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5 tips for finding talent

Posted by on April 5, 2010

Whether you are looking to enlarge your prolific team with new talent or simply looking for a good pair of hands to turn your ideas into something tangible, the fact is that looking for a good developer is not as easy as it sounds. Usually you end up with a pile of suspiciously fat CVs or a bunch of interviews that fall apart the moment you submit them to a simple coding test. So, is the market really dry of talent or are you simply attracting the wrong crowd? Whatever the results, a few simple keys will set you right on track.

Be realistic

Let’s be clear on this, however unpleasant it may sound: if you want the best, be ready to pay for the best. Of course, there are a few wonderful deals out there but usually, on average, you get what you pay for. So if you’re expecting to draw the attention of talent you’re going to have to bring out your best honey. I’ve had a few discussions with HR people and head hunters and we all agree on one point: if you want qualified employees, offer a qualified salary. When it comes to comparing offers salary may not be the deciding factor, but nobody works for free. A singer friend of mine told me he got a gig in a small town, and after the concert they had an amazing paella and wonderful roasted meat with the most amazing table wine. When the festivities were over he went to see the guy from the Council to ask for his fees and the answer he got was “Well yes but… You enjoyed your dinner didn’t you?”. He now has a song called “Believe it or not… I’m in this for the money”. Same applies!

Be generous… and flexible

When a good developer is looking for a job it is very rare if there is only one offer on the table, and chances are all the numbers are going to be very similar. So what’s going to tilt the balance your way? Flexible timetables, occasional (or even regular) telecommuting and parking space are always a plus. Let’s face it, that developer is going to spend a lot of time in your office, so offering good working conditions are going to be key in the decision process. I’ve been offered fresh fruit, free meals and even somebody to come clean my apartment once a week among many other perks. Then again, I’m from Spain so conditions may vary around the world.

Look out for character

A jerk may be a PHP ninja and capable of the most amazing magic, but a jerk is always trouble. Be sure to present your candidate to your team, and listen to their views because it’s no use signing up the best in the business if he’s going to make the rest of your people miserable. I’ve seen some really amazing teams of developers pulled apart and blown into the wind like dandelion seeds because of one jerk. And the companies involved still don’t know what hit them (ok, they do, but it’ll be a cold day on hell before they admit it… just in case the jerk gets mad).

Support the community

The PHP community is thriving and very much alive. Conferences and User Group events are always great places to meet the people in the trade, and by getting to know them you can find the eager up-and-coming and the local experts. It’s also a great way of finding out what moves them and what they look for, both in the workplace and in the projects they will potentially be contributing to. So, let your employees attend events and encourage them to share their expertise at these events because a workplace that evolves quickly and contributes to the community is a cool workplace.

Take a chance

If you still can’t find the developer you want, don’t be afraid to take a chance on one without a proven track record but with potential. Look for hidden gems in the resume stack. Developers looking for a chance to break out. After all, nothing outperforms the player who bears his colors in pride!

Photo credit: Chris Gladis

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Responses and Pingbacks

Great article !
Thanks Jordi.

It was a little painful to read because some of it was close to home. Thank you for a great article!

[…] Here is a sneak peek at the post. See the full article here. […]

Wow an area that I definitely have struggled with over the years. I would add get some good tools to help measure people consistently. At least it give you a broad indicator.

Thanks for sharing these useful & impressive tips for finding the right talent. Being realistic is certainly a key to identify some of the best talents out there in the market.

Thanks for advice, very useful.

thanks for publishing such a masterpiece,
but as much as i know
Developers looking for a chance to break out. When a good developer is looking for a job it is very rare if there is only one offer on the table, and chances are all the numbers are going to be very similar

The traits mentioned above should be used when looking for any addition to any team through the entire company. Placing someone who will create friction among other team members will always be counter productive

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