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5 Easy Steps: How to Hire a Remote Developer in 2020

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Written by Flying Saucer Studio

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Remote Work: The Future of Employment


As a fully-remote marketing agency, we’re a business that’s constantly looking to improve the way we effectively hire and manage remote employees. At the start, it was a bit of a bumpy ride with plenty of trial and error, especially when working out how to hire a remote developer.

But now? We hire remotely with ease, relying on our years of experience and all those lessons we’ve learned along the way. So if you’re just starting out – allow us to give you a helping hand. Let’s talk about hiring remote developers and how to make that entire process easier.

To start, let’s first make sure your organization is ready for a new, remote developer.

Step #1: Get Your Business Remote-Ready

If you’ve already got several remote team members, feel free to skip this step. On the other hand, if you’re hiring a remote employee for the first time, take a moment to make sure you’ve got everything in place before you sign that employee contract.

Successfully working remotely means having communication, collaboration, and project management tools in place. For hiring developers specifically, you’ll likely need:

  • A code repository solution like Bitbucket or Git.
  • A document sharing service like Google Docs.
  • Project management tools like Trello, Monday, or Jira.
  • Direct messaging tools like Slack (we use this heavily).
  • A video call solution like Google Hangouts, Zoom, or Whereby.

Don’t get us wrong, email is great and you can get a lot done over a regular phone call, but these tools will make your life a hundred times easier. Take a look at each and figure out which  ones make the most sense for you.

Step #2: Define what you’re looking for

Developers come in all shapes and sizes. Like video game characters, each will have their own unique skills and abilities. Who, or what, are you looking for?

It’s a good idea, before you write your job description, to list everything you’ll need from your new hire. What part of your website, app, or digital product will they be working on? Will you primarily need backend help? Or are you looking for a more visually-gifted code monkey who can get your site working as well as it looks? If you have specific coding, or language requirements, now’s a good time to include those on the list too.

While you’re at it, you’ll also want to think about how you’re planning to structure the relationship. At Flying Saucer Studio, our team members are all free to work on flexible schedules – but that may not work for you! Decide whether you’ll need a full-time commitment from your new developer, or if you’re comfortable working on a per-project basis.

Then, once you’ve got everything defined and written down, it’s time to write the ad…

Step #3: Write a killer job description

You know what the secret to attracting great talent is? Writing an awesome job description.

The thing is, the best developers aren’t applying to every job post. Instead, they’re looking for a company that truly speaks to them: a place where they can do great things, work with fun people, and never have to worry about the pay. To get the best team members to apply, you’ll need to successfully demonstrate all of the above through your job description.

Some things to communicate with your job ad:

  • The specific languages and frameworks you expect candidates to be familiar with.
  • A rough idea of the kinds of projects they’ll be working on.
  • The time commitment you’ll need from them (full time, part time, or flex?).
  • How they’ll be paid (salary, retainer, hourly, per-project, etc.).
  • Any additional perks that come with the position.
  • A request for a portfolio or relevant work samples.

You’ll also want to ensure you’re using language that communicates what life is like at your company. Consult your branding documents and tone of voice guidelines as you write. Remember, the best talent can work anywhere, but often choose the workplace with the best corporate culture, not the highest salary. Make sure the ‘feel’ of your company shines through every sentence of your ad.

When it’s done, post it anywhere great developers can be found. We suggest LinkedIn, AngelList, or WeWorkRemotely. You may also want to try posting on your company Twitter or Facebook pages as well.

Then, sit back and prepare to be flooded by a torrent of applications.

 

Step #4: Interview the best of the best

Working remotely is becoming increasingly popular. These days, 14% of companies are fully remote, with a whopping 40% describing themselves as a hybrid between onsite and offshore. In response to this, the job market is full of candidates looking for remote work, especially when it comes to digital work, like development.

In your case, this means you’ll probably end up with more candidates than you could ever hope to interview. Make your life a little more bearable by vetting each candidate and only scheduling interviews with the best talent. You’ll want to limit your selection to developers who:

  • Personalized their cover letter and resume.
    If it looks like copy-and-paste, they probably aren’t as interested in the position as you’d like them to be. Look for devs who’ve gone the extra mile by mentioning things they liked about your job description, company, or the work you’ve done in the past.

  • Have a track record of creative problem solving. Take a look at each candidate’s work samples (you did ask for samples, right?) and try to spot out-of-the-box thinking in their solutions. Not all projects run smoothly, and you’ll need that kind of creativity in order to successfully keep everything on track.
  • Have experience working remotely.
    Hey, this remote thing isn’t for everyone. Long hours isolated and without any kind of direct supervision – that can be hard. Ideally, you’ll want to hire someone who’s already familiar with the challenges of remote work. Look for evidence of this in their resume and work samples.

With that said, there’s obviously only so much you can figure out from reading a resume. So once you’ve found a shortlist of candidates who stand out, it’s time to schedule an interview and truly get to know your applicants.

 

Step #5 Bite the bullet

Congratulations. You’ve found the one. The mac to your cheese. The peanut butter to your jelly. Now all you need to do is bite the bullet and hire them.

Over the years, we’ve found that hiring a remote developer works a lot better when you have three things in place: a detailed contract, a rock solid on-boarding process, and a clearly-defined evaluation process. These three things will make it easier for you to quickly get your new hire on track and feeling like part of the team, as well as help you quickly determine if you made the right choice. Here’s how we recommend you structure each of the above:

  • The contract.
    Similar to a regular employee contract, you’ll want to define roles, responsibilities, salary, and other expectations. However, because this is a remote position, make sure you specifically define how much time and availability you require from your employee
  • The on-boarding.

Get your new hire up to speed by putting together a smart onboarding process. You’ll want to get them familiar with who does what in your organization, how they’ll be communicating with everyone, and what’s expected from them when it comes time to deliver. You’ll also want to get them set up with all the passwords and logins required for whichever tools they’ll be using.

  • The evaluation. 

How do you know if you made the right choice? These days, it’s almost a cliché to live by the mantra of “hire slow, fire fast,” but it’s exactly what we recommend. After a month, think about what quality standards are most important to you in a remote employee and determine whether your new hire is meeting them. Better to hire again than spend months dealing with subpar work.

However, perhaps the most important thing to consider when hiring a remote developer is that they feel welcome and appreciated. Culture is huge, and more than anything you’ll want to ensure you’re fostering a friendly, supportive environment where your new hire can grow. This is even more crucial when you’re hiring remote workers.

At Flying Saucer Studio, we spend 20–30 minutes on a team phone call every week where we’re free to shoot the breeze about anything and everything. No work talk, just people being people. It’s perhaps the most important phone call we have each week! Because here, our super talented people are the real reason we’re able to do so many awesome things for our clients. We hope your organization is the same.

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Until next time!

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