Building a great development team is not very complex, but it is darn difficult to do.  At Nearsoft, recruiting is one of our core competencies.  We are always doing it.  From finding great candidates, to hiring and keeping them.  Our clients are involved in the process and have the final word on hire/fire decisions, but we do all the heavy lifting.

Below are the top three “things” we have found to be key to growing a great, cohesive development team.

1. Culture

Developer jumping into a hand-made net held by other developers :)

Be real clear on what you want and don’t want,

  1. You want to hire people who fit well into your culture, with your existing team.
  2. You don’t want to hire a jerk, no matter how “brilliant” he might be technically.

This means that everybody involved in interviewing must be really clear on what your culture is and the values and principles that make it all work.  Then, they can look out for signs of whether or not the candidate will be a good fit or whether he’ll be toxic.

  • Commitment
  • Leadership
  • Long-term Relationships
  • Smart & Gets Things Done
  • Teamwork

At Nearsoft we reverse engineered the values that we live every day.

Throughout the interview process people watch out for how well the candidate already exhibits these values.  By the end of the process, we grade candidates on technology and cultural fit.  If they don’t get a passing grade in some technology aspect, we have a couple of programs to bring people up to snuff.  But if they come under the bar in cultural fit, we will not extend an offer, no matter how technically skilled, experienced, or “brilliant” the candidate is.

2. Interview Process

Create a robust, repeatable interview process, it will lead to consistent results.

We have built our interview process over time and have it pretty honed down by now. We’ve certainly made mistakes along the way, but that’s helped us improve the process over time.  The result is a robust, repeatable interviewing process that works.

3. Getting on Their Radar

Before you can interview them, you have to find them.  Better yet, they should find you.  And that means that the name of your company has to be out there and up there in the list of companies people want to join.

You have to show up online and offline.  You have to show up in as many venues as possible.  You have to have other people singing your graces and promoting you in a genuine way (i.e., paid ads are the least effective way to get known).

Once you have a steady stream of candidates coming in the door, then you can be more choosy in your hiring.  For example, we’ve recently done the math, and in the first four months of 2013, we went through 1,200 resumés in order to hire 14 people. That’s a lot of “frogs” that we had to kiss for every “prince” we end up hiring.

It helps that we have developed a pretty good name in our industry. As a sign of that, we have been ranked as a TOP 25 Great Place to Work companies for the last seven years. We’ve also been inducted into WorldBlu’s list of Most Democratic Workplaces for the last six. This kind of recognition works, it attracts people. Particularly, Sr people who are looking for a place to thrive.

In order to attract great people, you have to convince them that you have a great company where they can do meaningful work.  Why flock with turkeys, when you can soar with eagles?