How do I find a good programmer

Finding a Programmer: How to Hire the Right One

Do you have tons of ideas for digital projects, but no capable people to implement them? As a medium-sized company, you will also find competent programmers.

As the boss, you don't even know where to start: The company website from 2012 is to be completely rebuilt, the customer database is not flexible enough and then you have a great idea for an online shop. One thing is clear: the company needs a developer - whether permanently employed or on a fee basis. These six questions will help even IT laypeople to get a competent programmer into the team.

1. What do I have to consider so that the programmer suits my company?

Web developer, database specialist or mobile programmer: Just as you shouldn't go to the ophthalmologist with a broken arm, you should also pay attention to the programmer: Does he have the right skills that my company needs?

Once you have made it clear which know-how the programmer should bring, the question arises: should I look for a freelancer or a permanent employee? If you just want to redesign your website, you usually don't need a permanent developer. “A freelancer can take on such one-off tasks,” says digital expert Thorben Fasching, Vice President of the Federal Association of the Digital Economy (BVWD). According to a global survey by the Internet platform Stack Overflow in 2018, however, most developers (a good two thirds) are permanently employed.

Often companies need permanent support from a developer: "Anyone who generates at least ten to 20 percent of their sales through the digital presence should employ a developer on a permanent basis," said Thorben Fasching after working with companies that focus more on digital products put. "Because if a freelancer works, so does his digital know-how."

2. What does a competent developer cost?

If you are looking for a programmer for your website, according to the salaries website Glassdoor pays up to 52,000 euros per year for a front-end developer in a permanent position (below senior level). For freelancers with the same focus, “you can count on an hourly rate of 80 to 100 euros,” explains Fasching.

According to a study by, a job exchange for software developers, the national average for experienced software developers (more than eight years of professional experience) is 63,200 euros per year. For young professionals, the annual salary is 44,700 euros.

3. Where should I look?

Very few developers are actively looking for a job. They are in great demand on the job market and can usually choose their employer. However, they are difficult to grasp on well-known job portals such as Xing and LinkedIn, according to the results of the Stack Overflow survey. Henrik Zaborowski, recruiting specialist in IT, agrees: "Many people write in their online profiles on developer platforms that they are not looking for a job because they are so annoyed by all the inquiries."

How do you get a good programmer anyway? “Personnel consultants and recruiters help. There are also various websites such as Talentwunder and Hello Talent that promise access to developers, ”says Zaborowski. He also recommends including your own employees in the search. Perhaps your employees know developer friends or are well networked in their communities?

4. How does the contact work?

You can network unobtrusively on Stack Overflow and GitHub, both developer communities. "If someone is very active on Stack Overflow and helps other users to solve problems, this is an indication of their skills," says Fasching. You can check whether a user is from your area by checking their profile.

The IT job portal 4Scotty or Get-In-It are suitable for direct recruiting. Zaborowski recommends: Describe the work environment as specifically as possible in job advertisements. What does the company's offices look like? Which colleagues work there? What is the company's history and vision? "If too many questions remain unanswered after reading a job posting, there is little chance that a developer will actually apply."

The application process should be as low-threshold as possible for the developer. “We once set up a callback service together with a job posting. Initially, applicants did not have to submit any application documents, they only had to state: I am interested. We called her then. That was extremely well received, ”says Zaborowski. What can entrepreneurs take away from it? To avoid that applicants drop out: "Call a developer directly when he answers a job advertisement, or send an email to make an appointment."

5. What questions do I ask in the interview?

The Stack Overflow survey shows: There are hardly any developers with many years of professional experience. In any case, the quality of the coding should be more important than the résumé: “Ask technical questions,” advises Zaborowski. If you have IT-savvy employees, take them along in the conversation. These can help with detailed questions where the know-how is otherwise lacking. And the applicant immediately gains an impression of his new colleagues.

Put together framework conditions for the work environment

“Does a developer need a long leash or daily exchange? You should go through such questions as early as possible, ”says the recruiting specialist. Make sure you clarify your ideas about the workplace: Which computer and which operating system does the developer need? To what extent would he like to be involved in the rest of the team, for example would he like to work in an open-plan office or would he rather work from home?

Also ask questions about his private ambitions

“How do you do your private training?”, “Do you take online courses or do you like to attend Hackatons? - such questions help to better assess an IT expert. And establish a connection to your company: What further training opportunities does the applicant hope for in the company?

Knock off leadership skills

Fasching advises anyone planning to expand their digital department should also ask about management skills: Has the applicant already done development work in the team? Does the candidate feel empowered to lead a team or manage long-term projects?

Also read: These 8 mistakes bosses can avoid in job interviews

6. How can I make my company attractive to a good programmer?

Numerous companies court developers. How do you manage to stand out from the crowd?

Don't skimp on additional services

“Developers often have special requirements that are otherwise rather unusual on the job market. Some insist on taking off every second Friday, bringing the dog with you or working mainly in the home office. The standard employment contract no longer applies, ”said Fasching. The Stack Overflow survey also shows that being able to work from home is the top priority for every tenth developer.

Open up creative freedom for ideas

Fasching sees potential for medium-sized companies to shine: “Many developers are interested in an exciting task. Medium-sized companies are therefore particularly attractive to good developers. Often there is still no digital department, no mature digital product and a programmer can have a lot of say in which infrastructure should be built. "

Make sure you have the right technology in the workplace

Programmers attach great importance to functional technology that is technologically state-of-the-art. It is therefore important to set up the workplace correctly. It is best to agree directly with the developer or an IT consultant which hardware and software is important for the work.

Offer opportunities for further training

Developers want to continue their education. Ninety percent of those surveyed in the Stack Overflow survey taught themselves a new tool or programming language. Allow enough time for this. Hackatons, i.e. coding competitions, also offer opportunities to acquire know-how that can later be of use to your company. (Read here: When the state supports further training for employees)

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The Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2018 has captured the voices of software developers worldwide - from database administrators to backend developers. It thus forms a cross-section of the industry and is a good source of information for entrepreneurs to understand what makes developers tick and which type they want to bring into the company.