6
 min read

GitHub recruiting: find and reach engineers

GitHub is infamously hard to search. But with 65 million engineers, you can't miss out. Here's how to recruit GitHub.

July 25, 2021
Yuma Heymans
December 7, 2021
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GitHub is a platform for version control and code collaboration. It offers the distributed version control and source code management functionality of Git, plus its own features.

GitHub is rich of engineering talent with 65 million users to date.

With 190 million repositories it is the largest host of source code in the world.

A code repository is the code that the developer has written or shared on the platform.

These repository generate valuable keywords about the technologies and frameworks that the engineer works with on a day to day basis.

GitHub indicates the most used technologies by the user on their profile.

This is a screenshot of a profile and the information it presents about the engineer.

A: About section (free text, often misses, can be found in meta tags) B: number of followers and number following C: Location and urls depending on which ones the user has included (eg personal website, Twitter, email, ...) D: # contributions per year E: Dynamic overview page. Sometimes this is popular repositories, sometimes pinned repositories, readme or combi

The benefit of sourcing on GitHub is that the information on talents is very up to date and relevant to their technical skills.

Many recruiters don’t recruit on GitHub because they don’t have an easy method for finding engineers on the platform.

The search of the platform itself is not made for recruiting and a Google X-ray often turns out to include a lot of documents instead of profiles and false positive matches.

Luckily there are ways that you can easily find engineers, including their public contact details.

Finding engineering talent on GitHub

Finding engineers on GitHub can be challenging if you are not sure what tools to use or how to search the platform. There are many ways of finding engineers, but a few work decently enough to highlight.

You can find engineers on GitHub in three different ways:

  1. Use free tools to search engineers on GitHub
  2. X-ray GitHub
  3. Search directly in GitHub

1. Use free tools to search engineers in GitHub

Using tools is the easiest and the most accurate way of finding the right engineers. With these tools you can skip the process of creating complex search strings yourself. And some tools like HeroHunt.ai also include contact details for profiles.

HeroHunt.ai

HeroHunt.ai finds the best matching engineers based on your requirements. The profiles are automatically searched in real time.

Any contact details that are found across several online sources are added to the profile so you can directly reach out to the candidate. 

HeroHunt.ai doesn’t only find Stack Overflow profiles, but also GitHub and LinkedIn profiles, and combines all the information from several platforms so you get the most accurate matches. HeroHunt.ai has a free forever plan.

Recruit’em

Recruit’em is a tool that creates search strings. You can select a platform, for example Stack Overflow or LinkedIn, and Recruit’em automatically creates an x-ray search string for that platform.

Recruit’em does not find anything else than the search engine results page on Google, so it doesn’t find contact details. It just creates the search strings.

2. Search directly in GitHub

You can search profiles straight in GitHub. Using the GitHub search functionality you can search for engineers on GitHub.

Take into account that this search functionality is not built for recruiting purposes. It is built for engineers to find each other, primarily based on code repositories that they share. The GitHub search has difficulty reading a search string like javascript (java OR php) for example. 

3. X-ray GitHub

X-raying is searching profiles using Google or other generic search engines (like Bing or Yandex).

The thing to take into account is that x-raying GitHub is a more challenging than x-raying other platforms. This has to do with the fact that GitHub profiles are not marked by a clear distinguishing link (url) identifier.

For example, when you x-ray LinkedIn you can use the following search string, site:linkedin.com/in.

The /in part indicates that your looking for profiles, since every LinkedIn profile has /in in their url. Document pages for example don’t have /in in the url.

GitHub doesn’t work with a separate page identifier in the link that indicates that a page is a profile page. So you have to find other ways of finding profile pages only.

But those alternatives are not always waterproof.

It has strong limitations, but you can create a Programmable Search Engine (PSE):

Google's Programmable Search Engine (PSE) is a search engine that you can build and customize yourself.

You can already have quite an effective PSE by including the schema.org type ‘Person’. This type searches for pages that are marked as profiles (or persons) only.

Take into account that learning how to create a PSE requires some time and effort. Also, the PSE provides limited results compared to the regular search engine (Google Web Search): sometimes just 20% of the search results that Google Web Search would give you.

Reaching out to engineers

Once you have picked your preferred way of finding GitHub profiles, you obviously want to reach out to the engineers that you find.

The good thing is that many engineers have contact details on GitHub, like a personal email address or Twitter. You can also cross reference the profiles to find other social media accounts like LinkedIn where you can reach out.

There are three ways you can reach out via GitHub:

  1. Use a tool like HeroHunt.ai that finds contacts details for you
  2. Use the contact details on their profile pages
  3. Cross reference the profiles to find their other social media profiles

1. Use a tool to find contacts details for you

Ideally you use an all in one tool that finds GitHub (and other) profiles and also gives you the best contact details to reach the candidate on.

Many times the contact details are missing on a GitHub profile but can be found elsewhere online.

Tools like HeroHunt.ai find those contact details automatically without you having to search for them manually or guess them.

2. Use the contact details on their page

Quite some engineers include contact details on their profile. Engineers can choose to include their personal email address for example, but also often refer to their Twitter profile or their personal website where many times outreach options are available.

3. Cross reference profiles

You can also find the same person on different social media platforms. You can do this in several ways.

Here’s a guide on how to cross reference profiles.

Outreach message examples to engineers

Engineers are receiving loads of messages weekly and most of them are automated, so you can stand out by personalizing your message to them.

By doing that, not only your response rates will improve but also your chances to hire the engineer since they will remember you better.

This is an example of a longer personalized outreach message:

Hi [first name], I saw on LinkedIn that you’re a big Guardians of The Galaxy fan, can’t wait until the GoTG 3 release in 2023.

I’ve been looking at your GitHub repos and was impressed with your Angular projects, especially the dev tools projects, not something I have seen a lot of people working on but seems to be very relevant.

With [your company name] we’re building out our [subject] app which is reaching 50k business clients and we’re looking for someone who’s able to not only write great code using Angular but who takes the junior team to the next level.

This is the product and tech stack we’re building on.

With the variety of your Angular projects and the level of complexity you’re handling, it seems to be something that you might love to do.

If you want to have a chat over this you can reply in short and I'll take care of arranging our chat. Enjoy this sunny day! [your name]

Here are more examples including the shorter LinkedIn connection invite.

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