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4 Things To Look For When You Hire A Software Developer

With the high demand for digital platforms, interactive sites, the need for new apps and an exponential growth of online interaction for businesses with customers, there is plenty of call for software developers.

And, while companies can always hire and try to retain in-house personnel, freelance software developers who can be hired on sites like Toptal, 99designs and SoldGigs for example provide a valuable gap solution and cutting-edge alternative.

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Freelance software development can also be far more cost-effective for budget-sensitive operations and flexible as well, bringing in talent a business might not be able to afford otherwise on a permanent employee basis.

If you are looking to hire a web developer, you should know the step-by-step guide on how to get one.

You should also be aware of the cons and pros of freelance web development before trying to hire someone.

1. Considering How to Hire a Software Developer

Rather than getting caught up in the debate of whether a freelancer is better than a permanent hire, consider these aspects:

  • Expenses can be controlled and tightened far better than the cost sunk on an ongoing employee who has to be trained, acclimated and developed over a much longer period.
  • A freelance software developer comes into a project hands-ready to start producing. That can be priced generally at about $500 for a small business need and approximately $5,000 for a larger company project per task.
  • As mentioned earlier, freelance developers provide a far greater access to cutting-edge skill and training home employees likely won’t have anymore.
  • Many freelancers have to stay on top of their game to be competitive against each other, which means they are far more adept with the latest tools available.
  • Many in-house developers tend to get locked into their infrastructure and restricted to what they have invested on over time. Freelance software developers have no such restrictions. They are fluid and able to work across multiple systems, environments and tools.
  • They are not brand-specific or loyal. Instead, they cater to what the client needs for the duration of the task. That can bring in a tremendous amount of new insight that disappears with internal resources.

See Related: 99designs vs Fiverr

Hiring a software developer is a big help for your business to have an online presence and to be successful. When the freelancer you hire uses effective time tracking-apps, it can boost your confidence that the time you paid is the time they’ve worked.

On the other hand, one has to be prepared to be a bit more liberal with freelance software developers if using them as a resource. When engaging on how to hire a software developer a client can’t treat them as employees.

That requires less hands-on supervision and far greater communication. This is a shift. More attention has to be spent on providing and sharing details of expectations and then letter the contractor solve the challenge as is needed or how he or she best identifies a path.

Also, don’t expect long-term dedication. Freelancers are available on a contractual relationship basis only.

Their commitment will shift rapidly as the job ends and another begins. While hiring freelance developers who are experienced enjoy return business and try to foster longer accounts for more stability, they won’t always be available when needed like a payroll employee when it comes to dedication.

Unfortunately, because many who hire freelancer developers often find the first few times to be a bit confusing. Trying to remember the balance or difference between an employee and contractor when deep in the details of the work can be a bit confusing and fuzzy.

That in turn can lead to bad experiences or less than stellar results, which turn can turn managers cold to bringing in new freelance help later on. Much of this problem can be avoided through planning for a better recruitment and selection.

Becoming a Web Developer is a tough job. You should know the process and undergo training if necessary.

2. Recruiting to Hire a Developer for a Project

Bringing in a software developer is far more like asking a rocket scientist to get you to the moon for the first time versus a plumber fixing noisy pipes in your building.

They come in, oftentimes with little to work with except an idea and an expectation, and then they have to use their own knowledge and tools to make the unknown happen in a seamless fashion. That leaves a lot of room for error, surprises and a result different than what was expected.

Because of this common trend, it helps to have a good idea how the software building process actually works before hiring a programmer. While it’s not necessary to actually know programming and its intricacies, understanding what to expect of a programmer and what kind of schedule to work on makes a big difference.

This makes the job easier for the developer to understand as a freelance resource, and you will likely see the deliverables match your expectations a lot better.


Start out with defining your requirements clearly before starting to hire a developer for a project and prepare an engaging interview. These don’t need to be in software lingo. In fact, it is much better that your requirements are defined in your own terms and environment.

The software developer will translate what you want into the language and code, but the more you remove from guessing, the better the product will be.

  • Spell out what you need solved and how the solution should be implemented. If you say you need a programmer to build a database, that doesn’t describe very much.
  • If, on the other hand, you say you need a programmer familiar with SQL and Peoplesoft to build a customized database that will handle SFTP input, manual input, and RPI input and needs to output with PDF, Excel and XML, then a developer has a far better idea what he or she needs to be working with.
  • So, get specific about what you want the end product to be.
  • Be clear on time commitments. Don’t be wishy-washy on expected time schedules. For some reason people tend to avoid this conversation. If you want the developer on deck 8 hours a day, say so. If the job is expected to be part-time or based on deliverable dates alone, then say so. It makes a big difference in the developer’s commitment and flexibility.
  • Provide a firm budget and deadline delivery. Don’t leave your cost and timeline open-ended. Software developers need to know what parameters they are working with and what is unacceptable in terms of product contract delivery.
  • Be specific about the training level you desire. There is a wide range of possibilities of how people have developed their software programming skills. It is quite possible for someone’s training to have been through online courses alone. In between many have gained training through junior colleges.
  • And still others have gone the formal route of bona fide 4-year college degrees and certifications. If you feel this matters for your project, then state it as a criteria for a hire. Otherwise, you might end up with a developer who learned his or her skill watching a YouTube video.
  • Choose a software for the project. You will need to choose the software language the project will be developed in. This is not as hard as it sounds. If you want a software product for front-end website automation, Python, Java or Javascript will likely be the product.
  • If you’re looking for a standalone software, it’s probably going to be C++. If you’re considering anything with a database, there’s a good chance it will be SQL format. If you’re not sure at all, get some advice and outside expert input first. If you’re building on what you have already, it will be in the language already being used.
  • Consider your candidate’s ratings. Do not ignore a background check on your potential software developer. You should be prepared to do a full vetting of the person with former employment, prior contacts and supervisors, and peers. That also includes vetting the candidate’s provided portfolio of samples to ensure they are original and not copied from something else.
  • Utilize a small test project for vetting. There is nothing wrong with asking a candidate to perform a small test project to see their work in action. It’s a great way to see how the person thinks, codes and produces product. You might need to pay a small fee for the exercise, but it’s very much worth avoiding a big mistake once committed to the main project.
  • Present the plan. If the candidate passes all the above and is willing to commit for your price, then spell out the contract terms and bind an agreement. That includes detailing the project plan, the rate of payment per phase, a commitment of time, project scope, deadlines and various interaction expectations.

Don’t try to be a smart aleck and low-ball experienced developers. Many have already had a bad experience early on when they started and are quite familiar with runaway scopes or the client that can never be satisfied. They will pick up on the attempt, especially if they’ve been doing the job longer than 5 to 10 years.

Also, don’t expect youth on sites like 99designs to be an automatic availability of the latest technology skill. Many software developers have to specialize in one or two specific languages; there is simply too many different formats out there for any person to know them all as new ones come online.

See Related: Best Freelance Skills to Learn

3. Communication Matters a Lot in How to Hire a Software Developer

There’s a fine balance between keeping open a good communication line with a software developer versus standing over their shoulder micromanaging.

Keep in mind, each meeting and update takes away from the time you’re paying for the developer to do his or her work. Spell out what you want in initial meetings, provide a timeline for updates and deliverables, and then let them do their work.

Hold back your curiosity or need to be “in the know” every day and focus on having the other parts of the project ready that will mesh with the developer’s work. You pay them to deliver as a contractor, so let that happen.

If you don’t and instead insist on daily meetings and interactions, you are wasting your money on costs that have nothing to do with software development, and you are frustrating your developer with a lack of trust.

Instead, your communication should be about providing as much resources as possible to make it easier for the software developer to know what you want or the systems you work with.

Remember, the communication and freelancer interview guide is also a two-way street. It is very likely the developer will find things or ideas of how to improve your current approach. Listen to these suggestions and take them into consideration.

They may not be a part of the current project, but it’s practically a free evaluation for what to work on down the road.

See Related: Upwork Alternatives for Freelancing

4. The Main Methods of How to Hire a Developer for a Project

“I want to hire a software developer,” you say?

A number of channels like SolidGigs exist for how to bring in a software developer, but most small businesses and new entries will likely find their first interaction tends to be online versus in-person. Either works.

The difference depends again in how things are spelled out in the discussion items above.

See Related: Freelance Courses to Learn Online


Traditional hiring it just as it sounds, you are telling the world “I want to hire a software developer.” Your business puts out a job bulletin or posting for the project needed, the skills expected, the nature of the deliverables and what to expect in terms of freelancing compensation on.

These job postings can be made on paper, online in classified ads and through forums.

Once a candidate is identified, there is a screening process, typically an interview, and a hire is selected. The agreement of service is written up, executed, and the person appears and works until the project is completed.

While this method has worked for years, it tends to be bureaucratic in nature and takes a long time to complete. In fact, many managers feel by the time they are done, they might as well have hired a permanent employee because it is essentially the same process.

The traditional hiring process also tends to rely more on connections and references. If the person is a known commodity, he or she has a better chance of being picked than an unknown developer.

It doesn’t mean the skill is better; the winning candidate may very well just be a better networker.

Using social media to hire isn’t really that different from traditional hiring. The big variation comes in the form of how people connect with candidates. Social media allows for a wider reach and brings up the question of whether a business wants to deal with a software developer remotely versus in person.

Otherwise, the mechanics of hiring are still the same. Social media does allow for better filtering and searching if one wants to be proactive and reach out to viable candidates, however. This is a big feature of sites like LinkedIn, for example.

Alternatively, one could use a middleman hiring service such as freelancing platform. In these situations a client utilizes a company to connect it with freelance software developers who compete to provide the service.

The interaction, payment and terms are with the platform company, but the software developer is bound a bit tighter on the terms of delivery and performance, which is an advantage for the client.

A number of companies exist in this arena like Fiverr, Toptal, 99designs and SolidGigs, and they can provide software developer candidates that can either work in-person, remotely or both. They provide the ability to search for candidates as well as filter out skills and knowledge for a better talent match.

Many freelancing platforms also provide a mediation service to help the client guide and redirect the developer to what is expected, especially if in midstream there tends to be a disagreement.

This is doable because the platform is really the service provider to the client, and the developer is their contractor, technically. Since the platform wants to earn the revenue and business, it has an incentive to “push” the developer to deliver correctly.


Each software developer hire is a case-by-case situation, so take the time to plan what you want before jumping out and saying “I want to hire a software developer,” research your candidates, budget your freelance developer pay, and pick the best match.

Giving yourself patience will pay dividends in a successful project and delivery down the road. The biggest mistakes people make in hiring tends to be rushing the selection process and a lack of clarity.

Managing taxes is also what we do as a freelancer or self-employed. Good thing, there is tax software, which is very helpful.

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