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Why Finding a Good Software Engineer is Such a Pain in the Neck

Andrew Zola
Storyteller
I have many passions, but the main one is writing – learning about new things and connecting with diverse
audiences is something that has always amazed and excited me.
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If you have tried to hire a good software engineer, you’ll know what I am talking about. It can be a very difficult task to accomplish, even for an average project.

If you’re a startup in Silicon Valley, it’s even a bigger headache as you will need someone who’s even better. In fact, you’ll need to attract some of the best engineers out there to even have a microscopic of a chance at success (because you’ll need venture capital which will demand quick results).

So how did we find ourselves in this predicament?

It’s no secret that there’s a global shortage of top software developers and although many have tried to expedite a solution to this problem, it hasn’t really worked. Coding boot camps haven’t really done anything more than cause more complications. Furthermore, hiring software developers from Asia can also be a complicated endeavor.

While there are external forces that contribute to this issue, there are also internal factors that make hiring a software engineer a pain in the neck.

Deficiencies in hiring practices

While it might be difficult to find top talent, they’re very much out there. So the lack of good software engineers in your company can come down to deficiencies in hiring practices.

"If you play by the same rules as everyone else, it's hard. If you're more inventive and are able to flex some, it's not that hard.” Dror Matalon, Director of Technology at Worldreader. "There needs to be a shift in the mentality of only hiring the best (because there is no such thing!")

If your company can be a little flexible with your recruitment approach, there are plenty of ways to tackle this problem. For one, big names when it comes to previous employers or universities don’t mean anything when it comes down to the skill set that you’re after.

If the candidate possesses the right attitude and skill set for the project, then you’ve probably found a good fit for the job.

What’s more, startups and established businesses can also connect with good to great developers remotely. While there’s nothing better than having everyone under the same roof, tools like Slack, TeamWork, and Skype can help you achieve the same results.

Build a good company with a great culture

At Digi117, we have access to unique talent pools not seen elsewhere by other local recruiters to source good software engineers from. Furthermore, this method also helps us build better cohesive development teams (because at the end of the day, they need to work well together).

If you focus on building a good company with a great working culture, good software engineers around the world will seek you out. These individuals aren’t driven by money, instead, they want to experience a positive working environment at a company they can be proud to work for.

But if you’re a startup, you don’t have this luxury as it will take years to build up a good reputation. Furthermore, software developers might already be paid well and happy where they’re currently employed. So the odds are already stacked against you even before you attempt to convince them to join you.

In this scenario, you might be out of luck. So what do you do?

The best way to approach this problem is to look far and wide, conduct detailed interviews, maybe give them a few tests, and then try to identify top talent. This process will make it easier for you to identify the right characteristics that help develop a good software engineer.

The best software engineers will be able to seamlessly communicate, contribute ideas, and get the job done.

Rigorous screening of thousands of candidates pays off and this is evidenced by Toptal who screen thousands of developers each month, but only hire 3%. Yes, that figure is a great representation of how difficult it’s to find a good software engineer.