What Is the Best Way to Recruit Software Developers? Open Sourcing Your Code

What Is the Best Way to Recruit Software Developers? Open Sourcing Your Code

Does open sourcing your code help with attracting top talents? Can publicly sharing your projects' documentation turn into a selling point in your company's recruiting pitch? Is this the best way to recruit software developers?

If so, is publishing your code in a public repository enough to make the experts “flock” to you? Or does this call for a more complex, impeccably-implemented... strategy instead? Is there truly an... art to making your repo stand out and stir great developers' interest?

What's the effective way/mindset for turning open sourced code into an effective recruitment tool

And why is it that freely accessible documentation appeals to the most skilled of software developers to the point of making them quit their current jobs?

Now, time to get all your questions answered, so you can start crafting your open source strategy for quality recruitment:

1. Open Source Clearly Written, High-Quality Code Only


Before they turn into potential candidates, software developers running into your open sourced code are... potential contributors.

Hopefully at least...

Therefore, in order to “tempt” them to contribute, you need to share code that's:

  • clean
  • clear
  • smart
  • useful

Needless to add that it's got to be thoughtfully commented and modular. And that you should keep a consistent code styling throughout your entire codebase. 

But this is already common sense, right?

Also, speaking of “smart” code, there's no point in publishing patches now and then and hope that, somehow, this would attract top talents.

Because it won't...

The best way to recruit software developers is to open source code that's both easy to read and of high quality. Code that's equally usable and useful. 

That's the best incentive for potential contributors to turn into potential candidates for that vacant software developer position in your company.

In other words, keep it simple when refactoring code:

  • comment it, making sure to out each code snippet in a relevant, “enlightening” context
  • stick to the commonly agreed style conventions and be consistent 

2. Turn Publicly Shared Documentation into a Powerful Marketing Asset

There are both technical and marketing efforts that go into an open source strategy that attracts top software developers eager to contribute to your project.

So, not only that you should be as “altruistic” as you can and get your public repo “stuffed” with:

  • lists of all the used dependencies, specs and licenses
  • how to's for installing any used libraries
  • relevant code examples
  • reference material for any out of the ordinary use cases 
  • description of the underlying software logic
  • thoroughly explained considerations addressing potential contributors
  • detailed information on the project's background 

… but you should consider boosting awareness by promoting it. Pretty much as if you were promoting a newly launched product.


  • writing dedicated blog posts
  • to getting your code shared publicly on relevant communities 
  • to sharing it on your relevant social media networks
  • to sharing your repository on high-traffic distribution nodes: Tech Ladder, Hacker News, Reddit

… the list of channels for promoting your open sourced project is endless.

Bottom line:

Making your codebase freely available might be the best way to recruit software developers, but it's no more than the very bottom of the “pyramid”. 

A solid and, most of all, effective open source recruitment strategy calls for serious planning:

Writing detailed, relevant, useful and easy to follow docs, covering all aspects, answering all questions that potential contributors might have in relation to your project.

But getting your repo to stand out and attract “picky” top talents does call for a marketer's mindset as well. 

3. Why Is Code Open Sourcing the Best Way to Recruit Software Developers?

Why is it that some of the best software developers prefer to leverage open-sourced code for scaling new teams they might join?

There are a couple of obvious reasons here:

  1. for most of them, being constrained not to showcase their work for contractual reasons can get quite frustrating; they see open source as an opportunity to free themselves from those obligations and... create personal brands
  2. smart, impeccably written code attracts precisely those... smart, exigent developers that aren't interested in “merely getting things done”, but who enjoy the process itself, the artistry and challenges that it implies.
  3. open sourced code is more than a “This is who we are and what we do” statement; it also exposes “how” you handle your projects: it stores your entire development history, it reveals your specific coding style(s) etc.

And these are the aspects that great software developers look into when they're planning to make a career switch to a new software development team.

As code open sourcing can be a double-edged sword, depending on whether you get it right or not, you can also see it as a win-win situation:

  1. developers get the chance to put together their portfolios, to build their personal brands while working in the open, on your project
  2. you get to have the best talents handling your project


Curious now:

What do you think about publishing your source code? Is this the best way to recruit software developers? Facebook used it as a recruitment tool, as well, when they open sourced React. And Google, too, attracted new talents via their TensorFlow open source project.

Or is it just a small wheel of the whole recruitment mechanism?