Tech Job Site Offers Peer Reviews For Prospects

Finding a programmer is easy. Resumes are everywhere: Dice, Craigslist, CareerBuilder, personal websites. You name it.

But how do you sort through the stack to create your short list? (I’m deliberately ignoring the issues of availability, interest, and candidate affordability.)

Like most recruiters and software ranking systems, you look at skills, years of experience, types of projects they worked on, career progress, and the like.

What if you could also factor in the opinion of their peers? Suppose you could see how their peers rated your prospect’s solutions to problems that befuddled other programmers?

That’s the idea behind the revamped careers site on StackOverflow. It’s a popular Q&A coding site, where programmers can post their programming challenges and see what solutions others offer. Responses — and the questions, too — are rated by the programming community, and result in a reputation score.

It’s akin to Facebook “likes,” though the standards are higher. Much higher, as anyone who has ever dealt with programmers knows.

StackOverflow leverages these scores, presenting them on candidate profile pages. It also displays their top answers, as decided by the community votes.

TechCrunch, which first wrote about the overhauled StackOverflow careers site the other day, called the inclusion of reputation scores “huge, imagine if Quora highlighted the hours people put into answers to help find them jobs.”

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There’s certainly a lot to like in having peer reviews. But the system also has some cautions. Newer members of the community might be every bit as good as someone with a high reputation score, but they simply haven’t been on long enough to build one. Or, some developers might choose to post only occasionally.

High reputation scores require not only good questions and even better answers, but frequency.

Nonetheless, it’s a useful supplement to the standard resume/project portfolio. Plus, the careers site conveniently also notes whether the candidate is active or passive. Searching is fairly traditional: skills, location, type of position (i.e. fulltime, contract, etc.), geography.

You can test it out for free. Or source candidates for a week for $500 (prices range up to $5,000 for a year).

John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.


10 Comments on “Tech Job Site Offers Peer Reviews For Prospects

  1. I’ve written about the value of StackOverflow reputation rankings as an emerging compliment to traditional resumes and awards on a couple of different occasions and I still maintain that scoring needs to be revised before it can be used for recruitment:

    But I think these guys are generally on the right track in eliminating the technical recruitment role altogether. Programmers come in clusters and have every incentive to work with their peers. We’re on the cusp of a dramatic shift towards project-based staffing as the norm rather than the exception.

  2. Love the interface and mapping of candidates in the search feature. Mapping is similar to what we’re doing with Great job by stackoverflow!

  3. John/Nariman
    I use StackOverflow all day as a coding resource and agree Spolsky has done a great job with it. It’s the perfect example of a user-generated-content site with direct impact on recruitment.

    But isn’t this the HuffPost style marketing that all recruitment companies should be doing? Besides being a useful tool and a cool new site, isn’t it also a competitor in drag?

  4. @Gregg: I think they’re more than a competitor in drag, they’re a disruptive force for technical recruitment that’s shifting the pendulum towards self-serve. When you have a community-vetted reputation, why would you need the endorsement of a recruiter who doesn’t understand the domain? The missing link is that programmers come in clusters and recruiters understand this well and are always inquiring about your peers. Why should they get a free ride off your network? Why shouldn’t programmers be incentivized to vouch for their peers? Such a model is far more likely to ensure ongoing success for the candidate than the current status-quo where recruiters have no role after the initial placement.

  5. Nariman
    A good website does not a ‘disruptive force in recruiting’ make. StackOverflow is a content farm at the end of the day not unlike Techcrunch, Quora, AVC,ARSTechnica, Slashdot, MSDN, Codeplex and dozens of other competitors.

    Search, content-marketing and user-generated-content are the disruptive forces here not one particular company.

    But tell Joel I love him anyway.

  6. @Gregg / @Nariman: I agree with both of you, though more halfway than entirely. StackOverflow’s jobs site is not quite a disruptive force, but it is more than just another competitor — in drag or otherwise. To me, it’s an iterative advance in the meshing of social networking and recruitment. Sites like StackOverflow are leading us through the social recruiting wilderness, showing how to assemble the enormous amounts of data into something that is generically comprehensible and broadly useful.It won’t be the last word, certainly, but it is a valuable step forward.

  7. John,
    Why are referrals and recommendations reliable? If they are, prove it please. Show me serious research that shows that when people endorse a candidate that that candidate will be a better performer. As far as I can discover, there is no such evidence. Yet we all want to believe that scores and peer reviews help. I would like to believe that too.

    Don’t think I am defending recruiters, who know less than colleagues, often. But what I want to rely on is scientific evidence that criterion A leads in most likelihood to higher performance – and we DO know these criteria, from much research and they do not include others’ recommendations or not strongly anyway.

    StackOverlow probably have a popular idea but it won’t change the quality of hire. Only science can do that. The companies that do are way, way ahead in their success at hiring high performers. Look it up.

  8. @Paul: Not seeing anywhere that the argument was made for referrals and recommendations as a determinant; just that it is an additional criterion. That said, research does exist supporting the correlation between referrals and quality. A SHRM study notes: “For generating high-quality applicants, respondents indicated referrals and online recruiting do the best job.” A more recent study by Aberdeen found reported 82 percent of best in class cited referrals as the top source to find quality talent.

    Granted that recommendations can be gamed, and that conventional wisdom doesn’t necessarily prove anything. However, there is a wisdom of the masses value to the StackOverflow Careers 2.0 site that supplements the usual criteria for candidate selection. (And note, we are talking sourcing, not hiring.)

  9. For sourcing and even for hiring I do agree that when a tech person vets another colleague it does have some weight (exactly how much is left for the recruiter to determine), isn’t this the reason why companies ask for recommendations from managers and peers during the interview process? Agreeing with John that it should be used as an additional criterion for sourcing. I have used stackoverflow and I like what I see with the career website.

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