Best way to recruit web developers?
July 22, 2013 10:49 AM   Subscribe

My employer is asking me to look into recruiting strategies for LAMP/PHP developers. We've been having bad luck finding appropriate candidates and actually getting them in for interviews (posting jobs on CareerBuilder & CL). I'm not really an HR person (nor am I a tech person), so I've never done this before. He's interested in possibly buying resume access on Monster, CareerBuilder, or Dice -- is one better than the others for this type of thing? Any suggestions for other strategies to use?

He would possibly be open to using a professional recruiter, but since that's expensive and he would have more control doing his own searches, he feels that might be a better route. However, if you happen to know a great recruiter (or a developer looking for work in Phoenix), feel free to recommend them via memail.
posted by emumimic to Work & Money (19 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I'd post in Jobs, for a start. And then I'd post the vacancy on your company's LinkedIn. If there's no joy, I'd consider a paid LinkedIn job posting.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:52 AM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

posted by oceanjesse at 11:09 AM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

You could recruit at relevant (PHP, mySQL, Wordpress, Drupal) meetups and user group meetings in your area.
posted by Good Brain at 11:10 AM on July 22, 2013 [4 favorites]

Every one of the ten or so mostly excellent LAMP developers I've hired over the years was hired through CL (I assume by that you mean Craigslist), but that was before LinkedIn really arrived. I was also aiming mostly for a youngish (just out of school or a few years out of school) demographic; the best service may depend on what demographic you're aiming for. (Does anyone use Monster anymore?)

The success of a CL posting can also have a lot to do with where it is posted on the site and how attractive the post is, so I wouldn't give up on it just yet. I'd be inclined to think that LAMP folks are going to favor a "free" service like CL over a fee-driven site.
posted by seemoreglass at 11:11 AM on July 22, 2013

I was also aiming mostly for a youngish (just out of school or a few years out of school) demographic

Age discrimination in hiring is illegal. I wouldn't be so blithe about advertising that you engage in it.
posted by Wordwoman at 11:30 AM on July 22, 2013 [7 favorites]

I've usually used Stack Overflow Careers, Joel On Software Jobs, and other sites of that ilk. Post them on places where PHP/LAMP devs hang out. Other good places are webhostingtalk (but it's more international) and just farming your contacts on LinkedIn with the job offer. Someone knows someone and getting an application via networking is always preferable than cold-selling someone on the job.
posted by SpecialK at 11:38 AM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

LinkedIn can be a great resource for this stuff. You can buy an updated membership and search for candidates in your area with the specific qualifications you're looking for.

I just got headhunted this way, and I'm going for an interview later this week. LinkedIn just has more weight for me than a random blast from CareerBuilder. Also, I can review the person who is contacting me via HIS or HER LinkedIn profile.

Another way is to post on user group boards, like, or whatever it is you're looking for.

Also, LinkedIn has groups you can join, so you can post a job on the LinkedIn group.


posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:45 AM on July 22, 2013

The 37signals job board should definitely be on that list.
posted by schmod at 11:48 AM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Don't forget GitHub Jobs.
posted by thebigdeadwaltz at 12:31 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm honing in on the part where you say, "we've been having bad luck finding appropriate candidates". This is a tough situation because it is hard to evaluate the skills of a programmer if you don't do this sort of things already. Your best option is having someone in-house who knows the landscape of software development.

Barring that, the best predictor of future performance is past performance in software. Ask candidates to show you sites they built and to explain what they did. If they worked on a team ask them to clarify parts of the technology they spearheaded and parts they collaborated on. Whatever you do, don't whip out one of those tests to prove that someone knows cursory PHP. You will weed out some candidates who shouldn't even apply, but you will also insult the really competent ones.

In my experience CraigsList is the best resource I've ever used for hiring programmers. It even beats time I spent in person networking at technology oriented functions where I sponsored the event and brought beer. The CL listings brought me a bunch of crap too, but I have the software development experience to weed those out, so this may color my impression.
posted by dgran at 12:36 PM on July 22, 2013

Is it possible there's a terminology problem? It sounds like you might be using "PHP/LAMP developer" to mean "someone who will build a complete site for us, including design, administration and maybe content too". But others might take it to mean just the backend coding, with someone else doing design and the rest.
posted by vasi at 12:57 PM on July 22, 2013

I think your best candidates are not necessarily out there trawling job listings. They are already employed. I'm not in Phoenix, but in the Bay Area, and every single one of my developer/software engineer/programmer friends gets chased by recruiters constantly. So, just as candidates need to be in front of employers before the job posting becomes public, employers need to be in front of candidates before they are thinking about their next opportunity.

Caveat, I'm not a programmer, but I'm in the Bay Area and attend quite a few technology meetups, particularly the ones oriented towards women in tech. Many of them are thinly disguised recruitment events for companies sponsoring the meetup. And I myself am about to join a company after meeting them through a meetup.
posted by so much modern time at 2:02 PM on July 22, 2013

One strategy that can work is to look for one-man-band local web firms who seem to be doing decent work (you may need help in assessing this) and see if they're interested in taking a day job. Sometimes they'll be sick of grinding out a living from small projects.

However, note that any talented, self-sufficient dev is only going to want to work for a firm with savvy management, and the fact that someone without tech or HR experience has been asked to look into this doesn't exactly bode well (sorry if that sounds snarky!).
posted by malevolent at 2:24 PM on July 22, 2013

I [software developer for 15 years] get a lot of headhunting emails, and I tend to view LinkedIn as the "premium" source. The best contacts I've gotten have all been through there, not counting personal contacts which isn't helpful here :)

From coworkers I've talked to, that feeling seems pretty widespread (that LinkedIn is good / more "professional" than some other job / networking sites).

I mean, I think most people I know including me have ended up getting jobs through personal connections, but I'd rate LI as my second option behind that if I decided to find a new job.
posted by wildcrdj at 4:44 PM on July 22, 2013

Ask candidates to show you sites they built
The important part of that, for someone hiring a developer who will be expected to work independently, is to ask candidates to show you sites they built and shipped -- sample code and half-finished "accomplishments" don't account for anything. The site needs to have reached production and been used by users. Shipping patch sets and features on a project that they joined halfway do count, though.

And yeah.... that's harsh for newbies. Developers who haven't shipped anything need to work underneath a senior or more experienced developer until they've shipped a few things and learned in the process what timesinks to avoid and how to motivate themselves into getting things accomplished for the user base that they're looking to serve.
posted by SpecialK at 4:44 PM on July 22, 2013

Try Reddit also! Poke around for job listings similar to yours, then subscribe to that sub.
posted by littleredwagon at 6:02 PM on July 22, 2013

Ugh, don't post on Monster or Careerbuilder, those are really only crap jobs anymore.
posted by radioamy at 7:45 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

the best way is to track how much time you actually spend on this in the next, say, two weeks or so, and then make the case to your boss that you're not the right person for this task, and you suggest they pony up the money to hire a consultant/recruiter to actually do the work.
posted by cupcake1337 at 10:41 PM on July 22, 2013

emumimic: "My employer is asking me to look into recruiting strategies for LAMP/PHP developers. We've been having bad luck finding appropriate candidates and actually getting them in for interviews (posting jobs on CareerBuilder & CL). "

I'm curious what your salary range is for this position. Anecdotally, "we can't hire" translates into "our small business can't budget for it." If you're thinking of buying resumes rather than paying a recruiter for placement, this hints at money being an issue in more than just hiring. Phoenix isn't a particularly cheap area, and there's lots of other tech companies recruiting in the area.

Also keep in mind that company engineering culture matters. If you're recruiting for people with experience with CVS, that signals a lot of things to the slightly clued in programmer. Most of them negative. If your company is trying to hire it's first PHP dev, that's actually something you should be touting -- "help shape our development process and toolchains!"

Finally, university relations are paramount. Every university has one or two hidden student programmer sweatshops; if you can find those and make good friends with the management, you'll have a high quality funnel of people that may be easier on your budget.
posted by pwnguin at 8:35 PM on July 23, 2013

« Older Funny radio shows / podcasts / audiobook...   |   Best handheld gaming experience for old... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.