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When it comes to putting together a cohesive hiring strategy, you need to include more than one hiring “source”. In this instance, we’re referring to a hiring source as the method you are using to find these candidates. Relying solely on inbound applications, for example, is a poor strategy for finding your ideal developer candidate. Since most developers are already employed, relying on an active candidate finding your job and applying is dismal. Here are a few of the typical hiring sources every HR Director or Recruiter should utilize when putting together their tech hiring strategy.


Inbound applications are the ones you receive from candidates who are actively looking for a job. They tend to find your job on a job board, social media, your company’s career page on your website, or anywhere else you advertise your openings. Since there’s a 98% employment rate among developers, inbound applicants are typically on the lower end of the spectrum. This doesn’t mean you should forgo your traditional job posting, though – just that you should mix in a few other hiring sources as well.

The advantage of inbound hiring is that it’s much less work for you, as you’re letting the candidates come to you. The disadvantage is that often the candidates applying aren’t 100% qualified for the job you’ve posted.


Outbound sourcing is a great way to engage with the candidates you hand-picked yourself. Typically these candidates are developers you’ve connected with online or in-person or have at least some knowledge of (maybe you saw them speak at an event, for example). 

Many organizations choose to use a recruiter or recruiting agency to help fill their open technology jobs. These recruiters, whether they are in-house or external, are performing outbound outreach. However, this type of outbound hiring is typically on sites like LinkedIn or other job boards where the recruiter doesn’t have a close relationship with the candidate.

The advantages of outbound hiring are that you can get some great candidates with this targeted approach. Instead of waiting for the perfect developer to apply, you can actively source those who seem to be the right fit for what you’re looking for. The disadvantages are that it can be time-consuming and expensive if you don’t have those dedicated hires in your company devoted to sourcing full-time.


It seems like every company has a unique opinion on referrals- they either love them and find them to be an incredible source of smart individuals or they find that referrals turn their company culture into a high school club. For technical positions, referrals often work very well. Most engineers have worked with a lot of other talented engineers, so they have a handful of awesome people to recommend off the top of their head.

The advantage of referrals that are done right is that there are few costs associated with them. You also have a built-in character reference for the candidate, since someone internally already knows them.  This eliminates a lot of the first steps in a typical recruiting process. The disadvantages are that bias can sometimes creep in, and others in the office may feel left out or that they aren’t part of the “in crowd.”

So what’s the best way to use these sources in your tech hiring process? Use a combination of the three of them, weighing the pros and cons of each. Keep track of how many candidates come in through each source, how many are hired or at least get to the final interview stage, and then do an assessment. These findings will help shape your future hiring efforts.

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