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How to Hire Remote Developers: A Complete Guide

It’s no secret that there’s a shortage of skilled software developers. Today’s business landscape is forcing companies to embrace new technologies and adapt their workflows to better meet ever-changing client demands. However, finding experienced talent to help them in such a process is proving to be very challenging — everyone is vying for the same […]
Daniel Zacharias

Code Power Team

December 4, 2023
Remote team collaboration between in-house and external experts

It’s no secret that there’s a shortage of skilled software developers. Today’s business landscape is forcing companies to embrace new technologies and adapt their workflows to better meet ever-changing client demands. However, finding experienced talent to help them in such a process is proving to be very challenging — everyone is vying for the same professionals!

That’s why so many companies are looking to hire remote developers. Doing so means expanding the talent pools from which they search for candidates, as hiring remotely frees them from the constraints of hunting locally. Thus, companies can circumvent hiring obstacles and increase their chances of securing the required talent for their projects.

As promising as that may sound, it’s worth pointing out that hiring remotely isn’t precisely easy. There are countless factors in the process, from picking suitable candidates to adjusting the internal workflows to adapt to a new way of working. 

That’s why we made this guide: to help you navigate the troubled waters of remote hiring.

Pros of hiring remote developers

Overcoming the tech talent shortage might be the most obvious benefit of hiring developers from other countries and regions. Yet, that’s far from being the only advantage of adding remote software developers to your team. Other important pros of remote hiring include the following:

Reduced costs

Saving money is always a top priority for business executives, so you’ll be glad to learn that hiring remote developers is an excellent cost-cutting strategy. There are two ways in which this occurs. On the one hand, you might hire remote software developers from countries with a favorable exchange rate. This means you’ll get the same level of expertise as in your country but pay significantly less.

On the other hand, you’ll save on costs associated with hiring in-house developers. Some of them include buying them equipment, investing in more infrastructure, providing them with health and medical benefits, and offering them paid leaves, among others. Naturally, which of these apply to you will depend on your relationship with your remote developers.

More diverse talent pool

By expanding your talent pool to other countries and regions, you won’t be just multiplying the number of developers you’ll be able to recruit. You’ll also be opening your company’s doors to more diverse candidates that can bring numerous benefits to your team. In other words, you’ll be able to hire remote developers from all walks of life, which will positively impact your workplace.

There are plenty of advantages to having a diverse software development team. Some of the most important ones include increased creativity, enhanced problem-solving, boosted innovation, and a richer corporate culture. What’s more, having a diverse team can help you build a reputation for being an open and welcoming company, which will attract more qualified candidates. 

Access to latest technologies

One of the essential things any developer should do is engage in a constant learning process to improve their skills. Technology evolves quickly, so software engineers must stay abreast of new developments in the industry. Unfortunately, that’s hard to do, especially for members of an in-house team that are always busy working. Luckily, you can overcome that by hiring remote workers, especially those working for outsourcing companies.

Why’s that? Because you can hire them for specific projects that require a particular skill set that your in-house team might be lacking. So, instead of waiting for your developers to learn a new skill to fill your talent gaps, you can quickly fill them with external remote developers who already possess that ability. That way, you can easily access the latest technologies in the market. 

Enhanced productivity

As the COVID-19 pandemic has proven, remote work can be a productivity booster. A recent survey by Stanford University found that respondents feel they are 9% more productive when working from their homes. And while that data feels more subjective, a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found a growing output per hour worked, among people working remotely. 

People also say they feel happier, have a better work-life balance, and even tend to work longer hours when staying at home. All of those factors make an appealing case for remote work in all sectors, including software development.

Extended working hours

When you hire remote developers, you can extend your company’s workday and get more work done in a single day. It’s not just the added software engineering muscle that makes this possible. Suppose you collaborate with remote developers from countries or regions with a different time zone than your own. In that case, you’ll have an extended workday so that whenever your in-house team is resting, the remote team is working and vice versa.

There’s a caveat to this benefit, though. You need your remote developers to have some overlap with your working hours. That’s because aligning your in-house and remote teams is essential, providing them with moments to discuss projects and exchange ideas. Other than that, hiring remotely can also make your company feel like it’s working all day long.

Cons of hiring remote developers

Hiring a remote team can be a great way to forward your software development projects. However, that doesn’t mean this practice is free from challenges and potential pitfalls. There are certain disadvantages to working with remote developers that you have to know and understand before engaging with them. 

Communication issues

This is one of the most common problems when working with someone remotely. Since remote work is essentially different from on-site work, you can’t expect to use the same processes and methods you use in your office. That’s especially true with communication. When you share the same space with your team, you can quickly arrange meetings, provide feedback, and make announcements. That’s not so easy with a remote team.

On the one hand, there are the tools and processes you use when communicating with your remote team members. If you don’t choose the appropriate channels or use a poor communication strategy, you’ll quickly see how knowledge silos start to pop up. What’s worse, remote developers will start feeling disconnected from your projects and goals.

Aside from that, there’s also the possibility of working with developers that speak a different language but don’t have enough proficiency to communicate effectively. 

Misaligned expectations

Working with developers from other countries and regions significantly increases your team’s diversity. However, there’s also the possibility of a clash of cultures between in-house developers and remote engineers. That’s more noticeable when working with developers coming from vastly different backgrounds who might have disparate ideas and views on how the development process should be.

That’s a dangerous possibility because it can lead to misaligned expectations that can completely derail your projects. Fortunately, there are ways in which you can mitigate this risk. For one, you may want to hire nearshore software developers to ensure cultural compatibility. Or you can establish ground rules about how you’ll tackle the work and each remote developer’s role in that scheme. 

No direct oversight

Let’s state the facts first: working with remote developers will prevent you from being able to control what they are doing the same way you might do with your in-house developers. Sure, you might ask them to install one of the many remote monitoring tools available on the market. However, doing so can resent your relationship with the remote developers, as they’ll feel micromanaged.

Having said that, relinquishing control doesn’t necessarily have to be bad. While tight control is good to ensure everyone stays on track, providing some leeway can prove very fruitful, as it can lead to increased trust, enhanced productivity, and a better work-life balance. In that light, having no direct oversight can be a disadvantage, but only if you let it be one. Just adapt your internal processes, focus on objectives rather than hours worked, and trust your remote developers. 

Myths about hiring remote developers

A not-so-small number of people has pushed back against remote work as a model. There are many reasons for that. Some business executives talk about a loss in productivity, and some managers point to the loss of direct control over their teams. Some employees feel lost working from home and strongly dislike it.

There might be some truth to some of these claims, as the remote work model needs to be perfectly adapted to fully enjoy its benefits. However, there are also many myths surrounding remote work, especially regarding software development. Given that we at Code Power have been working remotely for years, we thought it would be important to dispel the most popular of those myths.

Remote developers can disrupt your company culture

There’s the perception that adding remote workers to a team can completely change how team members work and engage with one another. And you know what? It’s true! But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Adding new remote developers, especially people from other regions, can enrich your internal culture and add new dimensions to your team.

Of course, for that to happen, you’ll need to be open and flexible about those changes. In other words, you’ll have to accept that your culture will be different once you add remote developers. But rather than seeing it as a disruption of how things used to be, think of it as a way to reimagine your culture to be more welcoming, modern, and adaptive. 

Hiring remote poses a security risk

There are two major security-related myths surrounding remote developers. The first is that remote software engineers are a security risk because they might share or disclose details about the projects they are working on to another party. The myth states that, without you looking over their shoulders, they’ll end up leaking your information. That’s far from the truth. Good remote developers will sign an NDA and ensure that your data remains confidential and secure.

The second myth says that remote software developers don’t have the infrastructure your corporate office has, so their security is worse and more prone to attacks. While it’s natural that an office will have a more robust infrastructure, it isn’t necessarily more secure. That’s because the biggest security gap in any system is always the people. So, it doesn’t matter where your developers are located: their security level will be dictated by the number of security practices they adopt.

Managing remote developers is next to impossible

Many people (especially managers) say that controlling remote developers is one of the hardest things when working with at-home developers. They cite several reasons for that:

  • Poor communication
  • Lack of actual control over their tasks
  • Difficulty aligning remote workers with the rest of the team
  • The impossibility of brainstorming spontaneously

And while those risks exist, they don’t have to affect you.

The essential move you need to make, to prevent these pitfalls from impacting your remote team, is accepting that remote management isn’t the same as in-office management. You must develop a new management style to lead a successful remote development team. You should be fine if you establish a good communication process, use online platforms to assign and monitor tasks, and rely on goals rather than on hours worked. 

Factors to consider before hiring remote developers

Now that you have a deeper understanding of the pros and cons of hiring remote developers, you might be tempted to start searching for remote engineers immediately. But before doing so, it’s best to have a little more clarity on some essential aspects of the hiring process. That’s especially true when discussing how to prepare for the search for remote software developers.

While not exhaustive, the following is a list of things you need to think of before you start seeking remote engineers:

  1. Clearly understand your development requirements. 

The first step is to thoroughly define why you are looking for remote software developers. Do you need help with a specific project, or are you looking for a long-term commitment? What technologies will you work with? What does your development schedule look like? These and other questions are essential for determining what kind of engineering professional you should look for.

  1. Create a comprehensive screening procedure. 

Assessing remote candidates can be tricky, as you won’t be able to read the non-verbal language as well as if you were interviewing in person. That’s why you need to create a thorough selection process that allows you to understand both the professional and the person. That means you’ll have to make a procedure that lets you test technical and soft skills in a way that doesn’t feel dull.

  1. Develop your remote infrastructure and practices. 

If you haven’t worked with remote developers before, you need to invest time and effort in building solid infrastructure and related practices. That means choosing proper cloud-based platforms for communication and task management as well as creating a series of processes to govern interactions and overall work. 

  1. Be open to constructive feedback. 

Remote developers are a different breed of engineering talent. They often see work differently and are used to doing their tasks in a different way than their office counterparts. That’s why it’s always a good idea to put yourself in an open-minded mood when dealing with remote engineers. That way, you might learn a couple of things that can improve your work and processes. 

Qualities of a good remote developer

Defining a good selection process and understanding the roles you’ll need to fill isn’t enough to successfully hire remote developers. You’ll also need to know what qualities distinguish good remote developers from great ones. Those skills often come from the softer side, as technical abilities are a given when hiring a software developer.

Here’s what you should be paying attention to:

  1. Efficient time management

Since collaborating with remote engineers means you’ll have to trust their autonomy, it’s imperative that you find someone that can efficiently manage their own time to meet deadlines. Experienced developers tend to have more time management skills, as they have been part of multiple projects and understand the ‘hurry-up and wait’ nature of most of them.

  1. Great communication skills

Working remotely implies constantly communicating with other team members to ensure everything is running smoothly. That’s why you need developers who can clearly and effectively convey messages across different platforms and understand the value of communication in these processes. Fortunately, communication is a skill you can quickly assess when interviewing candidates.

  1. Collaborative spirit

No developer is an island, so you need developers with a mindset of helping their fellow coworkers. This means you should look for capable engineers with a knack for teaching others, always willing to aid them with their tasks. This might be the most challenging skill to assess in a remote development environment. Still, you can check this ability by looking into your candidate’s past work and asking for references from previous teams in which they might have worked.

  1. Constant learning mindset

Development technologies, tools, languages, and practices are in continuous evolution. The best developers move at the same speed of that evolution, always trying to keep up with the latest improvements. That’s precisely what you need from your remote engineers: people who are always learning, want to become better and can develop new abilities to bring to the table.

  1. Positive attitude

Software development can be a challenging and taxing endeavor. That’s why you should focus on hiring engineers who can withstand adverse conditions (changing requirements, complex bugs, tight deadlines) to deliver high-quality solutions. Moreover, it would be best to have positive people for remote positions, as the lack of in-office interactions can affect performance.

Step-by-step process of hiring a remote developer

After all the initial considerations and definitions, you’ll have a clearer picture of what kind of candidates you require for your software development projects. Armed with that understanding, you’ll be able to go through a step-by-step process which will make hiring the best remote developers for your organization much easier. 

  1. Define project’s requirements

The first step will have you define the requirements of the project or projects you’ll tackle with the remote developers you’re looking for. This means understanding what type of products you’ll build, their core features, and their target audiences. All this will help you determine the skills and expertise you’ll need to succeed. 

  1. Search appropriate candidates

The second step is searching for remote candidates for the gaps in your team. Here you’ll start preselecting experts that broadly fit your requirements. There are plenty of places where you can look for remote developers, including:

  • Reputable tech companies 

Outsourcing and staff augmentation companies should be your first stop in searching for candidates. These organizations have access to a vast talent pool where each professional is pre-vetted and assessed. Besides, these companies offer added value through cross-industry experience and in-depth expertise that can propel your projects forward. What’s more, these companies also take care of the entire hiring process, which can relieve you of a lot of effort.

  • Job portals

If you’re searching for remote developers on your own, posting job ads in portals is a must. People hunting for jobs regularly visit these portals, so chances are you’ll get your message across to your audience. The only caveat here is that you need to craft an informative and innovative job ad, to make sure yours stands out.

  • Freelancing platforms

Another alternative is hiring freelancers that work remotely through renowned platforms like Upwork or Fiverr. Hiring remote developers can be a cost-effective option, but you should be careful with it. Freelancers are best for short-term projects that don’t require a major commitment on their part. However, this isn’t the best choice if you’re looking for someone for the long term or if your project needs full dedication.

  • Social media

Many social networking sites have proven to be highly effective in connecting companies with remote talent. That’s especially true for platforms like LinkedIn and Stack Overflow, which can act as direct channels for reaching out to remote developers and getting them involved through a more intimate connection.

  • Referral programs

Share your job search for remote developers with your in-house team and ask them to refer any suitable candidates. You might be surprised at how well this strategy can turn out. On top of that, you’d be considering people that count, with the recommendation of team members you already know and trust.

  1. Screen your candidates

After you start building your initial candidate list with resumes coming from the different channels, it’ll be time to assess them to see whether they fit the role or roles you’re looking to fill. The best way to do this is to make an initial selection based on criteria that can help you discard most applications.

While those criteria will be different depending on your projects and requirements, there are some basic points you should consider:

  • Past experience (especially in your industry)
  • Remote work experience
  • Specific technologies 
  • Portfolio of past projects
  • Availability

You should set a minimum for each item, so anyone that doesn’t meet the required level is out of your consideration. Of course, you should couple that with the specific criteria you might have added, such as specific years of experience with a particular technology or a certain proficiency level in English. Try to be strict with your criteria so you get a short list with which you can work later on. 

  1. Evaluate technical competency

Now it’s time to assess your shortlist. It will require time and effort, as you’ll need to analyze the candidates’ skills individually. The first aspect to focus on? Technical abilities. As important as soft skills are right now, you won’t go anywhere with a remote engineer that doesn’t have a working knowledge of the tools and technologies you’ll be using in your projects.

Here, it would be best if you used programming tests to analyze the candidates’ competency and ability to work in different environments and with various frameworks, libraries and tools. Just keep in mind that your tests shouldn’t be extremely difficult just for the sake of it. 

Many companies increase the difficulty of their tests during the hiring process in the hope of finding a strong developer who can deal with anything you throw at them. While that seems logical, the reality is that many engineers might be really competent for what you need them to do. Still, they might not pass a highly complex test that has nothing to do with your development strategy. If possible, use practical exercises coming from your development projects or examples with the same level of complexity they should expect to find when working with you.

  1. Lead in-depth interviews

Perhaps the technical competency assessment helped you discard a few candidates on your shortlist, and maybe they all met your expectations. Whatever the result, you should keep assessing those applicants to check their soft abilities. There are a handful of ways to do so, but when hiring remotely, the most direct way is through an in-depth interview.

Use that interview to learn more about the candidate’s past work experience but also to get to know them. Remember that this isn’t a social chat, although it’s best if you conduct the interview as one. The idea is to have a relaxed conversation where you can check how the candidate conducts:

  • How they speak
  • How they explain different events in their personal and professional lives
  • How punctual they are
  • How positive they appear
  • How eager they are to get to know you

Assessing soft skills isn’t easy, though. You may have to pay attention to small details as well as ask the right questions to elicit the answers you’re looking for. It’s a tricky balance to achieve, but if you always think of the interviews as a way to get to know the other person, it will significantly simplify the process.

  1. Dig deeper

Some people might tell you that you’ll be ready to make an offer after all the steps above are done. And while that might be true, it’s often best to do additional research before hiring a remote candidate. Doing that will help you ensure that the software developers who have caught your attention are the best fit for your software development ambitions. 

That additional research has a few possible paths:

  • You might want to look thoroughly at their portfolio to see it with a fresh perspective, knowing a little more about the person who created it.
  • You may want to talk to past employers to hear about their first-hand experience with the candidate, focusing primarily on soft skills.
  • You might want to ask them for feedback about their interactions with your company to double-check their communication abilities.
  1. Make an offer and onboard

After all these steps, you’ll surely have a clearer view of who’s the best candidate for your opening. Here, you’ll only have to offer them the position while keeping an open door for any potential discussion that might arise. Remember, there’s a shortage of highly skilled developers, so they might have specific demands regarding work engagement. Hear everything they have to ask and see how both the company and the candidate can find a middle ground.

Under no circumstances should you let the candidate push you into a corner. It doesn’t matter if this candidate is the most experienced and talented software engineer you’ve ever seen. If they become difficult and ask for special consideration, move on to the next best candidate. Why? Because a candidate who asks too much from a company often demands some sort of a rockstar treatment. That kind of behavior usually hides a person that doesn’t truly understand how to collaborate with other team members. 

Once you’re on the same page about objectives, expectations, and payments, it’ll be time to onboard your remote developer. This means a couple of things, including signing contracts and agreements such as an NDA, equipping them with the tools and platforms they need for the job, and formally introducing them to your company. It’s best to have a well-defined onboarding process in advance, as introducing a new team member to your company without a proper method can confuse the newcomer and disrupt the team. 

Hiring remote developers doesn’t have to be hard

As this guide has made it abundantly clear, hiring remote software developers isn’t an easy process. You need to be methodical about your approach, define multiple aspects before your search even begins, and then have plenty of time, money, and perseverance to be successful. 

Such a lengthy process can be discouraging and take its toll on your hiring team, especially if you can’t find the remote developers you’re looking for right away. That’s why you need a strategy to lead you through the winding road of remote hiring. Reading this guide is a great first step toward developing that strategy, but it isn’t enough. You have to precisely detail what you require for your positions, so the process has more shots at success.

Hiring remote developers doesn’t have to be that hard, however. There’s always the option of reaching out to a software development company to help you with your engineering projects. You can establish a long-term relationship for better results or engage in a one-time agreement to source the software development professionals you need to augment your team. There are plenty of companies out there that offer different services and engagement models which can accommodate your needs.

Code Power is one of them 

We have years of combined cross-industry experience and in-depth expertise in most development technologies. Moreover, our teams have some of the best software engineers in the market, ready to empower your projects at a moment’s notice. 

The best of it all? Code Power’s remote engineers can add extra value to your projects by providing informed insights and a people-first approach to everything you do.

So, there you have it. 

Hiring remote developers offers multiple pathways you can choose from, while providing several benefits that can give you a competitive advantage. Hopefully, this guide has opened your eyes to the importance of engaging with remote developers and provided you with a few tips to make that arrangement work for your company.

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