Inbound vs. outbound channels for sourcing developers

Ekaterina Bulanova
October 28, 2020

Here we’re going to consider channels that might be used for sourcing developers and why it’s important not to wait for the best candidates to come to you by themselves. We can generally divide the channels into two types: inbound and outbound.

Inbound channels

Inbound channels are used for attracting candidates via advertisement, e.g. using different job boards, career sites, professional communities, etc. It means using the channels where you can tell a wide audience about your job opportunity. The more inbound channels you use, the more possibilities you have to let candidates know about yourself. Inbound channels are aimed at attracting active candidates who apply for the job.

Inbound sourcing is spreading the net to catch all the active seekers. The weakness of inbound sourcing is the lack of passive candidates on its roster. Because of that it rarely works for very specific positions.

It’s important to use inbound channels that are targeting your specific audience e.g. a job ad for Java developers in JavaScript communities might not bring great results except trolling. Know your audience.

A while ago we shared some tips on how to make your job ad more attractive for candidates. When you create a good job ad, you can feel the main advantage of this method: once the template is ready, you don’t need too many resources for spreading it to different channels.

Outbound channels

Outbound channels are used for active outreach. Using outbound channels you have to proactively and selectively search for individual candidates with specific skills, experiences and knowledge. Passive candidates are not looking for a job so it's important to understand if the offer might be relevant which takes time and effort.

There are a lot of outbound channels such as well-known LinkedIn, GitHub, StackOverflow and more specialized as Kaggle. These channels help to evaluate candidates' experience, interests and thus help to make an accurate outreach. You can also try some unexpected channels that could be more effective for your profile. For example, we have experience finding a Ruby developer via Couchsurfing and a Scala developer via Goodreads.

This method would work better if you’re looking for a niche specialist. There are developer positions that require extremely rare skills and there might only be 100 people globally with these skills. Posting a job ad won’t attract this type of developers to your company. These candidates need to be identified and headhunted.

The weakness of outbound sourcing is the amount of resources needed to do it properly. Finding contacts is not enough. Many really brilliant developers are not looking for a job, so it’s important to contact them and choose a personal approach instead of common phrases. You have to sell your position to every candidate and take into account that they may not be willing to change their job.

Underlying all of the above, it’s necessary to use inbound channels to attract active candidates. But if you’re looking for experts, then it’s essential to use outbound channels for hunting experts who aren't actively looking for a job.

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