Three Steps to Attracting Developer Talent through Open Source Software

There’s no denying the state of today’s talent crunch in the tech world. With even the smallest cities creating their own "Silicon Valleys," companies wading the talent pool for engineers are finding it’s becoming shallower by the day. Making your business attractive to prospective developers is vital to seeing top class coders walk in for interviews. One oft-overlooked technique for winning the minds of developers is to embrace the open source world in which they are very likely immersed. Here are three easy ways to start being more engaged today.

1. Look for code to contribute

The best engineers are looking to work for companies that are innovative and forward thinking. Companies like Atlassian and Github consistently attract top-notch talent because their names have become synonymous with the very collaborative open source world. They’re known to contribute heavily to the ecosystem, and good developers know that this can mean an opportunity to showcase their skills to a broader audience. Your company can take advantage of this by simply looking for useful things in your codebase that you might be able to open source. For instance, smaller JavaScript plugins or CSS templates that your developers have written can make great candidates to release to the open source world. This lets others contribute to your code, and also gives you open source exposure. Then with any luck, come interview time, a developer may have already heard of you from the community and be excited to join such a collaborative company.

2. Hold an open source meetup

            This is a great way to find developers in your local area who are engaged in software and looking to network. If you’re already using open source projects in your code, talk to your developers about why it's being used, how it's used, and how it’s beneficial. For instance, I once attended a similar event for Yelp in San Francisco. There, they discussed their open source Python modules, how they were making use of them, and even asked for suggestions on how they could improve them. This was really a talent search in disguise, and from what I understand three developers received offers that night based on suggestions they’d made. This is a great way to attract talent and survey your local developer landscape.

3. Engage online

A lesser-known way to draw developers through the doors is simply to be helpful and engaged online under your company name. If your developers have been using Ruby on Rails for five years, there must be some helpful tips and tricks they’ve accumulated. It looks really good when your company has a Stack Overflow or Github account and can be seen answering questions and contributing online. Again, developers are typically drawn to these kinds of companies because collaboration and openness tend to breed creativity and engaging work. Find out if your development team has time to jump online and answer a few questions about the technology you’re using. This can get your company’s name in front of tons of developers who are actively involved in the craft.

            Of course, these are only a few ways to attract developers to your company. The bottom line is that developers are known to gravitate toward more open and collaborative environments. Finding ways to give back to the open source community, or contributing to programming ecosystems is a fantastic way to gain exposure amongst the companies battling for talent. The net result will be more developers walking through your door for interviews. 

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