A 7-Point Guide to Hiring a Programmer

February 16, 2024

Companies are now recognising the need to adapt to the digitisation of business processes. On top of that, coding is quickly rising as the core competency for all kinds of 21st Century workers. With this, companies are now putting conscious efforts in hiring a programmer who can help them grow.

It’s hard to hire great programmers these days due to the current talent crunch. This talent shortage is largely affecting western countries like the UK, the US, and Australia. In this blog, I’ve compiled hiring pointers into a 7-point guide that will hopefully make it easier for you to find the right talent you need.

#1: Profile the position

Identify your hiring need

Before you make any step in the hiring process, you have to understand first the job you need to fill. Especially with hard-to-fill jobs like programmers and developers, it can be tempting to hoard all the quality talent you can find. However, doing that is ineffective and counterproductive for your company.

Define your hiring needs by making a job specification, and then use that as your guide throughout the whole hiring process. This way you won’t get distracted by candidates who seem promising but are not what your company needs as of the moment. You can keep their resumes for future reference but stick to your current hiring need.

Prepare a person specification

Once you've defined the role you are recruiting for, identify the type of candidate you want. What training experience do you need? Educational attainment? What kind of personality does the job need? Identify all the qualifications your potential employee must have for the job; build a person specification.

These two documents—job specification and person specification—will be your guide as you write your job post. These will also help you attract the right candidates, saving you the hassle of receiving loads of CVs from unqualified applicants.

#2: Prepare the job post

Write a job post that sells

With the job specification and person specification as your guide, start writing your job post. Betterteam, a cloud-based applicant tracking system company, advises using a "killer" job title and an emotive introduction. These are the first things that applicants see in your job ad; you'd want to grab their attention right away by highlighting exciting things or details about the job.

Also, make sure to provide a clear description of what the job is. Include the necessary skills that the applicant must have to qualify for the position. Don’t be too short on your list of requirements, but don’t be too long and overwhelming either. You don’t want to push away potential applicants. Write a job post that attracts the right applicants.

Be mobile-friendly

Snagajob’s 2017 State of the Hourly Worker reveals that 82% of hourly job seekers search jobs from their phone. So, if you want to reach more potential applicants, it's a smart move to go mobile. Get on smartphone apps. Get your job ad on major posting sites which have mobile versions. The goal is to be visible on mobile devices.

Keep in mind that your content should be mobile-friendly as well. Pay close attention to your formatting. Use bullets if necessary and always put important information first. Make other essential details easy to find, and you're good to go.

#3: Start recruiting

Explore all available means and platforms

Another good way to reach more potential applicants is to not limit yourself to just one means or one platform. It’s getting harder and harder to connect with high-quality talent, so you have to be proactive and come up with creative ways to reach them and grab their attention. If you’re looking for some inspiration and ideas for your company’s recruitment, here are some of the most creative recruitment campaigns you might want to read on.

There are also other ways, aside from recruitment campaigns, to find the programmer you need. Tap your employee’s networks and encourage employee referrals by giving incentives. You can also establish connections with local colleges, universities, and professors. That way you can reach out to the up-and-coming talent pool.


Lastly, you can also choose to look beyond your location. Technology today makes collaboration with other talents from all over the world possible and instantaneous. Companies are now outsourcing their IT needs and functions to offshore teams, enabling them to work with experts from other parts of the world. Outsourcing allows companies to connect to a wider pool of talent outside the country at competitive costs.

Contact passive candidates

According to a LinkedIn blog, only 25% of the fully-employed workforce are active job seekers. The big chunk of 75% belongs to passive candidates and tiptoers.

Passive candidates are those who are already employed and not actively looking for other jobs but are nevertheless open to better opportunities. Tiptoers, on the other hand, are those workers who aren’t actually applying for jobs but are just preparing to move. Tiptoers are subtly asking their networks about opportunities elsewhere.

Aside from reaching out to the active candidates, you might also want to develop strategies to reach out to these passive candidates.

Don’t close your mind to self-educated applicants

You might be missing out on great talent once you do this. Don’t immediately turn down self-educated applicants. These are developers or freelance programmers who have taught themselves with books and online tutorials. They build a curriculum of their own, so they only learn what they need, and they learn heavily by doing.

Also, remember that self-educating takes a lot of dedication and character. Sometimes, the best developers are self-educated, so keep your doors open for them.

#4: Review all applications

Demand for portfolios of previous works

Together with the CVs, don’t forget to ask for a portfolio of your applicants' previous works. Portfolios will give you an idea of what kind of projects they’ve worked on and which areas they’ve mastered. Portfolios will also help you see if the candidate has the skills you need, which will be important in the following hiring stages.  

Contact references for confirmation

Take time to contact the references listed in your applicants’ CVs. As you confirm with the contact person the skills and experiences the applicant claims to have, you can also take this chance to ask how the applicant adapted to the culture of the previous company, how he works, how he socialises, and other important details you need.  

#5: Head on to the interviews

Go beyond coding

The interview stage is your chance as a recruiter to get to know more about your applicant. Sure, ask the necessary questions which are related to programming. However, don’t forget to go beyond those questions. By this time, your applicant has already passed the initial screening, so you should make an effort to know them beyond what their CV and experiences say.

You can ask them about their achievements, their likes and dislikes, and even their worst failure. Get to know whether they’re introverted or extroverted; if they’re more of a leader or more of a follower. All these small details will be helpful to you as you make decisions later on.

Conduct technical trials

Although you have already requested for a portfolio, technical trials are still a must-have when hiring a programmer. You can make use of testing tools like those offered at Tests4Geeks, or have a whiteboard test wherein your candidates have to solve programming problems on a whiteboard in front of you. This way, you get to see their skills at work and you also get a glimpse of how they approach problems while under pressure.

Learn to walk away

Now that you’ve done interviews and conducted technical trials, but you’re still not “feeling it”: maybe the potential programmer is messing you around, or he’s just not the one you’re looking for; then maybe it’s time to walk away. There are a lot of potential programmers out there, so don’t waste your time. Don’t waste theirs as well. Get up from the table and learn to say, “Thank you for your time.”

#6: Prepare the job offer

Don’t underpay, but don’t overdo it

Quality services also equal quality pay. Companies and recruiters often forget this, as they would prefer to cut costs as much as they can. If you want top-tier talents, then be prepared to give a salary that’s right for their services. Never ever underpay, but don’t overdo it as well. Look for the current market prices as a basis, and from there make adjustments to the salary you’re about to offer. As you do this, take into consideration the workload that your potential programmer will be receiving.

Check for a cultural fit

Before going further, check one last thing: a cultural fit. By now you are already convinced that the potential programmer has the qualifications and skills you need. However, you should also determine if he is a good fit for your company and the culture, as well as the team that he’ll be working with.

#7: Settle the new hire in

Show your passion

With a new addition to your team, it’s important to show your passion. Passion can be the greatest driver in everything—it helps every one of us get through the toughest and hardest times. Passion is also very contagious. Infecting everyone on your team with passion will be beneficial to your performance as a whole. When you hire a programmer, let him see and feel your passion right from the start. Be positive in all things, talk with enthusiasm and eagerness, and your programmers will follow your example.  

Be a great employer

Your new hires also considered the working environment when they decided to accept the job offer. Now that they’re part of the organisation, they’re still testing the waters to see if they will like your company. As the employer, one of your goals is to provide a great working environment for your new hires. Make your workplace a fun place for your employees. Google is a great example of this. They provide their employees with access to gyms, volleyball courts, a bowling alley, massages, and music lessons. You don't have to be as extravagant as Google, just provide a place and activity for your employees to relieve stress.  

Final notes:

There’s no such thing as perfect

Companies are now recognising the need to adapt to the digitisation of business processes. On top of that, coding is quickly rising as the core competency for all kinds of 21st Century workers. With this, companies are now putting conscious efforts in hiring a programmer who can help them grow.

Great developers come and go

It’s a fact. You’re only borrowing these great developers for a while. There will come a time when they will find better opportunities, or they will decide to start a business of their own, and you’ll have to accept that. For this reason, should always stay on the lookout for young blood.

Don’t be afraid to take time all throughout your hiring process. You need enough time to find the developer that will be the right fit for your needs. If you’re looking to build a web team, you might also find this blog on building a web team useful. Read up on more hiring advice, suggestions, and put what you’ve learned into action.