February 9, 2023
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Someone asked me this question recently and while I was giving him the answer, I thought this must be a common question for a lot of companies. I decided to write a post about it!
One of the companies where I have recently invested in is finding it hard to find good engineering talent (1-2 years exp). Is there something that has worked well for you at Akto?
Good devs have the capacity to take ownership, are curious to learn a lot, and possess decent programming skills. In a startup, they should also be prepared to take on any task, be willing to accept a lower salary for higher ESOPs, and take the initiative. I want to hire only 5 devs - really good devs.
You don’t know what problem is going to hit you, you don’t know when would a customer be blocked on a P0 bug and you don’t know which approach to take if there are 3 available. What you definitely know if you need the solution as fast as possible. You want to iterate fast and fail fast.
If our standards for good devs match, then it is important to understand what they want from the company.
Ambitions are very high when you are fresh out of college. Personally, I wanted to make significant impact in the company I joined as a developer 10 years ago. I wanted to learn more about the tech world and at the same time apply it too. I wanted a good mentor to help me and guide me. Most of such ambitious freshers and even senior devs find it hard to get a good developing environment around them.
Here is how you find such people in 3 months:
I reached out to all good devs I have known and worked with. Most of them weren’t looking for a change, but they helped me a lot in providing referrals. Some of them joined Akto. I also cold-messaged quite a few devs on LinkedIn to tell about Akto’s vision and achievements. 20% responded and were open to a call.
We can't rely on the above methods alone; they may not be as effective 3 months down the line. A good approach is to build a pipeline of developers.
We regularly post technical blogs on LinkedIn and Twitter on APIs, API Security and handling scale. We used LinkedIn & Cuvette (https://cuvette.tech) to hire interns. I have received some calls back from candidates who weren’t ready earlier, but now want to join Akto.
This seems like a VC pitch, but why shouldn’t it be? These devs are going to be the foundation of your product!
After this 1 hr of call, it is time to tell them if they want to interview and schedule it for the coming weekend. Be prepared, but remain confident that they will be impressed, and they will refer good people to you and remember you when they are frustrated in their current jobs. This does sound like a lot of work, but I wanted to hire only 5 devs. I put in the effort and it paid off. I have 2 freshers, 2 senior devs (5-yrs exp) and 1 8-yr experienced dev. Each of them handle 1 lane out of 5 that we have today. It took me 1 month net-net to find out these 5 gems, and their notice period etc took 2 more months.
Please share what I have missed here! This was all to help early stage startups create an organic pipeline for a small scale hiring. If you have already tried a few ideas here, let me know how well they worked (or didn’t work!) for you. A few months later, I would want to hire more. Would love to learn from you 🙂