Insights and Opinions

Finding Developers Is Tough Again

Our Insights and Opinions article today is from Tony Karrer, CEO/CTO of TechEmpower, a Los Angeles Web Development firm, who gives some hints, tips, and observations about the increasing difficulty of finding technical talent in Los Angeles. Tony blogs about CTO issues at Socal CTO

I'm seeing and hearing that it's becoming tough finding good developers again, at least here in Los Angeles. On Friday, at the LA CTO Forum, I heard from a couple of CTOs having trouble finding good developers. My company, TechEmpower, recently added a few top notch developers, but it wasn't easy to find just the right people.

And funny enough, I wrote this post this morning and had it scheduled to come out the next morning. In between, I got an email asking about this exact issue:

I'm growing a social gaming startup, as Founder and CEO. I'm currently looking for developers to join the founding team and when I read your post, I felt like I have been going through the exact same thing as your friend. I've Googled, gone through my network, posted to Craigslist, and approached universities, and much like your friend I am having a heck of a time finding developers in LA. It makes you want to move north!

I was wondering, what methods have you found to be successful in finding developers? I took a look at TechEmpower, and it looks like you guys are doing great! That's really exciting to see. I'm primarily looking for front end developers who are experts in AS3, and back end developers who are proficient at PHP and MySQL. Do you have anyone you could recommend to me, or any resources?

Perfect timing. I went back and revise the post. Couple of quick thoughts:

  • I’m not so sure that moving north will get you better talent. I get inquiries from there a lot even with the strong bias against LA.
  • I don’t have specific suggestions for people you can hire.
  • My methods are pretty vanilla. I do have a little bit of an advantage having been around LA for 20 years doing development, being a former professor, having really interesting and varied projects to work on. Of course, a lot of people say the same thing.
  • Seems like you might be able to source people from universities, especially for the front-end work. Depends on complexity.

Sorry, I wish I could be more help.

What Other People Say About Sourcing Developers?

In Los Angeles Web Developer, I talked about the issues with finding developers in Los Angeles based the experience that one startup founder had. The founder had tried or considered:

  • Web Search not all that useful more design firms that development firms
  • LinkedIn searched for people, but gave up pretty quickly as it felt like a needle in a haystack.
  • Freelance Sites considered, not used, concerned about quality
  • Craigslist - considered, not used, concerned about quality
  • Local networking decent luck. See Networking Events in Los Angeles and Southern California.

My fellow CTOs often discuss where/how we find good developers. Their list is fairly similar. Here's what we hear in roughly the order of preference:

  • Direct referral
  • LinkedIn (both Job Postings and Searching for Talent)
  • Recruiters
  • Developer Groups
  • Craigslist

Of course, there are lots of firms that you can offshore your work. I'll leave that for another discussion as the inquiry that I keep getting is more about local talent than offshore talent.

If you have other places you use to source developers, please let me know. I'm sure we'd all like to hear about it.

This article was originally post by Tony Karrer on his blog, and is used with permission. Dr. Tony Karrer is CEO/CTO of TechEmpower, a Los Angeles Web Development firm, where he works as a CTO-for-hire for early stage startups. He is also founder of Browse My Stuff, a social publishing solution that helps B2B marketers to reach buyers and influencers. He has twenty years' experience as a CTO including at eHarmony. His work in social media and eLearning has won awards and has led him into engagements at many Fortune 500 companies including Credit Suisse, Royal Bank of Canada, Citibank, Lexus, Microsoft, Nissan, Universal, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems, Fidelity Investments, Symbol Technologies and SHL Systemhouse. Dr. Karrer was valedictorian at Loyola Marymount University, attended the University of Southern California as a Tau Beta Pi fellow, one of the top 30 engineers in the nation, and received a M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science. He is a frequent speaker at industry and academic events.