The Megaphone

Where to Find Great Candidates

Hiring well into a small, focused team like Crowd Favorite is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Over the last few months we’ve had openings for a front-end developer and a web application designer. We put a lot of effort into the job listings, our “we’re hiring” page and trying to project our culture and values into the process.

As we have in the past, we posted these positions to a few different job boards as well as on our site. Unlike past postings, I’ve kept a little data on our applicant pool. I thought it would be interesting to share that data.

Position Applicants
Front-end Dev 79
Web App Designer 50
Total 128

By Source

We decided to post the positions to Authentic Jobs, Stack Overflow and Craig’s List. Note that while we posted both positions to Authentic Jobs and Craig’s List, we only posted the Developer position to Stack Exchange. We also had a premium listing at Stack Exchange.

I used a unique email address for each listing source, using Gmail’s + support syntax. This helped us determine what candidates where coming from where, but our “Organic” bucket is probably still over-estimated. I included the URL of our site and a link to our blog post in the postings on the various job boards. This allowed some candidates to apply through our site rather than through the job board where they initially learned of the position.

Source Applicants Percentage
Craig’s List 55 43%
Authentic Jobs 29 23%
Organic 28 22%
Stack Overflow 10 8%

Quality

Raw numbers are only part of the equation. We don’t need hundreds of candidates, I’d be happy with just one candidate as long as it’s the right candidate. So let’s look at the candidates that made it past the first cut from each source. And let’s look at those same numbers as a percentage of each source, and of the total.

Source Past First Cut % of Source % of Total
Organic 8 29% 53%
Authentic Jobs 3 10% 20%
Stack Overflow 1 10% 20%
Craig’s List 3 5% 7%

Overall, the higher quality candidates are coming in organically and from Authentic Jobs. Again, I think that organic number is inflated. I expect that the higher quality candidates are doing more research and contacting us through our site (even though they may have seen the posting elsewhere first).

Based on the results I see here, I’m most inclined to continue using Authentic Jobs and working hard on our organic recruiting efforts. Craig’s List produces the most volume, but it also has the worst signal to noise ratio. I’m loath to drop it though, as I know several great folks on our team found our posting on Craig’s List over the years.

I love Stack Overflow, but we haven’t seen great results from posting there. That said, the expense of one more job board posting isn’t much in the grand scheme of things.

Some additional numbers, just for fun…

Metric Count Percentage
Not local (and didn’t mention relocation) 17 13%
Freelancers 13 10%
Outsourcing offers 8 6%

Finding and hiring great people is hard. I hope our experience will be a useful reference point as you explore and develop your own process.

About the Author

Alex King is the CTO of Crowd Favorite. Before that he was an independent developer, an original contributing developer to the WordPress Open Source project and creator of the Share Icon. He blogs at alexking.org.