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Hiring past the first developer

Your company is growing, which means you need to hire again- but you don't have to do it on your own. 

Cal Evans

May 3, 2022 1:11:00 PM

Your first developer hire

You’ve built out your company to the point where you need to hire your first software developer. Congratulations! You found the right person, and they are now busy taking your idea and moving it towards MVP. The problem is that issues and opportunities pop up faster than they can react. Your developer can either chase the shiny or focus on the product. Either way, things are lost. You need more help.

Your second developer hire

How much different is hiring your second developer than the first? Very. First of all, you aren’t trying to do it all by yourself. Chances are, hiring your first developer was a solo experience. If you were lucky, you had an HR professional or a hiring partner like Gun.io. Everyone else had to figure it out themselves. 

The second thing that is different is that when you hired your first developer, you simply said something like, “Get it working”, “Fix it”, or “Get the prototype working”. You laid out the vision, but then turned them loose to figure out what the next steps were. With developer n+1 you need to be more prepared. The first thing you do after they accept the offer is put together their first project.

Yes, an onboarding process would help, but for a developer, having something to immediately sink their teeth into is imperative when getting them settled into the job. Work with your existing developer to find a piece that someone with little institutional knowledge can successfully complete. 

Once your developer has their work environment up and running, introduce them to the product that they will be working on, and give them their project. Don’t expect them to simply understand and start coding. They will have questions. Your current developer needs to understand this: Their role will change, as they will be the new hire’s guide until they get going.

Your third developer hire

Wow, you are really moving forward quickly! Now your little development team of two just can’t get it done, no matter how many hours they work. Maybe they like a specific skill, or maybe there’s just too much to do. No matter why, you are ready to hire your third developer. 

Your very first step is an incredibly important one, and you skip it at your own peril. Talk to hire #2 about the onboarding process. Find out where they struggled, and fix those mistakes. You aren’t going to get it right in the beginning. If you are willing to learn from those you hire, you will eventually get it right.

The next thing you need to do before you hire developer #3 is to check your lines of communication. 

  • With just you and a developer, you can pick up a phone or pop into a channel.
  • With you and 2 developers, the conversation in a channel is manageable. Everyone still gets all the information.
  • At 4 people, the lines of communication start to get more complicated. There will be private channels and selective sharing of information. Maybe not on purpose, but some people will be left out. Before you make hire #3, talk to the existing team, and make sure they understand the problem and how to solve it.

 

At this point, you are also going to have to start managing people, if you haven’t already. Be prepared for things like:

  • Quarterly reviews
  • Annual reviews
  • 1:1 

 

Congratulations, you have a software development team–but that means that if you were a developer at one point, you are now approaching the point of uselessness as a developer for this team. Focus your energies on managing the people and the project, and let the people you hired carry the load.

Wrap Up

Building a development team is a fun and scary proposition. In many cases, you don’t set out to build a team–you just set out to get some help. Before you know it, you have a team, and they are all looking to you for direction.

Understand from the beginning that by hiring a developer, you are starting a development team. Once you have accepted this reality, you can begin to act accordingly. It may be that your next hire is not a developer, but a team leader. If you aren’t comfortable or interested in leading the team, quickly find someone who is.

Hiring is always a time-consuming process. Finding a partner to help you with the process will speed things along and cut the time between you realizing you need help and actually getting the help you need. Gun.io is the partner you need. Our talent acquisition team consists entirely of active software developers who know how to vet other developers. We do all of the legwork for you, so all you have to do is pick the right candidate. Contact us when you are ready to hire developer #1, #2, #3, or your next team lead. We would love to help.

Learn more

 

Written By:

Cal Evans

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