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How to: Source Tech Candidates on Goodreads


Hiring tech talent is fast becoming a headache for sourcers. The traditional recruiting channels are overcrowded so sourcers are being forced to turn to some unlikely places to find the best candidates. With this in mind, I thought I’d share a tactic that we’ve used at Beamery to find the candidates who don’t want to be found…

How can you use Goodreads for Sourcing?

Goodreads is an online community where users rate and discuss books with other readers. Sounds like it might be great for spotting the next great American Novel, but how can it help you source better? Well, the beauty of Goodreads is that sourcers can get their hands on reviews of popular engineering books. This is a real godsend.

Let’s walk through an example req: We’ll keep it basic. You’re looking for a new Front-End Engineer to join your team and you’ve exhausted all ‘traditional’ sources. Your Goodreads sleuthing begins with a simple Google search for javascript books.

javascript goodreads

Picking a popular book is important, because it’s likely to have been reviewed hundreds of times by a range of different engineers. Once you choose your book, you can just scroll down the page to see the reviews.

goodreads ratings

By reading an engineer’s review of a technical book, you can quickly build up an idea of expertise and fit. Reviews will illustrate the opinions, interests and personality of candidates, and give you every a range of data points that you can use to start a conversation. It doesn’t just stop with the reviews though. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that Goodreads member profiles are a recruiting goldmine. This is partly because members often list their contact details, personal websites and social profiles to help them connect with other ‘Goodread-ers’. This makes it easy for you to reach out to them and share your opportunity. Even more valuable though is the fact that you’ll also get direct access to their Goodread friends’.

goodreads users

These are people who usually have similar interests (and capabilities), and make great additions to your leads list. You can repeat this trick to your heart’s content (or until you’ve found enough relevant candidates for your role). Researching candidates in this way also has the added benefit of helping you brush up on your technical knowledge for the interview stage!

What books should you start with?

A quick Google search should give you a good number of technical books to get started with. We recommend popular titles like Javascript: The Definitive Guide that are likely to have a large number of reviews. Try referencing any reviews you’ve read to the candidate when you reach out. It shows her that you’ve invested a lot of effort into working out whether she would make a good hire, and you’ll have a much better chance of getting a response.

About the Author: Ben Slater is VP Growth at Beamery, the all-in- one Sourcing, CRM, Candidate Engagement and Employer Branding platform powered by machine intelligence.

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