The Guide to Hiring Remote Developers


Hiring remote developers comes with many benefits. It can reduce your costs, improve your development velocity, and give you access to more diverse talent. But how do you hire remote developers? We’ll look at where to go for hiring developers and the skills to consider.

Where to Find Remote Developers

You have a few main options when it comes to hiring remote software engineers. You can hire individual freelancers or employees to work from their locations. You can use an outsourcing staffing provider. You can create your own secondary locations just for developers. Or you can hire a company that will provide the remote developers for you.

You can post job listings for independent contractors or companies on job boards. (Shameless plug: Consider posting on Remote Creative Work. This is a job board we launched that connects connects remote-by-default companies with remote-by-default talent.)

Another way to connect with developers is to hire an agency that offers remote development services.

What Makes a Good Remote Developer?

The following considerations apply no matter how you choose to hire remote developers.

Their Development Skill Set

The best place to start is the same place you’d start hiring an on-site developer: The skillset. The developers you are considering must have the relevant skills for the job. If you need a front-end developer, they should know how to do that. The same is true of a back-end developer, app developer, or any other role.

Before you start hiring developers, make a list of the required skills. This should include tasks that they can complete. It should also include programming languages to be familiar with.

Relevant Experience

One of the best ways to confirm a candidate’s skill set is by looking at their past experience. Ideally, you want to try hiring developers who have worked on a project like yours in the past.

If you have a remote process in place (ie: asynchronous by default), see if the candidate has similar experience working in this way.

This is not necessary, but it’s very helpful. It will reduce their learning curve. It will also improve their chances of initial success.

Their Fit in the Company Culture

You also want to make sure that your chosen developers are a good cultural fit. This can vary based on your company and needs. For example, assume your company highly values collaboration. You would make sure they have experience collaborating. Or, assume your company values go-getters who take care of problems themselves. You would look for someone with those skills.

Another aspect of the company culture to consider is the schedule or hours. Make sure that your candidate is willing to work the number of hours you expect. If you expect overtime, confirm they are willing.

This can also relate to the hours of the day worked. You may not care when the developers work, as long as they put in the hours. Or, you may need them to work during specific hours. Working during set hours allows for easier communication and collaboration. If your developers are in another time zone, confirm there will not be any conflicts. It’s common to find a middle ground where you set aside a few hours a day or a week to sync up with developers in different timezones.

Communication Skills, Especially Written Communication

Pay close attention to the communication skills of your chosen developers. This is important for all positions but especially remote ones. After all, there are no in-person communications with remote developers.

Pay extra attention to written communication when hiring remote software engineers. This will likely be the main form of communication.

There are two sides to communication skills. The developers should clearly communicate their ideas. They should also correctly interpret the communications of others.

Experience Using Your Collaboration Tools

No matter the collaboration tools you use, it is a bonus if your developers are familiar with them. At the very least, they should be familiar with a version control systems (GitHub), a project management tool and a communication tool.

Prioritizes Collaboration

When hiring remote developers, look for those who prioritize collaboration. Most development projects are team efforts. No developer works in a vacuum. They will need to combine their work with others eventually. At the very least, developers must handle cross-functional hand-offs. Even better if they can handle this in both a synchronous and asynchronous workflow.

Previous Remote Work Experience

It would be best if you looked for potential developers who have prior experience working remotely. This will reduce the risk of technical problems, communication issues, or self-management. After all, they will likely have overcome these issues already for past projects.

Technical Security

Depending on your project, you may have additional concerns about data security. In this case, it’s not always wise to hire someone from a freelancer portal. You would want to use an agency of some sort, whether they provide the developers or hire them for you. This will help ensure that your data is always secure and handled properly.

Consider a Short Test

If you want to ensure that you’re hiring remote developers that are the best fit, consider a short test. It can confirm their technical and communication skills. It can also confirm troubleshooting skills. Most independent contractors or freelancers will happily complete a paid test like this.

You can craft a new exercise for them like to develop a module. Or what we like to do at With Pulp is bring on a developer for a 2-week trial period. This trial period models the real working environment (same kind of work, the same team they’d work with) to make the evaluation period as close to the real world as possible. And if there’s a good mutual fit, we ask the developer to join our team.

If you’re working with a company or agency, you can go through a different evaluation process to see if they have the right developers. Read more about how to evaluate an agency.

We Can Help With Your Remote Development Needs

If you’re looking for remote Drupal or JAMstack developers, send us a note. We’ve worked with top non-profits, higher ed organizations and start-ups to help them develop fast and modern web experiences. We’d love to learn about your needs and see how we can help.

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