6
 min read

Stack Overflow recruiting: find and contact engineers

Stack Overflow has 18 million engineers asking and answering tech related questions, the perfect place to recruit engineers.

July 25, 2021
Yuma Heymans
December 8, 2021
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Stack Overflow is a question and answer website for engineers. With 18 million engineers, it is a great alternative to GitHub, LinkedIn and other platforms to find engineers.

Stack Overflow used to have a feature to find engineers on the platform (direct hiring). Also Stack Overflow used to provide job slots for job advertising.

However, both functionalities are cancelled. Stack Overflow is “moving away from job slots and direct hiring… to focus more on customer employer branding and company awareness needs”.

Luckily there are still ways of recruiting on Stack Overflow.

In this blog we will give you the options, but first a bit more on the platform itself.

On Stack Overflow, users vote questions and answers up or down similar to Reddit. Users can earn reputation points and "badges" by giving valuable answers that get upvoted. Their reputation, score and technology tags can be important indicators of the technologies the user is most skilled in and in which ones they are interested in learning more.

Information about the engineer is usually very much up to date because the engineers ask and answer questions based on the technologies they are using at that moment. Stack Overflow identifies the top technologies an engineer uses based on their activity, similar to GitHub (technology tags, reputation, badges and scores).

A: Reputation of user which is earned by posting questions and answers which get upvoted B: About section (free text) C: Answers, questions and people reached D: Location, links to socials and contact info E: Earned badges for posting questions and answers F: Top tech tags assigned related to the posted questions and answers G: Score (the sum of all values of upvotes minus the downvotes) and the amount of posts H: Titles of the top posts (questions and answers)

Finding engineering talent on Stack Overflow

Finding engineers on Stack Overflow can be tricky if you don’t know what tools to use or don’t know 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 Stack Overflow in three different ways:

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

1. Use free tools to search engineers in Stack Overflow

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. X-ray Stack Overflow

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

The advantage of Stack Overflow compare to for example GitHub is that Stack Overflow profiles always include /users in their url. This makes x-raying a lot easier. 

You can for example find Java developers in Germany with the following search string:

site:stackoverflow.com/users java "germany"-"0 * reputation"><i class=

3. Search directly in Stack Overflow

On the questions page of Stack Overflow you can search for certain technology tags and content of questions and answers.

This way you can find engineers that are active within certain technologies.

You can for example search for technology tags in Stack Overflow to find questions, answers and users.

You can create your own search strings in the search bar.

Optionally you can rank the search results by for example votes.

Reaching out to engineers

Once you have picked your preferred way of finding engineers on Stack Overflow, you obviously want to reach out to the engineers that you have found.

Some engineers have contact details on Stack Overflow, like a personal email address or Twitter, but most have not mentioned them on their profile.

There are three ways you can reach out to someone you’ve found on Stack Overflow:

  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 finds profiles including contacts details

Ideally you use an all in one tool that finds Stack Overflow (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 Stack Overflow profile but can be found elsewhere online.

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

2. Use the contact details on their page

Some engineers include contact details on their Stack Overflow profile. Engineers can choose to include their personal email address for example, but also sometimes refer to their Twitter profile or their personal website where outreach options may be 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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