Thoughts on Building a Development Team

A few months ago I was promoted to Chief Technology Officer at ShopAdvisor. With that title change came a lot of new responsibilities, but it also came with several new opportunities. We’ve been working hard over the last several years to find the right market fit for our technology. After our recent successes with Elle Magazine and proximity programs for retailers, we’ve found ourselves needing to round out our engineering team with some new hires. I knew this would be an uphill battle here in the Northeast, given the current job market, but it was an exciting challenge to take on.

We followed the standard playbook. We put together the job descriptions (and then added some marketing flair), posted them in a few places, and reached out to some agencies. We also bought access into a resume search engines, just to give it a whirl. We got the standard influx of resumes that one would expect. Lots of highly qualified candidates, but sponsorship was a challenge that a small company like ours didn’t want to take on. We got several resumes of not-so-qualified candidates as well. We also started getting A LOT of calls from agencies that we never engaged with. There were some good resumes that we saw; there were even some great ones.

I reviewed resumes, conducted phone interviews, met with people in person. Once I felt comfortable with someone, and I felt like they would be a good fit, both from a technical standpoint, and a cultural one, I’d offer them the position. I know some people downplay the cultural aspect, but if someone doesn’t bring energy to the team, and they don’t fit in quite right, then in my opinion, the quality of their work doesn’t really matter.

The market for developers is really good right now, for Cloud DevOps, even better. But there are people out there. Good ones. You don’t have to hire the first person that comes along. I’ve also been impressed by some candidate’s selectiveness. Money is important, sure, but most of the developers I met really cared about what they would be working on. Wait to find someone who wants to be part of your team because they buy into the vision, not just the paycheck.

We’ve got more hiring to do, so I’ve got a lot more people to meet. I look forward to it.


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