly, hold premium memberships to message constantly and will spam constantly. Worst part is saying goodbye to keeping phone numbers or emails public.
- Facebook-This one is a better option, but struggles from it normally working too well. Facebook friends will always be able to take a post and refer some great people. Facebook groups can also lead to a lot of great, non spam like and non generic offers. The issue though is it becomes less formal and more friendly though. When a good friend or even family members sees the post and refers their friend or relative, it becomes weirdly personal. Users could feel a social pressure to accept just due to that and programmers hired might be a little too comfy in the position. The other issue is the Facebook intro sometimes is more personal over many people want to have.
- Local Businesses-This is the worst of the worst, but can still be viable. Just calling up a business and asking locally and asking them who built their site. Or even for a bigger project, call someone who did a similar big project in a close location and ask the same. Be it agencies, employees or freelancers, normally existing businesses that already had success can be a great referral. Just don’t expect them to recommend someone cheap.
That being done, here are some rules for hiring once the right fit might be found.
First rule, make a wireframe and detailed plan before hiring.
This one is probably the most common mistake companies make when hiring programmers. They normally go to developers and just give an idea or a short piece of paper describing the product. Often times, they just call up programmers and say things like “Well, I want a website that does this and looks like that, but is different like that” pretending in their mind the programmer has a real concept of what’s going on. Truth is the programmer normally never understands what’s going on nor cares. They have enough active job offers around to not need to spend time thinking about every idea on their desk.
For this, to anyone hiring a programmer, make a simple wireframe. What a wireframe is just a basic mock-up of the site with a feature list in functionality. It isn’t technical at all. It doesn’t require any graphic design skills to be made. It could even be drawn with a literal pencil and piece of paper. However, if a user wants to go down a little more quality heavy, here are just a few softwares I’d recommend to build a wireframe.
One of those will likely work, but another option if on short time or just feeling lazy is screenshots. Take some screenshots of sites with similar designs, put them in a word or google doc file and write underneath the similarities and differences.
Second rule, learn programmers aren’t designers.
The second biggest mistake businesses normally make is thinking programmers can make a beautiful website or app. Most programmers are trained to work in enterprise software or in big data. Not make cool sites for businesses or new apps. This is a common mistake, but can normally lead to a pretty big problem with expectations.
But to fix this, look into three quick solutions.
- Hire a graphic designer-Not the cheapest option, but could work. They are available for freelance or full time work easily and could do that well. For that, I recommend clicking the link here “insert” after reading this.
- Get really good at wireframes-Simplest thing. Be good at wireframes. Really good. Practice and devote hours to making the perfect design for the site or app. Hiring a programmer should always involve a wireframe, but this would require the next level.
- Making sure they can do graphic design-With programmers, 70% of them will be honest and say they can’t design very well, 20% will say they can and can’t and 10% actually can do both. To identify the graphic design skills, asking questions about previous websites they built, asking opinions of sites they like and why or even discussing things such as art could be key.
Rule Three-Get an advisor
One thing I rarely recommend with startups or businesses is over reliance on consultants. No business should ever outsource their core competency to just a high priced advisor. The good news is that almost no one has to actually do that.
Go on Facebook. Look at friends and family who are programmers. The people normally too good to take on a project, but friendly enough to spare a few hours of advice. Go to those people and say “Hey, I’m trying to hire a programmer and got this guy I think who can do it. Would you mind interviewing him for 20 minutes for me? I owe you dinner if you do!” and I’d bet anything over 90% of people will make time for that. Even better is if a dinner offer could involve an hour or two to pick their mind.
This is a simple step, but often an easy one for a non technical person to get some experience in hiring.
Rule Four-Have A Clear Offer In Mind
On my own end for development and others ends, the worst part is negotiation in price. It’s almost universally a pain and could kill a deal. One realization is coders can be young often and unsure of what they should take. On the employer side, they also rarely know what they are doing.
For price, everything is different, but just some simple rules.
- Try to do some payment in escrow of 10% of the contract to build trust.
- Try to keep the price under $150 an hour.
- Make an effort to have the payments work per piece of the project over hourly.
- Keep a 20% tap in on the initial budget. It’s going to end up costing more.
Rule Five-Plan a week by week with the programmer
Next up and an easy piece of advice is steady organization. Weekly calls being setup. Having a Jira account for organization. Also, some day to day conversation on problems being faced.
This is a basic piece of advice, but communication is key.
Rule Six-Get the programmer invested
One key people forget is programmers while more available still have the most in demand job around. For this, the best advice that can be offered is some equity. It doesn’t need to be 5% or 15%, but could just be .5%. To a programmer, it may seem like little, but when explained that it could be a $50,000 bonus for a paid job on a 10m buyout, that does matter.
For this though, it’s entirely about people. Some programmers will actively love a project and offer to cut salary on the spot for equity and some give little to no care.
The best part of this it’s also ultimately a test of devotion. Give equity to programmers as an offer for some salary reductions and very quickly different types of people can be spotted.
Rule Seven-Learn to code a little
And this is the most obvious advice, but the one the fewest people take. Go watch YouTube videos or take a class on coding. This is something which teaches people the value of the job they want, can make them understand it better and it leads to peace of mind with value.
It also could perhaps be the best investment ever. It shouldn’t cost $5,000 to make a website for a small business. It shouldn’t cost $2,500 to make a blog. It shouldn’t cost $10,000 for an e-commerce store. Many of these things could just be done by an entrepreneur easily on their own.
Final thoughts on this are a truth that it’ll never be truly easy to hire a programmer for a full time or a smaller role. Hiring is tough, but hiring people in a constantly evolving and complex to understand field with an in demand staff is tough. I’ve done it before and rarely it’s ever a matter of degrees, previous jobs or more. A lot of it trial and error. However, I hope this list can be a case to help and reduce the error in the trial.
With that, I’m Succeed.com founder Charles Peralo. We are a Career Site, not a job site. Thank you for reading and please look to us for hiring or building a career!