Auren Hoffman has a good post on TechCrunch about how now might be a great time to cherry-pick the best software engineers available, and how it can pay off not only in the short term, but also over the long, to hire high-quality developers and spend money on developing them individually rather than hiring more, lower-quality developers. I find that a lot of companies do too much of the latter — but often the cost of hiring more and cheaper is so obscured by differing workloads and hard-to-quantify ‘quality of output’ that it may never be evident. In some cases, though, it can be quite evident — as in the study cited here in Joel Spolsky’s post describing the time taken by students to accomplish the same assignment… and their scores. I’ll steal just one graphic from him:
This graphic shows that some students finished in 12 hours what others took 50 hours to do — with roughly equivalent quality!
I’ve seen this personally, as well — we probably all have — where you know one developer can do something twice as fast as another… so why aren’t more companies hiring based on that? If you have to pay 1.25x as much for a developer who works 1.5x faster… wouldn’t you take that deal? I wish more companies would.