5 Tips to Recruit the Best Open-Source Developers for Your Company

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‘High-demand, low supply’ seems to be the theme of 2022. From supermarkets to job vacancies: we just can’t seem to get enough, only this time that’s to be taken literally. 

While we can’t make bananas grow any faster, we can put a bit more thought and effort into finding people who are willing to work. Especially the ones who are hard to find. You only get one shot with them, so make sure you’re prepared. 

Open-source developers are one of those high-demand people these days. If you search for job vacancies on LinkedIn with ‘open-source developers’ and hit ‘worldwide’, there are a mere 79,485 vacancies in July 2022. 

That’s a lot of positions to fill. This is not to say you should just hire the first one that comes along. There are a lot of things to consider when recruiting developers, from their skills and experience to their personality and cultural fit.

In this article, we will discuss five tips that will help you find the best open-source developers for your business. We’ll also highlight some of the best practices for testing their skills, and give some advice on writing attractive job ads that speak their language.

open source developer working all night long

Open-sourced developers vs ‘regular’ developers

What’s the difference between a regular developer and open-sourced developer?

Open-sourced developers are developers who have made their code or projects available to the public. They typically do this by posting their code on public repositories such as GitHub.

Regular developers, on the other hand, are not necessarily required to share their code with the public. Many work for private companies and keep their code confidential.

One of the main reasons open-source developers are in such high demand is because they have a lot of valuable skills and experience. They are typically very good at problem-solving, and they have a strong understanding of how to write code that is efficient, reliable, and scalable. After all, they are making it available to the public. 

There are not a lot of other professionals doing that with their work. They’re passionate about their work and are very keen on learning and sharing knowledge.

How do you get these special talents to join your mission? Here are five practical tips that any company can use.

Tip 1: Test the relevant things, the right way

You’re not going to ask an open sourced developer to send you a CV and long cover letter. If you really want to assess their skills, conduct specific tests to see if they got exactly what you’re looking for. For instance, you can conduct a c++ programming test to find the best candidates. These are things that are hard to test in interviews and adding a certain skill to a resume doesn’t really prove that they master it, so let them put it into practice.

Tip 2: write a job ad that stands out

”At X we are looking for an X to contribute to our high paced dynamic work environment. Below follow bullet points that we’ve copied from any other job ad that tell you the basics of any job and show zero personality. 

  • Working hours 9-6 (you didn’t see that one coming, did you?)
  • A competitive salary (that we for some reason won’t mention)
  • Key responsibilities: vague terms about the job (because we don’t really understand what you do)

Please write about your motivation to work for us, we’ll be looking forward to your reply.”

Open sourced developers are super sought after right now, so you’ll have to do a bit better than that. 

Write a job ad with them in mind, and them specifically. Not just any new hire, but specifically the personality traits you’re looking for in that developer, the stage in their life where they are, and the skill level they have. 

It can help to talk to other developers and create an ad together, using their words. That way, you won’t just be another face in the crowd to potential candidates.

Tip 3: Meet them where they are

Show you understand them by being active in the groups where they hang out. Not in a pushy way, but by building connections and adding value. This can be in LinkedIn or Facebook groups, Reddit threads but also other channels where open-source developers communicate with each other. 

Yes, that means you don’t lean back and wait until the applications come rolling in, but you actively go out and strike up a conversation with the developers that caught your eye. The good thing about open-source developers is that their work is already out in the open, so you can already judge that part.

Tip 4: Set up a referral program (with great incentives)

Chances are that the developers on your current team already know other developers. They talk to their peers, who work at competitors or are out of a job and looking for the next best thing. They could send that talent your way, but it’s only fair that you incentivize them to do so.

For referral programs, two things are extremely important. The first is to be aware of what you are offering. If someone refers their dear friend to your company, you want to make sure that they enter a world of positive company culture, great communication, and transparency. 

If nobody on your team has ever referred anyone to work with them in your company, you can see that as a sign that there are some improvements to be made.

The second thing is to offer proper incentives. Your current employees know how valuable that new open-source developer is going to be to your business, so they won’t just serve them to you on a silver platter. So, whichever reward you choose to put in place, make sure it has real-world value to your employees.

Tip 5: Train instead of recruit

Have you considered that the right fit is already on your team? Talk to the developers on your team to find out if anyone is looking to become an open-source developer. You might find out somebody is already working on it.

Why are you hiring an open-sourced developer?

We’ll leave you with this: make it very clear for yourself why your company is looking for a specific type of open-sourced developer. This will help you paint a clear picture to candidates, but also stresses the value of open-sourced developers to your hiring team. 

What projects will they be working on? How will they make the jobs of specific colleagues easier? What value will they add to the day-to-day, and to the long-term goals? If you can answer these questions, you’re ready to start hiring. 

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