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Fish where the fish might be

Where to Source Top Technical Talent

Fish where the fish might beFinding tech talent makes you want to tear your hair out sometimes, doesn’t it?

Sourcing technical talent, especially in areas where many software development companies are looking for the same skill set can be… challenging. When everyone is looking for the same thing, the playing field becomes so level there’s just no way to stand out anymore. LinkedIn’s dominance in the recruitment space can make you feel like you’re arriving at an overfished lake or holiday spot recently promoted in Lonely Planet. Everyone is there and it’s ruining the experience.

There are other alternatives, though. Technically skilled people, incredibly, have lives outside of their current workplace and a LinkedIn profile (who knew?). Exploiting these habits and behaviors to generate a connection can help you crawl out of the crowd and get noticed. If you’re looking for technical talent and aren’t getting any bites in the usual arenas, it’s time to go fishing in some more out of the way places.


Github is an open source code repository site. It already has over 3 million members, all of them with technical skills and talents. Github has an advanced search engine that allows recruiters to discover users based on their specific technical talents, keywords mentioned in their profile, location, and number of followers. The more followers a person has, the more likely they are talented in what they do. However, it is also more likely they will be more difficult to recruit. When you’re searching, remember to focus on keywords relating to a particular project a potential candidate might be working on rather than job titles such as ‘software engineer’. They’re all software engineers…


StackOverflow is a Q&A site for programmers. It has over 1.3 million users and nearly 10 million questions answered since its founding in 2008. Users build reputation by answering questions other users have posted. Users will also list tags of skill sets in their profile, allowing recruiters to search based on specific skills or project types. StackOverflow awards badges to its users – with names like ‘Peer Pressure’ and ‘Critic’, these badges can provide an insight into the motivations and personality of the user.


Quora is a question and answer forum for any topic, not just technical ones. With just 1.3 million users, it has had over 14 million questions answered since its inception. Profiles are rich with text (not just keywords) and you can scan a user’s recent activity to get an idea of their skill set. Each topic has Top Stories, which, if you’re looking for a real super star, is a great place to start. Beware the huge competition for these candidates though.

MeetUps has facilitated over 114 million invitations to events since its inception. Thousands of technical meetups in cities all over world take place every month with special focuses across the spectrum of talent that is the technical spac. From java, openstack, and python to eCommerce and mobile developers, meetups are the perfect place to meet those with the skills you are looking for. If you don’t have a technical background, discuss with the group moderator whether it would be okay for you to go. Some groups don’t appreciate non-technical folks popping in – especially if they’re only there to find talent. If you have the know-how to make yourself useful and a valued member of the group, you will have an advantage.

People Aggregation Sites

Entelo, TalentBin, and 3Sourcing aggregate data from other websites to provide a database of potential candidates. Entelo’s patent pending algorithm uses 70+ indicators to determine is a person is considering moving jobs and then alerts members who have indicated they are looking for someone of that particular talent. TalentBin provides a similar service and a CRM for managing passive candidates. They also offer content management systems (CMSs) and profiles of active job seekers.

The important thing to remember with people aggregate data services is that not all technically talented people are on LinkedIn. Many have deactivated their accounts because they are getting too many InMail requests or just prefer to use other sites to connect with people and showcase their work. This is why aggregate data services are so important.

Unfortunately, these aggregate platforms have great data but don’t come cheaply. Entelo, with its patent pending algorithm to indicate when someone may be on the move, is $12K a year and there are no month-to-month plans. Talent Bin is $6K a year per seat.

A recent player to the people aggregate data scene, 3Sourcing simplifies the services offered by aggregate services but also simplifies the price. From $300/month, the search function performs far better than LinkedIn, but that’s about it. It doesn’t provide CMS or potential candidate alerts.

Sourcing technical talent can be frustrating at times. The key is to remember that LinkedIn may not be the best place to look, overcrowded as it is and make alternatives sources a key part of your strategy. If you fish for tech talent in a pond that’s not crowded, you just might catch something.

Cofounder and CEO at RecruitLoop. Previously with McKinsey. Passionate about startups, health and technology. Surf when I can; ride a bike most days. Follow me @mboverell.