How to Hire Web Developers

By Robert Half June 1, 2018 at 8:00am

So you need to hire a web developer? Great — but so does pretty much every other company out there. You might be in for a rough hiring journey.

Make no mistake, the job market is tipped heavily in favor of web developers. Employers across the country are dipping into the same shrinking talent pool, and top candidates are fielding multiple offers. But supply and demand aren’t the only challenges you might face when trying to staff this role. If you’re not tech-savvy yourself, playing the matching game between candidates’ skills and your company’s needs can be headache-inducing. Hiring someone who’ll be an easy fit with your work culture can also be tough. And how do you know what the competition is paying so you don’t drastically under- or overpay a good candidate?

Here are eight essential tips that can help you hire a web developer who has the right skills, experience and fit with your workplace culture.  

1. Know what the market’s paying

Start by benchmarking salaries. According to our research, the midpoint starting compensation for web developers is $98,000 nationally; for more experienced candidates, starting salaries reach as high as $139,000. Senior web developers have a midpoint starting salary of $117,000, with some salaries topping $165,750. 

Market variances for the area you’re recruiting in will adjust those figures. Get a copy of the latest Robert Half Technology Salary Guide to gain the insight you’ll need for setting compensation rates in your area. You want to be ready to meet or beat the going rates to successfully compete for the best talent. 

 

2. Weigh needs versus wants

Are your criteria for finding a web developer too rigid? If you need a front-end developer who’s proficient in JavaScript and jQuery, is it absolutely necessary for them to also have deep expertise in MySQL? And why insist on hiring a web developer who is an expert in PHP when you've identified a promising candidate who is a master of HTML5? Be clear about must-have and nice-to-have skills in the job description you post. Otherwise you might discourage outstanding web developers from applying at all.

There’s no such thing as the perfect candidate — not in this hiring market, anyway. If your top pick has 80 percent of the skills you'd like to add to your team and, more importantly, the right abilities for immediate projects, be happy and be willing to provide training. Your new web developer can pick up the other 20 percent of your hiring wish list while on the job.

3. Go where the web developers are

LinkedIn might connect you with potential web developers for hire, but don't stop there. Try social sites like Meetup to learn where local developers get together to share best practices for using tools of the trade. Look for groups focused on Ruby on Rails, Perl or other frameworks and languages your company uses.

Expanding your search area may also be wise. If all or most job duties could be performed remotely, why let geography limit your options? Looking outside your market might uncover a great — and available — developer you would otherwise miss.

And consider advertising in places only a skilled web developer is likely to look. A few years back, Yahoo placed an ad for developers in its front-end source coding. A similar tactic might make talented developers more interested in working for you from the get-go.

4. Emphasize your work environment

Be clear with candidates about your company's mission (particularly if your business is a startup), what your corporate values are, how web assets are important to your firm's success and what problems you hope to solve by hiring a web developer. Be sure to convey that the company considers this position integral to the team. 

That can be especially important for younger workers. In Get Ready for Generation Z, a white paper Robert Half published with Enactus, Gen Zers typically said they wanted to pursue career opportunities that aligned with their personal goals and belief systems. For other workers, there might be different priorities. But keep in mind, every candidate will want to know they’ll be valued and doing meaningful work before they accept a job offer. 

An accurate description of the workplace culture is equally important. An office that supports a friendly and collaborative atmosphere will appeal to most candidates, so talk it up in your job posting and interviews. But give a sense, too, of what the team’s workstyle is like. Some candidates will thrive in a busy, loud office and daily scrums. For others, that would be a personal hell. Be realistic about your office environment. Sure, it’s hip to be fun, but if yours is a quiet, buttoned-up corporate environment, then say so. You’re hiring for a tech role, but you and the candidate both want to know there’ll be a good personality and work style match.

5. Promote benefits and perks

You often have to provide something special — even beyond salary — to attract great tech employees. But that doesn't mean your company needs to stock the break room with six types of exotic coffee or pick up the tab on employee dry cleaning services. Generous health benefits, flexible work schedules, wellness programs and remote work arrangements are some incentives that can sweeten your compensation package and help you attract a developer of the highest caliber.

6. Get skilled support

Given a web developer’s highly specialized skill set, you may be out of your depth when writing the job post. Do you need a front-end developer or someone more on the server side?

When the resumes roll in, you don’t need to go it alone. Seek advice from a skilled developer, either from your company or your larger professional network. Ask for their insight on your top candidate’s work samples and whether they can suggest some questions to ask during the interview. 

And go into the interview prepared. Try to have at least one IT expert in the room with you or let a senior IT staff member meet with candidates separately. Your job opening may be so specialized that only an experienced web developer can determine a candidate’s skill level. 

7. Get a hiring assist

If you don't have a team member who can assess a candidate’s technical qualifications, engage a staffing professional to help you through the hiring process. Specialized staffing firms have the expertise to assess candidates’ skills and background, so they can offer you only professionals who are a good fit for your needs. That can spare you a lot of time and stress. 

The best staffing agencies also maintain larger talent pools than do most hiring managers. In addition to working with candidates currently looking for a new position, agency recruiters are often connected with passive job seekers and know what positions might interest them. They can also provide interim staffing to help your company handle immediate needs while they help you search for a full-time hire. 

 

8. Move fast when you find the right person

In a recent Robert Half survey of more than 1,000 U.S. workers, 69 percent say candidates lose interest in the job if they haven’t heard back within two weeks of an initial interview. Translation: The longer your hiring process, the greater your risk of losing the best talent to the competition.

You need to get hiring decisions right, of course, but time is of the essence. Try to have everything organized before the first interview and make sure that all stakeholders are ready to make a prompt decision. Also, use technology to speed things up. For example, if you need to do a second interview, try to do it over Skype or the phone instead of bringing the candidate back in. 

Finding web developers takes organization and the ability to move fast when you find someone great. Before you post the job opening, review your hiring strategy and compensation package, and make improvements where you can. Bring in outside help when you need it. You want to give yourself every advantage when you’re looking for expertise that’s so hard to find.
 

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