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Where are all the good programmers hiding?

One of the biggest challenges in hiring a programmer (for a single project or as an employee) is finding them. If you are not technical, you don’t hang out in newsgroups where programmers chat about all things geek. So, where do you look?

Use your network! Ask your friends, relatives, colleagues, and acquaintances. Do they know a programmer who they have worked with in the past? Do they know someone who knows someone? Just like hiring a building contractor, referrals are the best way to find a programmer.

Related to this, what about your LinkedIn profile? Even if you have only a few connections, you might be surprised at how many programmers are indirectly connected to you. Do a people search on “programmer”, and then sort by “degrees away from you”. That will give you some places to start.

Finding someone through your network is the best way to find the right programmer for you, because you have the opinions of people you trust to guide you. However, if you are unsuccessful with this approach, there are some other options.

Job sites. If you already use these, you can try looking for a freelance programmer on some of the larger job boards like or Some of these sites allow you to search for freelancers in addition to employees. Also, these sites will provide you will a lot more candidates than you will get via other methods. However, these are kind of pricy if you intend to use this just to find a freelancer. And, quantity does not necessarily equal quality.

Bidding sites. and are examples of sites that allow companies with projects to solicit bids by posting project descriptions. Some sites charge for project posting, and others charge for freelancers to bid on your project. (The fee structures will vary.) The challenge with these sites is that many of the best freelance programmers do not use these sites as the projects tend to go to the lowest bidder.

Craigslist. I have mixed feelings about this idea. It is free, which is certainly an advantage. But Craigslist is also where the cheapest labor hangs out. You are unlikely to find a really talented programmer here. Instead, you will find students and people who are fairly inexperienced. As you know from reading some of my other posts, the programmer with the cheapest rate is rarely the most affordable in the end. So use this only as a last resort.

Consulting/Contracting Firms. There are many consulting firms that either have programmers on staff or can find them for you. Why use a firm? They can help to find the right fit for your needs, and they can provide back-up resources if the programmer who starts your project is unable to complete it. The big disadvantage of using a firm is the cost. In general you wil pay substantially more to use a firm than to go directly to the programmer. Some firms specialize in consulting work only, while others will provide programmers for a contract to hire arrangement if your ultimate goal is a full-time employee.

Google search. Why not do a search? You probably want someone local, so include some location information in your search. For example, you might try "minneapolis programmer". And if you have some specific technology or subject matter needs, you might try adding that, like "web programmer atlanta" or "php programmer chicago".


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What the critics are saying...

Avonelle is an incredibly talented software developer. She works fast, is economical, and offers great insights into the project at hand. She is also not afraid to speak up when she has concerns about a decision or approach. We’ve utilized her talents on many of our software development projects over the years.

Carrie Rocha, Chief Operating Officer @ HousingLink