5 Tips to source tech talent without your local staffing agency’s help

Disclaimer – I LOVE Math Every morning I take a tuk tuk to work. For those who don’t know what a tuk tuk is, it’s a 3 wheel motorized...

Disclaimer – I LOVE Math

Every morning I take a tuk tuk to work. For those who don’t know what a tuk tuk is, it’s a 3 wheel motorized vehicle used as a taxi. Despite its perfect dimensions to squeeze through the narrowest of lanes, there are days when my luck isn’t great and I get caught in a traffic jam for hours.

Now, how do I entertain myself?

I crunch some numbers. I love adding up the numbers on license plates, multiplying them, dividing them. Anything and everything. Today was not my lucky day (but lucky for you!), and while looking for a way to while away some time, I had a light bulb moment. – what avoidable costs does a recruiter incur while sourcing tech talent?

I have been collecting some data on HR spends for a research and noticed that recruiters spend a lot on an average to close one open position. Here are some calculations I did on my commute –

Let us assume you are looking to hire 10 mid-level developers with an average salary of $80,000. Now, here are some market statistics –

Average yearly recruiting budget in the US =  $560,000

(Let us assume that an organization is looking  to make 10 tech hires)

Total spend on external agencies  = $196,000

(Amount paid to staffing agency per year for 10 hires = $160,000 (+) Amount paid to job boards per year for 10 hires=  $36,000)

“So, on an average, recruiters spend 35% of their annual recruiting budget on external agencies to hire 10 technologists!!” **(scroll to the end to see in-depth calculations)

This is clearly a cost that can be avoided and sometimes you are not even sure of the quality of talent that comes in. But what if you could save most of this and use it for other productive reasons?

Here are the top 5 hacks which will not only save you some dollars but also help meet your tech recruitment targets.

5) Leverage social media to build a developer brand

You may have heard of companies aspiring to build an amazing employer brand, but how often does one come across companies that wish to build a strong developer brand?

A report by Stackoverflow states that 32% of developers are looking for innovative projects. Also, our recent survey on women developers supports this claim, with x% of women technologists looking to switch jobs which let them work on innovative technologies. One great way to latch onto amazing developer talent is to show that developers love working for your brand, and what better way to declare this than through social media.

Set up live sessions

Prospective employees would like to know all the cool things that your company has been up to and see the kind of work culture in store for them. And, the best way to do this is through live video interactions.

For example, you could run a live session on ‘Why we are the #1 brand for developer talent?’ or have a Q&A session on what is in store for candidates if they join your organization. Things to remember when you do this are:

  • Be cognizant of the kind of questions being asked and the developers who are asking these questions. Many times, you will be able to identify talent which is more proactive about your brand than the rest just by observing the questions or comments.
  • Once the session concludes, connecting with them over a personalized mail/message with open positions at your organization can increase your chances of a potential hire.
  • Do this frequently and you are bound to see some great hires materializing in no time.

Here’s an example of an invite to a live session by Microsoft-

Live session

This is also a great way to build brand recall at no cost. You could use platforms like Periscope, Facebook Live, and YouTube Live for your next live session

Use your network to build a talent pipeline

Sometimes things that we are looking for is right in front of us and we hardly notice it. Take for example your company’s Linkedin profile. You can find some great candidates just by looking at it closely.

Company and individual status updates

There are thousands of company updates posted every single day. So how do you stand out? Get creative! According to Linkedin, the following are certain practices that will help your hiring updates get views by the right candidates:

  • A video in your update can increase your engagement by 74%. So convey a story and make the viewer feel something – humour, inspiration, wonder or pride.
  • A link in your update can increase engagement by 84%
  • A photo in your update can increase engagement by 147%. Here, it would be great to go with a picture of one of your developers. The more realistic, the better.
  • Keep it short. The top 50 status updates have an average count of 120 characters.

Here is a recent hiring update by Linkedin for more inspiration. The personalized messaging helps it stand out.

Job posting on Linkedin

  • Once your status is ready, post it on your company page (which already has job seekers interested in working for your company) or on your individual networks.
  • Tag developers within your organization who have some great developer connects so more people notice your post.
  • Also, make sure all your employees like these updates so their connections notice them as well.

Use the alumni feature on Linkedin

This is a great hack if you are looking to make both university and lateral hires. Access this by clicking the name of one of the schools on your profile. You will then be able to view all alumni details and filter those profiles by their skills, their current location, if they are actively looking for jobs etc, based on your requirement. .

Attract GenZ developers through Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest

Did you know that 53% of young online adults aged 18–29 use Instagram actively? This is a powerhouse of talent if used the right way. Let’s learn how to tap some talent here with the help of an example.

This is one of Reddit’s hiring posts on Instagram

Perks at Reddit

  • Reddit keeps it personal and conversational. They aren’t afraid to share a little about themselves. Some suggestions on what you can share to showcase your brand – people, events, company culture, etc.
  • They’ve used the right hashtags. You could also add an extra comment with loads of hashtags – this is the norm on Instagram. Here are some examples that you can use –

#vacancy #dreamjob #newjob #resume #video #culture #SanFrancisco #cv #tech #techjobs #developers #hiring #instajob #developerbranding #team #jobhunting #fun #interview #college #services #technology

  • Thirdly, they haven’t shied away from showing their unique job perks. Reditt’s user base is geeky and quirky and telling people that you can rub shoulders with a renowned horror film director is a genius way of showing the perks in store for future employees while subtly driving the message that they are currently hiring. Find what your brand stands for and align your hiring strategies accordingly.

P.S – Also, look out for competitors in the same space. People who follow them are most likely to follow you too. Keep a lookout for their hiring strategies and see if you can do it better.

If you need more hacks for recruiting GenZ, check out this webinar.

4) Rope in talent from developer communities

Tech communities are full of potential hires waiting to be discovered. Here are 3 such communities from where you can source talent for free.

Hiring developers from GitHub

GitHub is one of the world’s largest code hosts, with close to 31 million developers. It’s like a tech recruiter’s dream. A developer’s GitHub profile gives you a wealth of information.

GitHub profile

Before you start shortlisting profiles on GitHub, make sure that the developer is open to recruiters approaching him with jobs. Once this is sorted, follow these steps to find the best talent on GitHub:

  • The first step is to create a profile on GitHub
  • Once the profile is created, run a search using 3 parameters – language, location, and followers. For example, if you are looking to hire a java developer based in Texas with more than 5 followers, your search would look like this –

  • By default, GitHub shows results for the list of repositories. You can change this to users by choosing it from the left hand side menu. You now have a list of developers you can reach out to.

Here are a few things to remember before you connect with potential candidates.

  • Check their repositories to familiarize yourself with their work. This would be mutually beneficial as you can filter out candidates who you think will not fit into the job role on offer.
  • Cross-reference their profiles on either Linkedin or Twitter to be doubly sure if they would be a perfect fit or not.
  • Don’t judge profiles on how active or complete they are. Sometimes developers do not tend to share code publicly for security reasons. Also, not having a great social following is not an indication of how good their tech skills are.

For more info, download our in-depth e-book on hiring GitHub developers.

Hiring developers from StackOverflow

StackOverflow is a Q&A site for professional and enthusiast programmers. Just like GitHub, StackOverflow is also a great platform to hire amazing developer talent.

Stack Overflow profile

The process of shortlisting developer profiles is similar to GitHub. However, here are a few things to remember before connecting with your first developer via StackOverflow:

  • StackOverflow is more of a Q&A site where developers post and answer technical questions. You would need to look at candidates addressing such specific questions to see if they fit your requirements.
  • Developers are segregated based on their user badges and reputation scores. An ideal candidate ranks high for both.
  • Every question which is posted has tags associated with  it. You can use these tags to find users who fit the bill.

Hiring developers from HackerNews

HackerNews is a little different from other community sites. It is a social news website focusing on computer science. Here are some hacks on finding talent in this community:

  • Check out the threads and comments relevant to the jobs that you are hiring for and start a dialogue with the contributors. They will be the most likely candidates for your job.
  • Expand your outreach by asking influential developers at your company to post job listings on relevant threads.

These are just 3 examples. Some other places to find great developer talent include HackerEarth, Reddit, Kaggle, etc.

3) Conduct a virtual job fair

This is not exactly a cost free way of sourcing talent but it is comparatively cheaper (average of $8,000 for one virtual event) than the conventional way of recruitment.

In Feb 2019, FlexJobs hosted a virtual job fair that saw the likes of Hilton, Concentrix, Appen, and many others looking to hire developer talent. Companies like VFairs offer an online platform to run your own virtual job fair.

VFairs virtual event

Few things to remember before your next virtual job fair:

  • Create an easy to navigate custom landing page where job applicants can register for the job fair, build profiles, and upload their resumes
  • Make sure that your vendor provides multi-platform compatibility
  • Provide a great user experience and easy navigation. Provide online help by incorporating audio, video, and text-based chat capabilities
  • Before you launch the event, conduct a webinar for all those who have registered on what to expect during the job fair
  • You could include some online goodies like gift cards and vouchers for candidates to take home.

Once you have shortlisted potential candidates, you can test their tech skills remotely by using a developer assessment platform like HackerEarth.

2) Attend local meetups

Look out for local developer meetups and conferences. You can find a lot of free events in your locality on Meetup. Shortlist for events that  align with your recruiting goals. You could make some connects a couple of days before the event so you know whom to spend time with on the day of the event.

A tech meetup at San Francisco

There is no silver bullet for making meetups work for you. You need to dedicate time to build a presence in the developer community so make sure you do this regularly.

Here are a few things you SHOULD NOT do at a meetup:

  • Don’t be pushy – Most developers attend these meetups to share their knowledge and learn from others. Telling people upfront that you are only there to hire can be a buzzkill
  • No company presentations – Remember that it’s not about you, but about the community. Instead ask how you could help them. Developers will approach you if they have any questions about your company
  • Finally, don’t be greedy – If someone doesn’t fit your requirement, introduce them to your contacts or someone who would be interested in their profile. The more you give to the community, the more you will get back from it

1) Make your tech team your brand advocate

This is one of the most effective ways of bringing in talent. Your tech team is a first-hand proof of what you stand for as a developer brand so it is very important that they are your strongest advocates.


Every time you are looking to close a position, make sure you check internally for referrals. At HackerEarth, we run a really cool referral program for our employees. Perks include handsome referral bonuses and a chance to win some awesome tech gadgets.

Developer experiences

We have also had developers who have volunteered to write about their experience working for our organization or share their experience on social media. This is one of the greatest ways to showcase what we stand for as a brand. This also acts as a pull for other developers to try out our brand on their recommendation, helping us generate a pipeline of developer talent with almost no effort.

Hackathons and other developer events

Hackathons are a great way to bring together developers who can add value to your organization in the long run.

For example, we were looking to hire some Django developers and came up with an unconventional idea of hosting a ‘Djangothon’. Our recruitment team spent time with every individual, made secret notes on their open source projects and what they liked, and handed out personalized notes with polaroid pictures at the end of the day. The developers loved it and we ended up making some great hires.

A post on HackerEarth's Instagram page

I hope I’ve helped you save some dollars and eased some sourcing woes. On my next tuk tuk ride, I would love to read about how some of these tactics have worked out for you. Feel free to share your experiences and drop me a mail on soumya.c@hackerearth.com. Happy Hiring!

P.S – **For other Math aficionados like me, this is how I arrived at the numbers –

Source –

The average annual recruiting budget in the US = $560,000 (source – NACE Researchers)

Average annual salary for a developer = $80,000 (source – Glassdoor)

Amount paid to staffing agency per year per hire = 15% to 25% (developer’s salary) = $12,000 to $20,000  (avg $16,000) (source – Forbes)

Amount  paid to job boards = $300 per hire per month = $3,600 per hire per year (source – Dice)

No.of hires = 10 (assumption)

Calculation –

Total paid to staffing agency for 10 hires =16,000*10=  $160,000

Total paid to job boards for 10 hires: 3,600*10 = $36,000

Total amount paid to an external agency to source tech talent = $160,000 + $36,000 = $196,000

This is 35% of the annual recruiting budget

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