Need a PHP developer for your development team? Learn about the most popular frameworks, and how to evaluate potential PHP developers for your team.

The PHP scripting language powers 78% of all websites worldwide. As a server-side language, PHP has fallen slightly in demand to its relative modern counterparts Ruby, Java, or ASP.NET. However, it continues to be in the top 10 server-side programming languages in 2020. The WordPress CMS platform, along with the recent updates on the PHP core framework, drives the bulk of demand for PHP developer roles for web sites globally. Facebook, Yahoo, Wikipedia and many of the most visited websites worldwide have used PHP in their server-side platforms since their inception and continue to use the language in a substantial part of their codebase.

The Need For Consistency In PHP Hiring

The primary driver for PHP is the natural learning curve. The ease of starting development and the community support for PHP has been the top reasons why web, front-end, and backend developers pick up the language. The platform has been frequently updated in recent years, along with several PHP frameworks rising in popularity. Although there are many frameworks available, we have listed the popular ones for your reference below.

5 Popular PHP Frameworks

1. Laravel

Built by Taylor Otwell in 2011, Laravel has built a comprehensive ecosystem of first-party plugins for every use case around development like hosting, authentication, and testing. It is one of the most comprehensive PHP frameworks around, with a lot of training tutorials and documentation to get started.

2. Symfony

Created in 2005, Symfony is one of the more resilient PHP frameworks available. It is known for its mature standards and has a loyal global community of web developers. It is also known for being the better framework of choice for enterprise systems like OroCRM.

3. CodeIgniter

Lightweight, fast, and easy to host, Codeigniter is often considered the first choice for web developers starting on PHP. The pre-built modules available are a good starting point for component-driven web development.

4. Zend

The Zend framework (now known as the Laminas Project) is completely object-oriented and extendable, making it an apt choice for enterprise applications. It has a steeper learning curve, making it a better fit for experienced PHP developers.

5. CakePHP

CakePHP rounds up this list for its ease of hosting and robust security features, making it a good fit for modern web applications. It is also known for its mix of community and paid support options, thanks to support from its parent company CakeDC.

This wide spectrum in PHP skill proficiency has also made it challenging to hire PHP developers for the right role. Companies often tend to conflate their CMS plugin (WordPress, Drupal) requirements as PHP requirements, which end up confusing their developer audience.

6 Steps For Hiring PHP Developers

Here is a primer for recruiting PHP developers, that you can use right away to bring clarity to your PHP hiring process.

1. Start with the job description

PHP developer hiring falls into these two categories:

CMS-driven web development

If your requirements are around managing and enhancing your existing content management system (CMS) like WordPress or Drupal, state it explicitly in your job description.

Your target audience will then understand if the role is specific to your platform's styling or plugin requirements. The proficiency levels of WordPress developers versus platform-agnostic PHP web developers vary greatly.

To that end, it’s necessary to state the level of proficiency in PHP development required. Common WordPress styling and theming requirements can be performed without much scripting involved--only complex sites and core platform customizations require WordPress developers to write PHP code.

Platform-driven software development (with a framework of choice)

If you are hiring to build a web platform or enhance an ecommerce portal, then stating your framework of choice from the list above would be useful in screening full-time developers proficient in utilizing it. Mentioning release-level requirements like PHP 7.3 or above would also help in filtering candidates who are aware and have experience working on the latest release set.

Regardless of the two categories and years of experience in the language, the following four traits are considered essential:

Complete ownership of code: Can they write scalable, secure backend code that performs consistently to established coding standards for the platform?

Skills across the tech stack: Can they demonstrate the ability to build RESTful web services, work on HTML/CSS/Javascript code, or program database queries on MySQL?

Versioning and Collaboration: Can they work with multiple team members, and do they have experience working in a distributed code (preferably git) repository?

Robust testing standards: Can they write comprehensive unit and integration tests against their code to validate business requirements?

2. Where To Hire PHP Developers

Freelancer marketplaces

There are many tech-first freelancer marketplaces that could also help in your search. Many of these talent platforms will screen candidates for their skills and abilities. Toptal and Hired are two of the most popular sites for finding freelance PHP developers who have been vetted.

Other general sites like Upwork or Fiverr offer PHP developers, but you will have to screen, interview, and investigate their PHP skills on your own. This may not be intimidating for some hiring managers, but could be difficult for less familiar managers who do not know exactly what they are looking for.

Developer communities

The PHP developer and freelancer front-end community revolve around the content platform/framework communities mentioned above. If you are looking for WordPress or Drupal, WPHired and DrupalJobs would be great places to start. If Laravel is your organization's framework of choice for which you are hiring, LaraJobs might be the place to start posting your role.

Programming communities like Stack Overflow also have a dedicated job board, which could be an excellent opportunity to get the captive audience's attention.

Remote-first forums

The interest in remote PHP developer jobs has always been on the rise, but the COVID-19 crisis has amplified the need. If your company supports remote work options, WWR, Remotive, and Angel.co are popular remote-first forums for PHP open roles.

3. Benchmark Salary & Benefits

  • If you are hiring remotely worldwide, you should consider localizing your job listing. It would be crucial to highlight the value of your company culture and workplace convenience in the post-pandemic world. Your candidate would then be able to get a holistic idea of your benefits package like healthcare benefits from local providers, hardware or software, and co-working space stipend.
  • Use Glassdoor, PayScale, LinkedIn, and AngelList as reference points. The average US salary range for a mid-level PHP developer is $51,000 to $100,000.

4. Screening and Interviewing PHP developers

Since the PHP developer community has varying levels of experience, it would be prudent to invest in an online screening test platform to screen at scale. Platforms like Devskiller or Testdome have pre-built customizable PHP tests for popular skill combinations like PHP and SQL, or PHP and WordPress. These tests could screen a majority of your inbound candidates, following which you could conduct virtual or in-person technical interviews.

Technical Interview Questions For PHP Developers

Arrange for a couple of technical interviews with your backend or full stack developer team members. The following interview question categories should help you evaluate the candidate’s technical proficiency.

You will want to ask about how to set up a project, different coding scenarios, database operations, how to source control queries, and more.

5. Prepare The Job Offer

The steps to create and prepare a job offer would be similar to your organization's other engineering roles. Ensure that the following aspects are covered adequately in your offer document.

  • Offer a glimpse into the technology stack that they would be working with, so they can pick up essential skills in preparation for their joining.
  • Provide visibility into the structure of the engineering team and responsibilities from an individual contributor/lead perspective.
  • Portray a holistic view of the work schedule, technology equipment provided during the onboarding procedure, and other work benefits, especially if the role is remote-first.

6. Onboarding

A successful employee onboarding approach can acclimatize incoming PHP developers to hit the ground running from Day 1. These steps, combined with your organization's existing orientation program, can ensure that you create a memorable experience.

  • Prepare infrastructure access and welcome code packages to be sent out well in preparation for Day 1.
  • Walk them through the development environment and code guidelines to help them understand the team's ways of working.
  • Ease them into the company culture and pair them with engineering mentors who provide them with a safe space to ask queries freely and gain guidance from them.

Conclusion: Formalize The Hiring Process For Your PHP developers

Considering the breadth of frameworks and platforms for the language, finding the right set of PHP developers for your organization can be tough. If you follow this primer for defining your hiring approach, it will bring much clarity to your PHP developer audience and help you create the right protocol for hiring and onboarding them. Use well-developed IT recruitment skills to find and source the right PHP developer candidates for your positions.