Hiring a Software Developer in India Is Not as Easy as You Think

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In addition to boasting one of the largest software development talent pools in the world, India sports some of the most ambitious, innovative developers you can find.

Despite the size of the software development offshoring industry, tapping this talent pool is often easier said than done. The recruiting process in India is not as simple as you might think.

If you really want to expand your team with offshore software developers in India, here’s a behind-the-scenes look at some of the nuances and idiosyncrasies you’ll encounter in the process:

In India, the Equivalent of Two Weeks’ Notice Is 90 Days

Most developers in India have at least a 60-day notice period before they can switch to another job, but for some, the waiting period can be as long as 90 days. When software developers in India accept an offer, they’re in essence preparing to start a new job in 2-3 months.

It gets even more complicated. Once they’ve put in their notice, most candidates who have accepted an offer will use that time to explore other, possibly more competitive, offers. Just because a developer accepts your offer, that doesn’t guarantee they will actually end up working for your company three months down the road.

This leaves recruiters with a few options:

  1. Attempt to keep candidates engaged with your company throughout that 90-day period in the hopes they’ll join your team at the end.
  2. Headhunt potential candidates who are closer to the ends of their waiting periods already, and entice them with better offers. Pro tip: These candidates will almost always tag themselves as an “Immediate Joiner” on LinkedIn.
  3. Try to buy out the candidate’s notice period. Sometimes, the candidate’s current employer will allow you to hand over 2-3 months’ pay to buy out the remainder of the candidate’s time.

As you can probably tell, the urgency behind recruiting top talent can create an ultracompetitive game of musical chairs. Throw in a 2-3 month waiting period, and you have hiring managers positively scrambling to fill their seats.

30 Percent Pay Increases Can Be Standard

Adding skilled engineers to your software team is never an inexpensive undertaking, no matter where you hire them. When it comes to developers in India, you may end up paying more than you anticipated.

Every time a person in India changes jobs, they expect a 30 percent increase from their next employer, even if they’ve only held their current job for a year. A subset of candidates expect even bigger increases — sometimes 40-50 percent!

In addition to the hefty pay increase you will need to offer candidates, keep in mind the incurred costs of recruiting, screening, and hiring them in the first place. You may have to find several hirable candidates to get one actual employee. All told, your recruiting costs can include the manpower needed to screen candidates, skill assessments, paid job ads, and sourcing tools or services — not to mention plenty of other possible expenses, depending on how you run your search.

Developers in India Prioritize Autonomy, Just Like Their Western Counterparts

Like US-based developers, India-based developers place a high premium on autonomy and creative input. If Indian developers feel they are being treated like a mindless robot or not being listened to, they’ll look for employment elsewhere. If you’ve struggled to attract US-based developers because of your company’s culture, you might struggle in India, too.

Developers in India really prize company culture, and they frequently peruse employers’ websites, Glassdoor reviews, and LinkedIn profiles to better understand how they treat their employees. While you can campaign to get your current employees to leave reviews on these platforms, you may not know exactly how to present your company in the best light to potential hires in India. Anytime you’re seeking talent abroad, it can be helpful to partner with an organization that already has a foothold in your target country, as that company can help you take the guesswork out of your strategy.

A Typical Hiring Scenario in India

Now that you understand some of the circumstances accompanying a standard hiring process for a developer in India, let’s take a look at navigating a typical hiring scenario. Here’s a step-by-step outline:

  1. The first thing to do is to examine all existing applicants in your pool. Sometimes, the solution is right under your nose.
  2. If your existing talent pool can’t fill the position, post the job on your website. You should also post ads to Indeed, Monster, LinkedIn, and other job boards that can help you reach the right audience. When it comes to hiring developers in India specifically, CutShort, Stack Overflow, and Naukri are also great places to post your ads. (In our experience, 80 percent of candidates will apply through LinkedIn. That said, posting a job ad on LinkedIn can cost hundreds of dollars per month, so you’ll have to weigh those costs.)
  3. Start collecting resumes. If you receive a high number of applicants, consider using a coding assessment to easily narrow your pool. Then, screen developers who have passed the assessment through a videoconference.
  4. During the screening interview, you can talk about expected compensation, where the candidate is in their waiting period, and where they’re based. You can ask technical questions to further test their knowledge, and you might also probe their philosophies on software architecture, team dynamics, etc. You can also identify what’s important to them in their next role. That way, you’ll know how to persuade them to pick you when their waiting period ends.
  5. Resumes mean almost nothing when vetting developer candidates; the real test of skill will come through a live coding interview. So, once a candidate has made it through initial screening, have them code for you. This will give you a chance to see their thought process and make sure they really know their stuff.
  6. Once you’ve narrowed the list down, it’s time to work on an offer. Remember, software developers in India are always looking for the best offer. Typically, whatever your early negotiations produced will be acceptable, but some developers may find another company that’s offering more money. Be prepared to start negotiations again if need be.
  7. Extend the offer. If you’re at the end of the candidate’s 90-day notice period, awesome! If not, you need to weigh your options: Do you want to keep them warm or find someone who’s more readily available?
  8. Prepare to onboard your new hire. That includes planning for your new hire’s technology needs. Shipping a laptop to a new hire is not as easy as it used to be; the coronavirus pandemic has made the distribution of office equipment much more challenging.

All told, the entire process from start to finish can take between four and five months, and the situation will always be evolving as new developers enter the pool. In almost every case, the best candidate is neither the cheapest nor the most readily available. To establish a sustainable hiring strategy — particularly when it comes to offshoring work to talent in India — you really need to know how to navigate the timing, quality, and cultural issues that will inevitably crop up.

Kristin Adair is the vice president of global talent acquisition for Tech9.

By Kristin Adair