5 Different Ways To Source And Hire Developers For Your Team

Rick Brownlow is a serial entrepreneur, tech evangelist and geek. After 10 years in the insurance industry in the 1990s, Rick founded Chimaera Games in 2002, a mobile casino and games start up (right product, five years too early). In 2010, Rick jumped the fence to work on a new role within Sportingbet Plc as their Head of Mobile. Unibet acquired 100% of the business in early 2015 leaving Rick to move away from the gambling industry to focus on Geektastic, an HRtech start-up helping hiring teams identify their best candidate's through peer review code challenges.

So you've raised some cash and it's burning a hole in your pocket.  You've promised your investors that you're going to use the cash they've poured into your bank account to turn your business into a money making machine. Then reality hits - you need to hire some developers.

Here are 5 options with pros and cons:

1. LinkedIn / Networks / Meet-ups / Free Job Boards

This is where everyone starts.

You will have a few engineers in your network and many more connections who know some. But you'll quickly realise that you need to cast the net wider.

LinkedIn is good, but be aware that every developer is being hounded by other tech start ups, recruiters, hiring teams etc etc - they are blind to your advances.

Meet-ups are also effective, you get face time with developers but the numbers are low so you'll need to spend a lot of time (evenings) socialising.

Free Job boards are free for a reason, don't expect good quality product or applicants.

This is the most affordable routes you can take to find candidates.

TOP TIP Good developers are already in work, they will need enticing away from their well paid, well fed job.

2. Job Boards

CWJobs, LinkedIn are all good places to post a job, but beware.

You will probably attract more recruiters than candidates, the candidates you do attract will be of a (very) mixed ability and it's amazing how many can't even read.  

You will be inundated with applications from overseas even though you stipulate in the ad that they must be based in London, New York or wherever you are based (although I suggest you go remote/distributed but that's for another post), same goes with experience, you will ask for x year's commercial experience and you'll get grads with zero experience applying.

You will have lots of applications, but you will have to dedicate a lot of time filtering.

This is where Geektastic can help in providing a Talent Assessment platform that allows you to quickly assess the all round skills of job applicants using our expert team of reviewers.

3. Recruitment Agencies

Until I stumbled into HRtech I had only been on the receiving end of recruitment agencies, and like most thought that their fees were exorbitant, the service was not quality driven and whilst there were some really good ones out there you always felt that this was ripe for disruption by a tech platform using AI and ML.

Having working in the space for a few years and operated on the other side of the fence in partnership with a recruitment group I do now see their value, the effort that goes into wooing candidates, the extremely efficient processes they have in place to source and supply candidates for roles.

Sure, when you write the cheque for 20% of your (expensive) hire it's eye-watering, but once once you have tried the other routes do you realise its value.

TOP TIP - Don't screw the agency to the floor on their fees. You might think you've done deal of the century getting the agency to agree to a 15% fee but that just means they will focus on the clients paying them 20%, all you will end up with is an inferior service and candidates that were turned down elsewhere.

4. Hiring Platforms

In an attempt to disrupt recruitment agencies companies like Hired and Vettery set up digital marketplaces to match talent (developers) with hiring teams.

Each party would create a profile; on one side you have the candidates entering their skills and experience, location, salary expectations and on the other side you have the Hirers setting up company profiles and then posting roles/jobs they were looking to fill.

The magic of AI was supposed to gloriously match candidates with roles and slick UI would manage the process.

However everyone forgot that you are dealing with humans and humans need to be cajoled and coaxed into their next role, without consultants doing the hand holding process it didn't work.

In my mind Hiring Platforms are really agencies with pretty digital shop fronts and innovative pricing models (some will offer a retainer instead of percentage of annual salary, other will allow you to spread your cost of hire over 12/18m)

5. Embedded Teams aka RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing) aka MSP (Managed Service Providers)

Traditionally these were used by large organisations to outsource the recruitment function of their business to third party specialists under a service contract.

In the last few years a new breed of RPO has emerged aimed at the smaller start ups and scale ups, they call themselves Embedded Teams.

They give you the benefit of a dedicated consultant embedded within your team, solely focussed on your roles, understanding your culture and team fit better than an agency. Their hire rate is higher than consultants at agencies because of this 100% focus.

However unlike contingency based agencies Embedded Teams work on a fixed monthly fee so your costs are sunk, if they don't deliver a bum on a seat they still get paid.

Their fees are higher than hiring a dedicated employee to handle sourcing and recruitment but you have the advantage that they hit the ground running, with LinkedIn recruiter licenses, hardware, training and a network to tap into. Plus you can scale up and scale down (subject to a minimum term).


If you have the budget go for the Embedded Team, if you are looking for a quick win and can afford the agency fees go to a few agencies they will find you a selection of candidates quicker, if you are bootstrapped explore your network then hit the meet ups. Good luck!

Author image

Rick Brownlow

Co-Founder of Geektastic - talent assessment platform used by hiring teams to save them hours of technical interviews per week. Previous experience running start ups in the gambling and mobile space.
  • London
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