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Post by Rich Moy on Feb 16, 2017 12:00:00 PM

Conventional wisdom might tell you that success for a tech recruiter is defined by his or her ability to find an exact match for a role based on a list of required programming languages and years of experience. However, new programming languages have become integral components of modern tech stacks. While this is an exciting (and necessary) piece of your company’s growth, some of these key technologies have only existed for a short time, making it much harder to source and recruit developers simply by matching their experience to a templated job description. Finding the right developers to build products using newer technologies is a unique challenge, but here are a few tips to help you get started.

Understand How Programming Languages are Related

Like all good things, the creators of most modern technologies were inspired by their experience coding in more traditional programming languages. In some cases, they saw ways to make the technology more accessible to a wider developer audience. In other cases, they grew frustrated by the limitations of their tech stack and took matters into their own hands.

Take Elm as an example. As Mitch Pronschinske, Managing Editor at TechBeacon explains, Elm is a usability-focused functional programming language that compiles to high-performance JavaScript. If you were to simply see this on a list of job requirements without knowing its background, you'd likely find yourself searching candidate databases for Elm developers, only to come up empty. But knowing that it ultimately compiles to JavaScript opens up a bigger pool of candidates, some of whom might experiment with Elm in their free time and actually be the developers you need. Taking the time to understand the relationships between programming languages will put you ahead of the curve when you need to find developers to work with more modern technologies.

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Look for Developers Who Can Help You Today and in the Future

Even if you stumbled upon a handful of developer resumes that happen to be littered with new technologies, focusing your recruitment efforts on only these people would be incredibly short-sighted. Our CEO Joel Spolsky once wrote that hiring the right developers requires you to find candidates who can help you now and learn new programming languages as your company needs to add them to your tech stack.

When you're evaluating candidates, look for developers who show a penchant for being versatile. A developer who has worked with a combination of languages that don't appear to be related might be the type of quick learner you need to tackle projects with newer technologies. Additionally, don't forget to peek at side projects. While many developers don't get to work with the technologies they're interested in during the workday, their side projects are an ideal way for them to learn new skills in their free time.

Know What Makes Newer Technologies Exciting to Developers

Understanding how a developer might move from one technology to another is a great way to set yourself apart from the competition. When you engage candidates about roles using newer technologies, it's crucial to have a baseline knowledge of why they would be interested in doing so.

Kevin Montrose, our data team lead here at Stack Overflow, recently pointed out that when the iPhone was first launched in 2008, a significant percentage of developers ditched Java and made career transitions that led to the growth of Objective-C to be able to build apps for mobile phones. Of course, knowing what types of developers would be able to learn modern languages is essential to meeting your hiring goals. But when you identify candidates who could be a fit, it's just as important to be able to discuss technology trends that piqued their interest in building products with new programming languages.

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