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Kalob Taulien
Kalob Taulien

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What type of developer would a startup hire?

"The world has a shortage of developers."

You might have heard this before. It's fairly common for people to say this.

It's kind of true, but not really...

Here's the truth.

"The world has a shortage of [senior] developers."

Because companies don't like hiring junior or intermediate developers because they cost more to get up to speed.

And the average developer only stays at a job for 2 years.

But also... senior developers are expensive.

At we would love to hire a senior developer, but it'd also cost us like $120,000-$150,000 for the best possible candidate.

And that's not an option at a lot of startups.

So they hire intermediate developers, if possible. And if that's not an option, then they hire juniors.

And they'll label the junior job as an "internship".

Don't be fooled, interns need to make money too. I would never EVER advise anybody to work for free. But minimum wage if it's your first job? Possibly.

So this begs the question...

What are startups looking for in a developer?

Skills, of course. Can you code? Great! Are you the worlds best coder? It doesn't matter if you are or if you aren't.

Not sure what stack they use? Just ask! Tech stacks aren't secrets.

But fullstack is key because a full stack developer is basically a backend dev and a frontend dev at the same time. They aren't usually AMAZING at either, but are super flexible and dangerous with what they're given.

Leadership attributes. When joining a startup, you're not just a developer - you're a core part of the team! You help develop the future culture of the company, even if you are employee #20.

Adaptability. Startups move FAST. You need to be able to adjust. If your dream is to work for the government, a startup is absolutely not for you.

Flexible pay. Startups are cash-poor, usually. Unless they just raised a few million dollars you're likely looking at a lower pay rate. But you can get stock options - so if you're really in love with what they do as a business, and you think it's going somewhere, stock options are a great way to support the company and get paid at the same time.

A curious personality is also vital. Be curious about how to help the startup. Be curious about how to level up your code. Be curious about life in general! Because your curiosity is going to help develop the company culture, and drive you to become an insanely amazing developer.

Do you need to be the best? No!

But you do need to have a lot of the soft skills and desire to become better at the technical portions.

How do you get in?

I've mentioned this before in a Twitter thread I wrote, but I'll say it again:

Resumes are dead. Friends hire friends.

Get to know the founders. Email them, support them, offer them help.. earn your way into their circles.

Actually, this is just good advice for any job.

But once they get to know you a little bit they'll be more likely to hire you.


Because you aren't seen as a "risk" anymore, but rather you'll be seen as a friend to the company - and a GREAT candidate to hire.


I hope this was helpful!

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