Why developer experience matters when hiring developers

Taylor Bruneaux


Grasping what makes a software developer tick is a nice-to-have and a strategic imperative for companies pursuing top tech talent. This comprehensive guide delves into why the developer experience is a linchpin in attracting and keeping the cream of the crop in technology roles, from software engineering to AI innovation, web development, and mobile application creation. Today, we unpack the essentials of recruiting developers, pinpointing the optimal times and methods for hiring, the key strategies for evaluating tech prowess, and the non-negotiable elements of developer experience for securing and holding onto premier tech talent.

When should you hire for your development team?

Knowing when to expand your developer team and understanding the different types of developers you can hire are decisions that can significantly impact the success and growth of your projects. Here’s a breakdown of the best times to hire specific types of software developers when you’re growing your team.

When project delays and overwhelmed teams are noticeable

If your team consistently misses deadlines and feels overwhelmed by the workload, it’s a clear sign that you need more developers to share the burden and keep your projects on track.

When there’s a lack of expertise

When your team lacks the specialized skills required for new projects or technologies, it’s time to bring in experts. This gap could include new programming languages, emerging technologies, or specific project requirements.

When scaling needs emerge

As your user base grows or your project scope expands, you might need developers who can optimize and scale your systems to handle increased load and complexity.

When innovation and growth are priorities

To stay competitive and innovative, hiring developers with fresh perspectives and diverse skill sets can introduce new ideas and approaches to your team.

What type of developer should you hire?

Finding the correct type of developer to hire is crucial for your projects and business growth. Developers bring unique skills for specific needs, from building a compelling online presence to developing complex data-driven systems. This article will explore different software developer roles, their expertise, and when to hire them.

Software engineers

Software engineers are like Swiss Army knives in the development world. They are versatile and can take on a wide range of projects. A skilled software engineer has expertise in at least one programming language, application development, system architecture, and more. They are skilled at solving complex software problems, which makes them perfect for developing software that needs a comprehensive approach across various technologies and platforms.

Platform engineers

Platform engineers specialize in developing and managing software platforms. These platforms help deploy and operate applications and improve workflow automation and system reliability. They are the go-to experts in building or enhancing the foundational systems that support applications and services. If you need to scale up your infrastructure or refine your development pipeline, consider hiring platform engineers. They can support the scalable growth of your technological infrastructure.

Mobile developers

Mobile developers help you connect with your audience via mobile platforms. A mobile app developer creates apps for iOS and Android or develops cross-platform solutions that work on multiple devices. You can engage mobile developers when you want to enter the mobile space or improve your existing mobile applications to provide a better user experience.

Data scientists and AI engineers

Data scientists and AI engineers are indispensable for big data, machine learning, or artificial intelligence projects. They have the expertise to sift through large datasets to uncover trends, make predictions, and derive insights. Moreover, a data engineer can develop intelligent systems capable of automating complex tasks and enhancing decision-making processes.

Web developers

Hire web developers when you aim to establish or improve your digital footprint. They are responsible for creating and maintaining your website, including the parts that users interact with and the systems that power everything behind the scenes. A web developer is essential for a user-friendly, efficient website representing your business online.

Why developer experience matters when hiring developers

Developers engage with various tools, processes, and environments daily, forming their developer experience (DevEx). For companies aiming to attract top-notch developers, prioritizing DevEx is crucial as it can significantly enhance productivity, innovation, and job satisfaction. By prioritizing DevEx, companies can streamline their development processes and become more appealing employers for tech professionals.

Here are some of the critical ways an investment in DevEx can make hiring developers more smooth:

Attracting top talent

Focusing on DevEx influences a company’s ability to attract and retain top talent. A positive DevEx encompasses everything from the daily tools and processes developers use to the overall work environment, which is a critical factor for developers when choosing an employer. When companies prioritize DevEx, they communicate to potential candidates that they value developer productivity, innovation, and job satisfaction. This investment makes the company more appealing to skilled professionals looking for workplaces that support their needs and career aspirations.

Signifying a commitment to innovation and growth

A superior DevEx signifies to developers that their potential employer understands and respects the intricacies of technical work. By offering a modern development environment, engaging in open communication, and supporting continuous learning, companies can drastically improve their appeal to developers.

This investment enhances the recruitment process and contributes to higher retention rates. A skilled developer is likelier to stay with a company that invests in their growth, acknowledges their challenges, and provides solutions that make their work-life smoother and more productive.

Moreover, a strong focus on DevEx demonstrates a company’s commitment to cutting-edge technologies and innovative practices. This focus is particularly attractive to developers who wish to work on challenging projects and stay at the forefront of technology. In essence, prioritizing DevEx is not just about making current employees happy; it’s a strategic approach to building a strong, innovative, dedicated team capable of driving the company forward.

Enhancing team collaboration and efficiency

A well-designed DevEx facilitates better communication and collaboration among team members, breaking down silos between departments. Developers with access to practical tools and a supportive environment can work more efficiently and harmoniously with other teams. This seamless collaboration not only speeds up the development process but also improves the quality of the end product. Companies that invest in creating a collaborative and efficient work environment can attract developers who value teamwork and cohesive work culture.

Boosting the company’s brand and reputation

In the competitive tech industry, a company’s brand and reputation as an employer are crucial for attracting top talent. A strong focus on DevEx can significantly enhance a company’s image in the eyes of potential candidates. Developers talk; they share their experiences at conferences, on social media, and platforms like Reddit and Glassdoor. By providing an exceptional DevEx, companies can ensure that they are viewed positively in these discussions, making them more attractive to prospective employees. A reputation for valuing and investing in talented developers can set a company apart from its competitors, making it a preferred choice for talented professionals.

Reducing the cost of turnover and rehiring

Investing in DevEx can directly reduce the costs associated with turnover and rehiring. A positive work environment that addresses developers’ needs and challenges attracts top talent and significantly reduces the likelihood of their leaving. The cost of losing a skilled software developer extends beyond just the expense of recruitment; it includes lost productivity, the impact on team morale, and the time it takes for new hires to become fully productive. By prioritizing DevEx, companies can mitigate these costs, ensuring a more stable and engaged workforce.

Key considerations when hiring developers

When hiring devs, it’s essential to take a comprehensive approach to identify qualified candidates who fit well with your team’s culture and work ethic and are technically proficient. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind.

Portfolios and previous work experience

Assessing portfolios is a critical stage in the recruitment process. It provides concrete evidence of a candidate’s technical skills, creativity, and problem-solving abilities. A comprehensive portfolio provides a deeper understanding of the software developer’s expertise across various technologies and domains, initiative, passion for technology, and ability to complete projects successfully.

What to look for in a software developer’s portfolio

  • Diversity of projects: Look for various projects showing depth and breadth in skills. Diversity in project types, such as web applications, mobile apps, and contributions to open-source projects, can indicate versatility and an eagerness to explore new technologies.
  • Code quality: Clean, well-documented, and efficient code is crucial. It reflects the developer’s proficiency and attention to detail.
  • Presentation and communication: Effective communication of their roles, challenges faced, and solutions implemented in projects highlights technical skills and the ability to articulate complex ideas clearly.

Assessing the relevance and quality of previous work

The candidate’s experience in industries or technologies similar to your projects can significantly reduce onboarding time. However, you should also value dedicated developers with diverse backgrounds for the fresh perspectives they can bring.

Assess the tangible improvements brought about by the developer’s work, such as in performance, user experience, or achieving business goals. Engage candidates in discussions about their portfolios for deeper insights into their approaches and decision-making processes.

Technical assessments

Technical assessments are vital in hiring developers, particularly for roles requiring specialized technical skills. When properly designed and implemented, these assessments offer valuable insights into a candidate’s abilities and suitability for the role. To enhance the effectiveness of technical assessments, consider the following points and supporting ideas:

Purpose and structure of assessments

When designing assessments, evaluating theoretical knowledge and practical skills is essential to understand a candidate’s abilities comprehensively. We can use various assessments for a comprehensive evaluation: multiple-choice questions to test theoretical knowledge, coding exercises to gauge practical skills, and situational judgment tests to assess problem-solving abilities. Hiring managers can set time limits to simulate real-world pressures, but they should also be reasonable to avoid disadvantaging candidates not used to high-pressure environments.

Alignment with role requirements

When designing an assessment, it’s vital to ensure that the content is directly related to the daily responsibilities and challenges of the developer job. If the job requires specific programming languages or technologies, the assessment should include tasks requiring those specific tools. The assessment might cover a broader range of topics for more generalist roles to gauge overall programming and problem-solving skills.

Assessment of programming skills

When assigning programming tasks, it’s important to cover different aspects of software development. This includes implementing algorithms, manipulating data structures, and creating small applications or features. Candidates should be encouraged to write clean, efficient, well-documented code that adheres to best practices in software development.

Problem-solving abilities

Problem-solving skills can be tested in real-world scenarios that require creative and effective solutions. Hiring managers should evaluate candidates’ ability to break down complex problems into manageable components and devise clear, logical solutions.

Debugging approach

Tasks that require candidates to identify and fix bugs in existing code can assess their debugging skills and attention to detail. It is crucial to evaluate the candidate’s approach to debugging, including how they identify potential sources of errors and their process for testing and verifying their solutions.

Evaluating soft skills through behavioral interviews

Behavioral interviews play a critical role in the hiring process for devs, as they provide insights into a candidate’s soft skills, which are as vital as technical competencies in today’s fast-paced and collaborative tech environments. In an interview where you’re assessing for behavior or a soft skill, consider the following aspects:


Assess candidates’ ability to communicate complex technical concepts to technical and non-technical stakeholders. Look for examples of their successful communication in remote or distributed team settings and their experience with collaborative tools and platforms. Evaluate their capability to listen actively, understand feedback, and adapt their communication style to meet the needs of their audience.


When evaluating a candidate’s experience working in diverse teams, looking at how they handle conflicts and contribute to a positive team dynamic is essential. Focus on stories highlighting their willingness to help others and take on leadership roles when needed. Also, consider their ability to work with different groups of people, such as product managers, designers, and other stakeholders, to achieve common goals. Also, please pay attention to their peer review and collaborative problem-solving approach.


Assess how they handle changes such as new technologies, evolving team structures, or shifting project priorities. Look for examples of how they’ve adapted to learning new programming languages or frameworks and their approach to continuous professional development.

Additionally, you should evaluate their resilience and problem-solving skills when facing technical challenges or unexpected project hurdles.

Work ethic and motivation

When assessing a candidate’s fit for a tech role, it’s essential to understand their motivation and passion for development, as it can impact their commitment and job satisfaction. Discuss their past projects to evaluate their initiative, ability to meet deadlines, and task prioritization during crunch times. Additionally, assess how their long-term career goals align with the company’s mission and values, as it can indicate their potential for growth and longevity within the organization.

Cultural fit

Evaluate how well the candidate’s values, work style, and personality match your company’s culture and existing team. Ask them about their ideal work environment and management style to ensure they align with your organization’s practices. Discuss their views on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace and how they have contributed to or would contribute to such initiatives. Doing this will help you determine if the candidate is a good fit for your company.

Harnessing remote work and global talent

Remote work has allowed companies to broaden their search for developers. You can now find skilled professionals worldwide, accessing diverse viewpoints and expertise that can help drive innovation. This approach enables organizations to find the best-fit remote software developers for their technical requirements without being limited by geographic boundaries. Additionally, remote hiring can save on office space and resources while providing employees the flexibility to achieve a better work-life balance, which is crucial to job satisfaction and retention.

The benefits of a diverse and global team

Global teams have the potential to bring together individuals from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and experiences, leading to a rich environment for creativity and problem-solving. This diversity can lead to more innovative solutions and a broader understanding of global markets, making it particularly valuable for companies with a worldwide customer base. Additionally, having a remote developer in a different time zone can increase productivity and provide around-the-clock support for businesses, giving them a competitive edge in today’s fast-paced market.

Overcoming challenges in remote hiring and management

Although global hiring has several advantages, it also comes with specific challenges, particularly in communication, cultural integration, and team cohesion. To ensure effective communication across different time zones, companies must adopt flexible scheduling and employ collaborative tools that facilitate asynchronous work. Cultivating a sense of belonging among remote employees can be difficult but is essential for their engagement and productivity. Companies should foster an inclusive culture that transcends physical boundaries, encouraging interaction and building team spirit among remote workers.

The critical role of onboarding in remote settings

Effective onboarding is crucial in a remote work environment as it sets the foundation for a new hire’s experience and integration into the team. A structured onboarding process that communicates job roles, expectations, and company culture is essential. It is vital to provide remote hires with the necessary tools, access, and support from day one to help them become productive and feel valued. Regular check-ins and virtual meetups can further enhance the onboarding experience, ensuring new developers feel connected and supported despite the physical distance.

Developer experience in remote work

The developer experience (DevEx) plays a pivotal role in the satisfaction and retention of remote developers. Investing in a seamless remote developer experience involves providing access to the latest technologies, efficient development tools, and robust support systems. Creating a conducive work environment, even in a virtual setting, can significantly impact a developer’s productivity and engagement. Ensuring remote developers have opportunities for growth, learning, and professional development is also crucial for maintaining motivation and loyalty.

While remote work and global hiring offer expansive opportunities for accessing talent and driving diversity, they come with unique challenges that require thoughtful strategies to overcome. Focusing on effective onboarding and a positive developer experience is essential for integrating and retaining remote developers, ensuring they feel valued, supported, and part of the team, regardless of their physical location.

Step-by-step guide to hiring developers

Here’s a simple checklist to follow when you’re beginning your process to hire developers.

1. Define the role and requirements

  • Start by clearly defining the role. Include specific skills, programming languages, and experience levels needed.
  • Incorporate KPIs into the job description. Highlight the importance of speed, quality, and ease of delivery as part of the role’s objectives.

2. Craft a targeted job posting

  • Highlight your organizational performance and culture, which appeals to candidates interested in contributing to high-performing teams.
  • Mention opportunities for employee engagement and professional growth. Candidates should see how they can grow and positively impact the company.

3. Utilize multiple channels for recruitment

  • Post on job boards specific to tech talent. Platforms dedicated to developers can speed up application reception.
  • Leverage social media and professional networks, which can reach out to passive candidates who are not actively looking but are interested in your opportunity.

4. Screen for technical skills and cultural fit

  • Conduct technical assessments to evaluate skills, which helps ensure hires’ quality.
  • Use behavioral interviews to gauge cultural fit and engagement potential. Understanding a candidate’s motivation and work ethic can predict their engagement and likelihood to stay with the company, reducing attrition.

5. Emphasize the developer experience in interviews

  • Discuss how your company facilitates a great developer experience. Explain your development processes, tooling, and resources available to developers.
  • Highlight projects that demonstrate the team’s ease, speed, and quality of work. Share examples of successful projects and how the team achieved them.

6. Offer competitive compensation and benefits

  • Benchmark compensation against industry standards. Ensure your offer is competitive to attract top talent.
  • Include benefits that matter to developers. Flexibility, remote work options, and opportunities for learning and development can make your offer more attractive.

7. Introduce candidates to the team

  • Arrange meetings with potential team members, which can help candidates understand the team dynamics and how they can contribute to easing the delivery process.
  • Discuss ongoing and upcoming projects. Give them a sense of the quality of work and the organizational performance to which they would contribute.

8. Provide a straightforward onboarding process

  • Have an onboarding plan that reduces time waste. Ensure new hires can quickly acclimate and begin contributing.
  • Integrate new developers into company culture and processes, supporting employee engagement.

9. Monitor and adapt your hiring process

  • Review hiring KPIs regularly. Assess the speed of hiring, quality of candidates, and their impact on organizational performance.
  • Solicit feedback from new hires on their experience. Use this to improve the hiring process, focusing on areas that will reduce attrition and enhance the developer experience.

Strategies for retaining developers

Securing top tech talent is just the beginning. The true challenge lies in retaining these skilled professionals and ensuring they remain motivated, engaged, and productive.

To achieve this, fostering a positive developer experience is crucial, offering continuous learning opportunities and recognizing their contributions. By understanding and addressing their unique needs and aspirations, you can cultivate a loyal and innovative development team ready to propel your projects to new heights. Here are some tips to help you retain your valued developers and maintain a competitive edge in the ever-evolving tech landscape.

Creating a positive onboarding experience

A thoughtful and comprehensive onboarding process is the first step in retaining qualified developers and setting the tone for their experience within the company. Ensuring developers understand their roles, expectations, and how they fit into the broader company objectives is crucial.

Equipping developers with the necessary tools, access, and resources from day one can significantly impact their productivity and satisfaction. Additionally, assigning a mentor or buddy can provide them with guidance and support, easing their transition into the team. A positive onboarding experience fosters a sense of belonging and confidence in new hires, encouraging commitment and reducing early turnover.

Investing in developer growth and professional development

Ongoing professional development is critical to keeping developers engaged and motivated. Companies that invest in their developers’ growth through continuous education, access to the latest technologies, and opportunities to work on challenging projects demonstrate a commitment to their employees’ career advancement.

Encouraging participation in tech conferences, workshops, and certifications can also enhance their skills and knowledge. This investment benefits the individual developer and enriches the team with new ideas and perspectives, driving innovation and productivity. A culture that values learning and growth significantly contributes to a positive developer experience, leading to higher retention rates.

Fostering a culture of feedback and recognition

Giving regular feedback and recognition is crucial to maintaining an excellent developer experience. Creating a culture where constructive feedback is shared openly can help a dedicated developer understand their performance, celebrate their accomplishments, and find areas for improvement. Recognizing their hard work and contributions can increase their morale and motivation. Teams can do this through formal awards, shout-outs in team meetings, or even simple thank-you notes.

When qualified developers feel valued and appreciated, they are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs, leading to increased productivity and a lower likelihood of seeking opportunities elsewhere.

Ensuring a supportive and collaborative work environment

Creating a supportive and collaborative work environment is essential for retaining developers. Promoting teamwork, sharing knowledge, and building a community are also essential. A collaborative environment can be created physically and virtually by creating spaces for collaboration and innovation. Such an environment improves productivity and creativity and strengthens team cohesion. When developers feel connected to their colleagues and aligned with the company’s mission, they are likelier to remain loyal and invested in their roles.

Making developer experience a priority improves developer hiring and retention.

The discussion around the importance of developer experience in hiring and retaining tech talent underscores a critical shift in the industry’s approach to talent management. By prioritizing DevEx, companies improve their operational efficiency and innovation capacity and become more attractive to the skilled developers they seek to hire. Whether it’s enhancing communication between teams, investing in productivity tools, recognizing the value of developer experience in innovation, or promoting professional growth, making developer experience a strategic priority is essential for long-term success in the competitive tech landscape.

April 3, 2024

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