12 Reasons You Struggle to Hire Software Developers

September 10, 2015

By Steve Mezak

hire software developersIf you are struggling to hire developers it may be because your company is failing the Joel Test. It’s a list of 12 things developers look for in a software development organization. How many of these are you doing (or not) at your company?

The Joel Test

  1. Do you use source control?
  2. Can you make a build in one step?
  3. Do you make daily builds?
  4. Do you have a bug database?
  5. Do you fix bugs before writing new code?
  6. Do you have an up-to-date schedule?
  7. Do you have a spec?
  8. Do programmers have quiet working conditions?
  9. Do you use the best tools money can buy?
  10. Do you have testers?
  11. Do new candidates write code during their interview?
  12. Do you do hallway usability testing?

More than 10 Yes answers are required for good developers to be interested in working for you.

Attracting Developers To You

Finding good software developers is critical for a software development organization. Competition in Silicon Valley is tough and many developers aim to work for Apple, Facebook or Google, all companies that will score a 12.

Developers are clever people. I remember interviewing one many years ago at one of my startups. I explained what we were doing, how our software was organized and a bit about our near and long-term goals. He said, “Well it sounds like you have everything so well organized I am not sure there is a fit for me. I work best in challenging situations.”

Like now, it was difficult to hire good developers then and I really wanted to hire this guy. So I opened up and told him about the biggest problems we had as an organization – the lack of clear specs, tight budgets, no QA, etc.

After he left I realized he manipulated me into airing our dirty laundry! And we engineers love to talk about problems! If he was using a Joel Test then our company failed and in any case I never heard from him again.

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What to Do if They Don't Pass the Joel Test

Not passing the Joel Test can delay your hiring and consequently your software release schedule.  But being able to say yes to all the questions also means you have a good handle on the software development process to begin with. It’s a big responsibility to create the right environment, processes and then hire great programmers to develop software. If you’re failing the Joel Test then root problem is a lack of software development experience in your management team… or even knowledge of what all twelve of the Joel Test questions mean.

You can hire that expertise in employees who manage the technical details of the software development process. Or you can outsource to a company that is focused on providing professional software development service. They deliver the promised value of outsourcing – hiring a company that delivers a service even better than you can with your own employees.

It takes six months to a year to create the proper software development environment and then to recruit and hire your own software development team. On your own, you can spend about the same amount of time carefully looking for a good software outsourcing partner.

Can your software outsourcing partner pass the Joel Test? They better! And also have proven processes for recruiting, training and retaining teams of developers. These are all aspects of the company and engineering culture required to deliver world-class software development services and to pass the Accelerance certification process.

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