If sourcing tech talent in all the usual places is slow to give you the results you need, you’re not alone. Our recent tech hiring report found that one of the biggest struggles for 35% of tech hirers is the time and effort it takes to search for candidates. And because tech candidates don’t have to settle these days, run-of-the-mill cold outreach is more likely to turn them off than pique their interest.
But these sourcing challenges can actually work in your favor—if you’re willing to try something new. Which is what brings us to Reddit.
Even if you have close to zero knowledge of Reddit, chances are you’ve come across a Reddit thread or two running a Google search. This online message board draws in 430 million monthly users to join conversations on just about anything, including tech talk. No, Reddit isn’t really classified as a way to source tech candidates, but that’s part of what makes it so effective.
Reach a fresh set of tech pros when you learn the ins and outs of this best kept secret. Keep reading as we dive into the best practices and tips for sourcing tech candidates on Reddit.
Reddit’s where people go to escape and explore—a place they’re more likely to express themselves freely versus only publicizing what they want recruiters and hiring managers to see. This means extra insights about their interests, experience and goals you won’t find on other sourcing channels like professional networking sites.
And because you’re bound to find discussions on almost every topic under the sun, you’ll likely find the talent you’re looking for, whether that’s a soon-to-be computer science grad, seasoned data analyst or VP of engineering. Not only that, but it’s one of the cheapest ways to tap into a large, diverse talent pool.
First steps to sourcing on Reddit
You probably won’t be hopping onto Reddit as a first-time user one day and recruiting talent the next. But that doesn’t mean you won’t see positive results in the long run. All it takes is spending a little bit of time upfront to understand the Reddit culture and build trust within the community.
The first step: Create an account. It’s free.
Once you’re in, read up on best practices as well as FAQs and Reddiquette (a list of rules and values written by members outlining the dos and don’ts of interacting on the platform). This is an important part of sourcing on Reddit because users (known as Redditors) don’t go there to catch up on recruiter messages or spam—and they don’t expect to be greeted with it.
If Redditors do suspect you of spam or self-promotion? There’s a good chance you’ll be quickly called out, or even banned.
Tip: You’re representing your company and personal brand on Reddit, so keep it professional when choosing a username. Consider a combination of your first name and/or the company you’re recruiting for plus something like “Tech” or “Recruiter.”
Because Redditors are known to be wary of strangers and spam, building up trust in the community is a must. Before switching into recruiting mode (e.g., posting jobs, cold outreach), watch and observe how users interact. Hone in on what topics get the most engagement. Any trending tech or job search conversations?
After you spend a little time observing, start engaging with Redditors by commenting and sharing information. Doing this helps build up your karma.
Karma is the scoreboard of Reddit. Every time someone upvotes (or “likes”) one of your posts or comments, you gain karma points. At the same time, each downvote you receive causes you to lose out on about one karma point. In all, the more karma you have, the more likely Redditors will see you as a trustworthy, credible source.
Sourcing tech candidates on subreddits
Reddit is broken up into subreddits, and each subreddit is dedicated to a specific topic. So when it comes to scouting out tech talent on Reddit, where do you go first?
Something to note: Each subreddit has its own set of rules. Find these rules either pinned at the top of the main subreddit page or along the right-hand side.
Search on subreddits about tech topics
Say you’re looking for tech professionals with a few years of Java experience. You might head straight to r/java, where people chat about the language. You could also join r/programming and run a search for “Java” within that community to filter out all questions related to Java.
Sticking with the Java example, here’s another option: Hop into r/learnjava, a community where people seek help learning the language. While you’re there, look at who’s answering the questions and find Redditors that provide thoughtful answers. This not only signals that they’re skilled in Java, but can also indicate their passion for tech and mentoring junior developers.
Search on subreddits for posting open jobs
Once you’re more comfortable navigating the Reddit landscape (and have built up a good amount of karma), start connecting with people on subreddits that allow you to post open jobs.
For example, r/techjobs is a community and job board that helps “connect people who work in tech with each other, and with businesses who need them,” while r/devopsjobs is a subreddit specifically for filling DevOps roles. In both of these subreddits, tech sourcers and recruiters are free to engage with job seekers as well as post descriptions of their open roles.
Keep in mind, staying active and present is an important part of connecting with tech professionals. In other words, don’t post an open role and forget about it. There’s a good chance users will either directly comment to your post or private message you, and ghosting them could cause you to lose out on a potential match.
Tip: Along with joining subreddits about tech topics and job postings, you can also offer recruiter insight on subreddits related to career advice (interviewing, requirements, education, etc.) to widen your search. Try r/cscareerquestions or r/careerguidance.
Learning more about a Redditor (and ways to reach out)
Reddit profiles don’t include much personal information about a user (unlike GitHub, where just a glance can clue you into their coding skills and more). So as you browse Reddit, remember this: Most of the insight you’ll gather about a user and their skillset will be found within posts and comments.
What can you learn about a user? First spot a potential candidate, then click on their username. This will pull up all of their posts and comments. Scroll through to review their engagement (you’ll also see the number of points each of their comments and posts have received).
On the right-hand side of the page, you’ll see how much total karma they’ve built up since they first joined Reddit (AKA their “cake day”).
Because a Reddit profile offers limited information (not even a first name or location), digging up facts about a potential candidate isn’t a straightforward process. But the good news is Reddit Investigator can do some of the heavy lifting for you.
Just enter a Redditor’s username in the search bar to uncover a probable location as well as a number of activity stats (e.g., subreddit engagement, comments with the most upvotes, most active hours).
Aside from connecting with potential candidates within post comments, there are a couple of other ways to get in touch with them, too. Click on their username (just as you would to view activity and karma) to find a “Chat” and “Send message” button. These features allow you to send a private message.
But tread lightly to stay in good standing. While it might be fast and easy to send a generic note, crafting a thoughtful outreach message is less likely to come off spammy and more likely to drive a response. Send a message that makes a real connection by:
Researching the candidate. What motivates them? What accomplishments make them stand out? Any skills they enjoy working with most?
Personalizing the message. This shows that you see them as more than a number—that you genuinely care about helping them go further in their tech career. For example: “I loved reading about your iOS side project. A new mobile app is in the works at Company XYZ, and it looks like your experience might be what we need.”
Writing like a human, not a robot. Be yourself and show a little personality. Keep sentences short and sweet.
Reddit: your new tech sourcing hack
The pros of sourcing on Reddit can outweigh any upfront cons of having to familiarize yourself with subreddit rules or Reddiquette. Even if you only tap into the Reddit community every now and again to supplement your sourcing strategies, it can still be a solid addition to your tech sourcing arsenal.
And just maybe, you’ll find yourself clicking over to “the front page of the internet” more often than not once those Reddit connections turn into one great hire after another.