How to Hire Software Developers in 2023 | Toggl Blog
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How to Hire Software Developers in 2023

James Elliott James Elliott Last Updated:

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for software developers will grow by 21% between now and 2028. Considering most other jobs are only forecast to grow by 5%, everyone wants to know how to hire software developers.

But, there aren’t going to be enough developers to fill all the positions, meaning some companies will lose out on top talent. To stop you from being one of them, we’ll guide you through what to look for in great software developers and exactly how to hire them!

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What is a Software Developer?

In short, a software developer is someone who creates computer programs people can use to do specific tasks. From user-friendly mobile and desktop apps to complex behind-the-scenes systems, it’s the software developer’s job to build, test, and maintain that code.

Just like foreign languages, different computer systems speak different languages – so the best software developers have to be bilingual. Some of the most common technical skills that employers look for when hiring a software developer include:

–   SQL

–   Git

–   Java

–   Python

–   Linux

–   Oracle

The skills and languages you need will depend on the role that you’re applying for. For example, Python is widely used in banking and finance, while SQL is popular for marketing projects. Javascript is big in retail and dynamic web applications, while languages like C# are used in the security industry.

That’s why it’s so important to know exactly the type of software developer you need for your business. It’s something we’ll talk about in our ‘how-to’ guide later on!

Why Is It So Hard to Recruit Software Developers?

The disparity of supply and demand makes hiring technical software development talent one of the biggest recruitment challenges of today. Not only are software developers in short supply, training them isn’t an easy task.

That’s because not everyone can become a developer. In many instances, it takes a particular type of individual. Software Developers need to be technically savvy, analytical, methodical, and exceptional problem solvers to develop great solutions.

the world's most in-demand professions

That supply and demand issue always creates another key challenge for businesses – salary. Top-notch Software Developers are some of the best-paid individuals on the planet, and not every business can keep up. In fact, data from Indeed shows the average Software Developer salary sitting at a whopping $117,000.

If you are looking to hire a software developer yourself, here are some tips we’ve learned from building a killer recruitment tool for developers.

What Makes a Great Software Developer?

So before we get into exactly how to hire a Software Developer, you need to know what a good one looks like. While there’s a developer shortage out there, there’s still around 24.5m of them worldwide, so it pays to know what you’re looking for!

1. Sound Knowledge of Cloud Technology

First and foremost, all good software developers should have sound knowledge of cloud platforms like AWS and Azure. With many software companies switching to the cloud, especially since the pandemic, knowledge of AWS has never been more important. 

Don’t get left behind by employing developers who can’t operate in the cloud – you’ll end up wasting your money and find yourself quickly behind the curve.

2. They’re Masters of Big Data

Secondly, a good software developer will be a master of developing projects that deal with big data. For those of us who aren’t technical wizards, these are projects where large volumes of data are analyzed, processed, and managed at a large scale. A big data developer maintains, tests, and develops big data solutions within organizations.

Moreover, projects revolving around machine learning, IoT, and artificial intelligence are ramping up in volume. The machine learning market alone will grow to as much as $24 billion by 2024.

Given that today’s apps are using tremendous amounts of data, software developers with these skills are hot property in the job market.

3. They’re Polyglots

Thirdly, a good software developer will be versatile. While it might be rare to meet someone speaking three foreign languages, most good software developers will be way beyond trilingual when it comes to coding languages.

Not only will the top software developers need to know their stuff now, but with the rate of technological change, the very best need the ability to continually learn even more dialects in the future.

4. They’ve Got a Killer Online Portfolio

Great developers build great things and won’t be afraid to showcase them.

Much like how an artist, engineer, or photographer, modern-day developers keep portfolios of their work and often even share them as open-source code on platforms such as GitHub.

For recruiters, CTOs, or tech leads looking to hire their next software developer, there is no better way of checking out a candidate’s knowledge and abilities than checking out their GitHub profile. 

5. Their Soft Skills Shine Just As Bright

Being a software developer is a very collaborative and cross-functional role. For that reason, soft skills are critical for success.

Software developers typically work as part of a larger development team, alongside other roles such as product managers, UX designers, and QA testers.

For that reason, a strong team player with good communication skills and a sense of inner drive is vital for development success. Give equal focus to hard and soft skills when contemplating how to hire software developers. 

how to hire software developers

The 4 Step Guide on How to Hire Software Developers?

No matter the current market situation, one thing remains true – great software developers are always in demand. Even if you don’t need to hire a software developer immediately, here are some essential things to keep in mind when hiring one for your team.

1. Targeted & Specific Job Listings 📝

“We’re working on a new app, something similar to Slack but simpler.”

Sadly, this won’t cut it in a software development job description. It may sound like a reasonable thing to say, but chances are that you will get a little interest in return – at least from top-tier candidates.

Given the variety of the software development profession, the better you describe your needs and what you are developing, the better software developer you will be able to hire.

More importantly, candidates can accurately assess whether they have the right skills before they even apply. If you are specific with what you need, you save time for both you and the candidates – win-win all round!

2. Don’t Go on Job Boards – At Least Not Generic Ones ❌

We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again – great developers just don’t hang out on job boards!

They already have a job, probably a pretty good one too, and the best way to attract them to apply for yours is by catching them off guard in places where job hunting isn’t even on their mind. 

For example, we found some great people by putting up ads on social media (more on how to do that here), targeting them by their job title. 

The exception to this rule is developer-specific job boards or communities. If you want the best outcomes from your developer job search, stay away from Indeed or Monster. Instead, invest in sites such as StackOverflow, Dice, Crunchboard, and GitHub to find developers in their natural habitats.

For a full list of awesome developer-specific job boards, check out this article!

3. Make it a Challenge, Developers Love a Challenge! 🤓

The best developers get their pick of great jobs, so you have to stand out as a business. The good news is, most employers ask for the same things: a resume, examples of previous work, and often a cover letter.

Not only does this get time-consuming to compile as a candidate (and to go through as the hiring manager later!), it also does nothing for your job ad to stand out from the crowd.

Instead, give software developers a challenge they’ll remember. We suggest using pre-employment skills tests as we do here at Toggl Hire. Skills tests are super easy to set up, with our 11,000-question strong test library ready and waiting for you to use straight away.

We even have a range of Smart Tests already configured and set up for Software Development roles, ready to test every language from Python to Typescript.

Not sure that Skills Testing is the right way to go? The results speak for themselves, ask Proxify. Through using Toggl Hire, they managed to:

  • Automate their 3000 monthly applicants for software development
  • Boost their time-to-hire by 1.5x
  • Achieve a 93% predictive confidence rating
  • And made their recruitment process fast and engaging for their top-tier talent.

You can read more about Proxify’s journey in their Toggl Hire Customer Story.

4. Have a Paid Test Period ⚙️💸

  • How to buy a car? You take it for a test drive first.
  • How to hire a software developer? Much the same way, a test drive in your team.

Let’s say that you’ve found two or three strong candidates who could all be great for the job. Bringing them on board for a test drive with the team could be the tie-breaker you need to make the best decision.

This is the best way to see how they operate in action. You’ll get a sense of how they think, how they work with the team, and whether they can deliver what you need. But, make sure the task you set is meaningful and reflects the actual job they need to do – otherwise, it’s a wasted exercise!

Most importantly, be sure to pay candidates for their time during their test period, as it is a big commitment without a guarantee of a job at the end of it.

how to hire software developers

3 Common Mistakes Recruiters Make When Hiring a Developer

Now that you know what to do when it comes to hiring a developer, it’s worth us finishing with a few what not to do’s. Here are three of the common mistakes businesses make when faced with the question – how to hire software developers:

  1. Not Thinking Long-Term. If you’re reading this article, we bet you’ve got a particular project or piece of work in mind for your new developer. Before rushing into a hiring decision, though, make sure you think about your long-term requirements.

    Many businesses make the mistake of hiring a developer who’s perfect for the current project but is at a loose end in 6-9 months. Given the wide variety of development technologies out there, focus on hiring someone who can bring value across your technology stack well into the future.
  2. You Limit Yourself. So many organizations look for great developers within a 20-mile radius of their business’s location. This is foolish for two reasons. First, with a market so short of supply, finding someone local is going to be tricky. Second, the Software Developer is one of the most common remote roles in the world.

    Consider hiring remotely to get your pick of the best talent. Not only will you have a better chance of finding someone great, you may even be able to find top talent at a more cost-effective salary point, especially if you hire remotely from abroad.
  3. Focusing on a Fancy Degree. Software Development is one of the most ‘self-taught’ professions in the world. Many organizations get hung up focusing on a fancy Computer Science degree when some of the best software developers learnt on the job.

    Again, it’s another great use case for skills tests as part of your recruitment process. Take your focus away from traditional hiring factors and simply find the best candidates for the job by putting their skills to the test – a fancy degree means nothing if they can’t actually code!


So there you have it – now you know how to hire software developers like a pro!

The Software Developer market is one of the most competitive out there. But, with the right approach, you can be sure to streamline your software developer hiring process and come out with the best talent every time!

Fancy Some More Reading?

How to Hire Web Developers – the Ultimate Guide for 2021 and Beyond

All the Good Developers are Employed Already

How 1 Engineer Hired 6 Top Programmers With Minimal Effort

Candidate Sourcing from Slack – 109 Communities for Finding New Hires 

How to Make a Job Ad that Attracts Candidates (+Free Template)

25 Best Pre-Employment Testing Tools

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