5 Things You Need to Know Before Hiring Remote Software Engineers

5 Things You Need to Know Before Hiring A Remote Software Engineer
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Once you decide to go remote, you open your virtual company doors to 8 billion people worldwide. The volume of remote job seekers is massive, and this is why you need to be extremely careful. Your first alarming signal is your candidate-to-hire ratio. If you are hiring over 1% of remote software engineers coming through your open positions, you are doing something wrong. An extremely high-quality bar is how enterprise companies hedge their bets and protect their software engineering budgets.

Know What You Want

First, you need to define what type of software engineering personality you need in your team to thrive. Are you looking for a team player or an introverted person who gets things done asynchronously? There’s no wrong option here. I’ll show you how you can objectively map candidate personality and measure alignment below.

When you post a job opening, you are creating an ad for the world to see. In other words, you are using keywords to describe what you need in your remote software engineering team. As a company, you should store those keywords in your resume database to look for common patterns and new hires. Let me describe how we use preliminary data at Exceptionly: we use our top-performing job descriptions database based on the candidate-to-hire performance stack rank table for each technology, location, or seniority. We are using this data for matching candidates in our database with new opportunities, and we decide who to invite to our hands-on objective testing process this way.

What is the core job duty that you want to perform? You could mean Full-stack Developer, Mobile Developer, Front-end Developer, Back-end Developer, or DevOps Engineer when you say “developer.” There are different personality types for each of these five roles that you want to map and analyze.

Where Great Remote Software Engineers Live

Second, you need to decide what your ideal talent markets are. You don’t get to stumble upon a great developer in a bar, definitely not possible in pandemic times anyway. You have to do better than trying to hire people from your neighborhood. Talent has no zip code, and you are limiting your chance of hiring a great software engineer if you stick to your local town or city limits.

I strongly suggest considering talent-rich markets such as Brazil, Argentina, Colombia in Latin America. Russia, Romania, Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Turkey in Eastern Europe. India and Pakistan in Asia. Not only for the arbitrage opportunity these markets have to offer but for the STEM education and inventory of great software engineers with remote work experience exposed to engineering processes of mature markets like the US, Canada, UK, Germany, and others for years.

For example, while I was managing a US software services company’s talent acquisition efforts, I realized software engineers who previously worked for Siemens Global have a higher understanding of software engineering standards, design patterns, and quality metrics in Istanbul. Similarly, HP educated hundreds of fantastic software engineers in a beautiful Brazilian city named Porto Alegre (capital of a state called the Rio Grande do Sul) by applying high software engineering standards. There are hundreds of cases like this waiting to be leveraged.

Words Mean Things

Third, assuming you know your tech decisions and requirements (get help from your engineering team or technical friend if you don’t), you need to write a very detailed, human-friendly job description. I strongly suggest you focus on what you have to offer vs. what you expect from the candidate. Don’t forget that an average software engineer is receiving over ten job offers and recruiter messages daily. Describe why you are different. Put more emphasis on the product/infrastructure you are going to build, the data and programming challenges you have to offer, and of course, compensation. Be open.

Avoid spamming at all costs. Words travel faster than anything else. Hundreds of thousands of small software engineering circles worldwide will be talking about your company, openings, and brand. Your target audience will criticize your job descriptions in small Slack groups, social media accounts, and groups. These dynamics can work in your favor only if you have an accurate job description.

Signal vs. Noise

Fourth, automate to eliminate. Try to avoid human bias in your hiring process. Always stick to multi-layer objective hands-on testing. First, test your candidates’ basic cognitive capabilities, map their personality traits, and finally, make sure they have hands-on knowledge and experience of the technologies and frameworks you need. At Exceptionly, we are using Criteria Corp for objectively testing cognitive capabilities and personality index. We partnered up with HackerEarth to objectively testing our software engineering candidates’ hands-on coding capabilities. We are only conducting technical interviews with our candidates for the final vetting step allowing us to help hundreds of clients hire great talent with a small team.

Time is your only finite resource, so focus on spending your time with the signal vs. noise. The worst possible mistake you can make in this process is to interview candidates without objective test results or make hiring decisions based on resumes alone. The resume concept was invented by Da Vinci about 600 years ago, and come on. You are better than that.

Resumes are full of biases and never produce accurate information. As research has shown, minorities who “whiten” their resumes are more likely to get an interview. Dr. John Sullivan has a great list of why you shouldn’t rely on resumes for hiring.

The human brain is a research processing machine that loves to assign meaning to random patterns. In the past, resumes helped hire managers to pick the top 1% from the candidates’ pool. Nowadays, resume-based hiring is a bottleneck in your company’s growth and revenue potential. A fake feeling of high job security overshadows the need for spark and passion in your hiring decision process.

Rethinking the Way You Hire

Rethinking the way you hire
Photo by Per Lööv on Unsplash

Fifth, don’t underestimate full-time contractors. The classic employment model is history. Governments forcing companies to keep the unproductive headcount as a COVID precaution is nonsense. It is a fact that a highly skilled remote software engineer with full-time contractor experience of years is more likely to survive in your environment and add value to your company. Candidates who prioritize a fake feeling of job safety are less likely to accept your challenges and deliver. Don’t consider full-time contractors as mercenaries. They are just highly underleveraged, over-experienced individuals. 

Highly skilled remote software engineers who can take care of their insurance, perks, and other types of benefits using the gross monthly payment you make have done the leap of faith. They know they don’t need a fake feeling of job safety which forces them to improve themselves to be better individual contributors, and underdogs fight harder.

No worries if all of this sounded a bit too much to operationalize. I’m on a mission to revolutionize the software talent industry after hands-on testing 2 million remote software engineers and hiring over 4 thousand in the last seven years, so I’m happy to jump on a quick call and help you reduce your operational costs so you can focus on building unique products.

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