5 ways to successfully recruit candidates during hackathons

Jan 17, 2017

Hackathons are more and more often seen as an effective non-standard way of recruiting new employees. For organisers, it’s a great opportunity to gather in one place many specialists engaged in creating new technologies and, after identifying those of their competencies they are interested in most, to offer them a job.

This way you can find great candidates for the position of a software developer, graphic designer, or project manager. Participants, in turn, value hackfests for several reasons, the most important of which is the chance to demonstrate their skills to companies they would like to work for.

Way 1 – choose the right hackathon

One of the main reasons for organising and taking part in codefests is the desire to create something new – a new product, a new app, a new code, or a new idea. You should, however, pay attention to the type of the hackfest. Some are more educational in nature, their participants are mostly students of various colleges and universities, and the thematic areas and tools that can be used during the event are often set in advance – participants might be asked to work using a specific programming language or with a specific operating system in mind.

Other hackathons are aimed at specific demographic groups, for instance computer game fans or creators of mobile apps. Before signing up for a hackathon, make sure you know the conditions under which it’s going to take place. If you’re an organiser, partner or sponsor, make sure you’ve clearly set out the rules for participation – that’s the only way to attract the right people.

Way 2 – get to know your product

If you’re a programmer or have an idea for a start-up, consider what technology would be best to use to bring it into being and sign up for a hackathon that allows using this technology. If you’re thinking of organising a hackathon, thoroughly present to its participants the range of issues that you’d like to be addressed in order to achieve desired solutions. Specify what the participants will be working on, describe in detail what technologies and tools you’d like them to use – thanks to those preparations, teamwork during the marathon will yield ideas that stand a fair chance of being implemented.

Way 3 – learn more about programming

To be able to effectively communicate with IT specialists, you need to learn their language. It doesn’t mean you have to learn programming languages, but you’d be better off knowing what SQL, Microsoft Server or Visual Basic are. This way, your communication with the participants will simply be more effective and you won’t be taken for a layman who doesn’t know what they want. Tomasz Florczak from ChallengeRocket.com platform (organising numerous creative and programming contests) recommends delegating someone knowledgeable to draw up the regulations and rules of the hackathon if you’re not good at technological issues yourself.

This way the hackathon will be of higher quality, and you and/or the HR department in your company will get to know better the skills and competencies of your potential applicants.

Way 4 – networking above all

The vast majority of hackathon participants (82%) enter contests mainly because it’s a great opportunity to meet new people and extend their social network. You never know if the person you’re talking to doesn’t one day become your investor, your partner, or a software developer creating another API of your app. Get to know new people, build relationships – not necessarily business ones; in the beginning it’s enough if you enjoy talking to each other.

Don’t limit yourself just to the hackathon that will after all soon end – maintain contacts also after it. If you’re set to find a good employee, don’t limit yourself to recognised specialists – talk also to students, who in no time will enter the market and become equally competitive. Even if someone isn’t looking for a job at the moment, this doesn’t mean it won’t change in the coming months.

Thanks to social media, maintaining such hackathon acquaintances even after the event should be easy,” says Florczak.

Way 5 – get to know hackathon organisers

If you haven’t yourself been involved in organising hackathons in order to find new employees for your company, get to know those who are already doing it. Keep in touch with them, take part in other events they organise so that you get invited to another hackathon as a guest, specialist or mentor. It’s hackathon organisers who know their participants best. Make sure they know your business profile and remember about you when there are topics on the agenda that might be of interest to you. Not to mention that they have phone numbers and email addresses of the potential applicants...