A software house is the type of company that relies completely on the strength of its employees. If you manage to hire the best developers from such a competitive job market, you know you’ve almost made it.
Any success we’ve had so far in our 7+ years business journey can be attributed to our remarkable specialists and their experience — not only in coding, but also in one of our two domains — blockchain and bioinformatics. We’d like to say that finding them was hard, but that wouldn't be entirely truthful. In fact, once we’ve become the kind of organization we are today and implemented a set of practices as a result of a lot of trial and error, attracting the right teammates got fairly easy.
Recognizing the value of a good developer
When you’re trying to decide who should take your project into their hands, it’s easy to get lost in offers, budgets, sales talks etc. A lot of clients facing the choice, after the initial confirmation of tech stack and skills fit move on from anything that has to do with actual coding to the more shining stuff like portfolio, estimations etc. And who wouldn’t? It’s quite nice to focus on these things because they give us a (somewhat false) sense of security. After all, if the software house did so great with a given company from my industry, they’ll do just as well with mine, right? Well, it’s a good indicator for sure, but not necessarily always the case.
Why? Because the foundation of the project — the development team and developers themselves — might be long gone by now. With the high rotation that characterizes the IT job market it’s not uncommon for specialists to leave their employer after only a few months of coding. Hence, unknowingly, you might have nothing to do with the winning crew and their talent.
We educate our clients about this problem and place a great importance on our programmers’ skills and experience. Realizing that they are the absolute core and driving force of our business was the first step into implementing all the other actions that help us find, attract, hire and, most importantly, keep our best specialists for years. We put a lot of effort into caring for our team mates, but even when people do leave the company, there are knowledge transfer practices implemented to make sure that everything is documented and passed on.
Narrowing your services down to specific industries is the new black in software development. It allows you to extend the care you provide to your customers with valuable domain knowledge and high quality experience. Not only that, but it also translates into more interested job candidates. Many of them have additional interests on top of programming they’d like to focus on in their career and it’s also a great way to distinguish yourself from the competition.
We often hear from our co-workers that what initially attracted them to the job offer or stood-out during the interview was the mention of our expertise areas. They were certain that it’d protect them from being drawn into mundane projects that wouldn’t benefit their professional growth on top of being mostly repetitive work. How do we make that possible? By focusing on quality over quantity. We don’t want to scale our business up, but rather continue using our talent to deliver the best services and keep personal relationships with our clients. After a moment of very intense growth we’ve realized that developing the company sustainably over time works better for us. This approach also allows our developers to hone their skills and become better at their job without the pressure of constant changes.
Being a teal organization pre-defines possessing certain characteristics and values, eg. flexibility, transparency and agility. The approach teal companies take towards their employees and structures is extremely inviting and attractive for the candidates, especially in the IT business (full of intelligent people who aren’t really into following orders blindly and want to feel well at their workplace).Being able to make decisions affecting the entire organization, steer one’s development path independently and the feeling of profound respect and equality between colleagues is even more important than the money. In this industry, if you enter the job market as an employer and make the salary your only competitive advantage when hiring people, you’ve already lost.
The values that guide us were identified by the members of our organization. You can see them all reflected in the way we engage new employees:
- self-organization means that the candidates have a degree of influence on the way the recruitment process works,
- transparency ensures that they are always informed about what’s going on and things aren't looking better on paper than they are in reality,
- a can-do attitude is actively searched for during the interview — we want to see the candidates' enthusiasm,
- responsibility is presented by keeping self-imposed deadlines,
- respect comes through in every aspect of our communication with the candidates.
Rather than coming up with a set of rules and a stiff process, we take a more individual approach to our candidates. It’s possible because we’re a small team (25 people as of January 2021) and there’s essentially just one person responsible for all HR matters — yours truly. Obviously we get a lot of support from the organization, especially from Adrian, our CEO, who’s in touch with all of our clients. However, the lack of complicated structures, prolonged processes, hiring outsourcing and aggressive automation means that the whole company and the candidate are on the same page and the communication stays efficient as there are no bottlenecks.
There are also no stiff rules on any of the recruitment steps. We simply can’t afford to set them — when you go out to get the best specialists who often pursue a scientific career on top of their professional engagements (and have a full-time job when they contact us), imposing a two days deadline for a task seems ridiculous. Usually we suggest a week and ask the candidate for feedback. They obviously don’t know what the specifics are so it’s hard for them to make an estimation but it’s a good time to let us know about planned holidays or overtime at work. Making individual arrangements with the candidates allows us to see how good they are at planning their workload and sticking to the schedule which is obviously very important once they get to work with our clients.
This flexibility applies to all the steps, not only the domain knowledge task. Being a relatively small and agile company allows us to tweak our process continuously. Actually, even while working on this article I came up with a few small ways to improve it (and we’ve managed to implement the changes to the process before it goes live). That’s what distinguishes us from not only corporations, but also medium-sized software companies, which most likely have a few people on their HR team, a manager and other entities that all take part in the decision making.
Hopefully, this explains how we go about selecting the specialists that’ll take your project into their hands. In the next part of this HR series, we’ll take you even further down the road, showing the step-by-step of our recruitment and onboarding process. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about our developers and what they can do for you, don’t hesitate to schedule a free consultation call with our CEO Adrian.