Today I'm starting a position with LaunchEngine, and the plan is for me to become the CTO in a couple of months so I'm doing a lot of thinking about recruiting great developers. I think this is the most important activity of a CTO, and a startup in general - get the right people working on your vision and you're 80% of the way to success, fail to get the right people and nothing will save you from failure.

I was reading an excellent article called Recruit More Engineers in Less Time and thought I'd highlight a few points here. Looking around on their "hiring" tag also brought up Weebly's "Trial Week", which I think is a really good idea too.

They estimate that it takes 100 impressions to get a single offer, which means that

To find one new engineer, you need to scour LinkedIn, GitHub and your employees’ networks to identify 100 people who appear to have the right skills. Then you need to craft emails that show the recipient why your company is a good fit and take time to follow up. Depending on the company, it could make sense to have the founder, CEO, or head of engineering send that first email.

One service that I'm keep to try to help with this process is (written by developer luminary Alex McCaw).

Increasing your referral percentage is the single most important thing you can do to grow your team. A company that hires 20% of its engineers from referrals will spend more than 1,200 hours adding 12 engineers. The same company with an 80% referral percentage will spend about 750 hours.

The article also includes a "Recruiting Calculator" that calculates the number of hours it'll take to build your team.

Giving multiple small thank-you gifts when referrals are made generally does more to encourage referrals than a single, large gift when someone is hired. Reward the referral behavior and eventually the hires will come.

These referrals are valuable, make sure you're doing everything you can to help them come.

Giving people the opportunity to disqualify themselves early in the process will save you time and effort in the long run. Always ask and set expectations for salary, work hours, benefits and equity before you make an offer.

There's a large amount of (time) investment going in to each of these candidates - make sure you don't waste time on people who aren't going to work out.

Don’t just sit around and wait for employees to recommend friends. A referral program should be a systemized way to get leads. Sit with employees and make lists of the best people from their previous jobs, colleges and peer networks.

As with a lot of things, you can't improve what you don't track. So start keeping track of the number of hires that come from referrals.

If you decide to make an offer to someone, make sure your candidate accepts. The cost of getting through the funnel and losing your candidate is just too high, doubling the amount of time a search takes if there isn’t a viable alternative in your pool of finalists.

They suggest judicious use of signing bonuses to help "close hires who might otherwise join a larger, deeper-pocketed rival"