More companies than ever understand that the potential benefits of attending and sponsoring hackathons are endless. Each event is an opportunity for employers from all industries to engage with a large pool of programmers and improve their reputation in the developer community.
But why do developers attend hackathons? After all, they wouldn’t exist if programmers weren’t investing their time this way.
We wanted to know the answer, too. So as part of the 2018 Developer Hiring Landscape, we asked respondents to tell us why hackathon events are appealing to them. Let’s take a look at some of their main reasons for attending them—and more importantly, what they mean for your developer hiring.
The Top Reasons Developers Attend Hackathons
Over 100,000 developers responded to this year’s developer survey—and over 25,000 of those respondents said that they’ve participated in hackathons or online coding competitions. The first few reasons in the graph below might not surprise you. Developers at these events want to improve their overall programming skills, learn a new language, and commiserate with their peers.At first glance, you might wonder how this question is relevant to your developer hiring strategy. Before you move on, scroll down the list a bit. You’ll find that over 20% of developers attend hackathons to find new job opportunities. If you’ve been struggling to find qualified tech candidates, this is excellent news. But is recruiting developers at hackathons straightforward? What else should you consider before you add every hackathon in your city to your calendar?
How You Can Recruit Developers at a Hackathon
Recruiting developers at hackathon events still requires a bit of finesse. Remember, while 20% of attendees are actively looking for opportunities, many others likely aren’t interested in being recruited.
It’s also important to remember that hackathons are not exclusively recruiting meetups, even for the developers that are interested in learning about new companies. Put yourself in an attendee’s shoes for a second. How would you feel if a recruiter approached you about a job, then moved on when he or she learned that you weren’t a match? Would you be inclined to refer that person to your other connections, or would you simply want to end the conversation?
Tom Harvey, a recruiter at Palantir, recently told us that the key to recruiting developers at hackathons is to resist the temptation to focus on your current roles. In fact, Harvey says that it’s important to be social with as many developers as possible during any event. He added, “Not only will this help you stick in the minds of developers you’re interested in hiring, it will also improve your knowledge of what’s currently happening in the tech industry.”