December 15, 2020 | Recruiting Insights

How to hire remote developers: best cities for software engineers

The Karat Team

The shift to remote work is going to be one of the most significant and lasting transformations of the next several decades. While some companies are walking back their commitments to flexibility, others like Twitter, Slack, and Affirm are keeping options open. People who work from home are more productive, take fewer sick days, and many parents in particular don’t want to go back full time.

Forward-looking companies are already planning for this in their future staffing plans and the ones who don’t will be forced to compete with an increasing number of employers for talent in their own backyards.

We’re introducing our best tips for hiring remote developers in a step-by-step guide that includes our own research for the best cities to find software engineers.

Nail your job description, careers page, and engineering employer brand

70% of people who are already part of the workforce aren’t actively looking for a new role. This means that a job description along with your Careers, About Us, and Our Culture page are your first (and often only) chance to get the right talent’s attention.

Specifically, you’ll want to make sure that all requirements, duties, and benefits are listed accurately. Talk to the team members and managers the new hire will regularly work with. Beyond using a job description template, they will help you note everything that needs to be taken care of and adapt the description to how a remote setting will influence work. For instance, mentioning that a timezone overlap is mandatory helps you filter candidates who aren’t up for this from the start.

Don’t forget about the pages that introduce your work culture, perks, and values. These help potential candidates put your company on the radar even when they’re not looking for a role. Once they decide to switch jobs, they’ll remember your awesome distributed workforce, flexibility, or transparent culture and check out your job openings.

Engineering blogs also help promote the engineering culture within the organization. This provides exposure to existing team members and what they’re working on. When existing team members get to share their ideas, professionals who are interested in working for your company will get a close look at what they’ll be able to achieve as well. Plus, they get to see what the company really works on and what their tech stack is like.

Tip: For hard-to-fill roles, try to find the candidates yourself first and reach out to them. This ensures you’re getting in touch with professionals who have the right skillset without overextending the recruitment process.

Where to list your remote software engineering job openings

The first obvious place is your Careers page. This ensures that anyone who comes via this page is directly interested in your company and might already be familiar with it. You can always add structured data to your job postings so they’re highlighted within the Google search results too.

When hiring remote developers, don’t stick to classic job boards alone. Finding the right talent means you should be looking to appear everywhere that’s relevant for your job opening. Some remote-first job listing websites to consider are:

Besides these, consider joining industry Slack groups as well as running some ads for your opening on LinkedIn, Stackoverflow, and even in relevant subreddits.

Note: Don’t forget your current team on board too. Employee advocacy is constantly being named as a top source for talent. Talk to your team members about current open jobs and have them participate in your employee branding efforts. The latter include Q&A blog posts or videos, testimonials, becoming podcast guests, and hosting a virtual events like Meetups.

Have professional Interview Engineers facilitate the technical interviews

Your software development team might not have the time and interviewing experience needed to conduct dozens of live interviews and accurately evaluate candidates. With Karat, your candidates schedule interviews with experienced Interview Engineers who work as developers for leading companies and have gone through our rigorous onboarding system.

Using an external service ensures you’re able to talk to more candidates and support your diversity and inclusion efforts. Besides the technical interview best practices, we advise recruiters on our clients’ teams to use strategies for setting up a diverse talent pipeline and level the playing field during the hiring process as a whole.

Karat also partners with your own team to build a reliable and measurable hiring process. Our interview insights will offer you complete visibility into key metrics in the technical hiring process and benchmarking you can use as a competitive advantage. The goal is to align all interviews to your hiring bar and make recommendations that improve your onsite-to-offer ratio.

Best cities for hiring remote software engineers in the US

Breaking out of the traditional tech hubs to find the next best cities for software engineers to hire remote developers isn’t a new idea. Distributed engineering teams can deliver financial savings by hiring in lower-cost markets, and DEI opportunities by tapping into more diverse populations.

But for years, organizations have hesitated to embrace remote work, pointing to productivity and collaboration tradeoffs. The COVID-19 pandemic radically changed the way the world works. As more organizations consider making the shift to remote work permanent, many engineering leaders are turning to remote developer hiring as a core growth strategy for the next few years.

There are tons of great resources out there on how to hire remote developers. Active communities like Power to Fly and Flex Jobs are a great place to start, but technical recruiters rely heavily on local industry associations and job boards.

So Karat compiled this list of the next 10 hubs for remote developer hiring based on candidate performance across over 75,000 technical interviews.

Methodology

Karat technical interviews assess specific technical competencies. Our Interview Engineers make observations about candidates’ project discussions, coding performance, computer science knowledge, system design, cloud architectures, and other relevant skills based on the hour-long interview.

While different companies have the ability to set the hiring bar at a level that makes sense to them, we have a default set of scoring tiers. Out of these, the top two (“Invite To Next Round,” and “Fast Track”) indicate that the candidates have successfully passed their interview and will most likely be moving forward in the hiring process.

Unsurprisingly, the three established tech hubs — Bay Area, New York, and Seattle — have the highest percentages of candidates pass the Karat interview (i.e. score in the top two tiers). Decades of tech-talent concentration around these hubs have created strong developer pipelines.

Here are the ten best cities for software engineers outside of the traditional tech hubs based on the percentage of candidates who pass Karat’s technical interviews.

Karat’s 10 best cities for software engineers and hiring remote developers

Here are the ten best cities for software engineers outside of the traditional tech hubs based on the percentage of candidates who pass Karat’s technical interviews.

The top ten best cities for hiring software engineers

*Note, this study looks at big cities with a significant number of engineering candidates, and Raleigh, NC fell just shy of our threshold. But if we expand to the full Research Triangle of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, the region would have a 31% pass rate, ranking alongside Austin, TX for 6th place on our list.

Pittsburgh tops the remote developer hiring list

Pittsburgh has a lot going for it. It’s been a few years since the city stole the spotlight from Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher. The Steelers are in first place. The Penguins have been to the playoffs for 14-consecutive seasons. The cost of living is significantly below the national average. And, Pittsburgh is also the top-performing city outside of the traditional tech hubs in Karat interviews, with 39% of all candidates successfully landing in our top two scoring tiers.

While Pittsburgh’s roots may be in the steel industry, the city boasts a great developer pipeline with both Carnegie Mellon (#1) and University of Pittsburgh (#49) ranking in the top 50 computer science programs according to US News.

Furthermore, according to Indeed.com, there are less than 800 “software engineer” job postings within 50 miles of the city making it a much less competitive market for employers. By comparison, there are over 10,000 openings around the Bay Area.

It’s no wonder Microsoft and Google have opened up engineering centers there. The great editorial team over at GeekWire did an expose on Pittsburgh a couple of years ago, and the city’s Karat performance has only continued to improve from there!

Pittsburgh recruiting resources

Hiring remote developers in diverse cities like Houston, Los Angeles, and Chicago can boost DEI

Houston, Los Angeles, and Chicago all rank amongst America’s most diverse cities, and also fall into our Next 10 remote developer hiring list.

Furthermore, each city has unique areas of software engineering expertise that are worth tapping into.

  • Houston has benefitted from the rise of tech and automation across the oil and gas industry and also is home to Rice University.
  • Los Angeles is experiencing a boom in tech development around entertainment and streaming services, and the UCLA/USC rivalry hasn’t prevented both from ranking as top 20 CS schools.
  • Chicago’s tech sector has continued to see strong growth throughout the pandemic this year and is becoming a regional hub for engineering hiring for companies across the Mid West.

Remote developer hiring resources in America’s best cities for software engineers

Best cities for software engineers globally (video)

Expanding the search globally is another option for many. Shannon Hogue shared best practices and the top international cities for software engineers in a recent webinar. Check out the video below.

 

Remember that hiring remote developers doesn’t end when you sign a contract

A poor onboarding experience means new hires will be twice as likely to leave your company. This significantly decreases your employee retention rate and increases the costs needed to replace that person.

With ideal onboarding processes lasting as many as 12 months, the first year of a new developer’s time with your company gives you the chance to:

  • Ensure they have all the right resources and tools needed to do their work.
  • Help them connect with their team members and straighten your team culture.
  • See if the person is suited for the role over the long term or if they’d be better a part of a different team or project.
  • Avoid information overload by dumping new demands and materials from the first few weeks.
  • Gradually introduce your company values and best practices and see if the new employee resonates with these.
  • Get enough feedback to improve your future hiring and onboarding processes.

All of the above are things you can only achieve during the hiring process through proper remote onboarding.

For more information on how to hire remote developers and remote interviews, download the full remote developer hiring infographic, or reach out to the Karat team for a free consultation or demo.

 

The Karat Team

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