Finding People – Sourcing

Finding People – Sourcing

Sourcing is where you proactively ‘scout out’ people who might be suitable hires. 

In a small team, the best way to begin is to set a hiring meeting to discuss the type of person you are trying to hire. Often, your team members will think of people right off the bat: they’ll recognise attributes in people they already know.

Maintain a talent wish list

You’ll probably find that there will be people you’d love to hire, but you don’t want to approach just now. Maybe you feel you’re not ready for them yet. Maintaining a ‘wish list’ of these people and inviting them to events and talks is a great way to get to know them better and to gauge their interest in the company.

You can also put other companies on a wishlist. If there are organisations that you admire and you feel would be an ideal recruiting ground, note them down – along with any attributes you admire about that organisation. This will help to inform the type of hiring culture you want to build.

Remember that your wish list is unlikely to generate hires overnight.

Gathering names and leads in this way is the slow-burn type of recruitment that will pay dividends eventually, though perhaps not meet immediate needs.

Leverage new hires 

The people you hire often know other people who’d be a fit for your company, so consider including a sourcing meeting as part of your onboarding process.

At Facebook, each new hire sits with a recruiter and conducts what they call a “Ninja Hunt”.  Together, they review the new hire’s connections on sites like LinkedIn and MeetUp to see who’d be a fit for the company. In this way, they are constantly filling a pipeline of potentials. This type of activity might not lead to a hire but to alumni groups or potential new companies to source from.

It’s important to remember that some new employees will be held to non-solicit agreements and you should always adhere to them.

Other methods for finding exceptional candidates

Finding Passive Candidates

The goal is to start building relationships with people that you can hire later.

It’s difficult to convince someone to leave their current role and join you right away. They might not be ready or they could have personal reasons that prevent them from leaving immediately. Sometimes the timing will work out perfectly for that quick hire, but more often than not, you’ll be investing in the future.

Some general tips:

LinkedIn: LinkedIn has become the first port of call for most recruiters when they are sourcing. The standard keyword search can return results based on job titles, skills, location and current workplace. For example you can search for all engineers who work with Python at Google.  LinkedIn also suggests “similar profiles” in it’s sidebar.  Why not try starting with a current employee and see who LinkedIn’s algorithm thinks is similar enough to warrant your attention.  You can also piggyback on the searching skills of others with the “Viewers of this profile also viewed” sidebar. or Lanyrd: Both of these sites publish lists of attendees, so finding a relevant event can lead to a candidate. In a lot of cases attendees won’t use their real names on these sites.  In those cases their screen name might be the same as a Twitter handle or a Google image search can uncover other instances of their profile picture being used elsewhere on the internet. Get creative – there’s always a way to contact someone!

Twitter: You can search by hash tags, lists and followers of relevant thought leaders and topics. Great minds think alike, so look out for conversations between groups of similar people.  If there’s a heated debate on the relative merits of a new version of Ruby, chances are they will be good people to talk to in finding a new developer.  Don’t ask if they want a job – ask for their help in finding a candidate.  An appeal to their knowledge or expertise will be regarded better than a recruitment message.

Facebook: Facebook’s Graph Search is still underused for recruitment.  Searches here are in natural language so you might try things like “People you work at Google in London and like Ruby” or “People who have checked in at Google in London”. Places, Likes, Names, Photos and listed personal info (schools, workplaces) are all searchable.

Quora: Searching for relevant questions can lead to very relevant candidates.  Answering questions here will also increase your own profile.

CrunchBase: Search for competitor startups to recruit from.  Look for news about funding, staff departures and closures.

AngelList: Browse people via the advanced search under the people tab. Search for startups in relevant spaces and then research employees.

More places to find Developers


Stack Overflow

Hire My Friend

Email lists: A lot of communities still centre around email lists eg LRUG for Ruby

Hacker News: who is commenting, who is sharing interesting work, what company intel is there?

Search Google Patents and Google Scholar for recent papers published by PhDs.

Open Source projects: scour email archives for contributors

Coding competitions (ACMIOITop CoderKaggle (for Data Scientists) etc.): find lists of previous winners

Developer Testing Tools – Some tools like Brainbench publish public lists of the takers with the highest scores.

Tech conference speaker and attendee lists


Places to find Designers





Design/UX posts on Medium