CEO at Relevant

How to Hire Software Developers for a Startup When You Have Little to Offer

May 31, 2021
Updated: January 19, 2024

Building a product from the ground up is exciting and challenging at the same time. Even if you have a brilliant idea, it’s only going to work with the right people on board. That’s why having a great team is super important for your future success. However, it’s not so easy to find and hire developers for a startup. In this article, we are going to share some of the best startup hiring tips to help you bring your A-game to the market.   

Challenges of growing startup teams 

The need to bringing on the additional team members means that your business is growing so congratulations! However, when it comes to software development team scaling, quite a few challenges come up, and you should be ready to face them. 

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Let’s talk about some of the most common ones.

No warm welcome for new players 

The market is tough. Once you bring your product to the market, you’ll be met with fierce competition and it won’t get easier. To survive among hundreds of other startups, choose “play to win” strategy. 

Startup hiring issues 

It’s extremely difficult to find the right people for the team, and you’ll realize that very soon. This is something every company struggles with and it’s equally challenging when you hire remote developers for a startup or fill in any other position. 

Distributing roles within the team 

Early-stage startups don’t have enough people yet. As a result, they are forced to work with what they’ve got. And when you lack resources, you might find your teammates juggle between the tasks that aren’t supposed to be doing. 

Managing finances 

Whether you handle everything from your pocket or engage investors, financial management is one of the most difficult aspects of growing a startup. That’s why many businesses use financial consulting help. 

Security threats 

Many aspects of modern business take place online. The bigger the project, the more security threats you should be expecting. That’s why it’s critical to ensure robust protection for all the sensitive information related to your startup. 

Communication issues 

Keeping the team on the same page is difficult. On the one hand, you have your business goals, but on the other hand, you need to face the realities of software development. Things might not go as planned because every department has their own agenda. 

Building a customer base

No customers – no business. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is whether or not people want to buy your product. Ideally, this is something you should start working on long before the development process

What to look for in developers

If we’re talking about creating the tech product, software developers are the brains and hands of the entire project. They are the ones to bring your ideas to life, so you’ve got to be super precise as you hire developers for a startup. 

What qualities should you look for in a great developer? 

As you’ll go through dozens or maybe even hundreds of resumes, you should remember that perfect candidates do not exist. You might not have enough time to find the person that will check all the boxes with their experience, skills, and personality type. But it doesn’t mean you should recruit the first applicant you come across. 

To hire developers for a startup that will make a great addition to your team, you need to identify your hiring priorities first. Decide for yourself the following: 

  • What technology do you use? What hard skills you are looking for? 
  • What experience level should a candidate have? Do you want them to lead or follow? 
  • Do you need a generalist or a specialist? 
  • What kind of personality would fit in with your existing team? 

Upon answering these questions, you’ll be able to draw up a profile of the most suited character for the job – someone who meets your key requirements and is passionate about coding. 

How to understand from the resume whether a person is passionate about coding?

This one is tricky. Frankly, there’s no way to tell whether someone is passionate about their job judging by the resume. You’ll have to invite them for an interview to find out more about their experience, interests, some of the coolest projects they’ve worked with, and so on. Yet, a couple of things may give you some hints as to their attitude.

Their background 

See how they’ve been climbing their career ladder. Namely, if they started as tech writes but then shifted to software development, it might mean that they follow their passion. 

The way they describe their previous job

You can tell whether someone is passionate about coding by the way they describe their responsibilities in previous positions. If all you see is a bunch of dates and dry titles, they might be in this for the money. 

Any mentions of hobbies 

It can be anything from running a blog on Medium to spending time in some tech communities. If a candidate mentions technology in their “hobbies” section, it’s a sign that they might be passionate about coding. 

So this is the way to go when looking for a developer. And what if you need more than that? What if you’ve reached the point when it’s time to scale? That’s when startup hiring is getting more demanding, but hey, we’ve got your covered on this one too. 

Ten Hiring Tips for Scaling Your Startup Team

Early-stage Startup Hiring Tips for startups

Whereas nobody can scale your team for you, we may try and make technical recruiting easier for you by sharing some actionable tips. 

  1. Get everyone in your team on the same page
    It might sound counterintuitive but to hire the most suitable people you need to make sure that your existing employees are in line with your mission, values, and message. As the candidates come to meet the team, they need to feel a positive vibe and the drive. This will help them understand if your company is the right place to stay. 
  2. Clarify the values that shape your company culture 
    Many startups use big pretty words when describing the culture in their team, but it doesn’t mean a thing if nothing stands behind their meaning. Namely, if you describe your team as “open”, you need to clarify what it means. Is it open to criticism? Open for change? You get the idea. 
  3. At first, get the basics right 
    A common hiring mistake many startups make is implementing too many employment development programs that don’t necessarily bring much value. As a result, it only drains resources. A rule of thumb is to ensure a solid functioning of the basics – employee referral, onboarding, and effective feedback process. Get these right and the rest will follow. 
  4. Create growth opportunities for your team 
    When people feel stuck at their job, they leave, and no amount of money will be able to keep them if they aren’t fulfilled. That’s why it’s paramount to empower your team for growth and development. Create opportunities for personal and professional development to show your people that you value them and take their job satisfaction seriously. 
  5. Single out your competitive advantages 
    Remember that the candidates are choosing as well. When looking for a great employee, show them why they should pick you over any other company that might be recruiting them. The areas in which you can compete with other organizations are interesting market, outstanding product, great team, and employee perks. 
  6. Your candidate should feel valued 
    If you are sure that you want this person in your team, make them feel appreciated and wanted in your company. Show them that you really care and that it’s not solely about filling the vacant position. Your goal at this stage is to create lots of touchpoints with them and stay connected. 
  7. Examine your hiring strategy for weak spots 
    Are you sure your hiring strategy doesn’t scare away the good candidates? If the applicants keep dropping off in the middle of interviews, you might have a problem somewhere along the way. It’s a good idea to have multiple recruiting levels, but make sure each of them serves its purpose. 
  8. Track your startup hiring process 
    Very often, recruitment in startups is getting all over the place. It may work out at first but will become a disaster later when there’s the need to scale your team. The way you organize the process matters. A good idea would be to use some management tools that will help you keep track of what’s going on. 
  9. Make diversity your goal 
    Every startup values diversity on paper, but you’re not going to attract more diverse candidates if you don’t make it your goal. To lure more diverse applicants, create an attractive workplace for the kind of people you want to bring on. For this, you need to know your diversity target, whether it’s age, gender, professional experience, or any other metric.  
  10. Choose suitable recruitment firms
    If you are planning to use help from the outside, no problem. Just make sure that you partner up with the right company – right for your startup. You want to work with the organizations that share your values, understand your goals, and can communicate your message to the candidates in the best way possible. 

For more tips on scaling from the top Silicon Valley startups, watch the video below. 

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How to hire senior developers when you have little to offer 

When it comes to startup hiring, the struggle is real. And things can get even more challenging when your resources are limited and you don’t really have much to offer. Lots of new startups face the same problem. 

The best software developers may not want to work for a startup without great perks. On top of that, they are usually quite expensive. If this is the case for you, here’s a great suggestion that saved many tech businesses at the early stages – outsourcing. 

When working from the developers overseas, you don’t have to worry about it since all the perks are covered by a software development company. Besides, you will receive senior developers for much lower rates than local ones. 

Benefits of hiring offshore software developers 

Below are the top outsourcing benefits for early-stage startups. 


Due to the lower cost of living, the developers from Eastern Europe provide the same quality service at the smaller price tag, as well as lower taxes. That’s exactly what a new startup needs. 

Larger talent pools

Whereas it’s difficult to find developers on the local market, outsourcing comes in handy as European countries (Ukraine in particular) are known as some of the biggest tech hubs in the world.  

Faster time to market 

By entrusting product development to an outsourced team with a project manager, you can win more time for strategic tasks. The tech aspect of your startup is going to be in good hands.  

High software development quality

If you find the team with a proven record of product development expertise, you can be sure of the quality of the end product. After all, it’s not about the country, but about the people. 

How we help startups hire expert software developers

Relevant Software is a next-generation software development team helping clients around the world bring their ideas to life. Over the years of working as an outsourced tech partner, we’ve developed a dedicated team set up process designed to make the cooperation smooth, productive, and enjoyable for everyone. 

Here’s our routine in five steps. 

Step #1 – getting to know your requirements 

First and foremost, we gather requirements for your project. The information we are looking for includes a project description, job descriptions, team size, and preferred workflow to find the best-suited experts for your project. 

Step #2 – setting up the team 

Depending on the scope of the project and our internal workload, you can start work immediately or look for extra hires up to a month. For urgent cases, we have access to a talent pool of our partners to set up a team in under a week. 

Step #3 – selecting talents

The great thing about partnering with Relevant Software is that we take care of all the routine work. Our HRs will evaluate candidates and select the best of the best for a closing interview with you. 

Step #4 – integrating developers into your team 

Our recruitment specialists also handle all the onboarding work. We will make sure that the new team members join your project team as smoothly as possible. It’s up to you what tools and management approach to use. 

Step #5 – enjoying the result 

At the final stage of recruitment, you receive the required professional (or a group of professionals) executing on your needs. The only difference is that they aren’t physically there. Plus we handle all the management and administration.

How our software engineers help early-stage startups

We love every single product of our clients! Here are some projects we provided engineers to:

Svenn: Time-tracking and project-management SaaS platform for the construction industry. 

Biderator: Biderator is a bidding platform for construction work that connects contractors and clients and provides them with a transparent bidding process. 

FirstHomeCoach: FirstHomeCoach is a UK-based fintech company whose product navigates buyers through the complex steps of purchasing a property and connects them with trusted advisors to help them secure a mortgage, get insurance, and handle all the legal paperwork.


Startup hiring is a true challenge. It can take months of trial and error before you figure it out but it’s also up to you how you are going to deal with it. Good news, we can help! If you’d like to learn more about working with the Relevant team, don’t hesitate to reach out. 

Tags: hiring

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CEO at Relevant
My company has helped hundreds of companies scale engineering teams and build software products from scratch. Let's connect.

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