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I work with a team of software developers who are skilled by the regional standards of our small job market. By Silicon Valley standards, we're below average in talent and we lack passion. Our users like the product we build but we're essentially automating a paper process, which is not glamorous work.

Given our team's lack of passion, a mundane product, a competitive job market, and a low cost of living / salary range in our region, we have trouble attracting talented / passionate software developers. This is affecting our ability to compete with other products in our market.

I think it would give our team and product a "boost" to have access to a talented "Silicon Valley type" who could help us with technical vision and mentoring on a part-time basis. How can we find and attract someone like this?

  • Can you be a little more specific about what you mean by a "Silicone Valley type"? Are you just looking for someone passionate and technically competent? – Glen Pierce Jan 19 at 19:40
  • What is your position? Manager? – Kilisi Jan 19 at 20:31
  • Is this software related? If so forget it, you can't. You have to figure it out yourself. – Fattie Jan 19 at 20:50
  • By "Silicon Valley type" I mean someone who views software development as their life's calling and who's held a senior technical role at a big tech company or similar caliber team. Yes, passionate and technically competent but by big tech company standards. – user98258 Jan 19 at 20:52
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    From what I read around in job sites and/or tech sites, in the USA, someone with 3 to 5 years of experience is already considered a senior developer. That baffles me when I think I've got 23 years of experience. By those standards I should be some sort of genius that could solve any programming problem, design architectures and manage teams while at the same time evangelising some sort of technology. I can confidently tell you that's NOT the case. Don't believe the Silicon Valley hype. – ChatterOne Jan 22 at 10:37
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You've mentioned:

I'm essentially just looking for a good mentor to help me become a better software developer. My team looks to me for technical leadership, although I have no authority.

Go to conferences and user groups to network with software developers. After official part, usually there are meetups in bars where you meet them informally and tell your problems.

Recent article about hiring - Trouble hiring senior engineers? It's probably you

Controversial but still good food for thought: Recruiting, Training and Retaining GIANTS: Tips on recruiting talent

About productivity: The 10x developer is NOT a myth

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If you don't have the skillset on your team the normal way to do something different asides from hiring is to get a consultant. That way you can get a temporary boost to your skillset and expose your team to new things.

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This is a common problem.

If your product is not "glamorous" enough your company is forced to offer other extraordinary benefits.

This could range from gorgeous scenery / amazing landscapes , exceptional work climate / people, buzzing metropole or a dreamy country side living all the way to the most commonly used incentive :A MUCH HIGHER SALARY than the competition with the sought after projects offer.

So can you let it rain?

Maybe some great talent will deign to work with you.

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    @Fattie XD aren't we all selling our bodies and minds in one way or another? We lend our mental and physical abilities for money...Theirs is just, well more visual and sexual...depending on your line of work. Who said a programmer in the zone, achieving code greatness in the victory of mind over machine isn't sexy?...ok, bad example (; – DigitalBlade969 Jan 19 at 21:04
  • @Fattie well, in an open space office where tables were circularly arranged we used to joke to put poles in the middle of them XD But I guess we would have been too distracted to get work done... – DigitalBlade969 Jan 19 at 22:13
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I don't think that bringing in some random 'Silicon Valley' developer will help (not the least, because most of them aren't very good, and the best developers may not be the best mentors....); basically, you're saying to your team, "We aren't good enough". Your team is good enough, it just doesn't have the exciting work. Clue - very few developers ever get to work on the exciting projects.

Talk to your people. See what they think the issues are, and what the solutions could be.

Send your people to conferences. Find (or create) local Meetup groups for the technologies you use (or want to use).

You need to make the company more attractive. If money isn't available (and money is more of a motivator/retention tool than people admit), then consider allowing people to work 20% of their time on their own projects or learning stuff. Pay for training courses - any course, not necessarily ones needed for their work.

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Being a technical leader, I think you need to first think about how to ignite your own passion and lead by example. I definitely recommend finding a mentor or coach to help you become a better leader. It doesn't need to be a silicon valley type necessarily, but definitely someone who's been in your situation and moved past it.

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