Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

Who should I hire?

I run a small software development company with one partner - 2 man business. Thing is, it is very hard to find good software programmer in this part of the world. I am divided between two programmers, call them A and B. A is VERY highly paid, have the right paper qualifications, catch up pretty fast, and could contribute in management(marketing) apart from programming. B on the other hand, is less 'talented' than A, paid much less than A but has great poptential in software development given some time. We can teach B the routes of business, and I am sure B can also contribute to management (marketing) sooner or later. At present, A is better than B.
Thing is, I am worried of A. A agrees to work with us because of the high pay and the bad job market condition. Otherwise, A would work for some big corporations as expected for people like A.
The other day, I sort of caught A searching for other employment in other companies. A is given a large responsiblity in our company, and losing A would be a real pain to us.
I would really like to hire both A and B to minimize the risk of losing A, actually. But we are a small start-up (6 months old) and cannot afford the both of them (actually, we are covering A's very high salary).
At the end of the month, we will have to decide whom to let go.  Naturally, B would have to go as B is an intern. If we decide to let B remain, B will. However, having A is shaky and having to put so much responsiblities on A is very risky given A's low loyalty for our company.
I am asking you fellow software developers your opinions as I am not a software developer (my partner does all the development work, I do the rest like marketing). Who should we let go? PS: My partner and I cannot reach a conclusion.

kitty kat
Friday, June 4, 2004

Hire B and help him grow up. If you treat him right, he'll develop bonds with you and your company that go beyond that of boss and employee. He'll feel part of the family and before you notice, he'll be contributing in ways you didn't even imagine.
A, on the other hand, will hit the ground running, but as soon as the job market gets better, or as soon he figures out he'd prefer to be doing other things, he'll leave you cold - no matter what type of activities he's involved with.

Friday, June 4, 2004

Everyone reads job ads. Get over it.

Friday, June 4, 2004

Assuming your company has plenty of work that needs to get done, I would talk to Developer B (the intern) and see what his/her current life situation is like.

Perhaps Developer B would be very willing to stay on temporarily at a very low salary (i.e. $1 an hour)? The upside of proposing something like this is that Developer B can take his/her time searching for another job while showing current relevant employment on his/her resume.

Friday, June 4, 2004

I'm with RP on this one.



Friday, June 4, 2004

I wasn't looking at jobs. I was looking at some nice kiddy porn when I felt someone sneaking up behind me so I quickly selected one of my favourites at random to cover it.

Friday, June 4, 2004

A people hire A people, B people hire C people. Simple as that. Just because someone is an A doesn't predispose them to want to chop and change jobs all the time, they're more likely to know what they want out of a job and stick with something rather than have a "grass is always greener" mentality (in my experience at least).

John C
Friday, June 4, 2004

I like David Ogilivy's advice "Always hire people smarter than you".

Matthew Lock
Friday, June 4, 2004

>>>Otherwise, A would work for some big corporations as expected for people like A. <<<

Why do you believe this?  A lot of experienced talented people that I know prefer to work for a small company or as independent consultants.  And if you give A a small piece of equity in the company he'd have an economic incentive to stay.

You state the following:
- You have to let one of them go at the end of the month.
- You have seen A looking for alternate employment.

What's wrong here?  You're concerned because an employee who might loose his job at the end of the month would be looking for another job?  Are you keeping this a secret.?  If he knows it, I'd be more concerned about someone who wasn't thinking ahead.

If I were A, I'd be looking for another job, just because of the fuzzy thinking by someone who is running the company.

Friday, June 4, 2004

Keep A.  Companies that only hire people they can afford will fail.

Why not offer A some equity in exchange for salary?

Bill Rushmore
Friday, June 4, 2004

In such a small company, having excellent staff is critical. Go for A. No question about it. B could develop, B could become good - and B could realise one day that he could get another $20K from another company. Nothing is certain. Forget about 2 years time. You need the person to earn their keep today and tomorrow and for the next months.

You can't afford anything but excellent people in such a small company.

I speak from (painful) experience from my own time running a small IT consultancy.

Herr Herr
Friday, June 4, 2004

What if there aren't any people smarter than you?

who to hire?
Friday, June 4, 2004

Hire B and pay him more than he currently deserves. This shows that you believe in him and are investing in him. He will remeber this when he's a more skilled and has other job offers.

lateral thinking
Friday, June 4, 2004

If I had been the one to ask the question...I would pick A after reading all the suggestions.

Go with A

Friday, June 4, 2004

Just because you think A could work for a large company, what makes you think he/she would want to? Some people prefer small, growing companies with lots of challenges.

Friday, June 4, 2004

I agree with mackinac -- he could be out of work in a month, of COURSE he's reading job adverts!

Heck, I'm not leaving where I am, but I still read job adverts. The company I work for could suddenly just go bust under me or something.

Hire the bright one. ALWAYS hire the bright ones - the brighter the better. Bright people are interested in more than money. Most of the people I know of (including me) could earn tons more -- we're in the jobs we're in for other reasons. One guy is looking for position, one is looking for an easy ride, my partner likes a job that means he gets to talk to people and I've got a job where we get to make technical decisions properly..

Offer him something worth more than money...

Katie Lucas
Friday, June 4, 2004

I get the feeling those advocating hiring B have never managed or hired before.

B is an unknown quantity, and therefore a bigger gamble. B could turn into a superstar, or more likely a poor developer who will slow you down.

Friday, June 4, 2004

Kitty Kat, you need to become clearer about your own goals. Do you want to develop a "lifetime" employee that you can mold, or do you need to get a lot of work slammed out right now? You probably can't have both unless you keep both people.

Employment at a small company is inherently unstable. A is probably reading the job ads because he has the life experience to understand that fact.

Someone with a lot of experience will almost invariably be self protective and cynical and continually looking for ways to mitigate their own risk. Just as you are doing right now for your own business.

If you need the superb technical "chops" right now, you will *have*  to accept the rest of the "highly experienced person package."

HR people tend to think like dumbasses with no people-sense:  that a guru can be treated as though they are (or should be) completely naive. Don't be stupid about it. Recognize as you should that experienced people look out for #1.

BTW - I really like the idea of equity sharing for the experienced person. But also don't do the stupid typical small company thing of making it a paltry piece of crap loaded with risk, if you expect the person to sacrifice income to vest in it...

Bored Bystander
Friday, June 4, 2004

You're asking developers which developer they'd retain.  You should be asking managers which developer they'd retain. 

My $0.02 have nothing to do with who's the better coder; I want to know who's got the better brain.  Who understands your business better?  Who can speak intelligently with a non-technical client and understand the concepts being discussed?  Who is the best at turning those ideas into functioning code?  That's who you want to keep. 

Saturday, June 5, 2004

Actually, I think your answer should be C: kick both of those ass-monkeys to the curb. Neither of them deserve to be in the presence of such a briliant mind as yours.

anon-y-mous cow-ard
Sunday, June 6, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home