This a curated list of the best channels for tech talent sourcing. If you have used any good channel that is not found in this list, send me the details, and I will add it to the list.
As in marketing, there are 3 types of channels where you can put up a job post, or approach a potential candidate:
- owned media—media where you can freely open an account and advertise your job openings, e.g. company website, free job boards.
- paid media—media where you need to pay to conduct recruitment, e.g. paid job boards, LinkedIn.
- earned media—words of mouth in the tech community about having a career in your company.
The balanced strategy for channel utilization is to use all of owned media, starting from the popular ones, set aside a budget to find one of the paid media that works for you, and start cultivating earned media from day one.
1. Job boards
There are two types of job boards, niche job boards and local job boards. Niche job boards advertise jobs related to a specialty, e.g. Infosec, DevOps, etc. Local job boards serve a locality.
You can find the best local job boards by using Google Search, by searching for a few common tech keywords + “startup job”. The best ones are usually on the first page.
Most of the job boards out there are not active or not frequented by software engineers. Usually a small number of job boards will give you most of your applications, a bit like Pareto principle.
The best tech job boards in Asia/Singapore region:
The best tech job boards around the world:
- AngeList Startup Jobs – it is also a talent network, allows companies to directly search for profiles and connect with them.
- Stackoverflow – also a talent network.
- LinkedIn – also a talent network.
- BetaList Jobs
- Landing.jobs – Europe only.
For niche job boards, check this out: a curated list of awesome niche job boards.
2. Facebook groups
Facebook groups related to specific technical topics e.g. UI/UX, frontend development, DevOps are usually good places to look for talents.
Good, sensible filtering is needed as there will be a lot of unqualified applications and spam. You will find freelancers, contractors and talent agencies looking for clients on Facebook groups. If you are hiring locals, you will find overseas applicants posing as locals searching for jobs to enter the country. The good applications are mostly from fresh graduates and entry-level developers.
Occasionally an experienced developer does write a post seeking a new job, or a friend of his/hers happens to know he/she is on job hunt. Active participation in the group and engagement with the members enable you to reach such talents when the window of opportunity presents itself.
If you are a tech manager, you can either establish yourself as an influential member of the group (if you can contribute quality discussion around the topic) so that good developers will come to you, or hire a tech recruiter who is experienced in recruiting on Facebook.
Do look for moderated Facebook groups with constant chatter. Develop your reputation in the group first. Respect the community guidelines for posting job ads. If there isn’t any restriction on job posting, observe the common etiquette for posting job posts: once in 2 weeks is considered fine in most cases. Job posts without relevant information like company details, J.D., salary information are generally hated.
Tips: follow-up by commenting on the same job post, on whether the position has been filled or if there is any news on the opening. This will be seen as an engaging post, not an unsolicited message.
3. Personal network of tech staff
This is the most overlooked channel for recruiting. If the company has a pleasant work environment and a great management, the tech staff tend to invite their peers to join them. This is related to building an employer brand, which I will cover in future articles and in the email course.
I have done some research myself, comparing the number of applications received by two companies of which I have privileged information over their recruiting process. They both used the same channels, did about the same amount of advertising and had about the same number of job openings. One company had a good employer brand and the other one was less well-known. The first company received 10 times as many applications in a year as the other one did. With everything else being equal, the key differentiator is clearly the number of developers they had and the employer brand!
Some employers give incentives, e.g. a bonus, for every successful referral by their tech staff. From what I gathered, such strategy seldom works if you do not have a good working environment first. The tech geeks need to feel comfortable in their place before asking their friends to join them.
4. Tech events
Tech events like conferences, or regular tech group gatherings are good opportunities to source for talents, because you get to meet so many potential talents in one day. Serious software engineers attend conferences every year to up their skill level.
There are 3 ways to make good use of tech events for recruiting:
- Give a talk.
- Be a sponsor.
- Host the event.
You could ask your engineers to give a tech talk, assuming they have something to present, e.g. a novel application of a technology, a detailed exposition of a topic, etc. Slip in a slide with a job advertisement at the end, and go around, network with people after the talk.
If you have the budget, you could sponsor an event where it is possible to set up a booth. While introducing your company’s product offerings, meet potential talents and advertise your job openings at the booth.
If you have a big office, hosting a tech event in your office is the best way to attract talents. As you bond with the tech community, you are also showing potential candidates your workplace and culture (assuming they are great).
5. Job fairs
In every year, near the times of the year when fresh graduates are about to seek employment, local universities host job fairs for their students. If your company has a large hiring needs across different departments targeting fresh graduates, it is worthwhile to set up a booth in the job fair to engage with the students.
Notable job fairs in Singapore:
Tips: you can benefit from these annual events without joining them, by running an Adwords campaign with targeted keywords around the time of the events. Set up a landing page (it must be better than your company’s careers page) to introduce the career opportunities to the students.
6. Talent networks
Talent networks are platforms or social networks that own hundreds of thousands of talent profiles. They may provide a service for companies to conduct tech hires on their network.
They are very popular tech recruiting tool due to their functionality which allows targeted search based on skill-sets and experience. Tech recruiters commonly use talent networks to recruit for talents, especially reaching passive candidates—people who aren’t actively searching for job but are nonetheless interested in exploring new opportunities.
The more well-known talent networks are:
I mainly use talent networks to fill senior roles. Because those who qualify for such positions are highly sought after by competitors, we need an active approach to recruit them.
Recruiting on talent networks is time-consuming, if done without an automation tool. It is also highly competitive. LinkedIn InMail response rate is typically 10-25%. It is even lower if you do not personalize your message, or keep contacting people who are not looking for a job change.
I have used some data-driven techniques to search and track talent profiles on talent networks, and detect with a level of confidence whether the target prospect is looking for a new job. I will share the technique in the email course for the benefit of the readers in future.
Typically tech companies hire tech recruiters to perform recruiting on talent networks. So we come to…
7. Tech recruiter / tech recruitment agency
Tech companies hire tech recruiters or work with tech recruitment agencies in order to tap into their already developed talent pools and good relationship with tech professionals. They use tech recruiters to fill hard-to-fill positions or positions with very specific requirements.
Tech recruiters typically use more channels for talent sourcing than normal people do. With their network and channel mastery, good tech recruiters are able to reach passive candidates better. Some can sell the job positions better than their employers do. Tech recruiters are professional sales guys.
There are many types of tech recruiters. For our purpose, two types are important: internal recruiter and external recruiter / recruitment agency.
If you are doing serious tech recruitment, you are going to need at least one experienced internal recruiter in your hiring team, who will do the sourcing, cold-calling full-time. Using an external recruiter or agency is somewhat similar to outsourcing. I usually choose to use them when one or more of the following conditions are met:
- There is no budget for hiring an internal recruiter (you need to pay him/her a fixed salary, instead of on contingency basis).
- There is little ongoing need for hiring once the initial team is hired. This happens when an early-stage startup is hiring to build an MVP.
- There is a sudden urgent need to fill a very important position. It is better to get some external help to augment the in-house recruiting.
- When you already have a list of passive candidates that you want to go after.
- When the priority is not building an employer brand at the moment.
Using external recruiters requires you to align your goal with theirs by incentivizing them in the correct way. I will tell you more about this in a future article.
8. Special tech recruitment sites
These are new-comers in the tech recruitment industry. By applying newest innovation such as artificial intelligence, data mining, some startups are able to add value to talent profile data they collected from elsewhere, and use it to aid tech recruiting. Others developed new tools to streamline the workflow of candidate engagement.
I have pretty much covered all the channels I know. Knowing the channels is one thing, learning how to use them effectively is another. A good recruiter is able to develop his/her unique sourcing workflow combining each of these channels for maximum exposure and outreach.