How to Find Tech Talent on GitHub, Hacker News & Stack Overflow

July 17, 2017 at 11:00 AM by William Clarke

CodingSitesHeader-1.pngThe internet has created a million talent pools of every variety, but when you’re looking for technical hires a few places in particular stand above the rest: GitHub, Stack Overflow, and Hacker News.

The ever-tightening technical hiring market has turned these communities into essential talent sources for recruiters, yet finding the right candidates still comes down to knowing the particular rules, lingo and cultures that fuel these destinations. By the way, Envoy by Entelo, the world's first AI-powered outbound recruiting and talent sourcing solution might be able to help you with that.

For the uninitiated, that can mean a steep learning curve, which is where this guide comes in handy. If you’re on the hunt for technical talent of all stripes and the usual talent sources have dried up, here’s how to get started in the land of programmer-centric online communities.

GitHub-Logo (1).png

Launched in 2008, GitHub is the world’s most popular open source code repositories and has more than 19 million developers and 100,000 organizations sharing code on it. Because every user has a profile, it can function like a more conventional social network for sourcing purposes.

A few tips to get started on GitHub:

  • Don’t judge profiles based on how complete they are or how much activity is visible. A not-so-busy profile doesn’t mean an engineer is any less qualified or active because they may work at a company where security or liability prevents them from sharing code publicly. Similarly, Followers, Following, and Starred stats aren’t definitive indications of their skill or ability, so take everything with a grain of salt.
  • Use GitHub as an extension of what you already know about candidates. If you’re looking for a particular set of skills and experiences, GitHub can help confirm that certain people are a good fit. Dive into organization profiles, leverage contact information (emails, websites), cross-reference GitHub info with other networks’ information to build out candidate profiles.
  • Get to know the lingo. The better you understand GitHub’s particular terms and phrases, the better you’ll be able to assess candidates and profiles. Be sure to read through
  • Play around with Boolean strings to get the hang of what kinds of users are on the service and how you can find them. Here is one for iOS and Android developers: [ (ios | android) “joined on” “public activity” -tab.activity ]


Founded in 2008, Stack Overflow is the largest question and answer site for programmers to learn, share their knowledge, and advance their careers. Think of it as Quora for programmers with more than 50 million unique visitors per month.

Things to know about Stack Overflow:

  • Questions: Stack Overflow functions like a Q & A site where users can pose or answer very specific technical questions. To find candidates who might be particularly relevant to your org’s needs, look for questions that fit your technical problems.
  • Reputation Score: All users have a reputation score. This explains how much the community trusts a user. The more reputation users earn, the more privileges they gain.
  • Badges: Badges are a reward system recognizing participation, achievements, and expertise that can be given to users by the community. Here is a full list of SO
  • User rankings: Closer: Community member with 3,000 or more reputation. Has the ability to vote to close questions based on criteria set forth in the FAQ. Editor: Community member with 2,000 or more reputation. Has the ability to edit any unlocked post on the site, even if they are not community wiki. 10ker: Users who have surpassed 10,000 reputation which gives them access to moderation tools.
  • Tags: Every question is tagged for certain topics (including programming languages, types of problems, etc) Use tags to find users particularly knowledgeable or strong in the areas you are hiring for.


Launched in 2007, Hacker News is a social news site focusing on computer science and entrepreneurship with more than 3M monthly unique visitors. It’s definitely a less traditional way to source, but if you’re willing to dig into topical threads you can find a lot of talented, engaged people. It’s also a great way to get to know potential candidates who may spend much time on social media.

What you need to know about Hacker News:

  • Check user karma. Every user has a karma score. The number of upvotes on stories and comments minus the number of downvotes. Note: Some votes aren’t counted to prevent abuse.
  • Look at the Ask and Jobs threads. Search for keywords based on your hiring focuses (Ex: Data, product, languages, machine learning) and see what kinds of discussions people are having and who is contributing. Looking at the companies currently hiring can give you perspective on which companies are going through a reorganization.
  • Engage users. If there are threads that are particularly relevant to job searches you are engaged in, talk to users in those threads to see if they might be open to a new role with your organization.
  • Leverage your own programmers for inbound. Ask influential and engaged programmers at your company to post job listings for your company in relevant threads where users might be looking for opportunities.
  • Personalize your outreach. Use HN to find people who might be open to a change of role and personalize your outreach to them based on their behavior or statements on HN. People tend to be more open about their professional situation on Hacker News than other networks, so it is particularly valuable as a place to find people ready for a new challenge.

Finding talented and good fit data scientists, software engineers or product managers will never be as simple as just typing in a search query, but these technical communities are full of great potential hires just waiting to be discovered. The key is to be calibrated in your searches and engagement. If you’d like to take a deeper dive into the particulars of hiring on these platforms, including sample searches and examples of how to comb through each site, check out Entelo’s How to Hire Tech Talent Webinar with Entelo Head of Recruiting Britt Ryan and Entelo Technical Recruiter Amanda Meister.

Related Articles: 
How to Hire Data Scientists When It Seems Like There Are None to Hire 
The Best Tech Literacy Tools for Non-Technical Recruiters 
How to Fix Technical Recruiting for Everyone 

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