6 unexpected places to source tech candidates

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Attracting the right tech talent is far more than posting an open role and hoping for responses to come flooding in. These days, it pays to get creative when sourcing candidates because not only does demand outweigh supply, but tech workers have become desensitized (or downright aggressive) to cold outreach.

Add on the fact that while nearly three-fourths of developers are open to hearing about new opportunities, only 15% are actively looking for a job—and some might even disconnect from professional networking sites altogether in an attempt to avoid spam or copy-paste recruiter emails. Which means? Traditional sourcing methods aren’t always going to get you the candidates you need.

On the bright side, tech talent has been known to hang out together to collaborate, share (and show off) their code and hone their skills. And once you know where to look for them, you’ve already overcome a major hurdle in sourcing talent.

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Reddit

An active community of 330+ million Redditors makes Reddit the fifth most visited site in the US. On it, you’ll find conversations between anyone about anything, from random musings to current events to technology. Topics are broken out by categories, called subreddits, and there’s a good chance you can find a subreddit on any topic.

Reddit can be a bit overwhelming for newcomers, so familiarize yourself with the platform before anything else. Because it’s a community to share ideas and engage with each other, know that you’ll quickly be called out on any kind of self-promotion or spam—even get banned for it.

Don’t want to get banned? Read the FAQs and Reddiquette. Learn the lingo. Lurk a little bit before posting anything to understand how its users communicate and what they respond to, both positively and negatively.

There’s also a karma system, which is kind of like a scoreboard. When your posts and comments are upvoted by users, you gain karma. Any time they’re downvoted, you lose points. The more karma you have (and some profiles have millions), the more likely users will see you as a credible source.

Sourcing candidates on Reddit

Create an account (it’s free). Next, search for and subscribe to subreddits that’ll get you closer to the types of candidates you’re looking for. To search for subreddits, type a topic into the search bar located at the top of the homepage.

For example, scoping out software developers skilled in Python? Follow r/python or r/softwaredevelopment (and then run a search for Python within it). Looking for data scientists? Try r/datascience.

Spend a few weeks getting comfortable and contributing to build up karma. Another way to get karma: Offer a recruiter’s perspective on subreddits like r/cscareerquestions for questions related to interviewing, education requirements, etc.

Sourcing on Reddit isn’t exactly a quick win, but you’ll see firsthand how tech pros interact in a casual environment, and what interests and excites them. To source these potential candidates, you can post jobs on tech-specific subreddits, or on job posting subreddits like r/techjobs, r/javascript_jobs and r/forhire.

Meetup

Meetup goes beyond connecting like-minded people online to grow their hobbies and skills—it brings them together in real life. From cooking and fitness to business and tech, there’s something for everyone.

Meetup groups are held in cities across the US (and worldwide), which means you’re able to pinpoint tech talent by skill set and location. And while you can attend Meetup events to chat with tech pros in person if you want, it’s easy to find and connect with them online using the insights available, no in-person networking required.

Sourcing candidates on Meetup

You can browse Meetup groups and member information freely without an account, but you’ll need to create an account if you plan on messaging members directly from the platform. When you land on the homepage, you’ll see events and groups near you, and a list of categories to search by topic (e.g., learning, tech).

Browsing groups related to tech would be a good start to sourcing on Meetup. Once you click on the tech category, you’ll navigate to a page that lets you search for a specific group topic within a certain distance from your target city or zip code. Click into the relevant groups that populate from your search to learn more about the group’s interests, events and members. 

Then start visiting individual member profiles. Members control how much information they disclose, but even if you come across a less-than-complete profile you can still see their location, interests and other Meetup groups they’re members of. They may also link to their networks (e.g., Twitter, LinkedIn).

On top of being able to message members directly on the platform and connect on social or professional networking sites, you have the option to post job openings straight into the discussion section of a group’s page.

Quora

Chances are you’ve had a question and landed on Quora. Quora is a Q&A site where anyone can ask and answer questions on any topic (with technology being one of its most popular). It gets about 300 million visitors every month, and is similar to Reddit in that users can upvote and downvote answers.

Building credibility on Quora gets you better connected with its users and can also drive traffic to your company’s website when you link out to it in your profile. But also like Reddit, Quora has a few ground rules to follow, so make sure you read up on them to avoid Quora moderators hiding your answers or banning your profile. The main thing to remember? Anything you post needs to have real value (spam and self-promotion isn’t tolerated).

Sourcing candidates on Quora

Create a free profile to get started. Once you’re in, follow a few relevant topics to your sourcing needs. Good ones to start with include Jobs and Careers in Software Engineering, or something related to tech skills, like JavaScript.

Ask and answer questions to engage with users if your plan is to become a thought leader and gain followers. Otherwise, spend some time browsing and reading answers to spot prospective candidates. How do you spot one? Look for strings of thoughtful answers that prove expertise in their field (upvotes and shares help confirm great answers), and how many users follow them.

ID’d a prospect? Visit their Quora profile to learn more about them. Message them directly through Quora, or visit their social and professional network platforms (if included) to connect with them there. 

YouTube

Over 400 hours of video is uploaded every minute to YouTube, and over one billion hours are being watched every day. When sourcing candidates on YouTube, however, your best bet will be to focus more on who’s uploading these videos rather than who’s watching them.

It can be difficult to sift through so much content, so aim for creators that are passionate and knowledgeable about their chosen subject. Look for how often they upload new videos (and how recent their last upload was) and how many followers they have. Pay attention to the overall content quality, too—though you may not speak tech, it’s clear when someone is truly driven vs. not.

Sourcing candidates on YouTube

On the homepage, run a search on the role or skill you’re sourcing candidates for. For example, if you’re looking for a data analyst with SQL expertise, type “SQL” into the top search bar, or narrow it down a little more with “SQL data analysis.”

Much of the content techies put out there on their personal channels is educational in nature (e.g., SQL tips for data science, C++ tutorial for beginners), which means they’re not only passionate about the topic, but probably know it well enough to teach others. But to get a better idea of the quality of the content, scroll through the comments to read how others respond.

Find someone you like and navigate to their profile page where you can read more about them, plus where else they hang out online, like GitHub, Twitter or a personal website. You’re unable to direct message a user on YouTube, so connect with them on one of their other platforms.

Source: Hitesh Choudhary

What about their location? 80% of tech workers say they’ve considered moving for work before, so if they’re not local to the company you’re hiring for, there’s still a chance they’re open to making a move.

Goodreads

Goodreads an online card catalog where people can search for books and recommendations. The Goodreads community also comes here to discuss books, as well as create groups of book suggestions, surveys and blogs.

Sourcing candidates on Goodreads

Create a free account and start searching for books related to the skills or roles you’re sourcing for. If you’re sourcing for a mobile developer, for example, run searches for iOS development, Swift or Kotlin.

Out of the results, look for books that are highly rated by a lot of users. Scroll through and read the ratings and reviews for insight into who’s experienced and passionate about that topic, which can help you pinpoint tech pros that best match to your open role.

Once you find a potential candidate, head over to their profile page to learn more about them. Many times members include personal websites, email addresses and social media and professional networking sites, all of which you can use for outreach.

Slack

Slack keeps people connected at work, but instead of phone calls and email chains, this instant messaging tool makes it possible (and practically effortless) to have real-time conversations. Using Slack, workers across functions and locations can collaborate in set channels or direct messages to share messages and files, even video calls.

Sourcing candidates on Slack

While Slack has paid versions, its free plan is generally all you’ll need to source tech talent.

Start by searching channels (if it’s public, you can search it) to find relevant groups, or use a tool like Slofile. You can also run a Google search that’ll surface relevant articles. For example, searching for the best Slack channels for developers will pull up articles like this one to get you started.

When you find a public channel that aligns with the role you’re sourcing for, watch and read. Learn what the members do and don’t like about a particular technology, and use the insight you gain in future conversations. You can engage with the members on those topics in the group chat or send a direct message to start a private conversation.

Tap into creative ways to source tech talent

Recruiting and sourcing tech pros comes with its own unique set of challenges, but there’s a lot of opportunity to connect with the right talent using a more modern approach than the traditional job board. 

And remember, there’s more to sourcing talent than finding them. Your cold message is key in getting candidates interested and engaged, so when you contact them, don’t be generic. Be personal. Mention how you found them and what stood out, and get them excited about what you have to offer.

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