8 Ways to Identify a Talented SaaS Developer For Hire

By Joshua Gross, 17 December, 2022

When you're tasked with hiring a SaaS developer, you want to look for someone that has the right set of technical skills, a well-developed product mindset, and a good fit at a personal level.

Beyond that, you want them to be genuinely talented and passionate about building software and creating the best possible products for customers.

All of these elements can be difficult to identify during the interview process, particularly talent and passion. How can you identify talent during the interview process to ensure that you pick the right person to help turn your idea into a sleek, functional product?

First, let's talk about the process you'll want to go through to find the right type of developer for your project. Then, we'll jump into eight ways to identify a truly talented developer for your SaaS project.

Hiring the Right SaaS Developer For Your Project

Before we jump into eight specific ways to identify a talented developer for your SaaS project, let's look at some best practices when hiring a SaaS developer.

Look For Someone With Experience in the Type of Project You're Working On

While a truly talented and passionate SaaS developer might be able to hop aboard a project in an industry they've never worked in before, it's generally ideal to find someone that has experience in your industry or at least on a similar type of project.

This way, you can look at their portfolio and see whether they will be a good fit for what you're looking for.

Look For a Developer That Will Fit Well in Your Existing Culture

If you're hiring a SaaS developer to join your existing team, you'll want to think carefully about the culture at your workplace and the candidate that not only has the necessary skills but will also be a good fit.

This is a good idea even if you're looking for someone to help out with one project, as there's a good chance you'll want the same developer you hire to continue to be involved as you scale your business and product.

Write a Thorough Job Description

It's hard to find the right SaaS developer when you don't offer a detailed description of what the role will consist of.

Before creating a job posting or even spreading the word about the position, sit down and write out the specifics, including duties, necessary skills, preferred skills, and whether you're hiring for a long or shorter-term developer.

Cast a Broad Net in Your Search For Talent

Posting a job listing on popular online boards is a good start, but if you're really dedicated to finding the best developer for your project, you'll want to cast as broad a net as possible.

Talk to your colleagues and people in your network to see if they have any suggestions, and expand your scouting search using SaaS groups on social media platforms and forums.

Create and Initiate an Interview Process

If you've ever hired anyone before, you know it can be a time-consuming task. The best way to go about it is to create a system for interviewing that you can use again and again for each candidate.

Take detailed notes during or after the interview, so you don't have to rely on your memory later on when paring down your list or making a final decision.

How to Identify a Talented SaaS Developer

Now that we've gone through what to do in order to find the right developer for your project, let's look at eight ways to identify a particularly talented SaaS developer. Talent in this field encapsulates a lot more than just technical skills, but they'll need that, too.

1. They Have Extensive Technical Knowledge

A talented SaaS developer will have technical knowledge that is both broad and deep.

The best developers will be well-versed in a number of areas, including:

  • Database management and design
  • Making cloud architecture
  • Programming
  • Compliance and security best practices

On top of having extensive knowledge in these areas, it's also important for SaaS developers to be flexible and willing to learn new things as the industry and technology continue to develop.

2. They Don't Get Lost in the Details

The best SaaS developers can engage in the highly technical details of their role while also keeping an eye on the big picture. They show an interest in the project as a whole, not just the part they play in it.

A talented and promising SaaS developer will be interested in the entire product and understand the primary purposes behind its development.

3. They Are Highly Skilled Communicators

Communication is key when it comes to hiring a SaaS developer. Not only do they have to be able to clearly explain highly technical aspects of the project to non-technical team members, but they also have to be willing and able to keep the whole team up-to-date on their progress and any obstacles they've run into.

Additionally, talented developers will be able to identify problems, understand them, and propose solutions clearly.

You can test this necessary and often overlooked skill by prompting your candidates to explain something technical to non-developers. Another good scenario to put in front of them is proposing a theoretical project and asking them to estimate the time it would take to complete it. There aren't necessarily any wrong answers here except not asking any questions at all to learn more about the project before giving a final estimate.

4. They Work Well Alone and In a Team

Even though SaaS developers might spend a good deal of time working alone, it's also essential that they know how to be good team players. They want to help other developers learn and get better and look to people more senior to them to teach them what they know. When someone on their team is struggling, they go out of their way to give them a hand.

It can be difficult to gauge how well people work in a team when you're hiring, though. After all, if you ask whether they prefer to work independently or on a team in an interview, most eager job candidates will rattle off the ways that they excel in both roles.

Considering that, it can be useful to follow up with the applicants' references and ask them how well they worked as a part of a team and whether they got along well with their teammates. Though this isn't a foolproof method, you'll likely gain some more insight than simply asking the candidate.

5. They Can Handle Criticism

A positive attitude and an openness to constructive criticism are a must when you're looking for the best SaaS developer. Rather than being defensive when a team member proposes a change to the project that steps on their work, they don't let their ego get in the way. Like the rest of the team, they're simply motivated to produce the best possible product and are invested in the project beyond being a way to make a few bucks.

If you're looking to test whether they have a positive attitude before hiring, you can ask them questions such as:

  • What was your favorite thing about the last project you worked on?
  • Tell me about a team member you had a hard time working with at a previous job.
  • What is an example of a time you struggled to meet a big deadline?

6. They Excel at Time Management

SaaS developers will have a strong work ethic, the ability to work under pressure, and enough self-awareness to fend off burnout. Development and tight deadlines often go hand in hand, and the best developers have learned how to manage their time in the face of these challenges.

It can be difficult to really understand how well a prospective SaaS developer manages their time until they start working for you. However, prompting them with a question during the interview about how they would approach a specific series of tasks or one big project can give you some insight into how their mind breaks down and organizes tasks.

7. They Love a Good Challenge

A SaaS developer that is always proactively seeking new challenges is likely not just talented, but also a great person to have on your team in general. When developers are growth-oriented in this way, it means that they are highly engaged in their work rather than doing the bare minimum that they need to do to get paid.

The best SaaS developers will be eager to learn about new technologies and curious about taking on a new type of project. On top of being excited to learn new things, they pick up new skills quickly.

To identify developers ready and willing to take on a challenge, you can ask applicants about the development they do in their free time or ask them to simply share something interesting they've learned recently.

8. They're Passionate About Development

The best hires in any field aren't always the smartest or the people with the most degrees, but more often, the people that are most passionate about what they do. When you're looking for a talented SaaS developer, you want to find someone who genuinely enjoys building and perfecting a project rather than seeing your product as a chore they have to deal with.

Passion is really difficult, if not impossible, to test for in a job interview. That being said, you might just know it when you see it. They might stick out from the crowd in a way that is difficult to put your finger on or simply seem far more energetic in their discussion of SaaS and software development.

Options When Hiring a SaaS Developer

You know that you want to build a SaaS product and need the best developer you can find for the job. Before you begin your search, you should become familiar with the different avenues available to you when hiring developers.

Hire Freelancers

There are plenty of dedicated and talented developers out there, and if you're lucky, you can find one working in a freelance capacity. This can save you money compared to hiring in-house employees and potentially speed up the development process.

On the other hand, though, you're also putting your eggs in one basket, which is pretty risky. If the developer you hire ends up disappearing all of a sudden or seems to have oversold their skills and isn't really up for the gig, you'll find yourself facing some serious setbacks. If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of needing to switch developers mid-project, be sure to check out our ultimate guide on the topic.

Even if they do a great job on the initial task, a freelancer you hire might not be around for maintenance, troubleshooting, and scaling later.

Hire In-House Employees

The next option is hiring in-house employees. This can be a good option for larger companies, as full-time employees tend to be more dedicated and committed than freelancers. With the potential for in-depth knowledge about your customers and business, in-house developers can use this information to build you a great product.

One of the major downsides, though, is the cost of hiring in-house developers. You're not just talking about paying a salary and benefits, but also dealing with the cost of recruitment, training, hardware, and a bunch of other overheads. This route also typically means that projects will be slower to get started.

Hire an Agency

Finally, you can also hire a development agency that specializes in SaaS. There are some serious pros to this option, such as having a bunch of talented, experienced people under one roof that will get to know your business like the back of their hand. Hiring an agency can be a good middle-ground option when you're worried about the risks of hiring and managing freelancers but concerned about the cost and commitment of hiring an in-house team.

Agencies are also more likely to continue working with you long-term after development is over than freelancers, which can give you peace of mind that you'll be able to scale your product as demand grows.

As with all things, there are some potential downsides to hiring a development agency. For example, the most sought-after agencies might not be able to begin your project immediately.

For people that don't want to deal with managing a team of freelancers and aren't interested in becoming the employer of a full-time team, hiring an agency is likely the most effective and efficient way to bring your SaaS product to launch.

At Planetary, we specialize in helping companies of all sizes turn their brilliant idea into a reality. It doesn't matter how much (or how little) experience you have creating software-as-a-service products– we're happy to help guide you through every step of the process from start to finish.

Does that sound good to you? If so, contact us today to get started.