Say you already have your product specifications clearly written and you start "hunting" for the right Drupal talent for your project. Where should you start your searches? And, once you've found a pool of talent, how to hire Drupal developers who are the perfect match for your skillset requirements and who fit your organization's needs?
What recruitment strategies should you apply to... speed up things a bit?
What criteria should you use for filtering through your candidates?
What questions should you prepare for the selected Drupal developers and... what questions should you be asking yourself, too? About your project needs, scope, budget constraints...
Let's get you some answers.
Here's a handy checklist including 5 tips that'll streamline your searches and optimize your selection process:
1. First: What Is a Drupal Developer?
What does a Drupal developer do?
Generically speaking, a "Drupal developer" does a lot of things:
- conducts researches, selects and installs those Drupal modules that fit your project's feature needs
- develops new modules, from scratch, tailored to your project's needs
- tweaks and extends existing modules so that they provide the precise functionality that you require
- handles the look and feel of your Drupal website/app by creating a custom theme that meets CSS/HTML code standards
- handles different PHP implementations
- architects your Drupal solution incorporating data, display, and information infrastructure
- migrates your existing websites to Drupal
- puts together and runs performance-boosting strategies on your existing Drupal website
And this leads us to the 3 main Drupal roles that you might "bump into" while running your investigations.
Each one with a specific skill set to evaluate and to set against your own project's size and scope.
For instance, no need to look for a Drupal themer when it's a new functionality that you want to get developed and integrated into your website...
1.1. Drupal Site Builder
If your Drupal project doesn't require highly complex feature implementation or a PHP "guru", but rather someone who:
- is familiar working with the latest versions of Drupal and, overall, with site frameworks
- has basic Drupal project management skills
- has a decent understanding of the essential concepts of JS and PHP code
... then a Drupal site builder experienced enough to put together core and the right contributed modules and create a fully functional website is what you need.
1.2. Drupal Front-End Developer
Looking for someone to "revamp" your Drupal site's presentation layer?
Or we're talking about a new project, that you want to make sure it'll deliver the best user experience?
Then a Drupal front-end developer (or themer) is what you should be looking for.
- is experienced enough to develop new themes and to customize existing Drupal themes
- has extensive knowledge in basic PHP, JS/JQuery, HTML, CSS
- sticks to the best testing practices to ensure that the delivered theme is fully responsive and light enough not to impact your website's performance
1.3. Drupal Back-End Developer
Or maybe you need someone with proven expertise to set up a robust "bone structure" for your Drupal project?
One who can:
- develop a whole new module, if needed, to fit specific functionality needs
- tune an existing module till it meets your feature needs to the slightest detail
- prove his/her expertise in CSS, Object-Oriented PHP, HTML, JS/Query
Note: a Drupal back-end developer's knowledge is not limited to code; a great one knows what goes into building a Drupal site, knows general design concepts and deployment best practices, as well.
Of course, the list of Drupal role doesn't end here. From Drupal Design/UX to Drupal Architecture, to Drupal Product Owner to Drupal DevOps Engineering... you could populate it with pretty much any level of specificity that you aim for.
Which brings us to the next question:
2. What's Your Project?
In order to find the answer to your "How to hire Drupal developers for my project?" question you should first try to answer:
- What's my project scope?
- What about its size?
- Which are the general and (more) specific feature needs?
For, as you've already seen, there's a whole bunch of Drupal roles out there and selecting the right one(s) for your project can get challenging. To say the least...
So, to narrow down your options, identify and examine your needs:
- is it Drupal maintenance that you need for your current website? Then you should get reasonable and not expect a lead Drupal developer to "jump" right in
- is it a whole new enterprise-grade Drupal solution that you need? Then you might want to adjust your budget and time resources to the level of Drupal experience required and the complexity of your project
- is it just back-end Drupal talent that you need, maybe just someone to integrate a new feature to your website? Or a... full-stack developer?
Do you just have a rough idea of what you'd like him/them to develop or clear wireframes and project specifications already laid down? Such as:
- Drupal security updates
- enhancing your website's overall performance
- various eCommerce integrations
- custom-built content tools
Do you need a freelancer Drupal developer or a contract-to-hire? Or you'd like to go with a staff augmentation solution?
As you take the time to ask yourself all the right questions you gradually start to identify:
- what level of experience you need
- what skill set your project requires
- whether you need a Drupal developer to pay specialized attention to a specific area of your project or a generalist
- what technology stack your project depends on
While you have your "Aha!" moments, simply turn your answers into... job responsibilities.
3. How to Hire Drupal Developers: Where to Look?
OK, now that you've identified your skillset needs and included them in your job description, it's time to "go hunting".
"But where can I find developers that have experience working with Drupal?"
You can run passive or active searches or... both.
Top channels to consider for passive searches:
- job portals like LinkedIn, Monster, Glassdoor, Indeed ...
- online Drupal (or PHP) communities
- freelance platforms like Upwork, Toptal, Scalable Path
Top channels for your active searches:
- social media Drupal groups
- local IT communities
- LinkedIn (when you start analyzing particular profiles on LinkedIn your passive search becomes... active)
- Drupal.org (select the top Drupal profiles there and start evaluating them against your own requirements)
- developer communities like GitHub, Stack Overflow
Note: an effective way to identify the perfect match is to delve deep into those profiles and evaluate those developers':
- portfolios; are there any projects in there similar to yours?
- Drupal roles that they "played" in different projects that they worked on
- type of questions they posted
- proof of them volunteering in different Drupal projects
- documentation skills
Also, keep in mind to run a deep scan of the candidates' own social media profiles, as well. They're often packed with valuable information like:
- number of connections within the Drupal community
- number of projects that they've worked on, time spent on each of them and... number of clients, as well (is he prone to working with the same client on multiple projects?)
- developer groups that he's joined
- client feedbacks
4. 4 Questions to Ask Your Candidates
So, you've shortlisted your candidates and your "How to hire Drupal developers?" dilemma has turned into:
"How do I... know which is the best Drupal talent for my project?"
Here are 4 questions to ask them (among other things), which will speed up your "identification" process:
- What techniques would you apply to enhance a Drupal website's performance?
- What modules do you find essential, irrespective of the projet's scope?
- Do you have a Drupal project portfolio that I can have a look at?
- Have you contributed to developing or improving any Drupal modules?
5. What to Look for in a Drupal Developer: 8 Things to Evaluate
Level of experience, community involvement, proven expertise reflected in the projects that he's worked on, certifications... what precisely should you analyze first when you're evaluating your candidates?
Since the number of aspects that you could be checking can get... overwhelming, here's a shortlist of things to look into to identify your best match from a group of potential candidates:
5.1. GitHub Profile
It's a never-ending source of priceless information about your candidates:
- how much time they spent on different projects
- samples of their written code
- details on their contributions
5.2. Experience Level
And here, what you should pay attention to is the no. of Drupal versions that they've worked with. The more... the merrier.
The more experienced that particular candidate is, the more familiar he is with Drupal's specific "roadblocks" and how to address them.
5.6. Technical Expertise
How do you assess their level of technical expertise? There are 2 straightforward methods to apply:
- ask your candidates to review some of their own code
- challenge them with a specific scenario: a challenge that they should find a custom solution to (e.g. "What module would you use to...?")
5.7. Community Involvement
An experienced Drupal developer is (most of the time) an active member of the Drupal community, as well.
Look for profs of his/her active involvement: discussions where's he used his expertise to help out other developers, contributions to different projects...
5.8. Client References
Are there any client references online to have a look at? If not, can he/she give you any references that you could talk to?
And this is particularly important if it's Drupal agencies that you're evaluating.
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