Reviewing developer applications isn’t as simple as matching a list of programming languages on a resume to your team’s tech stack. As a tech recruiter, you need to understand each candidate’s skill set on a deeper level and how they’ve applied their expertise to previous projects. But if you’ve never written a line of code, you might be wondering how to wrap your mind around a technical resume or open source project to this degree.
The good news? You can leave the actual coding tests to your hiring manager. The better news? There are a few parts on a developer’s Stack Overflow and GitHub profile that will give you additional insights when you’re reviewing applications. After you read this post, you’ll know how to go beyond the basics of developer profiles and evaluate applications more effectively.
On a developer’s public Stack Overflow profile, you’ll see a list of Top Tags. This is a list of the programming languages that the developer most actively uses and contributes to on Stack Overflow. When they provide valuable answers, they can earn reputation points from their peers. A high reputation score indicates that the development community believes that person is an expert in a particular programming language.
When developer applications include links to public Stack Overflow profiles, compare the lists of Top Tags you see to the programming languages in your technology stack. If there’s a match, this is a good indication that this person has the skills required to hit the ground running on Day 1. But don’t rule out a developer if there isn’t an exact match, either.
Developers don’t share contact information or work history on their public Stack Overflow profiles. But they often include links to their personal websites, their GitHub profiles, and their Twitter accounts. All of these are excellent resources to show you what they’re working on and which technology trends they’re following. When you’re responding to developer applications, writing a recruitment email, or having an in-person conversation with a developer, you’ll build credibility with candidates for knowing those details.
Want to know how active a developer is in the open source community? Curious about when they write and edit code? The Contributions chart on GitHub is an ideal place to start.The green squares in the example above represent this person’s activity on GitHub. On days he or she is most active, you’ll see a dark green square. But on days that person wasn’t engaged on the site, you’ll see a gray square. If the majority of their activity occurs on weekends, this usually means that the developer loves writing code at work and in their free time.
That doesn’t mean developers who are more active on weekdays aren’t your ideal candidates. For some programmers, open source projects are a primary component of their full-time job—which means that he or she really enjoys open source. In your initial recruitment emails, ask them if this is the case. If the answer is yes, share additional details about the opportunities that they’ll have to continue working on their open source projects at your company.
When a developer makes a “pull request” on GitHub, he or she has submitted a suggestion to another programmer’s project for consideration. Does that mean you need to understand whether or not their recommendations would work? Of course not! But you can keep an eye out for how many accepted pull requests a programmer has. When their peers consistently accept a candidate's pull requests, you can feel confident that he or she is a skilled coder and is eager to collaborate with other developers.