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<Skilled Developers: Build or Buy? ⁄ >

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The job market is tight for software development these last few years. I hear from a recruiter roughly 5 times a week. I got 2 phone calls and 2 emails yesterday alone. It is not that I am some kind of rock star, there are just not enough skilled developers to go around.

A big part of the problem is due to the DotCom bubble which has scared college graduates away from jobs in software development for the past several years. There is very little new blood to fill our current need. And outsourcing is not sufficient either. According to Google, talent runs short in India too. But what can be done?

I believe it has come to the classic choice: build or buy. The best developers and consultants I have worked with are also good teachers. I have been seen these top developers assigned to major projects, lacking a complimentary staff, only to move on before such a staff can be found and hired. The most frequent reason being, they want to work with a better team. I think instead of working these top developers to the point they quit, you have them bring in junior developers and build their skills. Over time you will have the team you want.

Take a novice developer who is full of energy and eagerness to learn and give them targeted tasks to help them grow their knowledge and confidence. Feed them the same work until they master that area. You allow them to specialize instead of generalize. A good place to start may be the data access layer or just the user interface. Do not expect them to be a jack of all trades right away. In their own time, if they really have that special gene all good software developers do, they will pick up additional skills in their own time and volunteer to take on new challenges on future projects.

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