Why GitHub is Difficult for Recruiting

With more than 25 million users on GitHub, there must be one qualified developer who will be interested in your open tech position. Right? Sure, but like the hopeless romantic who believes that the sheer number of people in the world means the one person for him will just walk through the door, the optimistic tech recruiter thinks that a developer will be quickly and easily sourced on GitHub. It doesn’t take long for both to realize finding the perfect match requires a lot of work and a little luck.

GitHub is Important for Tech Recruiting

GitHub is the largest tech online community and an online home for developers and other technical people. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is a professional network for business members. In fact, a Stack Overflow study found that 22% of developers are not on LinkedIn.

GitHub has other advantages over LinkedIn. To begin, GitHub profiles may contain personal emails, and personal emails are the gold standard for recruiting. You won’t find that in LinkedIn InMail.

Further, with GitHub, you get to see actual codes of the candidates. Useful when you have a proactive technical hiring manager or a knowing developer to turn to.

When it comes to peer evaluation, GitHub trumps LinkedIn again. GitHub shows you what peers (there are thousands of them for popular repos) actually think of someone’s codes. This is not one of those public testimonials on LinkedIn where people know that everyone will read their testimonial and act accordingly. With GitHub, developers “rate” repos based on an honest evaluation without concern for public scrutiny. If they think a member’s repository is good and useful, they will follow or star it.

Finally, developers are less guarded on GitHub than they are on LinkedIn, allowing you to catch a candid glimpse of members.

The Problem with GitHub

Okay, so we got you all fired up over GitHub. Now comes the bad news. For starters, GitHub is a site for many, but not all developers. While GitHub should be the first place to begin, make sure to check out Stack Overflow (8.5 million members), other Stack Exchange sites,  Kaggle, and Spiceworks.

But let’s say you found someone on GitHub that matches the skills you are looking for. Chances are their profile will not have all the necessary information for you to contact them or search for them on social networking sites.

GitHub Profiles are Incomplete

Unfortunately, even a profile that appears complete with name, location, and so on, may be outdated. 38% of GitHub members have never updated their profiles. And the average number of days since a member has made any changes to their profile is 252.

A GitHub profile will not tell you when it was updated. Looking at a member’s activities may serve as a proxy and you can use the GitHub API to determine when the profile was last updated, but who really wants to do that?

Another challenge is understanding how new technology relates to relevant skills. You understand that stars on repos are a good thing. But how many stars do you need for good versus mediocre? To make things even more complicated, different tech can have different levels of popularity. Ten stars for a Scala repo maybe be great, but what does the same rating mean for JavaScript repos?

In the next article, we will show you how to improve your recruiting chances with GitHub. But if you want to skip the DIY, save time, and avoid misconceptions resulting from a lack of data, we’ve done the work for you. We have already categorized millions of GitHub members, ranking them by technology tags. We take incomplete profiles and append data from other online profiles to give recruiters the profile they need to successfully meet their recruitment goals.

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