IT Project Management | By Allison Dretzin | Read time minutes
As you probably already know, it's been increasingly tough to find excellent talent. Companies are left with no choice but to fight for the top people. To win over other competing companies, everyone is therefore boosting their hiring game in various ways, from providing incredible benefits to completely changing corporate cultures.
This competitiveness is most visible in software development, one of the world's fastest-growing areas of business. It's also entirely meritocratic, and that poses a fascinating dilemma for recruiting managers: How can you employ the best coders before your rivals do?
Here are 5 suggestions to help you find and hire the best developers – before your rivals!
1. Learn the Fundamentals
No one expects you, as a recruiter, to be a coding expert, but getting to know the sector may be beneficial. You'll be more educated about the qualities you're searching for in prospects, for example. Plus, you'll find it simpler to follow the interactions between candidates and the hiring manager.
But there are also a few things you should keep in mind:
- What technologies are programmers employing? You don't have to be an expert, but at the very least, ask your recruiting manager about the most significant technology used by your team. Your development team might be employing a variety of programming languages, each with its own set of features. C#, for example, is an object-oriented programming language frequently used in games, but PHP is utilised for server-side scripting and content-heavy apps.
- What's the going fee for this service? Salaries for developers are determined not only by their seniority but also by the technology in which they specialise. Objective-C developers, for instance, are paid more on average than Swift engineers. Knowing what developers are paid will not only make you aware of how simple (or not simple, as the case may be!) it is to locate them but also what you'll need to spend once you know which ones you want to hire.
- What will the candidate's responsibilities be? Will this recruit add expertise that the rest of the team lacks? Will they be working on your main project or a slew of other projects? Whatever the case, familiarise yourself with the team's unique expectations for this new developer.
2. Practical Skills Should Be Prioritised
When you're recruiting developers, their actual experience should always take precedence over what their CVs say. You should still evaluate someone's education, of course – but only as part of the whole picture, not as a deal-breaker.
The best practical way to stress practical expertise? Give code exams a higher priority in your hiring approach. A well-designed coding test should reflect the obstacles that will be part of the actual position, which will help you identify the best potential hires. For the one-on-one interview, you can then give the hiring manager the opportunity to go through the exam with the candidate in further depth.
You can also request a portfolio of prior work to get a sense of the practical talent of any prospect. That way, you can view tangible samples of their work. Then, take as much time as you need during the interview to discuss how a prospect completed projects in their portfolio. What were their biggest obstacles? How did they handle problems? Those questions and more will give you a lot of insight on a candidate's practical skills. And if you're recruiting React developers, consider asking React-based questions throughout the interview.
3. Freelancers Should Be Considered
When evaluating freelance developers, references are crucial. Pay great attention to the profiles of freelancers: Most freelance platforms are quite open, and customer reviews, whether positive or negative, are often public.
4. Make Your Talent Pool Bigger
If you're having trouble finding the individuals you need, the talent pool might be too small. But don't fret – you may broaden your reach in several ways.
First, make the job description a little more flexible. An excessively precise job description may turn off potential candidates concerned about not fulfilling every single one of your overly stringent requirements. Instead, only list the necessary technologies and skills. You'll have plenty of opportunity to find out additional information about a candidate during the interview.
It's also a good idea to avoid using the term 'requirements' in the job ad. To convey a similar but less stringent message, use 'desired skills'. Prospects will be much more inclined to apply even if they don't check a few of the boxes under your 'desired' list.
5. Soft Skills Should Be Prioritised
Never ever overlook soft skills when recruiting engineers. When only looking for technical expertise, you can wind up employing someone who lacks a strong work ethic and has poor organisational abilities. And if you need more incentive, according to one study, soft-skills training may provide a 256 per cent return on investment, indicating that soft skills are highly valuable. 
And if your team works remotely, soft skills are even more important. Working effectively from home necessitates high levels of responsibility, work ethic, and task management – underscoring why soft skills are so vital.
A Final Word
While these 5 suggestions can help you (hopefully) have a little less trouble finding developers, don't stress if finding top talent takes a lot of time and effort. Recruiting A-level players might take a long time, but it's worth it!
Rather than get discouraged, do what's needed to put yourself in a better position to succeed. Collaborate closely with the leaders of your development team, expand your talent pool and be patient. The process of finding and hiring top developers will get more straightforward after you've made your first few outstanding hires – good developers are always eager to join a team of exceptional experts.
 Ethical Angel. (2022). Online at 5 Reasons You Need to Audit Your Employees' Soft Skills
Allison Dretzin is a Human Resources expert with more than eight years of experience in private and public organisations.
Recommended read: How to Recruit an IT Project Manager, by Duncan Haughey.