Main image of article Are Friends the Most Effective Hiring Tool?

How do tech pros find new jobs? This year’s edition of the annual Stack Overflow survey provides some valuable insight—including some data-points that may hearten recruiters. Roughly 63 percent of those developers surveyed by the Website said they weren’t actively looking for a new job, but that they were “open to new opportunities.” Another 22 percent said they weren’t interested in a new job, while a mere 15 percent were actively looking. When it came to landing a recent position, 28 percent said that friends had referred them. That far outpaced finding a job on websites other than Stack Overflow (17.2 percent), external recruiters (13.8 percent), seeking out an opportunity directly (9.8 percent), an in-house recruiter (9.5 percent), or a career fair (6.3 percent). For those tech pros on the hunt for a new position, opportunities abound in many markets—especially for those techies with highly specialized skill-sets in “hot” areas such as cloud and mobile. The unemployment rate for tech pros hit 2.5 percent in February, suggesting that many employers are hungry for talent. Nor is hiring restricted to traditional tech hubs such as Silicon Valley. With cities across the United States recognizing the value of fostering a healthy community of tech professionals, many municipal governments have taken steps to encourage startups to move in. That’s in addition to the accelerators, incubators, and “tech corridors” springing up in various U.S. regions. Considering the number of tech pros who come to jobs via friend networks, offering a significant bounty for referring new employees seems like a wise recruiting tactic for employers to pursue. (Major tech firms such as Google, always on the hunt for top talent, are more than willing to pay out thousands of dollars in referral bonuses.) For recruiters, Stack Overflow’s data may come as good news: external and internal recruiting combined for 23.3 percent of the total, good for second place (and external recruiting didn’t do too shabbily by itself, either). The personal touch provided by recruiters clearly has an effect on swaying potential employees to jump to new positions—so long as those recruiters follow some best practices, of course.