If you’re starting a company with any relation to digital technology, chances are you want to hire developers for your startup. But you need to do this correctly, or risk hiring someone who may not be fit for the job, which can be a costly, and often deadly, mistake for many early-stage companies.

At wellpaid.io, our mission is to connect premium contractors with hirers in the tech industry. Having a diverse team with different skill sets is essential to a startup’s success. In fact, according to CB Insights, an inadequate team is one of the top reasons startups fail. With that said, we’ve put together this guide to finding and hiring the best developers for your startup, including:

  • Hiring in-house vs contract developers for your startup
  • Understanding IR35 & whether it applies to your business
  • Creating the perfect job description
  • Where to hire developers
  • Screening to find the right candidates for software development

Hiring In-House Vs. Contract Developers For Your Startup

The first question to ask yourself when looking to hire developers for your startup is whether an in-house team or contract freelancers will best suit your business needs. There are pros and cons to hiring both.

Hiring an in-house developer team means you can find people who fit your company culture; communication is easier and more reliable, and they remain a go-to resource if anything comes up unexpectedly throughout the development lifecycle.

However, the hiring process for in-house developers is long and expensive. It can be complicated finding the experts you need in your location. You have to budget for paid time off and other benefits and be financially stable enough to keep them employed full time. You also need to have work for them post-development of the product.

For many tech startups, hiring freelance software developers is the way to go:

  • You get highly experienced developers to carry out the parts of your project they specialise in, rather than hiring one all-rounder.
  • The software developer salary only consists of the work they do, which means you don’t need to budget for long-term retention, paid leave, and additional benefits.
  • It’s flexible: you don’t need to find projects for them to work on during less busy periods.
  • There’s no need to set up and budget for physical infrastructure for freelancers or remote developers.
  • It’s quick, easy, and inexpensive to find experienced developers with the specific skill set your startup requires on platforms like wellpaid.io, especially compared to working with recruiters.
  • Contractors are normally able to hit the ground running and are available at short notice, saving time compared to onboarding in-house developers.
  • There’s often much less administrative paperwork involved when hiring contractors rather than in-house developers, particularly for UK companies regarding IR35, which we’ll look at below.

Two main factors to bear in mind if you decide to work with IT contractors over having an in-house team are:

  • Potentially needing a long-term collaborator if any problems arrive after their contract is finished
  • Risk of lack of quality or commitment from freelancers, unless you work with one of wellpaid.io’s carefully vetted contractors.

What Does IR35 Mean For My Business?

IR35 is a UK tax legislation for off-payroll workers a.k.a. contractors. Its aim is to stop any potential tax loophole created by workers forming an intermediary company to supply labour as contractors rather than operating as employees. If you’re a UK-based company, you need to know how IR35 applies to you before hiring developers for your startup.

Our full guide to the legislation explains what IR35 means for contractors. The short version is that it determines an individual’s employment status, and therefore what taxes they and the company paying them need to pay:

  • If a worker is “inside IR35”, they’re considered an employee of their end client for tax purposes and are subject to PAYE tax, deducted at source by their employer alongside National Insurance contributions.
  • If they’re “outside IR35”, they operate as a genuine business and are responsible for managing their own taxes.

It used to be the responsibility of the workers themselves to determine their IR35 status. However, changes to IR35 in 2021 mean that companies that meet two of the three following criteria are now responsible and liable for assessing whether their contractors are outside IR35 or not:

  • £10.2m+ turnover,
  • £5.1m+ on their balance sheet, or
  • 50+ employees

Information correct as of July 2022.

If you don’t match the above criteria, you’re considered a “small company” and are exempt from making IR35 determinations yourself. However, it can save you time in the long run to advertise specifically for inside or outside IR35 contracts, depending whether you’ve decided to hire in-house or freelance developers for your startup. By posting a vacancy on the wellpaid.io job board, you can easily find outside IR35 contractors.

Creating The Perfect Job Description

Once you’ve assessed exactly who you need, create your job posting to attract the right candidates. Find a basic template of what you need to include and an example from the wellpaid.io job board for software developer jobs below.

  • Brief company description to introduce your startup and project
  • Project requirements
  • Type of developer you’re looking for (frontend, backend, full-stack, mobile)
  • Education level and type of degree (optional)
  • Level or years of experience
  • Job duties
  • Overview of project requirements
  • Desired technical skills, programming languages required, technologies they need experience with
  • Desired soft skills
  • Rate, length of contract, remote or on-site

Example job advert on wellpaid.io

Where To Hire Developers For Your Project

Whether you are looking for web development or software engineering, here are a few different ways to find and hire developers for your tech startup:

  • Using recruiters and job agencies: this may seem like the most convenient option, as recruitment agencies will handle the whole process of finding candidates for you.

However, they incur high commission rates: on average, 10 to 20% of a contractor’s day rate. What’s more, you can’t rely on the quality and experience of the candidates, as many recruiters are not tech experts.

  • Posting on social media and job boards: while this is a cheap way to publish your job advert, sorting through the many applications with no candidate vetting makes hiring this way a longer process.
  • Word of mouth: this can be an effective and cheap way to find developers for your startup, but requires a lot of luck in contacting the right connections at the right time.
  • Online developer communities: sites like Github and Stack Overflow are great places to connect with tech professionals. Developers will often upload samples of their work onto the platforms, meaning you can get an idea of their talent and experience before entering into the recruitment process.
  • Offline: you can find developers at tech conferences, meetups, and hackathons. With that said, it’s very time consuming and potentially expensive to attend multiple events of this sort, especially if your sole reason for going is recruitment. Plus, there’s no guarantee you’ll meet the right person there, as people don’t go with the express goal for finding work.

Or use the wellpaid.io freelancer marketplace for outside IR35 contracts:

  • quick and easy to find the experts you need, all with an outside IR35 preference
  • all candidates are carefully vetted by tech experts
  • their skills, technologies, and experience are clearly displayed alongside hourly rate and other contracting specifics
  • create a detailed job description to save time filtering through candidates, including specifying hiring preferences in terms of rate, remote work, and skills and technology required
  • contact developers directly to discuss jobs and contracts, no expensive and time-consuming middlemen
  • affordable fixed-rate subscription to post jobs rather than paying sky-high commission to recruiters
  • developers are on hand as customer support if you need help

Screening To Find The Right Developers For Your Startup

Once you’ve compiled a list of potential candidates, the final step is to screen them to ensure you’re hiring the right developers.

  • Check their experience, proof of work, and references: hiring on wellpaid.io makes this easier as all freelancers on our site are vetted by technical experts
  • Compare their rate against your budget
  • Ensure they’re available for your projected timeline: candidates include their up-to-date availability on wellpaid.io to avoid time-wasting!
  • Check their tax residency and any other contract and accounting issues
  • Interview your shortlisted candidates: check our top 10 questions to ask a tech contractor before hiring them to make sure they’re the right fit.

Hire The Right Developers For Your Startup With wellpaid.io

We’ll say it again: having the right team is key to your business’s success. Once you know exactly who you’re looking for, hire skilled developers for your startup with wellpaid.io. Browse our marketplace of experienced, vetted IT contractors for free or sign up to find the best candidates for your job and save thousands on recruiter fees