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Hiring quality engineers from India: a 101 for US startups
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Jan 5, 2024

Hiring quality engineers from India: a 101 for US startups

Unlock success for US startups by mastering the art of hiring top-notch engineers from India.

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Hi, I’m Chetan—co-founder of Weekday. We help startups hire premium engineers in the US and India. This post is specifically for startups in the US that are looking to hire engineers from India. For context, the salary range for such engineers goes from ₹25 lakhs ($35,000) to ₹125 lakhs ($160,000).

Considering $100,000 is a fresher’s salary in the US, the salary range for equivalent engineers looks enticing. Because it is! These are engineers from new-age tech startups valued at billions of dollars such as Razorpay and Gojek. Gone are the days when IT service companies dominated the market—today, at best, they’re a stepping for engineers.

But there’s a catch. The market is heavily skewed towards engineers at the moment. Everyone wants a piece of them, even in India. Attracting talent is difficult, retaining even more so. Short stints have become commonplace—recruiters no longer care about how long you lasted at a previous (they can’t afford to).

Over the last year and half we’ve learned a few things about what it takes to hire engineers in India. Something that was once straightforward is now a bit of a maze. But tweaks to existing processes can do wonders

Here is the #1 thing we’ve learned after working with 100+ startups across India and US and 5000+ candidates.

Hiring is like sales. You have to improve every step of the funnel.

Sourcing

1. Enlarge your top of the funnel to get all good engineers, not just those that meet the criteria of a certain tech stack (unless it’s too niche). For an engineer working in React to pick up Vue.js or a related Javascript framework isn’t a big deal. But finding an engineer with past Vue.js experience would only limit your pool of good engineers.

2. Don’t be stuck up about full stack experience. We’ve seen engineers having to portray themselves as full stack even though they were better frontend engineers. Let engineers play to their strengths and test them for it. Hire for strength and willingness to learn.

3. Mention the salary caps for all roles. Startups that do this show that they are serious about applicants’ time and indicate their seriousness . While some negotiation leverage is indeed lost by being upfront, it helps to also make it clear that the salary is dependent on seniority. This works best: budget for the role is up to $200k + equity and benefits depending on seniority.

4. For cold outreach, personalization is key. This could be an email that gives some indication of why they’d be suited to a role at your company. In India, founders reaching out via WhatsApp has nearly 2X the response compared to any other means.

Interviewing

1. Avoid take-home assignments like the plague. Candidates have busy lives. They have their own job. We’ve seen serious and interested candidates de-prioritize a companies that insists on take-home assignment vs one that prefers technical interviews. For take-home assignments, 90% of the funnel is lost.

2. Wrap up interviews—fast! If your interview process takes 10 days, you can expect it to take 30 days for you to actually close a hire. 20 days and it could take 2 months to fill the same role.

3. 30% of the candidates drop off because companies don’t schedule interviews fast enough. Make sure your candidate funnel isn’t lost because of the interviewer’s busy schedule. If you have an external agency, cc them in emails to keep them in the loop so that they can follow up when needed.

Offer Negotiation

1. Founders should do the final negotiation call. They have the luxury to accommodate candidate requests there and then.

2. ESOPs are great, but not enough. Candidates in India do not believe in ESOPs. Candidates in US give great weight to ESOP but only once a minimum base salary benchmark is crossed.

Between Offer Acceptance and Joining

1. Try to give a joining bonus if the candidate can join within 15 days.

2. Do a pulse check with the candidate before the candidate becomes an employee. Find reasons like “What is your address so that I can send you the laptop?” or “Do you want to do an intro call with the engineering lead?”. This will also help pre-empt drop offs and act accordingly.

Some Serious Stats

In the last few months,

1. The ratio of offers given to offers accepted has dropped from 85% to 70%

2. Similarly, the ratio of offers accepted to joining has dropped from 90% to 75%.

3. And, employees joining and staying for a minimum of 3 months has dropped from 95% to 90%

All in all—it continues to be a red hot market for software engineers.

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Have any questions?

I can help you in designing your recruitment strategies. Or if you want help in creating a JD with the best conversion. You can schedule a call with me using my calendly or email me at chetan@weekday.works.
   

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