How to hire, engage and retain remote developers for your software development project
February 6, 2024
Remote developers have long since been the norm – well before remote work environments were normalised and embraced by organisations that otherwise were only open to functioning in conventional brick and mortar office spaces. As virtual offices skyrocket in popularity, remote developers have once again come to the fore, especially when it comes to software outsourcing.
With remote developers based all over the world, how is the average business to discern candidates that are suitable, from those that aren’t? In this article, we shed light on the hallmark characteristics of a competent remote developer, how businesses can shortlist and select the right one, as well as what software outsourcing companies can do for you to make this process easier.
The best characteristics of competent remote developers
Technical expertise in programming
As with any other job description, remote developers need to be adept in the programming language and/or framework they claim to specialise in. So whether your team is hiring a Python developer or a project manager with extensive programming skills, knowing which technical skills are required shall help hiring teams shortlist candidates that only fit those requirements, in order to ensure a suitable candidate is eventually hired.
Clear and thorough communication is an essential for life in general – including work of any kind, irrespective of industry. Likewise, the IT outsourcing industry is no exception, especially where quick thinking is required when time is short, or in the wake of an emergency such as a cyber breach.
With distance added to this mix, communication becomes all the more imperative. As a result, remote developers need to be skilled at listening intently and providing useful feedback – else risk losing out on team collaboration that could possibly break the project at hand.
Agile decision-making abilities
Top software companies in Sri Lanka are constantly inundated with requests to scale up or down; from seasonal fluctuations to cyber attacks, bottlenecks across teams could be a common occurrence. Especially where time is of the essence, your remote developers need to make quick decisions that do not compromise on business values or objectives.
While this is a skill that often comes from experience, junior developers need to still show positive traits pertaining to wise decision making during their day-to-day duties, in order to be team members that others know they can rely on for crucial tasks.
The confidence to work autonomously
Autonomy is one of the key reasons why most people are enticed to work remotely. While many yearn for autonomy through remote work, it isn’t as easy in practice, especially as physical isolation can make many feel like they’re working in the dark.
In order to counteract this, remote developers need to have the confidence to make smaller decisions within their own purview, while taking into consideration what fellow team members and managers may be expecting from their work.
In turn, this lets overarching teams and management know that their remote coworker can be depended on without being given too much supervision; simply assign the task and await submission, on or before the deadline.
How to select the best remote developers for your own business/software development project
Build your job requirements
Building a specific set of job requirements is the expected first step prior to any headhunt, without a doubt. While building your job ad, involve existing team members from your software development team (particularly existing developers and project managers, as they are bound to have the best insight in terms of the skills that are lacking) to build a list of job criteria that candidates need to fulfil, in order to ensure only relevant people make it past the initial screening stage.
Assess for technical and practical skills
After conducting one set of interviews, your pool of candidates is further bound to narrow down, based on the quality of answers provided, as well as any positive soft skills that were noticed in due course. Now, it’s time to further assess these candidates’ skills; while an assignment is mainly set to identify how technically sound a candidate may be, build assignments that can also simultaneously assess cognitive thinking, decision making and autonomy. This way, your candidates will only have to face one round of extra assessments – while also making it easy for your team at the same time.
Of course, condensing assessment rounds to just one may not be possible in all cases. However where possible, this can help reduce the time it takes to hire a new remote developer, and therefore increase turnarounds for your project. Again, decide if this is viable with your team, and take necessary steps accordingly.
Monitor and evaluate performance regularly
Once assessments conclude and relevant candidates have successfully passed the test, shortlisting may further happen, where only candidates who are eventually selected are offered the job. Following initial onboarding and induction, your remote developers need to exhibit the skills that are essential to not only build great code, but also be consistent contributors to the rest of the team.
Whether this happens via engaging in strategy discussions, or simply improving through constructive feedback that may be provided on existing work, the efficiency and reliability quotients of your newly hired remote developers can be determined with better precision. Additionally, conducting regular performance evaluations can further formalise positive traits, while noting areas of improvement.
What software outsourcing companies can do to assist with hiring remote developers for your project
Partnering with a software outsourcing company can provide the advantage of an end-to-end service, which will include complete software development, as well as hiring, managing and retaining talent for various development needs. Likewise, if your software development project is outsourced, your outsourcing partner can do all the hard work of headhunting, assessments and any other administrative functions, leaving your business teams to focus more on the strategic parts of the hiring process.
This includes providing the go-ahead for job ads that have been built, subsequent hiring budgets, as well as appearing for interviews to gauge compatibility from a company’s value and culture standpoint. In all of these ways, software outsourcing companies can therefore make the whole process of software development all the more easy, as your teams need only focus on areas that truly require strategic and/or analytical attention.
Hiring remote developers offer software development teams numerous advantages, especially without having to worry about physical space as well as equipment in order to enable employee duties. However, hiring the right candidate may feel overwhelming, especially as popular job boards feature a vast array of ads that may prove to be competitive with that of your own.
As a result, some key tips your business teams can adhere to in order to make hiring remote developers a success include:
Crafting precise job requirements and expectations,
Assessing hard and soft skills during the hiring process,
Utilising the services of a software outsourcing company.
These tips can help reduce the stress associated with hiring and retaining the remote developers you need, so your business teams can instead focus on what truly demands their expertise.
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Q1: Where can you find the best remote developers?
A: Your remote developer job hunt is best effective when professionals you trust i.e. colleagues, business partners or even other existing developers in your team provide referrals to professionals they personally know and trust to be competent.
However, if direct referrals aren’t an option, remote developers can be sourced through multiple other means - with the web being the most common and accessible. Posting job ads on social media or dedicated job boards can help garner attention from prospective candidates, so you and your team can then begin the assessment process from that point onwards.
Q2: Do remote developers cost less than in-house developers?
A: Remote developers will often cost less than their in-house counterparts as costs pertaining to office space as well as any other per diem expenses (if offered) will be alleviated from the arrangement. At the same time, remote developers will be afforded the convenience of working from any location they prefer, no matter where they are based in the world. This therefore makes hiring remote developers a win-win situation for both companies and the developers themselves.
Q3: Is language a barrier when it comes to considering remote developers for your business?
A: Differences in language and articulation from remote developers could only be a problem due to two main reasons:
1. Pre-hire assessments wouldn’t have been done comprehensively enough to determine any such lags,
2. Ground rules on communication (such as using specific communication tools for different tasks) may not have been established during the onboarding process.
In either case, it is imperative to inform your remote developer with regards to what is expected when it comes to communication. This can happen at any point in time, but is best addressed as soon as any problems are noticed.
If language barriers still exist and project performance or deadlines are being negatively impacted over a prolonged period, it may be time to reconsider the placement of your remote developer following a performance evaluation.