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Post by Rich Moy on Apr 27, 2016 12:00:00 PM

Back-end developers are responsible for making sure that everything behind the scenes of a website is firing on all cylinders. The back-end of a website typically includes three parts: a server, application, and a database. Think of the work of a back-end developer any time you log into a website you use on a daily basis. It’s his or her responsibility to ensure that your information on that site is secure and easily accessible anytime you need to use it. It’s no secret that the back-end is a critical component to integral to your company’s success. To stand out in a particularly crowded market to hire them, here are a few tips you can refer to whenever you need to hire a back-end engineer.

Know Where Back-End Developers Spend Their Free Time

If you’ve had trouble searching for back-end development forums online, you’re not alone. However, when you dig a little deeper into the programming languages that a back-end developer uses on a daily basis, you’ll quickly learn that back-end engineers have a lot of technologies to choose from. Most importantly, you’ll discover that before you research where the candidates you’re looking for are spending their free time, you’ll need to sit down with your hiring manager(s) to understand what they’re looking for.

Start by focusing on the more commonly used back-end development languages. Matz Matsumoto not only created Ruby as a programming language, but he also continues to foster an active community of developers who use it every day. If you’re looking for a developer who knows Python like the back of his or her hand, dream.in.code and CodingForums.com are great places to start. Additionally, the Ruby, Python, and PHP tags on Stack Overflow are among the most popular.

Regardless of which forum you use to approach back-end candidates, don’t forget their primary goals are to learn and share information. Rather than leading with a recruitment email, inquire about a project a developer is working on, or a conversation you’d like to learn more about.

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Understand the Challenges They Tackle Every Day

Understanding the unique tasks back-end engineers tackle every day will empower you to start more meaningful conversations with potential candidates. We spoke to Matt Belisle, a back-end developer at Workiva, about the challenges he’s tasked with facing on a daily basis.

  1. Choosing the correct database architecture. “Your data has to live somewhere, and choosing the right database architecture for your data set is very important,” Belisle says. “You have to pick the right tool for the job and know how to use it well.”
  2. Understanding the communications stack. Belisle tells us that back-end developers need to ensure that your machines can talk to the clients and with each other. He adds, “Knowing the communications stack from TCP/UDP on up and the various tools that use them is just as important as actually speaking with other people.”
  3. Knowing when to choose execution speed over developer speed. Belisle says that because your data set might be large, selecting the right implementation can make or break your entire technology stack. He adds, “back-end devs should have good intuition about when to choose execution speed over developer speed and know how to measure and test it.”


Know What Gets Them Excited About Coming to Work

While you’ve gotten a glimpse into the general interests and day-to-day responsibilities of a back-end engineer, you can set yourself apart by knowing particular details about what they consider important when they consider a new job opportunity. In addition to describing some of the typical challenges they face, Matt Belisle told us three specific things to highlight when you need to hire a back-end developer.

  1. Supportive team environment. When he considers job opportunities, Belisle says he asks himself a handful of questions about the current team’s dynamic. In addition to details about how the team interacts with each other in and outside of the office, he adds, “What happened the last time a team member made a nontrivial mistake? Could you ask any team member for advice or offer help and be welcomed?”
  2. Continuous integration stack. From a technological standpoint, Belisle says he’s always curious about how long it takes any tech team to get its code to the consumer. He also tells us that he takes a particular interest in the build, test, and deploy processes.
  3. Good perks. Valuing quality time with teammates he enjoys being around, Belisle tells us that while these aren’t deal-breakers, he’s not averse to perks like beer Fridays, celebrations in honor of a successful feature release, and a flexible PTO policy.

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