How To: Hire Your First Software Engineer

Medium, Airbnb, Quora, Slack, Buffer, Snapchat…

These startup success stories were able to be written thanks to hiring choices made in the early days of those companies. Without the appropriate technical talent to execute on a nascent startup idea, very few startups are able to get off the ground.

Finding your initial engineer can be the critical step to turning your abstract idea into a concrete reality.

The successful startups listed above – and other countless household names – succeeded by overcoming common challenges that startups face when looking for their first technical team members. 

Let’s dig a little deeper into those challenges to give you an idea of what to look out for when it comes to attracting the right tech talent for your startup.

1. Assessing technical ability

Startup founders vary in terms of the technical knowledge that they possess. Some founders are able build the initial proof of concept themselves, while others can easily build the idea and business model.

For most founders it’s difficult to assess the technical ability of candidates and they have to place a lot of trust in the correct recruitment channel. Unfortunately, many of these avenues can offer candidates which aren’t the best fit, take a significant hit on the budget, and can even take weeks instead of days. This can make the early days of a startup incredibly tough.

Even if a founder does have the technical abilities, it can be difficult for them to be heavily involved in the recruitment process given the range of responsibilities that they have.

It’s important that startups are able to find a trusted source of technical talent which will match them with the best candidates based on their needs, won’t break the bank, and will only take a few days to hire. But it’s not all about technical ability…

2. Identifying and attracting inspired collaborators

In the early days startups are fueled by coffee, passion, and the wild but courageous attempt to convert an idea into reality.

Your team has to be ready for the challenge.

When it comes to finding a founding engineer, you’ll be looking for proven experience and technical ability.

It’s important to understand that your founding engineers are so much more than people there to execute product features and fix bugs – they’re part of the team and you need to find founding team members who can feed on your enthusiasm and create it too.

They create part of your culture.

The culture at a startup is initially shaped by the founding team members. The values, beliefs, and rituals of the company all come from them and the way initial hires interact with that culture will determine how the company grows going forward.

That isn’t to say you should just look for “yes” people: you want to find true collaborators who are inspired by your project. If you can find a founding engineering who interacts constructively with the culture you’re trying to build, you’ll feel the benefit as your company grows.

3. Sharing the vision

We’ve all heard the statistics that say nine in ten startups will fail. From issues with market need to competition, there are lots of reasons for this high number.

The third most common – identified by 23% of failed startups – is having the wrong team.

There is no underestimating just how important the right team members are to a successful startup.

Finding the right founding team members can be particularly difficult for startups, though, given that potential hires are taking a gamble by working with them. Some engineers have their eyes set on roles at the gigantic tech companies and attracting them to your cause can be difficult.

This is why it’s so important that you’re able to articulate your vision.

Properly clarifying your vision is an important part of getting buy-in from the best in the industry. If you can wholeheartedly and transparently share your vision and it resonates with a potential hire, you will have found a long-term and motivated team member.

4. Hiring with the right tools

You’ve identified the need to hire your first engineer, but you’re not sure where to start. 

Accelerator and incubator programs like Techstars are a great way to get your idea off the ground and build your founding team.

Through the Techstars Worldwide Entrepreneur Network, founders and their teams connect with other entrepreneurs, experts, mentors, alumni, investors, community leaders, and corporate partners who will help their companies grow.

At Code Pilot, we have created a platform which helps to match the right engineer with the right team. This process is based upon what matters most: a candidate’s talent and ability. The Code Pilot platform analyzes hundreds of data points both technically and behaviorally over the full career history of an engineer ensuring founders & candidates are matched based on compatibility. 

Special Techstars offer

After spending the week at Techstars FounderCon 2018, it’s our pleasure to extend a special offer to our friends within the Techstars Worldwide Network – hire your first engineer on the Code Pilot platform FREE.

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