How to hire developers working with scale

hire developers working with scale
Rapid growth is awesome, but it comes with its own unique set of challenges. If a company is scaling, the structure of teams and individual responsibilities can change from one week to the next. Priorities might shift, the product will evolve, and sometimes everything can end up “patas arriba” if you’re from Spain, or “tits up” if you’re English. To work in a startup, developers therefore need to be comfortable with gangly, awkward, teenager-like growth. To work in an e-commerce or travel tech startup, developers also need to know how to grow a product (and keep it running), sometimes from hundreds or thousands to millions of users.  
Generally speaking, aggressive scaling involves ramping up sales and marketing, raising sufficient capital, and hiring new people. But for some software companies, there is one added layer of complexity: dealing with a massive user base.
Yazin Akkawi
  Not all developers are comfortable working in a scaling environment – or know how to handle it. But how can you find and identify the candidates who are? To find out what other skills e-commerce developers can’t live without, and how to make sure they have them, download our free e-book!  

Why experience working with scale is important for e-commerce

If you’ve ever shopped online on Black Friday, during any of the weeks running up to Christmas or in the summer sales, you’re part of the reason e-commerce developers need to know how to work with scale. Whether it’s a website, an app or a platform, e-commerce and travel tech companies experience huge spikes in the number of users. As a result, the tech needs to work whether there are 50 customers or 5 million. E-commerce developers therefore need to develop, build and test their code to make sure it can withstand the millions of (sometimes) crazy Black Friday deal-seekers. Unsurprisingly, most companies plan to grow – so developers need to make sure their code and their products can grow too.  
There are really two stages of a startup’s product. The first is design a perfect experience and then you scale that experience.
Masters of Scale

Skills developers need to scale a product

Developers working in a company that’s scaling need to have the following skills:
  1. Squeaky-clean code: In order to make sure a product or website can withstand spikes in traffic or users, code needs to be squeaky clean, so changes cause as little friction and upheaval for users as possible.
  2. A love of documenting: As long as everything is documented, it’s easier to adjust a product or automate processes in the future.
  3. Automation: Whether that’s development processes, sales, conversion funnels or customer support – automation and growth go hand in hand.
  4. Experience using data: In a small, agile company, it’s easier for developers and designers to take feedback on board and change the product to make sure it’s serving their customer base. It’s obviously harder when there are millions of customers, as what works for some might not work for others. E-commerce developers therefore need to know how to use data to assess what’s working and what needs to change.
  5. Flexibility: As well as picking up new skills and trying different approaches, developers must be able to shake off bad habits and own up to their mistakes. As the company grows and changes, employees might have to change too – and you need to know your new hires are flexible and adaptable enough to withstand growth.
  how to hire developers working with scale  

Where to find developers working with scale

Developers who use data, have the right soft skills and work with scale aren’t easy to come by. They’re hard to find – and even harder to hire. But there are some out there! You just have to know where to look. We can’t give you all our secrets 😉 But we can give you a few tricks to help you find your next batch of scale-savvy e-commerce developers. The key is to look for developers who have worked on projects with volume. That could be an app that has a large user base, a product with a high number of transactions or a website with loads of traffic. If a developer has successfully worked on a large project, or helped a company grow, then the likelihood is they have experience scaling a product.

Three more TechSpotting tips:

  1. Research companies in the relevant sector that you know have grown quickly in a short amount of time
  2. Look for GitHub contributors and repositories who have worked on projects with a high number of users, transactions or unique visits
  3. Keep an eye out for developers with experience using tools such as Amazon Web Services, as that can imply the product has outgrown the company’s local servers

How to hire developers working with scale

You think you’ve found a developer who could be a good fit. They work in an agile environment , they seem to have the right technical skills and they understand your customer base. But how can you know whether they really understand what it’s like to scale a product? Here are five example questions you could use to quiz your next candidate. As we always say, don’t take these questions as gospel. They should serve as a starting point and a base to form your own questions, based on the type of role, company, sector and product.
  • How many people use your product? / How many monthly visitors do you have?
  • Tell me how your current company has grown over the last few years. How have you been involved in that growth?
  • What did your current company look like when you joined compared to now (size of team, amount of users)?
  • What did the product look like at the beginning compared to now?
  • How did the growth affect the way you had to develop your code?
  For more information about hiring e-commerce developers, take a look at the rest of the blog posts in our series:   We’ve also put together an e-book full of super useful developer-spotting tips and tricks. From profiles to interview questions, it has everything you need to start filling your tech team with aliens e-commerce developers.
Download your free e-commerce tech recruitment e-book!