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In this article, you will learn a unique perspective on hiring remote developers for small businesses, including finding candidates and screening their skills.
Hiring remote programmers might seem daunting for entrepreneurs running small businesses. Whether it’s an early-stage tech startup, or a non-tech company venturing into the digital world, you have limited resources.
There’s no HR team, usually a strict budget, and there’s more on the line for you than for managers in bigger companies. Small businesses can’t afford to make bad decisions.
But don’t worry - in this article, I’ll share some of my experiences helping entrepreneurs worldwide hire remote developers.
1. Get prepared - plan, budget, detailed requirements
The first part of hiring a remote developer is preparation. It pays off to have a detailed plan for your project. The time you spend preparing can result in significant savings later on.
You don’t need to become a software architect and plan the project. Start with defining a sort of business plan:
- What do you want to achieve with your project?
- How will it help you make more money / attract more customers / improve your brand?
- When is the final deadline by which you need to finish the project?
- What is the right technology for your project?
Recommended: 5 Ways to Build a Team – When You All Work Remote
A.) What do you want to achieve with your project?
This stage can help you uncover flaws in your ideas. Do you want to hire a programmer to build an expensive website only because you think it’s necessary? Then it might not be a good idea, and starting a Facebook fan page might be enough.
Don’t do a software project just because it’s trendy -- especially since small business trends in 2018 were much different than in 2019, and it changes all the time.
Start listing all the valid reasons you can think of for building a modern website or a bespoke application for your business.
If you run a small programming business, you might need a remote developer to help with parts of your projects that you don’t have time for. That’s a strong, valid reason.
In the case of other types of companies, the reasons are different. For example, you might want to build a functional website (or just a single web page) to collect orders for your products or services. This will help you achieve other sub-goals -- easier promotion, improving your brand, or enabling you to reach more customers.
Remember that improving your brand might not be a priority for a small business, so it’s hardly a valid reason unless you’re in a very competitive market. For small businesses, your brand is built on how you treat customers, the quality you deliver with your services or products, and how you communicate with your customers.
B.) How will it help you make more money / attract more customers / improve your brand?
Once you determine the “Why?” of your project, it’s time for the “How?”.
The digital age gives entrepreneurs a lot of options to grow their businesses. You can build a website with the purpose of blogging and attracting email subscribers to your blog. Or create a simple sales-oriented page, and promote it through social media and pay-per-click marketing. Or perhaps your main goal is to build an application to provide better service to your existing customers.
Endless options lay ahead of you, but you can’t do it all. You need to find the option that will grant you the biggest payoff.
For example, if your goal for building a website is to increase sales, consider the process of how it will happen. How will new customers find your website, and how will the site convince them to buy from you?
You can extend this project to any software project: How will your project help your business? Understanding this will help you find the right developer later on.
C.) When is the final deadline by which you need to finish the project?
Limited time is a serious constraint, especially in a small business environment. There’s a lot at stake, and spending too much time looking for the right developer will be counter-productive.
The less time you have, the more you want to look for senior programmers with significant experience. They’ll get the job done fast, knowing exactly what to do and how to avoid any issues during development.
On a side note, you might consider outsourcing to a digital agency or software company if you have extremely limited time and a significant budget. But we won’t go into detail about how to outsource work in this model; it’s a bit of a different process compared to hiring node.js developers and managing them yourself.
The more time you have, the more you can think about hiring junior / mid-level programmers. This way, you might be able to pay a lower rate and help that developer grow their portfolio and gather experience.
D.) What is the right technology for your project?
When you decide what technology is best for your project, things get a bit complicated.
Say you want a simple, one-page website without animations, sign-up forms or any interaction on it (a digital business card).
In this case, you could spend a few weeks learning the basics of HTML and CSS after work, buy a ready-made template, and put your content on it. That would be enough.
But in many cases, this isn’t enough, and you need a developer that knows a more advanced technology to make your site or application the way it should be.
You probably won’t need developers specializing in Ruby, Python, Go, C, and other general-purpose programming languages.
Let’s move on to how to hire programmers.
2. Sourcing candidates and hiring
Now that you know exactly what you want to achieve with your project, it’s time to start looking for the right developer. Small businesses usually don’t have the budget to go to tech recruiters, but other options exist.
The first place where you want to start is your network. Ask other entrepreneurs and write on social media. If you’re lucky, you’ll get recommended a solid developer with a strong portfolio, which will end your troubles.
Most times, it’s a bit harder than that, unfortunately. How to recruit developers beyond your network? For one thing, you can start posting on remote job boards (for example, Remote.ok). Google “remote job board” and start posting your job.
Since you’re prepared and know exactly why, how, and what you want to build, writing your job post should be a breeze. Make sure to include your preferred timeline for project completion and the budget you can afford. It will draw more attention to your ad.
Another way to look for remote developers is by browsing profiles on sites like Developer for hire or Freelancer.com). On some of these sites, you can post a job, but you can also search for the type of developer you need. Some sites are focused only on information technology jobs.
Application developers, web developers, mobile developers, and developers of all specializations in-between can be found on these sites.
3. Screening candidates
When you find multiple fitting candidates, you need to pick the best one somehow.
Price is not always a good defining characteristic here -- a programmer who’s more experienced will ask for a bigger rate but finish the project sooner. You might end up paying less than a junior programmer with a small web developer salary, who would take longer to finish your job.
It’s better to pay attention to what type of people they are. Are they communicative and direct? Do you have to wait a long time for a response? Are they professional? Do they have a personal website and a portfolio?
Having a decent portfolio is one of the most important aspects, especially if it includes projects similar to the one you’re doing.
CVs aren’t the best way to screen your candidates’ skills. But if you’ve done all the preparation we mentioned in the first part of the article, you can just show them the requirements for your project and see how they would approach building what you need.
Hopefully, this article will help you find the right remote developer for your business. Being prepared and understanding the requirements for your project is the best way to enable you to find the right person quickly.
Start with solid preparation, and only then move on to looking for candidates and screening their skills. Good luck!
Author: George Fironov
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