Sourcing on Dev.to

Part I by Aaron Decker

Dev.to is becoming a popular site for programmers who want to read and write technical articles. But is it useful for sourcing?

Here is my take as an experienced software engineer: the people who write articles on Dev.to are all over the map. There are posts from really experienced technologists who own software companies all the way down to people just learning how to program, and they are from diverse geographies.

The site feels a little like HackerNoon (a Medium-type site for techies) used to, but Dev.to is a custom platform. The UI is good, and the features are all there. It’s more fun to post to than Medium because there is much more of a social aspect and the content can be discovered with hashtags.

Which brings me to the sourcing aspect: Dev.to has a very straightforward URL scheme, and you don’t need to be logged in to view the authors or blogs. It took me all of 20 minutes to write a scraper in Node.js (for demonstrational purposes only) that would grab the social links of all of the authors of the latest posts (more on this later).

There are hashtags for many popular languages and frameworks, here are a few examples:

You can see the URLs for a given hashtag (topic) are structured like: “/t/HASHTAG”

How about authors? Well, each author has their own URL and the social links are clearly visible in the header of each author’s page. Here is my own author page as an example:

So you can see all of this information is completely publicly accessible, which means you should also be able to do this from a Google X-Ray search.

Okay, but how about using a scraping system?

Here are the steps you would take to scrape content from this link structure:

  1. Visit a hashtag page (e.g. “https://dev.to/t/react“) to collect links to author pages of recent React articles.
  2. Visit each author URL and grab the social links (LinkedIn, Github, and anything else).
  3. Go back to another hashtag page and repeat steps 1 and 2 for that new hashtag.

Here’s what that looks like coming out of the scraper (again, just a demo):

I was able to do this by writing my own code using Node.js and a library called Cherio, but there are many Saas companies with user friendly interfaces to help you extract data from web pages so the ability to set up systems like this is definitely not out of reach if you can’t code. I don’t want to recommend any company specifically but trust me, there are many of them.

 

Part II by Sjamilla van der Tooren

Now that we’ve heard from a developer’s point of view, let’s look at this from a sourcer’s point of view.

As a tech sourcer, your go-to places are probably Github, StackOverflow LinkedIn or even CodePen. Dev.to is another site is worth sourcing from. In October 2019 alone they had 5.5 million unique visitors. You probably think: yeah cool…

This is me, looking at a platform like that:

It’s a Sourcing GOLDMINE!

Ways to use:

  • Search via Google
  • Search via native interface
  • Find contact info
  • Find users who are available for hire.
  • Search via #hashtags

Google Search

In the following example, I am looking for people who mention Javascript in their profile and live in the San Francisco area.

site:dev.to "Posts Published" "Tags Followed" javascript ("San Francisco" OR "SF" OR "bay area")


I use the site: operator to search the website. In the search, I also include “Posts Published” and “Tags Followed” in quotation marks since every individual profile has these words in common.  If you don’t add these words, then your profile search results will be mixed with posts and topics.

Native Search

You also have the option to search for users via the search bar on the website, but I prefer Google. It is easier to scan the profiles that way.

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Contact Information

Looking for people who have emails listed on their profile? Try this:

site:dev.to "Posts Published" "Tags Followed" ("gmail.com" OR "hotmail.com")

Some people also have the chat option open to people who are not following them:

Looking For Work

If you are not restricted to hiring people from a certain area but are looking for people who are available right now I recommend trying this search:

site:dev.to "Posts Published" "Tags Followed" ("looking for" OR available OR "open to") (job OR opportunities OR work)

I recommend playing around with this. In this search example, I played around with the search tools and restricted results to this month.

This search gives me 78 results. Not saying all the results are 100% on spot but I do think this is a nice one to play around with when you are looking for people in tech.

Besides this, there is a dedicated page where people can actually list that they are for hire.

#Hashtags

Now you know how to find people there is one other thing that I really love about this platform: following relevant hashtags.  My #1 favorite is #explainlikeimfive. I can spend hours reading about tech stuff that is explained in a simple (and often) fun way, it helps me as a non-developer understand better what it is that the people I am interviewing are actually saying.

In Conclusion

I am not saying this is THE platform you need to focus on, but I do think that this can be a very nice addition to your current sourcing toolkit. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Happy Sourcing!

 

Aaron Decker is a full-stack software engineer specializing in Node.js and React. He has worked for numerous fortune 500 companies building software. Currently, he is working on training courses covering technical topics for new tech recruiters over at iteachrecruiters.com

I’m what you might call a self-taught sourcer. I started my career in recruitment in 2015 when I joined an agency. Actively approaching was new to them and also pretty new to me. So I started reading every blog I could find and by trial and error I can say I got fairly good at it. I also discovered there was a great network of smart sourcers out there sharing tips, good reads and tools. Throughout the years I developed my own sourcing style and I keep trying out new and different ways to find good people and most importantly engage with them. After the agency, I joined Blendle and I’m currently working at Poki, scaling their tech team.

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