How to Hire Software Developers in 2021

If you were to ask the average hiring manager or recruiter about one of the biggest challenges in their line of work, a lot of them would tell you it’s how to hire software developers. And not just any developer – a good software developer.

how to hire software developers

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for software developers by 2028 will grow by 21% – compared with just an average of 5% for all other jobs. That’s 284,000 new software developer jobs in the United States alone. But, there aren’t going to be enough developers to fill all the positions, meaning some companies will lose out on top talent. How to hire software developers when there is such a gap between supply and demand? Read on to find out.

This disparity of supply and demand makes hiring technical talent one of the biggest recruitment challenges of todayl, and is why it is crucial you have your developer hiring process as slick as Elvis Presley’s hair. 

the world's most in-demand professions

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 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 the complex systems and networks that sit behind the scenes, it is the software developer’s job to build, test, and maintain this code.

Some of the most common technical skills that employers look for when hiring a software developer include the knowledge of:

–   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 projects and dynamic web applications while languages like C are used in the security industry.

Let’s now find out what qualities need to be on your radar when thinking about how to hire software developers, so you can know which candidates you should keep an eye on.

What makes a great software developer?

1. Sound knowledge of AWS

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 because of its ease of use and scalability, knowledge of AWS has become more and more of a necessity. 

xkcd comic - computer trouble

2. They’re masters of big data

Secondly, a good software developer will be a master of developing projects that deal with big data – projects where large volumes of data are analyzed, systematically extracted, or dealt with in some way. 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 in recent years.  The machine learning market alone will grow to as much as  $24 billion by 2024. Today’s apps are using tremendous amounts of data and software developers with this skill will stand a better chance in the job market of the future.

3. They’re polyglots

Thirdly, a good software developer will be versatile. While meeting someone who speaks three languages might be a rarity in our social lives, most good software developers will be a lot more than just trilingual in coding languages. C#, Ruby on Rails and Python are some great choices for developers to add to their stack.

For example, Ruby on Rails is a great language to master if you want to work with information systems such as data storage, search engine systems and other websites with a complex structure (think social media platforms). Python is a language that dates back all the way to the early 90s and it is used for scripting in website pages, video games and complex apps. C# is your best bet if you want to create Windows applications, for example.

4. They’ve got a killer online portfolio

Great developers build great things, and won’t be afraid to showcase them as open-source code on their GitHub profile. For recruiters, CTOs, or tech leads looking to hire their next software developer, with knowledge of code, 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 on their own

Being a software developer is a very collaborative and cross-functional role, which means soft skills are crucial for success. Software developers typically work as part of a development team, and could also work with product managers, designers, and QA testers, to name a few. For that reason, a strong team player, good communication skills, and the ability to be accountable are what sets good developers and great developers apart. Give equal focus to hard and soft skills when contemplating how to hire software developers. 

How to hire a great software developer?

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 important things to keep in mind when you need to hire one for your team.

Make your job listing as specific as you can

“We’re working on a new app, something similar to Slack but simpler.” Sadly, this won’t cut it in a job description. It may sound like a reasonable thing to say to a software developer, but chances are that you will get a blank stare in return. The better you describe your needs and what you are developing, the better software developer you will be able to hire. More importantly, the developer will be able to accurately assess whether they can do the job or not before they even apply. If you are specific with what you need, you save time for both yourself and potential candidates.

Don’t go on job boards

We’ve said it once, 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. 

Make it a challenge

As we’ve seen, there is no shortage of job opportunities for software developers. The problem 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 like Toggl Hire. With this setup, all candidates have to do to apply is take a 20 minutes skills test. 

Toggl Hire has a database of over 1300 questions, which generate tests for all kinds of different programming languages (29 and counting!), depending on what you need for your role. They take less than a minute to set up and are ready to use immediately. Plus, Toggl Hire screens the candidates based on their results right away. Candidates get immediate feedback on their performance, and you’ll disqualify poorer candidates from the very start – win-win!

Have a paid test period

How do you buy a car? You take it for a test drive first. How to hire a software developer? Much the same way, with 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 online for a test drive to see how they fit in with the team could be the tie breaker you need to make the best decision. This is the best way to see how they think, how they work both independently and with the team, and whether they can deliver what you want from them in the time given.

Make sure the task set is meaningful and reflects the actual job they need to do. Between you and me, this is how Toggl has been hiring for years now, and it has worked fantastically for them. Most importantly, be sure to pay candidates for their time during their test period, as it is a big commitment to ask of them without even the guarantee of a job at the end of it.


So there you have it – you now know how to hire software developers like a pro! With the right approach, you can be sure to streamline your software developer hiring process and come out with the best talent every time, no matter how hungry the job market is.

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May 26, 2020