Experts are made, not found
Our theme for Techstars is #GiveFirst and in no area is that more applicable than in how we approach hiring.
“How do I find engineers?”
I’ve been asked that question hundreds of times. Where do I find a great software developer? In over 20 years of building software and managing technology teams, I’ve never found a developer. Why? Because the best engineers are made, not found.
The best makers don’t just build things, they make new makers. I’ve been fortunate to work with Matt Ledom for the better part of the past 20 years and there is no one better at building, mentoring, and training high quality software engineers in the business. ?
In this blog post we are going to share 3 tips on how we build technical teams by giving, not taking.
Tip 1: Code schools are awesome! Use them but have a plan.
Tip 2: Interns are amazing… pay them!
Tip 3: Try before you buy.
Why do we love code schools? One word: Hungry. Anyone that is making a career move into coding and software development is hungry. Over the years that Matt and I have worked together we have hired a dozen developers that were fresh out of code school or boot camp. How do we make it work?
#1 – Put in the time to train them up to the next level. Even though these employees are hungry, they are green. While they have some coding chops, they are usually missing the skills needed for platform/enterprise development. Working in a larger team and in a larger code base is often new to them. This includes the more complex software development process required in most teams. Don’t throw them to the wolves, teach them how to hunt!
#2 – Get ready to pay up. Here’s the good news: These employees are cheap… at first. But remember, you are taking their training to the next level (that’s the giving part) and their skill set and experience will command a higher salary if they leave you. So be proactive by budgeting for it and get on top of that raise (this is also the giving part). Believe me, it will pay off in the long run!
Let’s talk about interns
First, if you aren’t paying your interns you are an asshole. Full stop.
In 2019, anyone who says they are getting paid in ‘experience’ is full of shit. This economy is booming. Pay your interns. Here is how we do it:
If you are considering using interns for software development go with a project based statement of work. Sit down with the intern and document requirements and deliverables. Help them estimate and plan the project. Agree on an acceptable fee for the work and have them sign their name to it. Then you are going to help, train, mentor them towards success.
If the project doesn’t get completed on time or correctly it is your fault, not theirs. Pay them. And if you don’t enjoy working with this intern or don’t think they have what it takes then don’t do additional projects with them.
This topic was in the news recently and while I definitely don’t want to get political, gotta agree with AOC on this one:
Here are some code schools we’ve hired from:
Try before you buy
News flash: Engineers are expensive! Hiring an engineer is a huge expense. The decision to bring on an engineer is one of the most expensive decisions a startup makes, not only in salary, but in time spent getting this employee up to speed. It doesn’t help anyone by rushing to this decision. Both parties will be happier with a trial period.
Here is our strategy: We like 3 month contracts. 90 days is sufficient to assess competence, culture fit, and work ethic. This also gives your new developer time to see if they like working for you. But how do you make it worth it for you new hire? Three things:
#1 – Define scope and expectations clearly. Try and document what you want to achieve in 3 months.
#2 – Pay a decent rate. Don’t skimp here, get them bought in early.
#3 – Plan the long term role and compensation during the 3 months. Learn where they fit, listen to what they are looking for, paint a picture together.
What’s in it for me?
Gee, that sounds like a lot of work, can’t I just out-source this? Probably not, but if you want to read more, I wrote an article about it.
Bottom line: The best results and strongest teams come only when you invest in your team. Developers are not a commodity. They don’t grow on trees. They are not interchangeable. It is never cheap. #GiveFirst, reap the rewards later.
How bout a product update?
In case you missed it, we released Self-Service Configuration a couple weeks ago and last week we got some great requests to add a Configuration option to our Anomaly notifications. So we did, check it out:
That’s all for this week. Tune in next week when we discuss the 2 weeks of Mentor Madness here at Techstars.
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