Sifting the Web to Recruit Code Writers

By Garry Kranz

Dec. 5, 2013

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

During his stint as chief operating officer at software company Tackk, Robert Hatta knew he needed some help to recruit top-flight computer programmers.

Tackk focused on developers with applied knowledge of C++, encrypted PHP and HTML — advanced computing languages Tackk uses in its own software, which enables users to create and post multimedia content and share it across social networking sites.

To help, Hatta decided to use Gild Source, a talent management suite marketed by Gild Inc. of San Francisco. The Gild Source algorithm crawls online user forums frequented by software designers, such as and, and aggregates information about each individual.

Rather than simply generating a list of names, Gild Source provided examples of each developer’s programming and collaboration on software projects. “That enabled me to contextualize our outreach in a way that was much more relevant,” says Hatta, who joined investment firm Drive Capital earlier this year as a partner, but still works as an adviser to Tackk.

Gild software aims to eliminate subjectivity and guesswork for recruiters, who are frequently overwhelmed with information overload, said CEO Sheeroy Desai. Gild Source is used by nearly one-quarter of Fortune 500 companies, with annual software licenses costing $8,400.

“Our database contains profiles on 6.5 million software developers. Analyzing that many candidates to find the right applicant would take a very long time,” Desai said. “We’re doing this on massive scale, looking at information and enabling recruiters to see information at a granular level.”

Software developers with a proven track record will continue to be in high demand, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It forecasts employment of software developers will grow 30 percent to nearly 1.2 million jobs by 2020, fueled by the ubiquity of mobile applications.

Meanwhile, the global market for recruiting software generated revenue of $1.2 billion in 2012, according to International Data Corp., a research firm based in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Gild and competitors Entelo and TalentBin are among a new breed of HR recruiting software: algorithm-driven tools that aim to help talent managers scour the Internet and separate the wheat from the chaff. The software searches online forums, Twitter feeds and other publicly available sources to identify potential candidates.

The software gives hiring managers a new way to find passive candidates, said Lisa Rowan, an IDC vice president. “The tools use a set of algorithms to sweep the entire Web to find potential candidates whose talents and skills are not easily replicated,” including writing and posting open-source code that gets picked up and used by other developers.

“You don’t even have to see the code. The algorithm will tell you how good the candidates are,” Rowan said.

Gild Source’s recruiting algorithm finds sites frequented by programmers and identifies people using their email address or a common avatar or nickname used across multiple sites. The information is exported into an indexed database of user profiles, with each programmer ranked with a numerical score to indicate quality, frequency and coding prowess.

The profiles provide a glimpse into a developer’s body of code-writing work, including any projects into which the code has been integrated by other developers. The frequency of participation and quality of feedback from other users also is used to rank each developer, enabling recruiters to isolate those with discrete skills or knowledge.

San Francisco-based Entelo, which launched in 2012, takes the approach a step further, CEO Jon Bischke said. Like Gild, Entelo’s suite crawls commonly visited developer forums, but it also zeroes in on candidates who are most susceptible to a recruiting pitch.

Entelo charges $12,000 a year for its software, which includes two full product licenses.

“We look at all kinds of data to determine the likelihood that a person is willing to change jobs,” said Bischke, whose company has signed up more than 80 corporate clients. In addition to software developers, the Entelo search engine can help find potential recruits in other white-collar professions, including engineers and graphic designers.

TalentBin, another San Francisco vendor, launched its product in 2012 to mirror LinkedIn’s Recruiter, a sourcing tool aimed at hiring managers. TalentBin’s annual license costs $6,000.

CEO Peter Kazanjy, who estimates his company’s database includes more than 100 million candidates, said the idea is to help recruiters sift through “implicit data sources” on the Web, including Twitter posts, online collaborations and user forums.

TalentBin even scrolls the U.S. patent database to find creative people with inventive ideas, Kazanjy said. “We consume data from all across the professional Web, extract it and structure it into a composite user profile.” 

Garry Kranz is a Workforce contributing editor. Comment below or email editors@workforce.comFollow Workforce on Twitter at @workforcenews.

Garry Kranz is a Workforce contributing editor.

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