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Mar 28, 2018
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

I love Chrome extensions. I mean, who doesn’t? Okay, maybe you don’t use Chrome, and you prefer to browse the web through Edge or Safari. Why not? Whatever makes you happier. Nothing to do particularly with Chrome, what I mean is that these tools can make our work so much better.

Let’s say that it’s not about the tool itself but more about how you use it.

A Chrome extension is an information system. It takes data and transforms it into information for you to use. Denis Dinkevich often shares excellent stuff (many thanks, Denis!), and recently posted in the SourceCon Facebook group a Chrome extension named “Github User Rank” that rates GitHub users.

Other extensions that I have used, like OctoHR and Aevy (at least in the past), are also giving you this type of information. All this made me think: Is this useful for us when sourcing? In my opinion, not at all. It can even be dangerous.

When you are browsing a GitHub profile, you might want to see if somebody has marked itself as hireable, what’s their email address or how good they are in a particular programming language. All of that it’s convenient but, wait: Can you know how good somebody is in a programming language via a Chrome extension?

A fantastic recruiter that I met this week (Neil Casey), told me something that I recall like this: “We can’t source and evaluate technical skills, the process will tell us if they have them.” 100% Agree. It might seem obvious, but I think almost everybody might have been checking profiles at some point trying to see “how good in Java a candidate might be,” but how we could do this? It’s almost like sourcing for personality.

Unless that you are one of this sourcers with excellent coding skills, that can read through the code and assess developers based on their repositories (yes, I was asked if I could do that time ago in an interview. Apparently it’s a thing at least for a company). Of course, you can use additional information such as comments, followers, reputation on Stack Overflow and the likes but that’s another thing and still.Beware, my sourcer friend. What I’m trying to say is that what seems like a cool tool can also be a weapon with two blades: One might be super handy, one can screw you.

And if you are a skeptic, as Katrina Collier often says, check the hashtag #recruiterfail on Twitter.

In fact, let me tell you a short story that I lived myself in the first line of one of my sourcing battles:

A few years ago, I worked with a guy that was quite good. He was finding developers everywhere in Europe and placing them fast. His conversion was spot-on. One day, he decided to start approaching and crafting his message based on what he saw in their GitHub profile. The guy was pretty smart and a good sourcer, but not a developer. Unfortunately, a few times he bumped into some of those not-so-understanding candidates, that seized the opportunity to laugh with their friends on Twitter based on the languages that he had carefully hand-picked, to extra personalize, based in what he saw there.

Consequences? The business wasn’t happy. His reputation was ruined. He had to fly out of the country. Scary, isn’t it? Jokes aside, any of us could be him.

The thing to consider is that some might use GitHub and have it full of repositories in different languages. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s your language of choice, or even that you are/not an expert. It is possible that some GitHub profiles are used by others to learn how to code in that language.

See mine for example:

According to this, an incautious sourcer could think that I’m an expert in Python, JavaScript, and HTML (I wish!). I mean, haven’t you already received an InMail from an agency recruitment consultant pitching you a sourcing (procurement) role? That must be the feeling.

Since I moved to the UK, I’ve learned something that says: “Don’t just assume. It makes an ass out of u and me.” So, remember: The next time that you are sourcing for the best blockchain left-handed Python fluent Esperanto speaking Dev in Budapest, just think about all this, and if in any doubts, don’t take it for granted! Ask and start a conversation. It might not be the one, but maybe would appreciate this different approach and refer you to somebody else.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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