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How to Hire The Best Developers: 5 Crazy Tactics That Work

Sourcing featured

Hiring the best developers is one of the biggest headaches for today's recruiter.

The main problem is that the traditional recruiting channels are overcrowded. There are a finite number of top engineers and far too many companies and agencies trying to get their attention on LinkedIn, (sometimes with tactics that are just plain dumb).

All this means that if you want to get your hands on better candidates, you need to look in places where no other recruiters are looking.

We've found 5 smart new tactics to help you hire the best developers (that we're pretty sure only a handful of other recruiters are using!)


1. Watch company testimonials

Employee videos and testimonials tend to be the weapon of choice for many companies trying to showcase their company culture and brand (both areas that are growing in importance for the majority of candidates).

Importance of culture and brand for candidates

Looking to reach as broad an audience as possible, companies regularly feature engineers in these videos. Those selected tend to be the very same high performers that you'd love to connect with, (unsurprisingly they make the best brand ambassadors).

How to find the right videos

The web is overloaded with thousands of employee videos though, how do you work out which ones to watch?

Simple, create a list of companies whose culture matches yours. Then head over to each website and hunt for video content.

Most videos show employee names and job titles, so hit pause whenever these appear and add them to a spreadsheet or straight into Beamery (if you're a customer).

If possible, restrict your search to smaller companies. You'll find that many videos don't show employee last names, so smaller organisations (with smaller employee numbers) make narrowing your search far easier.


2. Search Quora for great answers

If you haven't checked out Quora, now is the time to get properly acquainted with it.

Quora is a question-and-answer website where questions are asked, answered, edited and organized by its community of users.

The 'questions' asked are on all manner of different topics, from career success to hiring assassins (below), and it's the only place (at least that I've seen) that you can expect a world expert to answer you.

How to hire a hitman

Content on Quora is broken up into a huge range of different topics, so if you're interested in sourcing engineers make sure you 'follow' a range of different technical topics.

How to use Quora for recruiting

We recommend starting off your search with pretty broad categories like 'Java' and 'Python' as you should see a pretty broad mix of different engineers. However, if you're hiring for a very particular skillset feel free to start with a narrower search.

Many of the people answering questions here will be the real 'rockstars' of their field. Often their bio will tell you exactly where they work, but even if it doesn't their name should be enough to kickstart your search.

Just make sure you don't use Quora to reach out to these candidates directly. The site is only for 'value-adding' content, and you'll come across as spammy.

Contact them via email or LinkedIn. Here are 2 awesome resources that'll provide everything you need to know to get more responses:

5 Ways to Send Amazing Cold Emails

Writing the Perfect LinkedIn Message

What you can do though is reference material they have contributed to Quora to showcase your own research. It's unlikely that other recruiters have put in the time that you have and it's therefore a great way to stand out.

For additional information on getting started with Quora, take a look at this resource.


3. Check out different Slack channels

Slack is the hottest internal messaging and collaboration tool on the market. It's pretty much a requirement at every startup due to it's ease of use and integrations (we use it at Beamery, it's seriously great).

It's actually become so popular that it isn't just used by companies, many groups of friends or collections of people with similar interests now use Slack to communicate.

This means that developers often belong to a number of different teams or 'channels'. Some of these are open to the public, while some are private and require an invitation.

Joining these groups is a great way to find fresh talent, to gauge whether candidates are likely to have the qualities your company values, and to start new candidate relationships.

To help you find relevant communities, SlackList is a good resource to get you started (it provides a handpicked selection of many of the most popular groups), but a little research should help you find a range of different developer channels.

We recommend starting with:

#FrontEndDeveloper

iOS Developers

#Nomads

How to use Slack for recruiting

It's best to take a backseat role initially. Monitor the conversation to get your bearings.

If you have a some technical chops feel free to get involved in the conversation, but remember your main aim is to find talented developers.

The best way to do this is to refer to the channel's team directory (upper right hand side).

Slack for recruitment

Here you can usually find every user's photo, title, current company and email address - pretty much every data point you would want.

Don't make the mistake of connecting with them through Slack. Remember that you're in a community of developers who are interested in private discussion not recruiting messages - you'll most likely be blocked or blacklisted.


4. Host or sponsor the best (developer) parties

Getting a bunch of smart people under your roof is a fantastic hiring tactic. Developers are traditionally private, (one of the reasons we're writing this article), so if you can meet them in person you can really get ahead.

When they're not knee deep in code, the technical community revolves around a system of offline "Meetups" and events. As in any other industry, top engineers like to meet their contemporaries and exchange ideas.

If you play it right, hosting or sponsoring these occasions can pay significant dividends.

You can't just stick your logo on the door and hope that everyone will apply though! If you want to get a good ROI from these events there are a few rules you have to follow...

i) No pitching

No one came to hear about your company, plain and simple.

Remember (and respect) the reason why people have pitched up. They're there to meet interesting and likeminded people, not to hear about your business mission.

recruiting at meetups (don't pitch)

What should you do instead?

First, welcome everyone to the event. Then, in one sentence, explain what your company does and why it matters and encourage the audience to check you out.

If you know that your development team are using particularly innovative technology then we recommend mentioning this too, smart engineers are always on the lookout for "cool stuff" to work on.

Otherwise, stop talking!

ii) Bring your developers

The whole point of the Meetup is for engineers to meet their contemporaries, so why not ensure that some of those contemporaries work for you!

Who do you think technical candidates will trust more - you or one of your engineers?

Your engineers can talk to candidates on their level, explore interesting topics and discuss what it's _really _like to work at your company. We guarantee that this will leave a far better impression than anything that you can do!

iii) Make sure everyone has a good time

This sounds simple but it makes a huge difference.

tech meetups

Make sure everyone has a drink in hand and someone to talk to. If you spot someone in a corner by themselves, do your best to introduce them to someone else and help them meet people (plenty of introverts will really appreciate this).

If everyone leaves with a great memory of the evening it will do wonders for your brand amongst the community.

iv) Don't spam after the event

Hosting or sponsoring the event will probably give you a shiny list of the attendees names and email addresses. Handle this with care.

Unsurprisingly, most developers don't appreciate the standard recruiter cold email, so if you are going to contact them make sure your message is personalized (unlike our example below).

Bad recruiter email

It's also not usually a great idea to immediately send them information about open positions you might have (no matter how personalized it is!).

Think of these candidates as new leads and brainstorm ways that you can build a relationship with them and encourage them to apply. Here's a nice resource to help you craft a great lead nurture plan.


5. Find candidates through Goodreads

Goodreads is an online community where users rate and discuss books with other readers. Sounds cool, but how can it help you source better?

Well, the beauty of Goodreads is that recruiters can get their hands on reviews of popular engineering books. This is a real godsend.

Recruiting with Goodreads

By reading an engineer's review of a technical book, you can quickly build up an idea of expertise and fit. Reviews will illustrate the opinions, interests and personality of candidates, and give you every data point you need to start a conversation.

Goodreads member profiles are a recruiting goldmine. You'll find the contact details for most members in their bio and you'll also get direct access to their Goodread 'friends'.

These are people who usually have similar interests (and capabilities), and make great additions to your leads list.

Researching candidates in this way has the added benefit of helping you brush up on your technical knowledge for the interview stage!

What books should you start with?

A quick Google search should give you a good number of technical books to get started with. We recommend popular titles like Javascript: The Definitive Guide that are likely to have a large number of reviews.

We recommend actually referencing any reviews you've read to the candidate. It shows her that you've invested a lot of effort into working out whether she would make a good hire, and you'll have a much better chance of getting a response.


State of Talent Engagement 2019 report

The results of the State of Talent Engagement 2019 survey are in! You can download the full report here for statistics and data on how companies plan to engage with talent in 2019.