Hiring Great Software Engineers Is Hard: Here’s How to Make it Easier

Pros and Cons of Hiring Remote Talent

Hiring great software engineers is hard, especially for SMEs and startups. Not only is there a shortage of talent, but startups must outcompete FAANG and big tech in the war for the talent available. Even if you have identified why the best engineers are not applying to your job posting, you must develop a successful hiring strategy to secure that talent.

Could Hiring Remote Software Engineers Be the Answer to Your Hiring Problems?

In 2017, a State of Remote Work report by Owl Labs found that more than half of the global workforce works remotely at least one day each week. In 2019, the Future Workforce Report published by Upwork forecast that almost 3 in 4 business teams will include remote workers by 2028. Since then, 2020’s coronavirus pandemic has more than likely accelerated the move to remote working.

Should you include remote working roles in your team? We asked Martin Do, Software Solutions Architect and ex-Microsoft engineer, and Nathan Haro, Executive Recruitment Consultant here at Kofi Group for their views.

What Are the Pros of Having a Remote Engineering Team?

Martin points to the increased access to a deeper pool of talented software engineers as a major advantage of hiring remote engineers.

“You have access to people with skillsets that you would not otherwise be able to consider,” he says. “This increases confidence, in the fact that you are working with more qualified people because hiring was not limited because of geography.”

Nathan agrees. “Remote companies have a big advantage over those that aren’t because they can access talent anywhere. Companies in tech hubs such as SF, LA, NY, etc. must fight for local talent that is already scarce, when they could open their candidate pools significantly.”

Martin also highlights other benefits, such as productivity and flexibility, as well as benefits to the wider community. Fewer commutes are good for local infrastructure and help to reduce a community’s carbon footprint.

“You gain productivity, too, because of the reduction or elimination of the commute for each remote employee. There are less interruptions, and you have greater flexibility to deal with the difficulties of personal situations,” Martin tells us.

These points are mirrored for both the employer and remote employee, Martin says. He outlines the benefits of working remotely for the employee as:

  • Reduction in costs (because of the reduction or elimination of the commute)
  • Higher productivity
  • The flexibility to deal with personal issues more effectively and timely
  • A better quality of life

“Working remotely allows me to live where I want,” he says, “rather than be forced to live somewhere simply because of a job.”

Nathan agrees that this is a big advantage when hiring. “100% distributed or remote companies have a big advantage over their competitors,” he says. “Offering someone benefits such as flexibility and elimination of their commute, leads to a better quality of life. Many people, including me, would be willing to take less compensation to get this.”

What Are the Cons of Having a Remote Engineering Team?

There are also some disadvantages that you must consider before hiring remote software engineers.

“Communication with peers of managers in different time zones can be a challenge,” says Martin. “The informal, spontaneous discussions that are important and easier in-person are more difficult between remote workers.

“Also, in virtual meetings it is not possible to ‘read’ someone’s intent through body language and other cues.”

Martin also says that the perception of upper management is often that remote workers are less productive because they can’t see them. He doesn’t agree that this is the case because there is “the temptation to overwork, because your office is in your house.”

How Can You Hire Remote Software Engineers Effectively?

When hiring locally, according to research by Glassdoor, it takes an average of 35 days to hire a good software engineer. Hiring remotely reduces this by more than half.

“The process should take two weeks,” says Nathan, “and each interview should have a purpose. I would advise hiring companies to provide feedback within 48 hours, and to set up an intro call before jumping straight into technical tests.”

“It’s better to evaluate a person’s body of work rather than a few questions during an interview,” Martin says. “Consider asking for coding samples or give candidates a short and reasonable project to evaluate skills. It’s reasonable for a person to get nervous during an interview, so combine those questions (keep it broad) along with more concrete evaluation such as code samples or projects. My personal experience is that I can determine a person’s skills better that way.”

Nathan says that good practice includes reminding candidates how the interview will be conducted (for example, by phone or by Zoom) and sending a reminder before the interview is due to start.

What Are Your Recruitment Challenges?

Many companies don’t have the time or resources to recruit effectively. Consequently, they post underperforming job ads on job boards and expect great results.

The truth is that most of the best candidates for software engineering and tech jobs aren’t actively seeking a new job. When combined with the talent shortage, it is little wonder that hiring for skilled software engineers is so challenging.

“When we work with a client, we go the extra mile to get candidates” attention and engage them with new exciting startups,” Nathan says.

“We prescreen candidates to make sure our clients are only speaking to candidates who meet all qualifications and expectations. We can facilitate all the interview scheduling, so you don’t have to worry about admin work. We also give you insight into where else candidates are interviewing and the best way to secure them before competition does.”

In conclusion, to hire great software engineers:

  • Widen your search and consider remote talent
  • Get a specialized staffing agency to do the heavy lifting of hiring

Are you finding it hard to hire the talent you need to take your business to the next level? To benefit from the Kofi Group experience, get in touch with Kofi Group today.