If you’re creating a product or you’re an HR, hiring a team for a product — you might have asked this yourself many times. “How do I hire the proper developer?”, “What developer or company is right for my product?”. I don’t aim to be an expert in this matter, but I believe I gained some insights on this topic over the years of experience as a developer. So it may be useful to know how developers would see this process.
Now, the very first thing is, as developers — we have to be challenged by the work we do. You may think, that “dev should be qualified to do the job with no problems along the way”. And this makes perfect sense at first, but you have to think outside the box for a moment, because this approach may not always be right for you. Of course, there’s a lot of “Seen and done it all” — senior devs, who just want to get paid for doing their job. And this isn’t a bad thing, yet it may not be the best option unless you’re an enterprise with a lot of money. These types of developers are usually cost too much for a small company or a startup, struggling with a budget. It doesn’t mean you should hire underqualified developers with no experience. My point is that a developer must be qualified enough to be able to overcome any challenges that your project may have, but not qualified enough, to do the job without having any interest in it.
However, this isn’t a general rule, and there are exceptions to this. If you find someone, who is very passionate about your product — You can hire a top-level dev. We all want to be part of something greater than ourselves, so if your project can become someone’s lifetime mission — This person would be more than happy to work with you. The first years of SpaceX company would be a good example.
Even though these guys had quite a challenging work, the company formed around the top-level engineers, some of which had even left jobs at NASA. The SpaceX was a small company (comparing to other space-agencies) and couldn’t offer the salary or a compensation package, compatible with NASA. And yet some people were tired of NASA’s bureaucracy and overall slowness. SpaceX, on the other hand, was something more than a job. It was the ability to make history. And some of you may be skeptical about the SpaceX or Elon Musk, but the fact is that, whether it’s true or not — those people felt like they were changing the world and they were happy about it, even with the crazy amount of workload, that Elon Musk is known for.
So, if you’re able to find developers, who would feel like that about your product — You do have a chance to get them on board. And on top of that, with that attitude — You’ll gain a lot more from it since that person won’t just do the ‘9 till 5’ job for money. Instead, they would feel for what you do together. Which brings us to the next topic
The definition of corporate culture may vary from company to company. Some see it as a free food/tea/coffee and other small benefits. For some companies, it’s all about performance and growth. For example, I’ve heard of the approach used by Netflix. If you haven’t shown any growth at your position since the last performance review — it’s a bad thing, no matter how good you were before that. They only focus on constant growth. Other companies may understand the term as literally a culture. For example, if some people like to use strong language at work — they won’t feel too good in such a company. I personally, like Ben Horowitz’s opinion on this:
… I’ve said before that we cannot win unless we attract the very best people in the world. In the technology industry, almost everybody comes from a culture that allows profanity. Therefore, banning profanity will likely limit our talent pool more than accepting profanity. As a result, we will allow profanity. However, this does not mean that you can use profanity to intimidate, sexually harass people, or do other bad things. In this way, profanity is no different from other language…
It seems like, having no culture at all is a bad thing. No one wants to be surrounded by a bunch of jerks, no matter how qualified they are. However, you shouldn’t go too far with it as well. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great thing to have a company with a solid corporate culture, but you may miss out on some good hires if you focus on a culture aspect too much.
Whatever vision you choose to adopt for your product — just keep in mind that the developers, just as companies, can put different meanings in the word “Corporate culture”.
Yes, some don’t like to talk about it, but it does matter. At least up to a certain level. There’s a lot of circumstances, that can make money a secondary factor, but it only works after a certain number. The tricky thing is — this level can be different from person to person.
I’m sure, you all know about “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs”. If you look at it — it’s pretty obvious, that things like “Being challenged”, “Doing important work”, and “Having a good work environment” will only come into play if the “Physiological Needs” and “Safety Needs” are covered. In other words, if a person is struggling to pay the bills and buy the food — It’s not likely that you can attract such people with challenging projects and strong corporate culture. The fat pay-check may do the trick, though.
But the game changes greatly, once the basic needs are covered. That’ll be a good time to apply the examples, I mentioned above. People can change job to a less profitable one as long as the money is enough to provide a comfortable life. So at this point — the type of work and the culture do matter but don’t think you can remove the salary out of the equation just yet. Even with the basic needs covered, people still feel the need to be valued properly. And even if your current ability to pay is below average — You have to make sure that once your company grows — your developers (And their payment) will grow with it.
I don’t think that there’s much to say about the payment-part. There are market pay rates, and people who know how to handle it. It all comes down to making the salary compatible with the market. And if it’s not — just make sure that you have challenging work, good atmosphere at a workplace, and that your company will eventually grow to the market level.
Overall, I believe that choosing the right approach here is a matter of your taste. You will find the right “audience” for every option. While I’ve worked with some of my friends and acquaintances — it was a good, free-spirited atmosphere without any formalities or restrictions. On the other hand — I was lucky enough to work in a company with a well established corporate culture, and it was a great place to be in. So, when it comes to the culture part — you’d just want to choose the most fitting option, accept the fact that not all people would accept your vision, and consider people, fitting into your culture to a certain level. Most of the time — having a shared vision and not being a jerk should be enough to kickstart a good team.
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