You need to know why this developer decided that weed-infested, brown grass of his new employer is greener than yours. Image by Robert S. Donovan, used under Creative Commons

This is the first question you need to ask, because it informs most everything else.

Essentially, the environment you’re hiring into greatly influences the style and type of developer you need to look for - and more importantly, the type of developer you can get hired.

When business is booming and you’re hiring to keep up, your options are wide open and candidates are pretty easy to convince. You can hire for almost any skill set or role and find a use for it, so you can largely hire on fit more than anything.

If you’re just starting up and hiring your first employee, you might find the going a good bit more difficult. You’re going to need to find a true generalist, for instance, who can wear many hats as you try to get things off the ground.

And if you’re hiring because you’re hiring for a recently vacated position … well, you have another question to answer.

Why did the last developer leave?

If you’re hiring because a developer just left/was forced out, then you need to take a deep breath and figure out what went wrong, or else you’re going to be reading this entry again in another six months or so.

If you had to let the dev go, take stock of what went wrong. You need to know which warning signs you missed at hiring time, what procedures might need to be in place to prevent the behavior from spreading, or even what you might have done wrong when onboarding the employee.

If they left on their own accord, your introspection can vary widely depending on whether it’s a lateral-or-worse move or a step up in weight class.

After all, there are not many developers out there that will turn down Twitter, Google and the like.

But if they left for something only slightly better than your company - or worse - then you owe it to yourself to not get bent out of shape, but instead take a look at your company and your culture.

You need to know why this developer decided that weed-infested, brown grass of his new employer is greener than yours.

You need to figure this out - either through introspection or an exit interview - and get whatever it is fixed, or, again, you’re just going to end up going through this process over and over again.

As much as I love hiring, the hiring process is a process that will take your attention off other things. And that opportunity cost, combined with the time it might take to get a fresh employee up to speed, means that it is always far less expensive and easier to keep the employees you already have.