Recruiting · Developers

What's been your experience using Craigslist to find developers?


November 6th, 2013

My startup (Amp) is in beta release and we've outsourced development up to this point, but now want to bring in a developer as a 3rd co-founder so we can be more agile in our ability to respond to what we're learning from users, and continue to evolve the platform to meet their needs. Amp is like Yelp, but for sustainability resources - we're pretty much applying existing technologies to a sector that's fairly untapped, and growing like crazy. I'd love to work with someone locally (Santa Monica, CA), and am wondering what your experience has been using Craigslist to post job descriptions when seeking developers for your startups? Worth it to go that broad, or a time suck to screen through responses? Are there other sites you've had a better experience with? Thank you! 

Mathieson Sterling Senior Software Engineer at Apprenda

November 6th, 2013

I'm an engineer who's been on both sides of the hiring process.  The usual order that hiring moves in an organization is:

1)  Any developers known to current members of the team
2)  Developers known through associations or free industry meetings (most employers neglect this to their detriment)
3) Post the job opening on their site
4) LinkedIn posting
5)  Craigslist posting
6)  Monster and other paid sites postings
7)  Hire a recruiter and pay the recruiter price

Meanwhile a developer looking for work will typically:
1)  Ask peers and friends outside the company if they know a good spot
2) If there's a company they REALLY like, they'll check their site for openings.  If your name isn't google, it's unlikely this is your company
3)  Casually glance at LinkedIn messages, see a recruiter has been following them.
4) Maybe check craigslist or monster
5) Respond to recruiter, go to interviews

Because the candidate doesn't pay for recruiters, it's in their interest to let the recruiter do the leg work.  But that's the last step a company wants to do.  So there's a pretty big disconnect here.

For best results in hiring developers, I'd recommend
1) Asking any developers you know for candidates first.  Developers are much better positioned to asses skill levels of developers.
2)  Go to a developers group meeting.  In the .NET world that's alt .NET, for other technologies it can vary.  Check your local meetups and go there.  This will give you some of the best in the area.
3)  If you can at all afford it, hire a good recruiter.   Good engineers don't stay out of work long in the current market, and unless you want recruiting to be your full time job you're at a disadvantage otherwise.
4)  Good engineers are rarely out of work - so you need to either offer something most companies don't (equity), or you're going to be headhunting.  Put the salary you're paying in your ad for this reason.  Yes, you'll lose some negotiating room, but you'll get much, much better results.  Instead of scraping the bottom for those who can't find anywhere else, you get the people who are ready to move up.


November 6th, 2013

Instead of thinking which is the best way to find a developer, you should be thinking :

What are all the ways I could possibly find a developer.  Then do all of them. (Recruiters last)

1) Post to craiglist
2) Go to friends parties to meet people
3) Post on programing focused meetup message boards
4) Hang out where people program
5) Take any tech people you know out to lunch / see if they have friends.

I have met developers at parties, at the gym, through friends, through a recruiter (but fired both of them within a month)

If you are stuck analysiing, that means you are not going to find people.

Have a goal of meeting 3 tech people per day.

Expect to do that for 3 months.

Russ Value creator and deal maker

November 6th, 2013

I recommend that you go to meetups specifically for the types of developers you seek.  Another way is to go to a startup weekend as many of the developers who attend these are passionate and open to join companies.  Good luck Sarah!

Douglas Tarr Entrepreneur and Software Architect

November 6th, 2013

There are great developers who look at craigslist.  

Perhaps you know of a trusted technical advisor who can help you filter the good candidates?

Steve Brett

November 6th, 2013

I agree with most everything already said. And in regard to Craigslist for finding developers, it's like everything else on Craigslist:

Be careful. Be very careful. There's good and the bad.

Rob G

November 6th, 2013

LinkedIn, Dice, Monster have all been worthwhile for us - Dice and Monster quite expensive.  BY FAR the best is personal networking as mentioned above.  we've not used Craigslist specifically for developers, but have for other positions (sales).  with CL be prepared to get responses from all over the map so you will need to wade through 99% junk to find .9% suspects/prospects and .1% gems. With CL you will swear that 99% didn't read or can't read the JD.  It will also make a significant difference whether you plan to pay market rates or are looking at equity only or some combination.   It all takes significant time. i would also suggest having an experienced tech leader/mgr (someone experienced in screening/hiring/managing developers) help with screening. 

Tim Scott

November 6th, 2013

A lot of good responses.

Nothing beats networking.  Find out where the people you want meet.  For example, if you need Rails devs in Austin, you go to Austin in Rails.  At intermission, jobs seeker sand companies meet in a corner of the room. If you buy the pizza, they let you stand up and pitch to the group.  There's probably similar events for the various technologies in LA. Startup Digest might help you find them.

Nothing wrong to give Craiglist a try, but you probably need good reading glasses and strong stomach.

You might also look at Angel List Jobs.  Really nice interface.

Preetha Ram CEO and CoFounder, OpenStudy

November 6th, 2013

Completely understand your pain.  I have found developers on craigslist, hired them and been quite happy with them.  I also find developers at H/F and Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs meet ups.  I particularly like H/F meet ups because they have a good proportion of hackers looking for founders.  And the SVE meet ups let you climb on a table and pitch your startup in 5 minutes or less.  You get everyone's attention and people know what you are looking for.  
I have also gone to hackathons - great fun. They let you work with a few developers and really evaluate them.  Very useful in that sense.

I have not used Odesk -though several have told me to.  I am a non technical CEO and therefore cannot take the risks of Odesk folks.  

Todd Ellermann Experienced I.T. Leader, CTO, and Creative Entrepreneur

November 7th, 2013

Totally disagree with some of the above.  Great developers are busy writing code, working on their own startup or someone else's. If you want there attention, you need to be at a meet up they are interested in.  BTW you should not be hiring your own developer. Your technical advisor or board member should be selecting or recommending someone.  You aren't qualified to make this selection.

The right person will accelerate and improve your project and timelines 10X the wrong person is going to cost you 25% of your time, and they will never deliver a useful line of code.  

Travis Brodeen Technical Marketing Expert, Business Coach, Founder and CTO

November 6th, 2013

I have hired some great people from craigslist - however I used a technique to pitch them on working for a company that is different from corporate america.  Rather than post a job description, I explained what was exciting about the position.  

I find this approach brings in a different crowd.  Many very creative people are worn out with the job posting sites and falling through the cracks.  If you can appeal that that mentality, you may be as surprised as I was.