What Every Business Should Know About Hiring Freelance Developers

This article is a guest post by Irina Papuc from Toptal.

Given how important hiring a solid developer is for most businesses, it’s surprising that employers don’t put more effort into figuring out how to get the best software engineer for the job. The quality of your developer can make or break your project. At the very least, a bad developer can set you back days, if not weeks or months.

A good developer on the other hand, can help your project stay on track, and can offer helpful suggestions that might make your product even better than you expected. Knowing how to find a developer who will carry out your project correctly and efficiently is key for any tech business. While not every single one of these guidelines will apply in every single situation, they’re great tips for those looking to make their software projects a reality.

Plan Ahead

You don’t need to know what every facet of your product will look like, but all of the general ideas and some of the more important details should be worked out. If you’re building a web browser, what are the different components going to be? Are you going to be connecting your browser to any databases? If you’re building an app, what are its main features going to be? A good developer can help you fill in the blanks, and some of the content might only take shape once the development stage has begun, but in order to find an appropriate developer, you need to be able to pitch them a coherent and feasible project.

Use a Website

It’s almost impossible to find the right developer for your job without some outside help. There are dozens of websites that help match employers with developers for a small commission or set fee. The websites have a range of costs and benefits, so it’s important to know what you want. On one side of the spectrum, you have free sites such as Reddit, where you can post your job specifications and hope that a good developer responds. While the benefit is that it’s (obviously) free, the downside is that you have no way of knowing whether anyone will respond and, if they do, whether they’re any good at their job.

A better option is to use a site like Toptal, which sorts through its network of developers to find ones with skills suited to your needs. Toptal is really useful if you need a top-notch developer since everyone in its network undergoes a rigorous vetting process that includes personality and language screens, live skills tests and practice projects.

Don’t Ignore Fit

Just because a freelance developer might be working remotely or part-time doesn’t mean that you can ignore how they fit into your larger team. If their habits or personality don’t mesh well with yours or those of your other employees, then no matter how talented they are, they might not get the work done as well as possible.

An added benefit of considering the fit of your developers is that those who work well in your office environment are more likely to stay on for longer or additional projects. If developers really like your office culture, there’s also a higher chance they’ll recommend friends who are also developers to you, thereby helping you expand your talent pool.

Slow Down

Unless you need your app to be completed in the next few days (which is a scenario you should do your very best to avoid), you shouldn’t rush when hiring a developer. The extra time you spend ensuring that you’re really getting the best person for the job will be rewarded with excellence and efficiency. This is exponentially more true when hiring a team of developers rather than just a single software engineer.

If you hire too quickly, you run the risk of getting a team that doesn’t work well together and whose skills don’t complement each other, as well as potentially several developers whose personalities don’t match your work environment. In such situations, you’ll be left with the two subpar options of either firing half your team in the middle of development or toughing it out with inferior developers. Do yourself a favor and hire developers one or two at a time to make sure that they mesh well together.

Break it Up

If your idea is fairly simple, then it might only require one stage. If it’s more complex, though, and you’d like to consider potential adjustments and improvements at every stage, it’s often a good idea to break your product into smaller stages so that evaluate its progress at each step, and so that you can accommodate unforeseen costs or additions. You might even want to consider making your first stage a separate job so that you can judge different developers’ twists on your ideas, and get an idea of whether they’ll be able to carry out the whole thing in a way that will leave you satisfied.

  • Chad Polley

    Skill test. Skill testing is vital. There are a lot of bad developers out there. Sure you can ignore them by only hiring from Toptal, but I suspect that the developers there get loads of offers and you might not be able to find someone. This is when remote coding test platforms, like TestDome, come in handy. Hire someone from anywhere, and evaluate their skills before hand. No fuss, no muss. Easy peasy.