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The Vitamin T Blog: All you ever need to know about creative hiring, plus tips on digital portfolios, resumes, events, and trends.

How to Hire A Developer in 2017

How to Hire A ...

Developers are among the most in-demand creative professionals today. In the new year, expect companies to be vying more fiercely than ever for the best candidates in the field. Building mobile apps, redesigning critical website functionality, and collaborating with other creative staff to create dynamic user-friendly experiences and products takes considerable know-how.

Because developers are in such high demand, companies are trying to secure them by offering generous salaries and a wide range of perks. But before you hand over the keys and a drool-inducing package, be sure to consider some hiring trends and tips that will help you make the ideal hire for your company.

Know the Basics

You may not know the ins and outs of what a developer does, but you should command a basic understanding before you hire your resident expert. Do you know what it means when your candidate talks about JavaScript or back end web programming languages? The fact is, you need to have a clear understanding about this person's role so you can hire accordingly - even if you don’t know how to code.

If you find the language of the developer too mysterious, as many do, you might consider working with a creative staffing agency (we know a good one if you need a referral) that can provide you with the knowledgeable assistance you need to select a candidate that meets your company's needs.

It may sound overly simple, but Google, as always, is a fantastic learning resource. Try these phrases in your favorite search engine, “development explained to non developers,” “front-end development explained” and, if you’re up for it, “Git for non-developers.” It’s well worth your time to gain enough knowledge on the topic to ask key questions that relate to your role - and know the answers, so you can be secure in making the right hire.

Avoid Hiring the Rock Star

A recruiting trend for 2017 will be to focus on team-based performance rather than individual performance. This team focus isn't likely to remain a mere trend, for companies with large creative staffs, the focus on teamwork and collaboration isn't likely to diminish.

An uber-talented  developer can be an asset to your company; however, one inflated ego on a creative team is unlikely  to be positive for your office culture. In other words, consider the band—not just the front man or woman. Be sure that your new developer has a history of working as a team player and is open to collaborating with your staff to achieve your goals.

Moreover, putting all your eggs in the basket of one strong developer could mean you're relying too much on one employee. If they move on to bigger things, where will your creative team be? Instead, search for talented employees that enjoy the collaborative process and are willing to share in the success.

Know What You're Paying for

It's important to consider what other developers in the market are earning in association with specific skill sets. By setting a budget, you will save time finding the right fit for your needs—and a fit that you can afford. How do you research what companies in your market are paying their developers? Before you start asking sensitive questions, you can check out a resource like Comparably to get an idea of what developers or other creative talent are earning.

Remember, too, that landing a top-notch developer isn't just about the money. According to Forbes, in 2017 companies will be largely focused on improving the employee experience. Developers are enticed by cool technology challenges and opportunities. Good ones love to learn—and while money is important—what they get a chance to do and learn is equally important.

Experience vs Forward-Thinking

Naturally, experience is an essential requirement when hiring a developer to join your team, but with technology changing quickly often developers only have a year or two of experience working with a specific type of software. What must complement experience is an ability to think forward. A progressive developer will have skill sets that allow them to embrace new technologies, like strong networking and research skills and will have examples of how they have learned what they know so far.

When hiring a developer, consider what changes you have in mind for the next couple years. This way you can hire a candidate that's able to move in the direction you're headed. In addition, think about some of the trends in web development that are likely to be big in 2017. For instance, can your developer tell a visual story? How do they feel about cinemagraphs or creative grid design? As part of your screening process, you should always ask what resources the developer uses to stay ahead of trends. If they are not already active learners, they will not add long-term value to your company.

Explore Their Portfolio

Although not every candidate you interview for the role of developer will have a fully fleshed-out portfolio, most will. Take time to investigate their past work if you can access it. Sometimes past work is part of a proprietary system owned by their previous employer; however, it's important to get a glimpse of their work so you can assess if their code is clean and if it lives up to what's reported on their resume.

If you aren't comfortable reviewing code, make sure you engage someone on your staff or in your network who can do it. Talent agencies often have robust screening processes, and we even offer an Expert Network (more than 30 seasoned pros in UX, development, and design) who can review code and provide detailed insights. It's that important.

While reviewing their portfolio, take time to explore their public social networking profiles too. Today's professionals realize that prospective employers will be Googling them. If your candidate is lambasting a former employee or behaving in an unprofessional manner online, it’s better to know that in advance (before you’re the employer they’re lambasting next).

Give Them a Test

Few candidates are thrilled about test taking, but nowadays it is quite commonplace.  Before you offer a substantial salary and benefits package, have your prospective developer complete a coding test. It's important for you to see in action how a developer codes, how quickly they can code with accuracy, and whether they engage in best coding practices. Moreover, you will want to check over the completed piece to ensure that the code is clean. There are websites where your company can obtain coding tests if it doesn't already have them. It's imperative to choose a test that's comparable with the level of coding you require from your candidate. The fact is, resumes can be misleading, so you need to find a reliable way to assess your candidate's aptitude before you hire them.

That said, make sure you are not asking them to create an actual project without paying them. Spec work is frowned upon in the creative community so make sure your test is brief, reasonable and if it’s your own work, make sure it’s work that is complete, not new work where it may appear you are looking for free code. Great developers love solving problems and will not be deterred by taking a brief test to show off their skills. Reviewing the results with the candidate will also give you a chance to see how coachable they are and whether they can receive critical feedback and be willing to learn.

Do They Have a Network?

True, you're hiring a developer—not their friends, but the best developers are connected to other developers so they can learn new skills, and if you want a good team fit, you’ll want someone who can build relationships. Hiring new developers and other creative talent can be both challenging and expensive. If your developer has a network, they may be able to assist in team building. Moreover, statistics show that 40% of new hires got the job through social professional networks. If you're going to be hiring more creatives in 2017, it makes sense to look for connected professionals.

A developer plays a highly specialized role in your company so it's not surprising that they require some special considerations during the hiring process. With these tips in mind, you'll be able to gauge the abilities of your candidate so you can select someone who suits your needs and is a great fit for your company culture.

A Little About Vitamin T

We specialize in digital creatives and are hyper-focused on finding talent with great technical chops and the right kind of critical thinking skills and attitude to fit seamlessly with your team.

Not only to we meet each candidate face-to-face, we also retain an Expert Network to administer independent assessments, a one hour additional interview that includes code review, digs into specific projects, and gauges preferences on communication style and culture. With Vitamin T you’ll always get talent whose skills are best in class.

Need help finding great talent? Fill out our request talent form and we’ll get in touch with you ASAP!

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