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Ask HN: How do you hire good developers?
41 points by polack on Mar 2, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 60 comments
I'm co-founder of a startup that's going into an expansion phase. We are backed by a large VC and have more demand for our product than we can supply. Our problem is that we cannot attract any good developers. Every time we find someone we want to hire they turn us down in favour of some of the tech giants. We offer high compensation (salary, vacation and options) and interesting problems to work on using the latest technology, but it feels like the good developers that don't run their own startup is too afraid of the startup world. We know how important a good core team is for a startup, so we don't want to hire people we don't think fits in our team. Right now we are relying on a bunch of consultants to keep the company alive, but that doesn't feel like a long term solution.

So help us HN; how do you attract good developers to a small startup? What can we offer people (besides the "safety" of a large company) to give us a shot?




As a dev I will say this the hiring process sucks. I have learn that during the interview process unless it is written down and signed then it is probably a lie. Companies will say anything to get me to sign a piece of paper. Saying you use the latest technology or work on interesting problems doesn't tickle my pickle.If you want to get me excited about working for your startup take me out to lunch. Let me talk to the people I would be working with on a daily bases. Let me ask them what they think about the project and day to day operations and such. The best interview experience I ever had was just that simple. I knew I could work along the guys and they gave me a clear picture what to expect working there. Salary is always negotiable and all that other stuff.


> I have learn that during the interview process unless it is written down and signed then it is probably a lie.

This happened to me when I took a job at Microsoft and it sucked. The worst thing was that when I asked around I found that Microsoft does this kind of bait and switch all the time and that a lot of other people were in a similar situation and thought that it was normal.

It's not normal. People should not lie to you about what a job is going to be, and there are many companies that will try to give you good information about what the job will be like.


I think it's partly a matter of priming the pump with a one or two fantastic initial hires. Go above and beyond to get a couple terrific people on board (offer a title, or an opportunity to earn a title, or a big piece of equity, etc.), and then you have "and we have an amazing team" as a big new piece of your sales pitch to the rest.

Anecdotally -- from my own job search experiences, and from my experiences hiring engineers at a few different places -- a candidate's sense of the people they'll be working is a huge factor in their decision. Make that factor strongly in your favor and you'll be in good shape. Also, don't be afraid to have a rigorous technical interview process -- I think that can double as a sales pitch for great candidates who want to be at companies that recognize and appreciate their skills.


This is great advice. I will try to reach out to some more high-profile people here in the local community. Maybe a nice title and a position with lots of freedom could interest someone.


My first guess is that maybe your "high" salary isn't high enough. That's usually the reason that companies think there are no good developers out there.

They're out there. But they're expensive. How much are you offering?


You might be right, but we are pretty certain that we pay at least 20% more than the larger companies around here. Nobody has requested a salary that we have said no to. The feedback we have been given is that we do pay better, but that it feels safer for them at a larger place or that they have found something more interesting.

I understand that the domain (finance) we are in isn't the most attracting for some people, but we try to pitch the exiting parts like scalability and machine learning.


Many people are uncomfortable talking about or negotiating salary. So the feedback you are receiving might just be a candidate's polite way of reframing their choice that was actually based on salary.

Also, are you factoring equity into the total value of your offer when you say something like '20% more than ...'? I'm not sure it would be reasonable if you are. I experienced a start-up offer once that handled it that way. There was a base salary offer, then a listing of stock options and their current value, and then the "offer" was equal to the sum of the two. That showed me the company has a serious flaw in understanding the riskiness of their own stock, or in empathizing with people who can't use stock options to pay the rent, or both.


I think you are exactly right on equity and expose a problem of startups and recruiting that borders on disingenuous at the very least. VCs fund multiple startups expecting many to fail. As I’ve seen first hand, a prototype can land a million dollar convertible note at a $10m cap. For the founders to then turn around and act like 1 percent of the stock is really worth $100k isn’t even close to reality. To account for realistic exits you probably need to cut that by 1/3. So to match a big company offer of $100k salary and $100k equity (of liquid stock), you need to match the salary and offer 3x equity for the compensation to be about equal.

Yet most startups won’t match salary and then try to pretend that their equity is worth way more than it is. “We’ll pay you $70k but give you $150k in equity so the comp is more!” When the reality is the comp is actually significantly less if equity is more fairly valued. In this fictitious example, the $220k offered comp is really more like $130k, so about a 30% pay cut from the $200k offered by the big co. Startup equity isn’t worthless, but it needs to be valued at a significant discount which varies by the stage.


This is one of my favorite posts about valuing start-up options: < http://www.danshapiro.com/blog/2010/11/how-much-are-startup-... >.

But, funny enough, any time I have been in a negotiating position with a start-up, they act deeply offended that I would even ask about liquidity preference, makeup of the board, etc. Many of them refuse to answer these questions. It really flushes out a lot of insecurity and reveals toxic attitudes when founders won't talk frankly about this stuff.

Basically, the start-up world is about providing lifestyle employment that subtly devalues and manipulates skilled workers who don't happen to know enough about employment, or haven't had much life experience with it yet. Sometimes this can be profitable for early stage employees, but most often it is only profitable for outright founders and investors. Holders of regular options rarely make money from them, and when they do it rarely is significant in their lives and usually doesn't compensate them for foregone wage they could have earned in other jobs.

Unfortunately, there is a steady supply of people who value affiliation with a certain tech in-group, and lifestyle aspects of a job, like foosball tables, beer night, dog-friendly offices, etc., more than competitive wage. Usually these people don't realize they aren't being paid or that their options are not worth what they think they are worth, and later they become dissatisfied with the arrangement but have no negotiating power to change it.

Another toxic side effect of this is that some start-ups can have wildly varying pay levels for employees of the same stature in the firm. If two different people are brought in as data scientists, say, but while one of them was completing a Ph.D. the other was working and experienced some of the poor compensation stuff, then when each is hired, one of them will do a better job at negotiating and have a better understanding of what is reasonable. The other may just be happy to have a job after grad school.

Fast forward a few months and both of the data scientsts are each doing a great job and are each adding about the same amount of value to the firm, but one is paid more, and by being paid more is probably also viewed as a higher-status employee and may be closer in line for a promotion or an additional raise. Virtually never will the firm "do the right thing" and adjust the lower-paid person up to a matching salary, because there's no market force compelling them to (due to that employee's asymmetric lack of knowledge about the situation).

Founders and investors often foolishly think of these information asymmetries as arbitrage opportunities, as one might in a financial market. But for extracting productivity from human workers, it usually doesn't work that way, and you're carrying a lot of risk that the whole company will become a toxic place that can't be saved even by vast amounts of "culture" engineering.

Note that rarely is it the founders / investors who are behaving irrationally in these cases (at least not w.r.t. their hiring efforts). It's more often the entry level or bright-eyed engineer who doesn't want to think about unpleasant negotiation or fairness in salary levels, and accepts free lunches in place of 401(k) matching.


Agree with all that you said and I have seen it first hand as I tend to be a poor negotiator and overly trust people. My main issue is the selling of the “mission” by investors and founders. Even in the first comment of the article you linked, Mark Suster talks about people obsessing about options. Certainly we should all be doing stuff for more than money, but if founders and investors weren’t concerned at all about the money why not make these companies non-profits. The reality is they use the information asymmetry for their benefit and then try to pretend it doesn’t matter and people should be about the mission. If you want a mission join the military or the peace corp. Your B2B app isn’t a “mission”.


As a curiosity, how much are you paying your consultants vs. your employees?

I ask this as a consultant who has had several clients try to hire me as an FTE. The consulting life isn't always awesome, but there are certainly financial and lifestyle perks to it. Here's a few of them:

- work remote/from home pretty much whenever I want to

- "unlimited" unpaid holidays (as in, if I don't do any work on Tuesday, I don't get paid, but I don't get fired either)

- 100% paid "overtime", I get paid for every hour I work at the same rate. No multipliers for extra time, but no expectation that I'm going to work for free.

- No penalty for "moonlighting" - If an interesting project comes my way and I can fit it into my schedule, I'm more than welcome to.

- My current invoicing rate is $120CAD/hr. I'm definitely not at a 100% utilization on that, but the given the other perks, it works out to a very comfortable living.

As an unrelated curiosity, do you have developers right now who you feel are awesome? Do they not having anyone in their close networks that they could try to bring in?


I think we are paying around 1.6 times more for the consultants right now. I understand that many of them have pretty sweet deals, but at the same time there is a lot of perks being employed over here too, especially if you have kids.

We have some great developers now, all of whom came in on personal connections, but it feels like we hit a stop there.


So using my numbers and fudging a little bit for the CAD/USD exchange rate and not knowing where you're located...

My consulting rate is $120CAD -> $90USD. $90USD/1.6 = $56.25USD. On a pure hourly basis, that works out to ~$125kUSD/yr. Is that in the ballpark of what you're offering for salary?


Offering too high a salary may lead candidates to believe that there's a problem analogous to an individual who is willing to pay a higher interest rate.

I think the right candidates are those who are already excited about scaling systems and machine learning [and have a strong track record]. I suspect that that pool would also contain a high proportion of people who have previously worked at startups.


Many developers will be looking for a larger premium (50-100%) to work in finance, rather than a tech company. To express this with arbitrary numbers: Who'd actively choose Goldman Sachs at 120k over Google at 100k ?


Also, for a European fintech startup, not being located in London is a riskier choice re. staffing.


You're probably in the Bay Area -- and if you don't want remote developers you're shutting yourself off from all of us who wouldn't move there no matter how high the compensation.


We're actually in Copenhagen. Probably should have mentioned that in the OP.

Point taken though, we should consider taking in remote workers. My only "fear" is that it will be hard to build a good company culture without a "core" team sitting in the same location. We have some remote consultants working on our gui right now, and even though they do a fantastic job, it adds quite a lot of overhead in management and I'm not really satisfied with the knowledge sharing between the remote and the on-site teams. I guess there is a lot of room for improvements on our part here though.


It will be hard to build a good company even if everyone sits together...heck, it will be hard to build a bad one. I don't necessarily think that remote is or is not the answer, but finding the right person regardless of where that person lives and what that person needs is the problem.

I'd add that extrapolating from consultants to employees is fraught with hazard [the same is true for extrapolating from employee to consultant]. The context for the relationship is different. Anyway, reducing management overhead should not be a goal...managing people is a full time job. Probably one of the hardest ones out there when done well.

Think about it this way: somehow the company leadership views people doing a fantastic job as unsatisfactory. Despite needing to ramp up staffing. Is that an attractive culture to potential hires?

Good luck.


This book[1] answers nearly all the questions a company would have about going remote. Might be a worthy read for the OP.

As you pointed out thought, remote or local, doesn't say much, there are other things that are more important.

[1] https://37signals.com/remote/


Ive never seen a team develop which dont share the same physical space.

Even a Big Enterprise Company, suffers from "us vs them" in the same city but different building blocks, now imagine how "we" see "them" in another country and they us. Hell, Ive been in this "safe" big enterprize for more than 2-3 years now, and the people on the floor above and below are more strangers than you here on HN.

So, remote work, consider it different.

However, you mentioned finance, Ive turned down a very lucrative offering from a finance company just because they bragged that their investors are Saudi Arabians, its just personal, but no thanks, they can keep their blood/oil money.


It's funny to me how often I hear about company culture from the executives and owners of a company, but never from the actual employees working there.

Here's a secret - culture isn't that important to employees. It's nice, but nowhere near their top priorities when job hunting. I'd say order of preference for a lot of people (not all) would probably go something like:

-Salary/Compensation -How interesting the problems are you're working on -Flexibility to work remote, good vacation and sick options, etc. -A million other things -Culture

If your goal is to get the best, you should keep what their priorities might be in mind. If I had the choice between a good "company culture", and getting to work entirely remotely, I'm going to choose remotely every time.


When you say high, how high are we talking? One thing to consider is that in most high tax countries (i.e. Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, etc) high (in terms of total cost, after accounting for employer tax + social security) actually isn't that high.

I would consider an after tax salary of €2,500 not high, for example. But that salary might already cost the company €5,000-8,000 per month


Agreed. Personally, I would love to move to Denmark, and I am actually on the job market right now (I do scientific computing with Python and some related data engineering tools, so I have no idea if I fit the OP's company) but my immediate instinct is to be really skeptical of this.

For me to feel like a job offer to Copenhagen is attractive, the take-home pay needs to be similar to what it would be in Boston in the US ... so mid to high 100k USD range of gross pay, say something close to 100k USD take-home pay, which roughly corresponds to a take-home pay of 688k Danish krone per year. With high taxes there, I'm guessing this means a salary of greater than 1MM krone/year to be roughly equal to a competitive offer in a mid-cost urban area in the US. And if it is in the finance industry as the OP suggested in another comment, then there should be some opportunity for profit sharing as well.

Cost of living doesn't factor into this so much, though cost of living in Scandinavian cities is pretty high. There is career risk and visa / tax hassle to worry about, relocation and housing costs, and the usual start-up risk. It's not at all the same as taking on a risk in the Bay area, where there are many jobs to switch to if your company doesn't work out.

I think a lot of start-ups don't consider these things, and often they don't have to consider them because there's a line of schmucks down the street waiting to work for them.

But if you are a thoughtful person and you consider visa risk, tax risk, career risk, relocation risk, regular start-up failure risk, etc., then for a job like this you might even expect a significant premium when compared to US-based jobs in the same field. A lot of European start-ups, I find, don't fundamentally think this way, and they expect that American workers should be happy to accept "European" salaries, which are then taxed at a higher rate, all while you're bearing many additional risks.

Unless your personal preference function puts a huge, huge premium on the status of "living in Europe" then it's probably a bad deal in terms of net life happiness.


This line of thinking is spot on. Face it, European salaries are just extremely low.

I personally know of several awesome EU engineers working remotely for bay area startups, earning bay area salaries. Now THAT is attractive. Usually it means they're self employed, but they're easily making €8,000 after tax (+ they can tax deduct all their tech goodies!)

Now, why would I take that €40,000 gross/year job again? (this doesn't just apply to startups, btw, it applies to most tech jobs in Europe)


What makes it even more egregious is that some of the absolute best engineers on the planet are in Europe. It is a powerhouse of design talent, the birthplace of tons of pivotal scientific ideas, has many bastions of functional programming, and so on.

Some of those people choose to move to the US, but surely many great engineers choose to remain there for cultural or family reasons.

As someone interested in the efficient allocation of talent across the whole planet to help for the overall betterment of the world, it's upsetting to me that their random family associations or random cultural ties means they get paid significantly less money than lesser skilled people who just so happen to be near a lucky geographic spot.

European salaries are low, and it is unreasonable that they are low. It would be great if more American companies began hiring remote workers from Europe to arbitrage away this silly wage differential and put pressure on European capital to grow up a little and start being competitive.


Agreed, there is a lot of talent in Europe. Most European companies don’t realise they can put together an amazing team if you pay engineers $100-150k a year. They think having more people at lower salaries is better than fewer people at higher salaries.

Second to that is that a lot of established, larger companies don’t realise this either. I’ve happen to have had talks with the CEO of a €1bn revenue apparel company, and they have trouble hiring talent. I told them to start with a small team of highly skilled people (+ paying them really well) and build their digital capabilities around that. The CTO, who was in charge of this, basically laughed my idea out of the room and said they needed to hire 150+ new technical people to become a digital leader. In the next year. Why? ‘Cause more developers will solve the problem.. :)

Realistically, they needed 15-20 great people to support the digital side of that entire business, at most.


That sounds tragic, especially since it has been well-known even since the time of Brooks' The Mythical Man-Month that small teams are often much better than large teams, and that team productivity does not scale at all linearly with team size, probably more like the log of team size, so there are major diminishing returns.

I wonder how much of this is related to status effects. I used to work in a quant finance shop that cared desperately about the way their tech team looked on paper. The credentials and degrees each hire possessed were often much more important than practical skill -- even though technical problems were hugely business critical to the firm, and it wound up that a small number of competent engineers handled the majority of important work.

But, whenever the firm was entertaining new prospective clients and they could walk them through a big cubicle bank full of fancy Ivy grads furiously typing, the status effect translated into real money for the firm's higher level management and senior executives.

I can't say they were being irrational -- I guess the burden falls to the customers being irrational in their impressions of what engineering is supposed to look like?


It was. Especially since it means they’ll be throwing €10-30m down the drain over the next few years with this strategy. I expect the CTO to be long gone before they realise that. In general, in BigCo, the more people you have under you in the org. chart, the more power you wield. It's ridiculous though.

In defence of the CEO, in most cases, more people means faster and/or better production. He was extremely capable (I was impressed, he really knew his stuff), and he knew what he wanted to achieve when it came to the company’s digital presence. With proper BigCo resources, not all that hard to achieve I think.

Second, it also probably had to do with the fact that the CTO was just unable to agree with me. It’s a family business (I’m friends with someone of the family), and if he agreed with what I said, he would’ve basically been admitting he couldn’t do the job. So in that regard he probably thought I was posing a significant risk to his continued employment. The CEO was someone of the family + a significant shareholder.


Kensho?


Interesting. How did they find the roles? I'm self employed and operate my own UK limited company as a contracting vehicle. Working for Bay Area start ups sounds attractive...


Depends. Conferences, hacker news (who is hiring), weworkremotely, just reaching out to people, etc


I'm interested. I'm in the EU and don't need a visa. Will gladly relocate to Copenhagen to be part of the core team.

How can I send you a CV?


Hey, I'd move to Copenhagen in a heartbeat if you could sponsor whatever credentials I'd need to work there and help arrange for a place to live.


I would also gladly move to Copenhagen if there was a work visa to make it possible.


Can confirm. I've been looking for a remote job in the bay area. Not because I don't want to move there, but because it's virtually impossible to move there because all the companies want you to move on a very short notice and they don't want to spend a lot of money to get you an H1B visa. It was very hard to find companies that were willing to work with remote employees (even though they are much cheaper and often just as qualified).


Many also offer needlessly poor relocation packages -- mostly because engineers are foolishly willing to accept them.

A flat payment of even $8000 is not reasonable for someone to move across the country, even if they are moving alone and seeking small, affordable apartments.

A minimum relocation package should include having the company handle the arrangements for a full-service moving company who will pack your things in boxes and unpack them in the new place, flight and hotel for 1 or 2 visits to the new city for housing search, cover all up-front costs with renting a new place (fees, deposit, first month rent), and still leave you with a few thousand dollars on top of that for incidental expenses, unplanned costs after you've moved in, etc. And if they need you to relocate from an area with accessible public transit to an area where a car is required, then a sign-on bonus that covers most or all of the cost of a reasonable quality car should also be standard.

This is not luxury stuff, this is just the basic human cost of moving across the country. If you take the risk of a new job in SF and move all the way there and it doesn't work out, well you don't get a refund on your moving expenses and you don't get compensation for any personal time you took (e.g. if you moved yourself with a UHaul).

And what if you injure your back while carrying furniture down the stairs? Will your new company cover the medical bills? What if the moving company you hired damages your stuff or loses it? Will the new company reimburse you?

This is why it's so necessary that the company assumes the risk of these things. The company is funded and/or profitable (or else shouldn't be considering hiring someone who requires relocation). They can afford to bear the relocation costs and the risks. A lone individual may or may not be able to, and can't risk their livelihood on their ability to handle the relocation risks.

But it's all too common that a start-up offers $2500 to a recent college grad who has been eating ramen for the last week. It sounds great, and they don't know enough about career status and so forth to realize that if you admit you are willing to physically haul your own stuff around, it already paints you as a low-status subordinate. These folks unblinkingly accept precarious and unreasonable relocation scenarios, and then the company can hide behind a claim of "well, no one else complained about our relocation assistance" when negotiating.


Interesting when you put it like that. When I graduated i'd never heard of relo assistance let alone knew how much to ask for. If offered 2k id been very happy.


I'm in the same boat as well and it's been tough.


1. Are you sure you're offering above market? I can't tell you the number of times i've been contacted by a company with a 'great market rate' salary, offering me a better position than I'm in, for way less than my current salary.

2. Smart people want to work with smart people, so make sure the people doing the interview are doing the right things to attract the right folks. If I see a red flag in an interview, I'm going to be very weary.

3. Get involved in a community! Whatever your stack is, start going to meetups for it, release some open source, give talks on your infrastructure, etc. Pretty soon you can be one of the names that comes up when someone is looking to work with a certain technology.

Look at Jane Street's model. They are a tiny (or, at least used to be, maybe now they're just small) compared to the big companies. They are the OCaml guys, they don't have a big team, but if you want to make $$$ are interested in functional programming, you absolutely look into working there and their name comes up in a lot of conversations. Good luck!


From my experience, paying the premium to get on GitHub, StackOverflow, and any other major job post site as well as paying mid to upper six figures will always bring in good candidates.

Also offering a killer relocation package to candidates that aren't located near you can help.


Mid to upper six figures alone aught to do it.


Simple: Give developers good reasons to join. It's not always about perks and benefits. Everyone wants their work to mean something.

Alan Eustace, SVP of Engineering @ Google, is often called their best recruiter. You might find some ideas that apply to your situation > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvebAGerh88


Most people don't jump for lateral moves. That leaves two options. Pay a lot more or find someone that can grow into the role. It's that simple. Or spend a lot of time, money and energy looking for someone that's dumb enough to jump for a lateral move.


I jumped for lateral move. For a better work environment and culture. To escape high pressure and assholes.


fair point. but, I suspect that they are a high pressure environment.


1) your space is "boring" and a start-up is high risk; you will naturally have to evaluate a larger number of applicants before finding the right one. From my experience when I worked in banking (USA, c2005) we had a hard time finding devs; in adult-content (c2009) applicants were plentiful; now I'm back in regulatory compliance and devs are "hard" to find; my associates in the-next-hot-lo-mo-so app have more candidates

2) You may be able to find one good dev-hire as a core builder; and continue to run with consultants going forward. Many times I've been able to engage a dev-consultant part-time and continue to increase the engagement - transitioning into full-time (or close to it).


Don't mean to derail the thread, but how come applicants for adult-content were plentiful? I would expect most people to try to avoid that area, if only for the reputation "costs"?


Towards whom? Handling HA in porn websites, especially in the top-20, is quite a challenge IMHO and any mid-to-senior DevOps/sysadmin position in such a company would carry some weight to a resume.


would help to see how you're advertising the role if you can share (keep the company name hidden if you want..)

other thing is, are you getting applications? is it after the applications that they leave you?

and where are you based?


Its a slow grind using the traditional approaches. The current best developer in my group I hired after a 2.5 year search.

I would look for people that have side projects that are open sourced online. It shows they have a passion for what they do.

People who understand core programming concepts but program in a different language are ones I would consider if there are few candidates available in the language you use.


"We know how important a good core team is for a startup, so we don't want to hire people we don't think fits in our team."

Is this code for "cultural fit"?


To attract great engineers, show them these interesting problems that you're trying to solve. Talk about it publicly. Start an engineering blog. Network at tech events.

You're right in that a startup represents risk - what else can you offer in place of that risk? More money? More time? More freedom? More opportunity? You'll have to figure out what ticks with the developers you're trying to attract.


Would you consider remote contractors? I (think I) am a decent full stack guy, and used to be a Quant (mentioning that because you said in the comments that your startup is in finance). Now I do contracts to fund my own startup. My email is in my profile.


I'm a Senior Full-Stack Software Developer+Engineer born and living in the US with 14 years experience. I have a job right now, but I'm in the "Active Looking" status. I'm remote only, but would like to visit the company once in a while. I know how to ship. Hit me up.


As someone who considers himself a good developer, I'll try to share some points with you. Hopefully they will be helpful, even if I'm positive you'll find at least one of them outrageous.

1) Companies don't do a good job of communicating their story. A typical job ad is a listing of technical terms. I don't care about them for the most part. What I want to hear is your story. That includes: - Who you are, how you came to be - What the problem you're trying to solve is, whom it will help. Do I make the lives of poor children better or do I help yet another rich bastard from Wall Street to get even richer? Now, for me that matters. - What you have done already, what worked, what didn't, what you plan to do next - Who the people you have are, their backgrounds, their culture, their interests, their personalities - What the working culture is like, the process, the values, the priorities, the attitude - Handling of all kinds of non-standard situations, personal conflicts. What if someone wants to work remotely, needs specific hardware/furniture, would like to take a break for whatever reasons, then come back? Will this be discussed or faced with a stone wall? - Technical stuff, just to be thorough, in the last place though

Basically anything and everything to tell me who you are. Otherwise I can't distinguish between you and hundreds of others. The job ads which are personal stand out, sadly these only come as frequently as the year digits change.

2) If you want someone to come to work for you in your office, you absolutely must provide a complete and thorough relocation package covering the entire expenses. It's been said before in the thread, but it deserves to be mentioned as a separate answer.

I don't know much about Denmark, but I'm familiar with Germany. Let's say you were based in Munich and wanted a great developer to come to you. This is what I'm thinking:

- To rent and set up an apartment in Munich you'd need at least 10-12K Euros in cash upfront - Contracts are typically for a year minimum, that's another 15K Euros in delayed obligations - If I come, find out after two weeks we don't fit and want to leave, I'll end up with a huge debt of close to 30K Euros, a punishment just for trying a new job - If I stay, with the demeaning salaries offered by German companies, it'll still going to take some 12-18 months to compensate those expenses. Meaning I will be working for free for all this time. - Verdict: I'm staying home. Even a job as a cleaning personnel is better than that, as in more lucrative and safer. But of course I'll just find a remote job for whomever pays the highest bid. Developers are in demand, you know.

And this is not even the worst. In France you need to have someone to vouch for you financially to be able to rent an apartment. In Belgium the minimum contract duration is either 3 or 8 years (considered short-term and long-term). Also, in France you have to pay some yearly tax as a tenant. What if I leave after a couple of months? Who's going to settle that when the year end comes, while I'm away with my visa long expired?

In short, unless the company is completely taking away those risks and problems, there's just nothing that could compel me to move.

3) Pay good money. I think for a good developer a very basic arrangement should start at about 4000 Euros as takeaway money, after taxes, rent, utilities and everything else. If that is someone who stands out, the price is higher.

4) Be flexible in all kinds of arrangements. Payment, working hours, holidays, everything should be open for negotiation. Things like NDAs and non-competes will scare away many great developers who have their own projects. Since you are run by VCs, they probably force you to require those documents to be signed by any hire, and that is a problem you'll have to solve before looking for great people.

5) Be nice and respectful with people. Don't push them through humiliating technical interviews. Don't tell them their CV is a lie. Don't tell them they have a wrong degree, they are not smart and don't have what it takes to be a great developer. Germany companies are notorious for being extremely arrogant and condescending, but others may be different. Just know if you have those personality traits, you have to keep them in check, as people from other cultures may find them plain hostile.

If you have these basics covered, you shouldn't have much problem finding people.


Can not agree more. That explains well about how LinkedIn screws itself.


Start searching in role-playing groups. Seriously. Talk about your ideas to the people who play.


Why not try to post in this month's Who is hiring? thread?


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