Hiring Web Developers in 2021: Where and How to Do That?

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Olga Demidenko
Author, Geomotiv
Published: Mar 15, 2021

Ten years ago, a well-known American entrepreneur, investor, and developer, Marc Andreessen, said that “software is eating the world” when discussing technology’s role in the modern business world. Today, his saying remains as relevant as ever. There is hardly a company that doesn’t use a software solution in its work, and modern customers expect every business to have both web and mobile applications.
To stay competitive, businesses need to go digital and adhere to the needs of their clients. This leads to a question: where does one find a developer who will be experienced and reliable enough? If you are a business owner, you have several options at your disposal - let’s have a look at each below.

In-House Software Development

The first option is to assemble an in-house (also called insourcing) software team within your organization. That means a software development engineer will be your employee and work under the same conditions as other company members.

While this was quite a common approach some time back, today, it is not so preferred. Here are the main pros and cons of in-house software development.

The pros:

  • More dedication from the team: full-time employees are more interested in your company and put it in the first place over any possible external projects.
  • Know the company and its needs: a better understanding of your vision and goals.
  • Data confidentiality: an in-house development team poses much fewer concerns in terms of data confidentiality.
  • Available when needed: your in-house developers will work according to the working hours set in your company and hence will always be available when you need them.

The cons:

  • High costs: the maintenance of an in-house development team includes their salary (its level should adhere to the company and the country of residence) plus all additional costs, such as taxes, vacation fees, sick leaves.
  • Constant need in different expertise: your project may demand a specific set of skills and knowledge that your team might be lacking.
  • Necessary training: the need for constant team training (as new software tools appear and get updates, for example)  is usually costly in terms of time and finances.
  • Too much dependence on a team: if any team member becomes unavailable (quitting job or falling sick), you may not be able to find a person to replace them.

As you can see, in-house development is a pretty costly option that may present specific challenges in the long run. But let’s still look at where to find developers to assemble an in-house team if you decide to go with this option.

Specialized Hiring Marketplaces

The easiest way to find an application software developer is to look at specialized job portals such as:

  • Glassdoor
  • Monster
  • LinkedIn
  • GitHub Jobs

These portals usually have a very user-friendly interface and allow advanced filtering to find the exact specialists you are looking for.

The drawback of these portals is that it may take too much time and effort to manually filter all the resumes and choose the most suitable candidates. This leads us to another recruitment option - addressing a recruitment agency.

Staffing Agencies

A recruitment agency takes on a great deal of recruitment work and sends the most qualified and skilled specialists to you. In this way, you and your in-house team do not have to do all the searching and filtering - the agency does that for you.

If you decide to work with an agency, keep in mind that there are different fees an agency can charge according to Talent Plus, US leading staffing firm:

  • A 15% or 20% fee of the candidate’s annual salary if the candidate is successful (this is the most typical case).
  • 20% or more percent of an hourly wage for the temporary candidate.

On the one hand, working with a staffing agency saves you a great deal of time and effort. On the other hand, you still have to pay a fee for something that you (or your employees) can do.

Freelance Software Development

Freelancing is very common today - for instance, more than 36% of the US workers are part of the freelance market system, according to the 99firms report. As for the numbers on hiring, about 30% of the Fortune 500 companies hire freelancers from the Upwork website. And it comes as no surprise: freelancers are flexible, experienced, and usually have very affordable rates. As well, the talent pool of freelancers is extensive, which is also a significant benefit.

Working with freelancers is a good option if you need to do a specialized task in software development quickly. A freelance software developer is a good choice for a short-term project where you need to fill in the gap soon.

The pros:

  • Access to a vast talent pool: you can search for a freelancer across the globe until you find a perfect candidate.
  • A wide choice of skills and expertise: you can find any specialist you need at a freelance marketplace.
  • Flexibility: freelancers are usually highly available and very flexible in terms of working hours and deadlines.
  • Affordable rates: freelancers usually charge much less than in-house or outsourcing specialists.

The cons:

  • A low level of trust: working with freelancers brings specific issues to consider, such as the misuse of your data or sudden disappearance.
  • A very little (or zero) commitment: since a freelancer is not part of a team, they usually do not have enough motivation to do what’s best for a company.
  • Do not share the company’s vision and values: this may impact their work quality.

Hiring a freelance developer can be a good option, but it depends on your goal, deadlines, and budget. If you decide to work with a freelancer, there are some things for you to keep in mind.

Hiring a Freelance Developer: Best Practices

First things first: to hire a freelance developer, you need to find one. For that, visit such websites as:

  • Toptal
  • Hired
  • Upwork
  • Fiverr
  • People Per Hour
  • Freelancer

You can use filters to find a needed specialist and then contact this person right on the website (which is convenient).

So how do you make sure that the person is a good fit for your position? Here are the main dos and don'ts of hiring a freelancer:

  • Do study their portfolio carefully and see whether the quality of their work is sufficient for you;
  • Do make sure that you wrote a clear proposal - this will eliminate misunderstanding;
  • Do negotiate all terms and conditions before a freelancer gets to work;
  • Do offer a fair price;
  • Do not choose by the lowest price as there is a high chance of poor quality of work;
  • Do not ask to implement too many changes during/after the work is done (until you discussed them earlier);
  • Do not micromanage - a good freelancer is perfectly aware of what has to be done.

Outsourced Software Development

Software development outsourcing means hiring a software services provider located either in your country (onshore) or outside it (nearshore, offshore). The last option is usually more preferable due to the more acceptable cost of services.

When outsourcing software development, you delegate the development agency’s whole development process (including design, QA). In this way, you only have to develop the product requirements, and goals and the development team will take care of the rest.

The pros:

  • An opportunity to choose a specialist with a high level of expertise across different domains and a diverse tech stack;
  • An opportunity to create 100% custom software;
  • Affordable rates: lower than the cost of maintaining an in-house team;
  • End-to-end development: an outsourced agency takes care of all processes, starting from design to after-launch maintenance and support;
  • A high level of trust: when you hire a software development agency, you sign up all the necessary documents, including the NDA agreement.

The cons:

  • Higher rates compared to freelance development;
  • Possible issues with time zone differences;
  • Possible misunderstanding if the team’s native language is not English.

Overall, outsourced development is the most preferred option for developing a project of any size and complexity since outsourced agencies usually have an extensive portfolio of projects related to yours. At Geomotiv, for example, our clients can go through our portfolio of case studies specified precisely to the parameters they need. It allows them to see our expertise in the projects in their field.

Outsourced development is excellent by all means - hence, the trick is to find a reliable and experienced agency that has just the right expertise.

Where to Find an Outsourced Development Agency

The first place that we’d recommend looking at is a trusted analytical and research agency like Clutch, GoodFirms, DesignRush. Such agencies usually perform a thorough analysis of available software development options and select the most trusted and professional ones. You can also read reviews from real clients on these platforms and see projects chosen from a company’s portfolio.

You can also look for an outsourced development company simply by searching it on the Internet or by referrals - the choice is after you. But before starting your search, make a checklist:

  • The expertise that you need (a specific domain);
  • A set of skills needed;
  • Years of experience needed;
  • All possible services needed;
  • Your budget and deadlines.

For example, if you need a mobile application, you’d want to look for a company specializing in mobile development. The checklist above will help you filter the available options and select the most suitable ones.

Outsourced Development Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

While outsourced software development is probably the best development option out there, there are some things one has to consider. Mind though these things are not critical issues and the main reason for them to occur is the difference in time zones, languages, and even culture.

Different time zones and languages

It can be hard to efficiently manage a team located in a timezone different from yours. Besides, if a team speaks another language, it can also be challenging to communicate your thoughts and ideas correctly.

However, this issue is not critical if approached in the right way. To ensure efficient management and maximal transparency in terms of communication, you can do the following:

  • Establish regular reporting learning what’s happening on a project;
  • Establish a minimum of 4 hours of overlapping with the team;
  • Set clear deadlines and ensure the team adheres to them;
  • Use specialized project management tools for reporting and document exchange;
  • Use specialized tools for communication (Slack, Skype).

Possible risks with quality

When you work with an external development team, there is always a risk of low code quality since you can’t check it yourself. We recommend preparing a test task to give to a team before starting the project to prevent this issue.

We also recommend adding a Project Manager to a team to fill in project monitoring and management. At Geomotiv, a Project Manager fulfills an essential function of an intermediary between you and the team and contributes to better communication.  

Also, double-check the company’s portfolio and don’t hesitate to contact their past clients for testimonials. It can help you learn the intricacies of working with this specific company.

Micromanagement

Another possible challenge of working with an outsourced team is micromanagement. It’s easy to start micromanaging the team’s work when you are located in a different country because you want to make sure everything is done correctly.

That is why it is so essential to use specialized PM tools to help you see everything happening at a project without the need to micromanage it. Such tools enable you to leave comments and questions, so if you have any, you can rest assured the team can answer them without getting distracted from their primary tasks.

How to Hire Top Developers: an Easy Guide

By now, you’ve probably made your mind about the preferred method of working with software developers. The next question is how to choose the right ones. Below we list several steps that you need to follow to hire the most suitable candidates.

Understand your needs

Though it may sound too obvious, this is the first step in the recruitment process. Before contacting candidates, you need to outline your goals and answer the following questions clearly:

  • How quickly do you need to hire software engineers?
  • What is your budget?
  • How many developers do you need exactly?
  • What level of expertise do you need from them?

By answering these questions, you will create precise requirements and let the developers know what you need from the start.

Decide who will do screening and interviewing

The process of hiring software developers implies conducting technical interviews and assessing their knowledge and skills (and composing technical test tasks). Thus, if you do not have enough experience interviewing technical specialists, you’d want to find the right person to handle the whole hiring process.

It may be your in-house recruiter, or you may decide to address a recruitment agency. In working with an outsourced development company, the company’s representative would generally assess your requirements and present you with a list of the most suitable candidates.

Be transparent and open

When you talk to the candidates, we highly recommend being as transparent and open as possible during your meeting. By clearly communicating your goals and vision, you will eliminate misunderstandings and let the candidates know about your expectations. 

The candidate may be a great person but is not very suitable for your exact position. In this case, it’s better to learn about it initially to avoid issues in the future.

Think of the following questions to help you make the right choice. Do you need to complete a specific task or a short-term project quickly? A freelance developer will be a great option. Do you need to control the whole development process, and do you have long-term plans for software development? In this case, you have two options - an in-house team to leave everything within the company control or choose a dedicated outsourced team which still leaves you complete control but at the same time allows you to save money on taxes and other payments.

Do you have a unique business idea and want to delegate the process of its creation to a reliable partner? Judging by our experience, we at Geomotiv firmly believe that outsourced software development is the best option for creating a custom software product.

An outsourced company can provide you with an entire team of specialists, take responsibility for project management, and monitor the deadlines and budget.

In this way, you become free from many organizational matters and can focus on other essential tasks such as the company's growth strategy or marketing.

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