How to access the developer community

The fourth blog post in this series in partnership with Snap.hr is for a very specific community, the new in-house technical talent acquisition and recruitment team member. This post really is for those of you that have just started in technical talent acquisition and recruitment and are about to learn the fundamental basics of sourcing and relationship building. Why is this training important? 

Simply type in “Recruiters are…” into Google search engine and press return and you’ll see a number of negative search results which illustrate why the recruitment industry continually battles with a negative stereotype that you – yes, YOU! – will either help to perpetuate or change based on your training. 

As a technical (or, tech) sourcer, there will be one talent community that you will most definitely be asked to source for and that will be Developers – often also interchangeably referred to as Software Engineers – and this will be a challenge for two reasons; 1). it’s one of the most competitive markets in the UK. 2). the majority of Developers have had a poor experience with sourcers and/or recruiters. 

Learn about your audience

If the opening to this blog post has sent you into a slight panic, let me reassure you that you are now about to benefit from my experience and that of my extended network of peers, colleagues; not to mention, actual conversations with the Development community. 

Avoid the labels – firstly, Developers are human beings like the rest of us, they enjoy what they do and have a passion for coding, technology and challenging their skills and experience. What they are not is any of the following: ‘superstars’, ‘unicorns’, ‘superior talent’, ‘rockstars’ or any other inflated label you can think of or that is being overused on social media. Be sensitive to the person and start from a position of professional courtesy and transparency. 

Making contact – the majority of sourcers will have tools such as LinkedIn Recruiter, and that will translate to InMails being sent to individuals you’d like to connect and speak with. The challenge is that the majority of Developers aren’t active on LinkedIn; they may have a profile, however, they are more likely to be active on GitHub or Stackoverflow in terms of engagement (i.e. conversations and connecting). In addition, immediately adding a ‘call to action’ (i.e. send me your email/phone number, let’s speak today at x-time etc) on the first contact will invariably fail if you’re not prepared to share significant information in advance, such as client/company, salary and location. Again, transparency illustrates trust and empowers the individual in terms of making a decision whether to respond or politely decline. 

Connecting with Developers – if you’re going to engage in conversation, it’s always a positive step to have an understanding of the subject matter that might be discussed. In the case of Development, there are programming languages (i.e. Javascript, C#), web-based and other frameworks (i.e.jQuery vs Node.js), tools and databases that make the foundations of a number of different tech stacks. Learn more about them, maybe even try coding yourself. Learning the ‘language’ will support you in conversations to position and advocate opportunities with your company.

Be creative – most Developer job specifications list the technology stack that is required to deliver in the role; some might even elude to projects that will be undertaken, however, research states that this is rare. If you’re genuinely focusing on attracting the attention of the Developer community, provide them with information that other companies deem either unimportant or not relevant; you can start with company culture, environment, social activities, gaming leagues, events and conferences and career paths. 

Platforms – whilst Developers are more likely to be active on platforms such as Github and Stackoverflow, the reason(s) they are active – or at least some of the top reasons as illustrated in the recent Developer Survey Results – does not include looking for a new job. The survey indicates that finding answers, contributing to the library of information’ and community building are some of the main reasons Developers are using this platform. So take a step back and think – is this the right place to contact Developers? When you realise the answer is ‘no’ (or you should do), the question becomes – where are they actively looking for new job opportunities?  

What’s the next step? 

Once you’ve gained a baseline knowledge of the Development tech stack you need to source and have reviewed and engaged with the community at an event or webcast, choosing the right platform and tools to source will be key to your success. 

I’d recommend trialling a number of platforms, including Snap.hr, and comparing them to ensure you are targeting the right audience in a meaningful, transparent way.