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Grow Your Team

Tom and Jason
August 19, 2016

So you've read Part 1 and decided to bring your first developer in-house.

There has been a lot of hype about the war for tech talent over the past few years and although it is a touch exaggerated, there is truth at the core. Supply has not yet caught up with the sudden explosion of demand. Some elite programmers now have agents like rock stars and command breathtaking hourly rates.

With cashed-up tech giants like Google & Apple luring good coders like moths to a flame, what is a small but ambitious company to do?

Culture First

Hiring your next teammate, whether a techie or an intern should have you deep diving into introspection (beware: can result in existential angst), searching for the why? of your business rather than the 'what?' or the 'how?'.

Yes, your 'rock star' might have built the 'like' function at Facebook or co-written the algorithm for Google Penguin, but if they don't fit your culture and subscribe to your mission, you're wasting your time.

Finding the cultural fit is by far and away the most important part of the process and should be the highest hurdle for any prospective suitor.

So in the words of DHH, make sure they 'kill the cover letter''.

Ask the Right Questions

You've posted your job advert on Stack Overflow, made an appearance at your local user group or sponsored a conference and you've bedded in at your local hipster café ready for back-to-back coffees/Skype conversations with all the awesome devs you've met, but what are you gonna ask them?

If your earlier introspection was fruitful, you've hopefully identified some key traits that your next hire should personify. Here are some that are important to us:

Trust, Responsibility & Reliability

As a 'remote first' team, these are the 3 pillars that we lean on, and heavily. We need to know our teammates will do what they say and say what they do. Without these pillars, remote just doesn't work.

Workhorses

We're a small, but hugely ambitious team. Rather than speculation and pontification, we need action. We look out for people willing and ready to roll-up their sleeves, get stuck in and make things work.

Mountaineers

When you're standing at the bottom of the mountain, you need a team who see the summit and are excited by the journey, not frozen with fear at the perils. They may not fully understand the challenges at the beginning, but that's OK. They'll become more pragmatic and most importantly stay positive and optimistic for the duration.

Astronauts

The tech industry is fast paced and obsolescence is rife. You need people who are thirsty to learn, challenge themselves and shoot for the stars even if they crash and burn from time-to-time. Astronauts will continue to add value and keep you relevant.

Lazers

As a precious resource, the tech team will be inundated with questions, tasks and challenges from all sides. There are lots of asynchronous work flows and it's really easy to pick something up and not see it through to completion. Find people who finish what they start. Lazers have focus and discipline.

Warriors

Small businesses need fighters. Find teammates who you're willing to go into battle with, who believe in the cause and are ready to fight for it.

What about those questions? Build on the characteristics you've identified to construct questions that will help you match the key traits to those of the person in-front of you. We recommend you discuss past experiences and challenges to remove speculation and get more quantitative, honest answers.

Tech Stack

You've got the girl for the job. She's a total match. Smart, fun, ambitious, winner! Now on to the box ticking.

What tech stack do you use?
How many years of experience are you after?
Need an all-rounder or a specialist?
Is this a team lead or first through the door position?

Make sure you know what you need and are clear on exactly what they're going to do when they join the team.

Tech Test

Tech tests are always controversial. We don't like them. They're abstract and are rarely representative of the job at hand. If they're done remotely, they're hard to control and if they're done in a controlled environment, they're surreal at best.

Arrange a time to spend a day pair programming, on real projects with real tasks. You'll have a much better understanding of their skill level and more importantly, you'll get to learn how they work.

90% of the time, the pairing session is a formality. If they're a cultural fit and they've got the smarts, they're on the team.

Fill The Gap

Finding good people is tough, but they're worth the effort, so take your time.

If you've got a burning itch for a new project or have a resource deficit, why not give us a call, whilst you find the perfect fit.

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