Hubbub: For developers who love great food

Why hiring developers is so hard

If you've ever tried hiring developers to join your team, you'll probably have learnt the hard way that recruiting them is really hard. Here's why:

  1. Great developers are few and far between, whereas vacancies are plentiful
  2. The people with the skills can work wherever they like, so by and large already have great jobs with fantastic benefits
  3. You can't advertise on job boards because by and large the only people looking at job boards are the ones you don't want to hire (sorry folks!)
  4. Persuading people to pay any attention to you is really hard, because let's face it, there are so many vapourware startups out there that it's easy for people to dismiss you as being just like everybody else

It can be so frustrating for a small business like ours. We're buzzing with big ideas of stuff we'd love to do, and ultimately the limiting factor always turns out to be development resource - and I suspect we're not alone in that experience. For Hubbub, there's only two of us developers at present and there's easily enough work for four. Good software systems have the potential to make every single staff member working at the company significantly more productive, and at times it's pretty heart breaking to have to say no to important projects because there just isn't enough time for us to do everything we'd like.

So what can a small company do to overcome this problem? There are certainly some things you can do to help:

  1. Make sure your company is an awesome place to work. Without this, you don't stand a chance.
    Hubbub ticks all these boxes:
    • an amazing group of people working on interesting problems that make a genuine contribution to the social good
    • a growing business with actual revenue and the excited buzz of things taking off
    • a supportive environment where you get to pick the right solution to the problem rather than things being driven by egos and politics
    • fabulous perks, including top quality free lunches from the wonderful shops we work with, a generous staff discount and free delivery on all orders
  2. Get your name out there.
    • Stay focussed on growing your business so that naturally people start to hear about you
    • Get involved in the developer community, attending things like LRUG
    • Write blog posts that aren't just entirely self-promotional but give people something interesting to think about
    • Sponsor a few developer conferences in a way that makes sense for your business
    • Generally be creative. Hubbub hired me off the back of a social media campaign offering a year's supply of free bacon to anyone who referred a developer they went on to hire (which is still on offer, by the way)
  3. Be patient. Whatever you do, don't compromise and hire people who can't do the job
    • It's been said a thousand times before, but bad developers don't just fail to increase your team's productivity, they actively decrease it. The good developers spend half their time running around cleaning up after the mess left by the bad developers. Team morale drains away. Ultimately, the quality of your product suffers and you start to lose valuable customers.
  4. At the same time, be open to people without the exact skillset you're after
    • Developers who are worth hiring can usually pick up new technologies pretty quickly.
    • For example, if your site is built in Ruby on Rails, don't worry if the candidate you're looking at only knows Python and Objective-C. They'll pick up Rails in no time if they're half as smart as they say they are.

Sadly, there are no silver bullets in this process. Ultimately, nothing beats a personal contact with somebody known by a member of your staff team. In the mean time, we get on with trying to kick ass each and every week with the limited resources we have (and we can get behind initiatives like Code.org and hope that 20 years from now we won't still be facing the same shortage of talent).

In case you hadn't guessed, Hubbub is currently hiring for two web developers. Full details, including how you can get your hands on a year's supply of free bacon, can be found here.

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