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Codility Blog | Building Better Dev Teams

Stack Overflow Recruiting: How To Find Software Developers

October 30, 2017

For many companies, posting a job to their career page and a few  job boards doesn’t meet the goal of building a healthy recruiting pipeline. Hiring teams need to cast the widest sourcing net possible if they want to find developers from every nook and cranny. One solution is incorporating Stack Overflow into your mix. Stack Overflow works best when used in conjunction with other sourcing methods to get an added layer of information about candidates. For example, find someone great on Github or LinkedIn, then do extra research and check their activity on Stack Overflow to get the complete picture.

Stack Overflow is an online community where people can ask and answer technical questions. It serves as a great place for coders to seek help with tough problems, mentor and help others, and advance their knowledge and understanding of programming concepts.

Here are three things to look for when trying to find developers to join your team:

1. Approach to question-asking

You can get a good sense of how programmers think about issues by examining how they ask questions. In Stack Overflow, you have to formulate a single question when posting, forcing question-askers to be thoughtful in how they word their inquiry. If their question is too lengthy, they might have trouble distilling down complex ideas to easily-digestible bits - a skill key for collaborative developers. If their question is too brief, then others won’t have enough information to provide an adequate solution or start a back and forth conversation.

2. Reputation

Programmers are rewarded “reputation points” when other people upvote their answers to questions. Check out how they write responses to examine their approach to communicating and collaborating with other programmers. This is especially important if you’re looking to fill a team lead or manager position as they’ll be mentoring individuals in your engineering organization. But keep in mind that it’s easier for Stack Overflow users to earn reputation points when answering easier questions, especially for highly popular topics. So even if someone is providing great answers for uncommon topics or sophisticated questions, they won’t stand out as much as a someone answering quick and easy questions for mainstream topics.

3. Topic Participation

What kinds of questions and answers do programmers focus on? If they ask and answer a lot of questions about Java, then it’s fair to assume their interests and strengths lie in that realm. An easy way to gauge this is to see what kind of badges they’ve earned. Individuals can tag their questions, and when people contribute to that thread, they gain points towards that topic based on the tags. Eventually, they earn a badge as a token of their knowledge and participation.

Summary

There are hundreds of sites out there that serve as a watering hole for talented developers to discuss and share technical information and ideas. A resourceful hiring team taps into as many of these places as possible to find developers that could make a huge impact on their product and business. Stack Overflow is a great option if you want insights into how developers respond to questions about technical concepts and collaborate around issues.

And if you want to maximize this multi-pronged sourcing approach,check out our guide on using Github to source strong developers.

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