How to source technical talent from Stack Overflow?

It is only post early 2000s that social media has been around,  but they’ve only recently been useful for recruiters to find ideal candidates.
Check out these statistics (source):
– Using social media, 73% of companies have successfully hired a candidate.
– 93% of companies use LinkedIn for recruiting, 54% use Twitter and 66% use Facebook.

As interesting as these stats seem, finding the right talent for the technical job role requirements is tricky as these candidates do not typically engage with sites like LinkedIn and do not apply to job openings on career sites very frequently. 

Owing to this confinement, it takes a bit of work to find them. To help yourself stand out and find the hidden gems in terms of talents that no one else has found, you have to be willing to think outside the box. In case you are restricting yourself to standard candidate marketplaces like Naukri, LinkedIn etc.  you are missing out on potential talent that may be perfect for your role

Stack OverFlow is a great option to expand the horizons for your sourcing avenues, particularly for technical candidates. This article will help you understand what is different about Stack Overflow and how it can be utilised for sourcing talent.

What is Stack Overflow?

Stack Overflow is a programming question and answer platform for students and professionals. Users can ask and answer questions on the website, as well as vote the questions and answers and gain relevant badges indicating active involvement. Stack Overflow has 45.1B users and thus allows you to tap into this huge source of tech talent. 

Basic Details

Basic Details of a candidate on their Stack Overflow profile

You can find the basic details about the candidate from their Stack Overflow profile like name, location, email address, websites they have chosen to display and other social profile links of the candidate.

The next thing to look for is the number of answers given, questions asked and then number of people they have reached by their question/answers. The reach indicates how helpful they have been to the other developers and thus these become important indicators differentiating the candidates 

The last and the most important aspect would be the top tags. A tag can either be a  word or phrase that describes the topic users have interacted with. Top tags would help you understand the candidate’s field(s) of interests and expertise.

So how would you search for candidates on Stack Overflow?

1. Boolean search 

If you are good at boolean searching, simply google using the Boolean strings and add ‘’
For example, searching “ Software Engineer LA” will provide you with results specific to Software Engineers in LA only from the website- Stack Overflow.

It is implied that you need to be good with boolean operators in order to perform these searches and find the right search results of potential candidates.

2. Create an account and search on Stack Overflow

This will require creating a Stack Overflow account and performing the searches on Stack Overflow. From there, you can use Webbtree’s Chrome plugin to find applicants. You can also look up the candidates’ profiles on other platforms to learn more about them. However, this will require filling out all of the fields in the Stack Overflow search and then filtering the results.

3. The smarter way, use other tools meant for it.

Webbtree Talent Source

Writing efficient boolean queries can be a daunting task for most of the recruiter and solving this problem, Webbtree’s Talent Source aims to help perform X-Ray searches without using complex boolean operators and finding just the right candidate profiles with a simple and structured user interface.

X-Ray search for Stack Overflow on Webbtree

You can simply use these input boxes and search for the candidates on Stack Overflow and check the profiles in the results. If the results serve you the right candidate, nothing like it, if not, you can edit your search easily and keep iterating for better results.

Along with the Chrome Extension, this solution becomes a cherry on top because when an important candidate is found, on a click of a button you can save their information to your Webbtree account and in order to reach them before others, you can get their contact details such as phone number and email address by using the contact enrichment feature.

To try out Webbtree, click here.


Recruit’em is a platform that constructs boolean search strings for you which you can copy and paste into the search bar and get your results. It is widely used by recruiters and has been around for long. It helps only in constructing the strings, thus if you wish to change a few search parameters to get more results, you are required to do the changes in Recruit’em and perform the search again on Google, which adds a few steps in the process. Though the tool can be helpful to convert your search query into a search string. To try Recruit’em, click here.

Other alternatives:
Apart from StackOverflow, there exists a platform which more than 65 million programmers use actively to upload and collaborate on coding projects. This platform is GitHub. To Find detailed insights on how you can best leverage GitHub for your sourcing needs, refer this article.

5 Amazing Ways to Source Potential Candidates
5 Tips For Creating An Effective Sourcing Strategy


  • Commenter's Avatar
    Antonionog — December 28, 2021 at 8:00 pm

    Thanks to the information available on Stack Overflow, you can target the right person. I am sure a lot of the recruiters mentioned in the survey looked at Stack Overflow and GitHub activity of their candidates during the recruitment cycle. I also believe that when it comes to sourcing from Stack Overflow, the quality makes up for the quantity.

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