coding contest

photo: hackNY

I won’t even ask if you’re having trouble recruiting top-notch developers these days. We’re seeing a critical shortage of top developers across the portfolio, including in areas where they are supposed to congregate.

One of our portfolio companies, Instructure, has used coding contests quite effectively to recruit developers. Instructure is growing like a weed, and has been ramping up its development team. They especially covet Ruby developers. Instructure just completed its second coding contest, which they called Mebipenny.

Right before I wrote this post, I thought I’d check out who else is running this kind of recruiting method. Here’s what I came up with…

TopCoder is one way of using a service/platform for running a contest. Although they are mostly used by the larger companies. Smaller software companies tend to run their own contests (cheaper and more focused).

Bangalore based Interview Street is helping Indian developers land jobs in the Silicon Valley. At a recently concluded coding competition called CodeSprint, over 1,300 Indian Engineers among 60,000 from all over the world tried their best to write software code within stipulated time limits…. Those who successfully completed the projects were picked up by 35 top technology startups in the Valley such as Evernote, Rocket Fuel, Quora, Pocket Gems, etc. (quoted from BeforeItsNews).

And the list goes on and on.

The benefits of running your own contest is focus. It allows you to focus on your specific geography for localized promotion and eventual recruiting. That’s assuming you’re just looking for local developers.

Some key elements of running a successful coding contest:

  • Company coolness factor: You won’t attract top developers if you don’t promote the coolness of your company. “Why?” is the key question you need to answer.
  • Contest coolness factor: You’re trying to attract geeks. So you need some geek coolness. Why would a developer want to be part of your development team?
  • Respect the community: Yes, you’re recruiting. But don’t treat it as such. Make the event fun. Offer a large monetary prize. Run the contest within a community forum.
  • Make sure your development team owns the whole contest: This is not something your recruiting manager should be getting anywhere near.

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