How Studyportals Hired a Senior Back-end Developer to Boost Their Team

by Gonzalo November 16, 2017

Studyportals, an education startup based in Eindhoven, needed a senior developer who could play an important role in developing and rolling out their RESTful API.

If you’ve spent any time in the software engineering world, you’ve probably recognize the term 10x developer. Hacker News and other online forums are filled with heated discussions around the topic. Is this “unicorn developer” even a thing?

The term might be an exaggeration, but what is certain is that the difference between a strong developer and an average one can make in any team can be enormous.

Strong programmers do more than write elegant code. They can design and architect things correctly, and they have a plethora of past mistakes they can use to take a more nuanced view of a problem and make an informed decisions. On top of that, strong developers can build teams, do pair programming and mentor junior developers in their path to seniority.

In short, the right developers can bring a whole lot more than just experience to a team, and this is something the Studyportals recruitment team is constantly aware of.

Studyportals, a fast-growing online platform where students can find and compare their education options internationally, was well aware of this and was looking for a Senior Back-end Developer to help scale their team.

More specifically, they were looking for someone who could play an important role in further developing and rolling out their RESTful API, which is the foundation of all their current and future products.

The ideal candidate would have learnt the relevant skills through a couple years of experience, but the key was what the person learnt from their experience, rather than how much experience they had.

It was an interesting challenge, since responsibilities for the role ranged from working on the core of their systems all the way up to producing proof-of-concept web applications, and collaborating with front-end developers and UX designers to turn those MVPs into true online experiences.

But at Studyportals, skill is not everything. They have a very strong set of values and a formidable mission: to empower the world to choose education.

“The fact that I am fighting with “the good guys”, helping them in making education choice transparent, globally, is really a motivational factor and I truly understand the impact of my work, every day.” mentions Alina Prapagic, a Campaign Manager in the team.

This kind of motivation is something that has to be inherent to all employees at Studyportals, whether they are a Campaign Manager or a Business Developer. So apart from the technical strength, the perfect candidate had to match their culture and values.

The problem? They couldn’t find the right combination of culture and skills. Despite offering the “whole package” — great compensation, a powerful mission, beautiful offices at the iconic Klokgebouw at Strijp-S, a fantastic team ready to tackle interesting challenges, and operations in Boston, Melbourne, Sri Lanka, Monterrey, Manchester, Stockholm and Bucharest — they just couldn’t fill the position.

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