Using StackOverflow Careers to hire developers in London

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My previous blog post on finding a new developer job in London reminded me of a blog I posted internally (at my previous company) last year summarizing my experiences with StackOverflow Careers when hiring developers in London. Here is a cross-post for your enjoyment!

Finding good software developers is hard. So I’m constantly looking for new and innovative ways to find those great developers. Some of the ways we currently go about it include:

  • Agencies
  • A job advert on StackOverflow, a hugely popular programmer’s Q&A website
  • Twitter + Facebook
  • London .NET user groups
  • A physical advert on a notice board at a local training agency

Using these methods we’ve recruited two great developers over the last few months, however filling my last vacancy was turning out to be tricky (exacerbated by a seemingly massive August/September slowdown). Recently we decided to try a new avenue: the StackOverflow candidate database. This is a tool that allows you to search a database of developers that have created profiles on the StackOverflow site when wanting to post questions about software coding and wanting to answer other programmers questions. This is an important difference to sites like LinkedIn because the primary motivation to have a profile on StackOverflow is to participate in an online community of programmers, not to look for job. Consequently, the programmers that one can find using the StackOverflow candidate database are on average usually higher skilled and more passionate about their craft than other online candidate databases. There are a variety of criteria to search on, enabling me to quite specifically identify candidates that would suit the role.

SO

So we purchased access for one week. I managed to message over a dozen eligible candidates and then I realized a curious thing. Even though the candidates that I had message had marked their profiles as “actively seeking positions”, it turns out that this probably means something more like “looking for opportunities if that opportunity is a huge pay increase to go to Google or Facebook”. In other words, developers might indicate on their profile that they are active seekers but as they haven’t actually taken the step to hand over an updated CV to a recruiter, it would take more than a message out of the blue to ‘dislodge’ them from their current employer. While all replies were professional and complimentary of the role on offer, most candidates were not open to our new opportunity.

Nevertheless, we were able to find one developer interested in what we had to offer; within a week we’d interviewed him, liked him and he’d accepted our offer!

SO2

The effort to hire great people, I suspect in any industry, often requires a lot of energy, guile, patience and persistence. You never know when that advert on a random job board or networking at that industry event will turn up your next great addition to the team. It pays to always be on the lookout, and in the mean time, constantly strive to make your team/department a better place to work. The StackOverflow candidates database is definitely something we would try again in future should more developer opportunities become available.

“The key for us, number one, has always been hiring very smart people.”

– Bill Gates

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