How to Hire The Best Developers: 5 Crazy Tactics That Work
Hiring the best developers can sometimes be a challenge for recruiters. The main problem is that the ‘traditional’ recruiting channels are overcrowded with competition. There are a finite number of top engineers and far too many companies trying to get their attention on LinkedIn.
All this means that if you want to get your hands on better candidates, you need to look in places where other recruiters aren’t looking.
We’ve found five alternative tactics to help you hire the best developers (that we’re pretty sure only a handful of other recruiters are already using them!)
1. Watch company testimonials
Employee testimonial videos tend to be the weapon of choice for many companies trying to showcase their company culture and employer brand – both areas are growing in importance for the majority of 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, and unsurprisingly, they make some of the best brand ambassadors.
How to find the right videos
The web is overloaded with thousands of employee testimonial videos – how do you work out which ones to watch?
Simple, find companies whose culture matches yours. Then head over to their website, YouTube or career site and hunt for video content.
Most videos show employee names and job titles, so hit pause whenever these appear and add them to your list of prospects or straight into Beamery (if you’re a customer).
Pro tip: If possible, restrict your search to smaller companies. You’ll find that many videos don’t show employee last names, so smaller organizations (with smaller employee numbers) make narrowing your search much 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 website where questions are asked, answered, edited and organized by its community of users.
The ‘questions’ asked represent a wide variety of topics, from career success to hiring assassins, and it’s one of the only places that you can expect to get an expert to answer your question.
Content on Quora is broken up into a huge range of different topics, so if you’re interested in sourcing engineers (for example) make sure you ‘follow’ a range of different technical topics (that the engineers you’re looking for might also follow).
How to use Quora for recruiting
We recommend starting off your search with pretty broad categories like ‘Java’ or ‘Python’. This should show you a pretty broad mix of different engineers. However, if you’re hiring for a very particular skill set, feel free to start with a more narrow search.
Many of the people answering questions here will be the real ‘rockstars’ of their field. Their bio will often 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-add’ content, and you risk coming across as spammy otherwise.
Once you find their information elsewhere on the internet (perhaps LinkedIn), send them a message or email. Here are two awesome resources that will provide everything you need to know to get more responses:
In your message, you can reference the material they have contributed to Quora, to showcase your own research. It’s unlikely that other recruiters have taken the same time and effort, so it’s a great way to stand out.
3. Check out different Slack channels
Slack has become one of the hottest internal messaging and collaboration tools on the market. It’s pretty much a requirement at every startup due to its 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 anymore – many groups of friends or collections of people with similar interests now use Slack to communicate as well.
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 to join the group.
Joining these channels is a great way to find fresh talent, to gauge whether candidates are likely to have the qualities your company values, and to start building new candidate relationships.
To help you find relevant communities, Airtable is a good resource to get you started. A little research should help you find a range of different developer channels to join.
How to use Slack for recruiting
It’s best to take a backseat role when you first start. Monitor the conversations that are happening to get your bearings.
If you have 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 in the upper right hand side of the application window.
Here you can usually find every user’s profile photo, title, current company and email address – pretty much every data point you would want at this stage.
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). If you try to introduce a job opportunity here, 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 why we’re writing this article), so if you can meet them in person you can really get ahead of the competition.
When they’re not knee deep in code, the technical community often revolves around a system of offline ‘meetups’ and events. As in any other industry, top engineers like to meet their peers and exchange ideas.
If you play it right, hosting or sponsoring these types of events 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:
Assume that no one came to hear about your company – plain and simple. Remember (and respect) the reason why people show up is to meet interesting and like minded people, not to hear about your business mission.
What should you do instead?
First, welcome everyone to the event. Then, in one sentence, explain what your company does, why it matters and encourage the audience to check out your website or social media pages.
If you know that your development team is 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!
Bring your developers
The whole point of the meetup is for talented engineers to meet each other, so why not ensure that some of the peers who are at the events work for you already!
Who do you think technical candidates will trust more – the voice of the company 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 as a company!
Make sure everyone has a good time
This sounds simple but it makes a huge difference. 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 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 employer brand amongst the technical community.
Don’t spam them 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.
It’s also usually not a great idea to immediately send them information about open positions you might have (no matter how personalized your message is).
Think of these candidates as ‘new leads’ and brainstorm ways that you can build a relationship with them and encourage them to apply.
5. Find new candidates through Goodreads
Goodreads is an online community where users rate and discuss books they’ve read 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.
By reading an engineer’s review of a technical book, you can quickly build up an idea of their expertise and potential fit. Reviews will illustrate the opinions, interests and personality of candidates, and give you every data point you need to start a conversation with them.
Goodreads member profiles can be a recruiting goldmine. You’ll find the contact details for most members in their bio and you’ll also get direct access to their Goodreads ‘friends’.
These are people who usually have similar interests (and capabilities), and make great additions to your leads list as well. 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?
We recommend actually referencing any reviews you’ve read to the candidate when you contact them. It shows her that you’ve invested a lot of effort into working out whether he or she would make a good hire, and this personalized approach will give you a much better chance of getting a response.
All of these tips and tricks are useful for sourcing top talent, but what will truly make the biggest difference in your hiring process is ensuring that your Talent Acquisition team has the proper tech and tools to make their jobs easier.