In an ideal world, you’d communicate a tech job opening and, immediately, the right candidate would apply. Unfortunately, the tech job market is far from ideal.

In today’s competitive setting, the “post and pray” method just doesn’t cut it. If you want to hire the best developers, you have to seek them out. That’s where tech talent sourcing comes into the equation.

First things first, what is talent sourcing?

Talent sourcing is the act of searching for, identifying, reaching out to and engaging with potential candidates. A solid sourcing strategy can make a notable difference to the quality of your technical hires and save you precious time.

Building your sourcing strategy? Here’s what not to do:

1. Forget past candidates

So, your company has an opening for a front-end developer, a data scientist, a system engineer, etc. You’re about to start searching wide and far for the best candidates for the role, right? Wrong.

Before you go looking for new potential candidates, make sure you take a look at your existing talent pipeline.

Whether you’re using an ATS, an excel spreadsheet, or post-its on your fridge (please don’t), chances are you’ve got a list of pre-qualified candidates you’ve already been in contact with for past job opportunities. Maybe they didn’t quite make the cut last time – that doesn’t mean that they’re not any good. Maybe it wasn’t the right time for them – maybe it will be this time around.

The average time to hire for engineering positions is 62 days and the average tech position vacancy costs 500$ per day. Dipping into your existing talent database could save you precious time and money.

2. Under-utilize your tech team

You’re in charge of finding the right candidates for your company’s tech team. It’s your job and you should be able to do it all on your own, right? Wrong.

One of your main assets is your current tech team. Make sure you use them to your best advantage.

You should lean on your tech team to find out more about the candidates you’re looking for and where to find them. Not only can you rely on their knowledge of the role, the team and the industry, you can also turn to their network.

Often, great developers know great developers. Maybe they know someone who’d be interested in working for your company and can warmly introduce you? According to Jobvite, referrals are hired 55% faster than those hired through a career site.

CodinGame's tech team
CodinGame’s tech team hard at work.

Check in with your tech team. Ask them questions like:

“As someone who’s been in the computer programming field for a while, where might you start looking for a developer candidate?”

“Do people in this role go by multiple job titles? What are they?”

3. Only source for open roles

There aren’t any openings in your tech team. You don’t need to look for great tech candidates, right? Wrong.

Think strategic.

“Strategic sourcing brings a neat combination of predictability, reduced risk, efficiency, and quality to the hiring process.” – Nada Chaker, Beamery.

Strategic sourcing means sourcing continuously for future needs, with your organization’s long-term recruitment strategy in mind. It means cultivating your talent pipeline: a pool of potential candidates you’ve interacted with and sparked interest in. The candidates in your talent pipeline are already engaged and can be contacted when any relevant roles become available.

Strategic sourcing also means targeting both active (proactively looking for a job) and passive candidates (not actively looking for a new job).

65% of developers aren’t in a job that they love. Why refrain from reaching out to interesting tech profiles, just because they’re currently employed? If they’re not happy in their job and if you choose the right approach, they may consider changing companies.

It’s slightly brutal, but in the sourcing game, nobody is off limits.

Companies have come to (or if they haven’t, they should, and fast) accept that in recruitment, anything goes. As an employer, you should be fully aware that you are at risk of your tech team leaving you. If you don’t look after them, they’ll accept a better offer elsewhere.

4. Neglect your employer brand

You publish well-written job offers on your career site and include key information such as: role, location and salary. That’s all candidates really need to know, right? Wrong.

As we’ve said before, your employer brand is everything that influences how past, present or future recruits feel about your company as a place to work.

In tech talent sourcing, your employer brand could be what makes or breaks an outreach.

Candidates do their homework. They look you up. They want to know who you are, what you represent, and what it’s like to work in your company every day. In fact, candidates consider that “not knowing what it’s like to work at an organization” is the main obstacle they face when deciding whether to become an applicant.

Your employer brand can nudge them to answer you or make them turn away.

Is your company a nice place to work? Then communicate that on your career site, on social media, on forums and review sites, etc.

There are tons of ways to improve your employer brand. Digital product design and development agency, Purple, Rock, Scissors, for example, created this “Day in the Life” video featuring their full-stack developer, Aaron. The video gives potential candidates a look at what it means to be part of the Purple team. This is a great example of specially crafted employer branding content.

5. Avoid numbers

So, you’ve made a conscious effort to plan and carry out your sourcing strategy. You’re done, right? Wrong (again).

Numbers aren’t appealing to everybody, but they speak louder than words. Once you’ve set up your sourcing strategy, you need to track the right metrics. Traditional recruiting metrics won’t necessarily give you the sourcing insights you need to boss your sourcing.

Consider following these metrics:

Source channel performance

Tracking the source of every candidate that enters your recruitment process and crossing that information with their role and a quality rating (after screening) will help you find out where your best candidates are coming from. A clear idea of the most effective sourcing channels will help you prioritize your time and investment.

Time to hire (sourcing style)

“Follow that candidate!”

Following a candidate as he or she moves through your sourcing and recruitment processes will help you see where you’re losing time and losing candidates. Instead of tracking candidates from the moment they apply (as you would in a traditional recruitment process), track your candidates from the very first contact made.

Paying attention to each step of the candidate’s journey will help you evaluate the efficiency of your sourcing process: how and how often did you contact the candidate before getting an answer? How long and what actions did it take to convert the candidate from “contact made” to “applicant”? How fast does a candidate move through the screening and interview process? Do sourced candidates get to the “hire” stage faster than direct applicants?

Screening quality

Sourcing is not about quantity, it’s about quality. Not only do you need to source tech candidates, you need to source the right ones.

In technical recruiting particularly, you need to track whether the candidates you source are passing your company’s screening process.

You’ll, most likely, have already checked your candidates out in some way – you’ll have looked at their GitHub account, looked for them on Stack Overflow, checked out their online programmer portfolio – but if you realize that the candidates you’re sourcing aren’t making the cut in technical tests, you might need to rethink your search criteria.

This metric is made easy with a technical assessment platform that helps you benchmark developers and compare their scores and sources.


When building your tech talent sourcing strategy, make sure to tiptoe around these pitfalls. You’ll be well on your way to quality tech hiring.