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How to hire Top Software Developers
When hiring a software developer, it's essential to assess their technical skills, including proficiency in programming languages, frameworks, and tools relevant to your project. Additionally, consider their problem-solving abilities, experience with algorithms and data structures, and familiarity with development methodologies. Soft skills like communication, teamwork, adaptability, and willingness to learn are equally important. Reviewing their portfolio and past work can offer valuable insights into their capabilities and experience while assessing their cultural fit ensures they will integrate well into your organization's environment.
Working at a startup vs. a larger company:
Startups and larger companies have distinct differences in terms of work culture, expectations, and resources. At a startup, developers may need to wear multiple hats, work with limited resources, and adapt quickly to changing priorities. Startups often require candidates with a diverse skill set, a high degree of flexibility, and a strong entrepreneurial spirit. In contrast, larger companies typically offer more structured environments, specialized roles, and access to resources and support. When hiring for a larger company, you may focus more on candidates with specific skills and expertise that align with a well-defined job description.
Full-time vs. hourly:
When hiring a software engineer, you may choose between full-time and hourly employees based on your organization's needs and the nature of the project. Full-time developers are generally employed on a long-term basis, receiving a fixed salary and benefits. They are typically more integrated into the company culture and are expected to contribute to the organization's overall success. When staffing a team or an individual full-time developer, focus on candidates who align with your organization's values, have a long-term commitment, and possess a broad range of skills to grow within the company.
Hourly developers, on the other hand, are typically employed for short-term or project-based work and are paid based on the hours they work. They may be independent contractors or freelancers and are not usually eligible for company benefits. When hiring an hourly developer, focus on candidates with specialized skills and expertise relevant to the specific project. Assess their ability to deliver quality work within the given timeframe and budget constraints.
Hiring a software developer involves carefully evaluating candidates' technical and soft skills, experience, and cultural fit. The process may differ depending on whether you're hiring for a startup or a larger company, and whether you need a full-time or hourly developer. Consider your organization's specific needs and requirements to determine the best approach for hiring the right software developer who can contribute to your project's success and your organization's growth.
Relevant programming skills
In addition to programming languages, assess the candidate's familiarity with other relevant tools and technologies, such as database management systems (e.g., MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB), web servers (e.g., Apache, Nginx), and development environments (e.g., Visual Studio, IntelliJ IDEA, Eclipse). Depending on your project's requirements, knowledge of cloud platforms (e.g., AWS, Azure, Google Cloud), containerization tools (e.g., Docker, Kubernetes), or continuous integration and deployment tools (e.g., Jenkins, Travis CI, GitLab CI/CD) may also be necessary.
A candidate's programming skills can be assessed through their resume, portfolio, code samples, or technical interview questions. Consider using coding challenges or pair programming exercises to evaluate their proficiency and problem-solving abilities in a practical setting.
A strong problem solver can analyze complex issues, break them down into manageable tasks and develop effective solutions. This skill is essential for software developers, as they often encounter challenges that require innovative thinking and the ability to adapt to changing requirements.
To assess a candidate's problem-solving abilities, consider incorporating coding challenges, technical questions, or real-world scenarios into the interview process. These exercises can reveal how the candidate approaches problem-solving, their thought process, and their ability to write clean, efficient code under pressure.
Additionally, assess their ability to debug and optimize existing code, as this is a crucial aspect of problem-solving in software development. Look for candidates who can identify bottlenecks or potential issues in the code and provide solutions to improve its performance or maintainability.
Experience with algorithms and data structures
A deep understanding of algorithms and data structures is vital for software developers, as it enables them to write efficient, scalable, and optimized code. Candidates should be familiar with fundamental concepts like arrays, linked lists, stacks, queues, trees, graphs, hash tables, and sorting and searching algorithms.
When evaluating a candidate's knowledge in this area, consider asking questions related to algorithm design, complexity analysis (Big O notation), and data structure implementation. You can also provide coding exercises that require the candidate to implement or optimize specific algorithms or data structures.
Additionally, assess their ability to select appropriate data structures and algorithms based on the given problem and constraints. This skill is crucial for developing solutions that are not only functional but also efficient and optimized for real-world scenarios.
Familiarity with development methodologies
Software development methodologies, such as Agile, Scrum, Waterfall, or Kanban, provide structured processes for managing and delivering software projects. Familiarity with these methodologies ensures that a developer can adapt to your team's workflow, communicate effectively with team members, and contribute to a smooth development process.
When assessing a candidate's familiarity with development methodologies, ask about their previous experience working in different environments and how they've adapted to each. Discuss the methodologies used in your organization and gauge their understanding of the principles and practices associated with them.
Consider asking scenario-based questions that require the candidate to apply their knowledge of a specific methodology to address common project challenges, such as managing changing requirements, prioritizing tasks, or handling team communication.
It's also essential to evaluate the candidate's experience with project management and collaboration tools commonly used in these methodologies, such as Jira, Trello, Asana, or GitHub, as these tools facilitate efficient communication, task tracking, and version control within the team.
Communication and teamwork
Effective communication and teamwork are essential for software developers, as they often work in cross-functional teams that include project managers, designers, quality assurance testers, and other developers. Strong communication skills enable the best developers to articulate their ideas, understand requirements, provide and receive feedback, and collaborate efficiently with their team members.
When evaluating a candidate's communication and teamwork abilities, consider incorporating behavioral questions and group exercises into the interview process. Ask about their experience working in teams, handling conflicts, and collaborating with colleagues who have different perspectives or skill sets.
Assess their ability to communicate technical concepts clearly and concisely, both in writing and verbally. This can be crucial when explaining complex ideas to non-technical stakeholders or documenting code for other developers. Familiarity with collaboration tools, such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Google Workspace, can also be beneficial in facilitating efficient communication within the team.
Adaptability and willingness to learn
The rapidly evolving nature of the technology industry requires software developers to be adaptable and open to learning new tools, languages, and techniques. Candidates who demonstrate a passion for continuous learning and professional growth are more likely to stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and bring valuable skills to your organization.
To evaluate a candidate's adaptability and willingness to learn, ask about their experience working with new technologies, how they stay current with industry developments, and their approach to learning new skills. Assess their ability to learn and apply new concepts quickly through coding exercises or technical questions involving unfamiliar technologies or techniques.
Consider candidates with a history of contributing to open-source projects or participating in professional development activities, such as attending conferences, workshops, or online courses, as these experiences can indicate a commitment to continuous learning.
Portfolio or past work
Reviewing a programmer candidate's portfolio or past work is crucial in providing valuable insights into their coding style, technical skills, and the quality of their output. It can also reveal their experience in web development, app development, Android, iOS, machine learning, stack overflow, or DevOps, among others. When evaluating a candidate's portfolio, resume, or LinkedIn, consider the following:
A potential remote work candidate's cultural fit refers to how well their personality, values, and work style align with your software development team and organization's culture. A strong cultural fit can contribute to improved team dynamics, higher job satisfaction, and enhanced performance.
When assessing a candidate's cultural fit, consider the following:
Incorporate behavioral questions and group exercises into the interview process to gauge the candidate's cultural fit and ability to work effectively within your team.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does a software developer do?
Software developers are professionals who create, design, implement, test, and maintain software applications, systems, or platforms. They work on a diverse range of projects, including web applications, mobile apps, desktop applications, operating systems, and even video games. Here are some common tasks and responsibilities of software developers:
Typical skill sets for software developers include:
On the other hand, some developers may excel in back-end development, which entails working on the server-side infrastructure that powers an application. Back-end developers need to be well-versed in server-side programming languages like Python, Ruby, or Java, as well as database management systems and server architecture.
Alternatively, full-stack developers possess the skills and expertise to work on both the front-end and back-end aspects of a project. These professionals are highly sought after, as they can contribute to various stages of development, making them valuable assets to companies with in-house development teams. Full-stack developers often have a broad understanding of multiple programming languages, frameworks, and tools, enabling them to create cohesive and efficient software solutions.
While some developers choose to specialize in front-end or back-end development, full-stack developers possess the knowledge and skills to tackle both aspects of a project. These versatile professionals are especially valuable to companies with in-house development teams, as they can contribute their
What's the difference between a software developer and a software engineer?
The terms "software developer" and "software engineer" are often used interchangeably, but they can have subtle differences in their roles and responsibilities, depending on the organization and context.
A software developer primarily focuses on designing, coding, and implementing software solutions. They are involved in various stages of the software development lifecycle, including gathering requirements, designing the software architecture, writing code, testing, and maintenance. Software developers typically work closely with other team members, such as project managers, designers, and quality assurance testers, to create functional and efficient software applications. Their primary goal is to create software that meets the users' needs and solves specific problems.
A software engineer, on the other hand, usually has a more comprehensive and systematic approach to software development. They apply engineering principles and techniques to design, develop, and maintain complex software systems. Software engineers often focus on ensuring that the software is scalable, efficient, and reliable, taking into consideration factors such as performance, security, and maintainability.
Software engineers may have a deeper understanding of computer systems, data structures, algorithms, and programming languages, which enables them to design and develop more complex software solutions. They may also be responsible for evaluating and selecting appropriate tools, frameworks, and technologies for the project.
In practice, the distinction between a software developer and a software engineer can be blurry, with their roles and responsibilities often overlapping. Both titles involve designing, coding, and testing software applications, and the specific tasks assigned to each role can vary depending on the organization, project, and team structure. In some companies, the terms may be used interchangeably, while in others, they may denote different levels of expertise or specialization.
Which is the best way to hire a software developer?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to hiring a software developer, as the best method depends on your organization's specific needs and resources. Common approaches include:
Job postings: Advertise the position on job boards, social media platforms, or your company website to attract a wide range of candidates.
Networking: Attend industry events, meetups, or conferences to connect with potential candidates and expand your professional network.
Referrals: Leverage your existing employees' networks by encouraging them to refer qualified candidates.
Recruitment agencies: Partner with specialized agencies that can help you find candidates with the required skills and experience.
Freelance platforms: Post your job for free on sites like Braintrust and get vetted candidates within 48 hours.
The best way to hire a software developer will depend on your organization's unique requirements, timeline, and resources. A combination of these approaches can help you attract a diverse pool of candidates and find the right fit for your team.
How do I find and hire a software developer?
To find and hire a software developer, follow these steps:
Define the job requirements: Clearly outline the skills, experience, and qualifications required for the role.
Advertise the position: Post the job on a relevant job board such as Braintrust (you can post for free), social media, and your company website.
Leverage your network: Attend industry events and seek referrals from your employees or connections.
Screen candidates: Review resumes, portfolios, and past work to shortlist potential candidates.
Conduct interviews: Use a mix of technical and behavioral questions to evaluate the candidate's skills, experience, and cultural fit.
Test their skills: Use coding challenges or exercises to assess their technical abilities.
Check references: Contact former employers or colleagues to gather insights on the candidate's performance and work ethic.
Make an offer: Present a competitive offer that includes compensation, benefits, and other terms of employment.
Is it hard to hire software developers?
Hiring software developers can be challenging due to factors such as the high demand for talent, the need for specialized skills, and competition from other companies. However, with a well-defined hiring process, targeted recruitment efforts, clear onboarding requirements, and a competitive compensation package, you can successfully attract and hire qualified candidates.
To overcome the challenges of hiring software developers, consider expanding your search to remote candidates, investing in employee training and development, and offering flexible work arrangements or unique benefits to stand out from competitors.
How do I hire a freelance software developer?
To hire a freelance software developer, follow these steps:
Define project requirements: Determine the skills, experience, and expertise required for your specific project.
Search for candidates: Use freelance platforms like Braintrust or your professional network to find potential candidates.
Review portfolios and past work: Assess the candidate's experience, coding style, and project complexity by examining their previous projects.
Conduct interviews: Use video calls or in-person meetings to discuss the project requirements and evaluate the candidate's communication skills and cultural fit.
Test their skills: Provide coding challenges or exercises to assess their technical abilities and problem-solving skills.
Discuss project terms: Clearly outline the project scope, timeline, deliverables, and payment terms.
Draft a contract: Create a legally binding agreement that covers all aspects of the project, including intellectual property rights, confidentiality, and dispute resolution.
By following these steps, you can find and hire a freelance software developer who meets your project's needs and delivers high-quality work.
How much should you pay a software developer?
The compensation for a software developer varies depending on factors such as their skills, experience, location, and the complexity of the project. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for software developers was $110,140 in May 2020. However, this figure may not accurately represent the current market due to rapid changes in demand and technology.
When determining compensation for a software developer, consider conducting market research to understand the prevailing rates for similar roles in your industry and location. Offer a competitive package that includes base salary, bonuses, equity, benefits, and any additional perks. Compensation may also vary depending on the nature of employment, with freelance or hourly developers often having different rates compared to full-time employees.
How long does it take to hire a developer?
The time required to hire a developer can vary depending on factors such as the complexity of the role, the hiring process, and the availability of qualified candidates. On average, it may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to hire a developer.
To expedite the hiring process, consider:
Clearly defining the job requirements to attract suitable candidates.
Leveraging multiple hiring channels, including job boards, referrals, and networking events.
Streamlining the screening and interview process by using standardized assessments and efficient scheduling.
Offering a competitive compensation package to attract and retain top talent.
By optimizing your hiring process and focusing on finding the right fit, you can reduce the time it takes to hire a developer and ensure a successful outcome for your organization.
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