Tools to Access Senior Engineers for Early Companies

Competing with Google for top talent can feel defeating. They have unlimited money, and all the clout. But there is a boutique industry popping up for specialized services of senior and principal engineering services.

A number of these services pick a hyper specific role of an engineer and give micro access. These resources can be valuable to early stage companies. If you don’t have enough work for a full time principal engineer, or simply don’t want to have your inhouse engineers spending half their time interviewing mediocre candidates, then read on.

Karat is a pay per interview hiring solution. There is a new category of job title they created called “interview engineer” — they specialize in assessment of candidates and standardizing reports. The process is thorough and accurate. I have first hand experience as both an interviewer and a candidate through Karat. Their quality control is quite high and their process is largely fair to the interviewee, which leads to better outcomes for you, the hiring manager. Karat is pretty expensive, at $350 per interview approximately, depending on how many interviews you buy in your package. It can be a great investment if you’re scaling aggressively and focused more on product than diverting internal energy to hiring. In my extensive experience hiring, it can be a good supplement, but I think the best interview questions are having the candidate build a mini MVP of the company’s product in an hour. These are bespoke, and Karat only does standard toy problems. Overall, a great resource to explore.

Codementor is a global network of developers that have varying working styles and hiring modalities. Two that I love are the code review process and the mentorship one on one sessions. Once again, I have direct experience on both sides of the table. It’s a huge help for mid and junior level engineers to have some external guidance and even pair programming. Sometimes finding an expert in a particular library or design principal to share their hard earned knowledge is very worth the hourly rate. It multiplies the productivity of the developer on staff. In these mentorship sessions, engineers share code snippets and configuration files for the library you’re struggling with. Often open source libraries can have gotchas and problems that everyone has to deal with, but with the global marketplace, you can find someone who’s already worked through it and can share the secrets. Codementor also has a dedicated code review service similar to Pull Request, in the next paragraph.

Pull Request is code review as a service. Each code review in your engineering org can be seen as a discrete piece of work that needs senior eyes on it. It’s good when there is direction for the entire lifecycle of the code, but feedback on each review is the most logical place to bring in part time extra help. These pull requests / changelists are the place to get direct feedback on possible introduction of technical debt, restructuring code, file organization, and style. You work with one senior engineer for each single review, so you can get different perspectives on the code base over months of working this way. This has its pros and cons.

There are a number of specialized white hat hacking service providers. They give a security audit of your website or app. This can be key before launching more broadly, or especially if you’re developing and deploying a smart contract that might have leaks. There are lots of these companies, and they act more as consulting firms than marketplaces for single engineer talent. Some quality security auditors I’ve heard positive reviews of include: Hacker One, Consensys, and Tarlogic.

These few strategies can augment your team in creative ways to let your engineers focus on their core responsibilities. Building your MVP. I advise companies on how best to utilize these strategies, as well as outsourcing and engineering management. As a principal engineer consultant, I give a long term perspective on engineering strategy. I can guide your company with long term context and a decade of experience at Google and software MVPs. Shoot a message on linkedin or reach out on my website. MVP Engineer