When my Dad started his temp company in 1974, it made sense that he would make tech staffing the core component of his business. After all, he had spent the previous 15 years opening up engineer staffing offices around the country for Design Service and Manpower.

But he didn’t do it that way, something I thought odd although at age 16 I had neither the ability nor the chutzpah to suggest to him otherwise. His reasoning was that the business was a Manpower franchise and that the Manpower brand was commercial staffing not tech. He went on to do quite well for himself, so hindsight proved him, if not right, at least right enough.

Still, I think that tech staffing can offer an attractive alternative either as a start up or as a service addition for existing commercial staffing companies. My bias in this claim is aided by the fact that I started my own tech staffing company in 1982 that made me a lot of money.

The trick I believe is getting the right candidates. “Whoever gets the top candidates wins.”

I don’t use the word ‘top’ lightly. Tech today – and here I’m talking mostly software – is awash in mediocre candidates. Flipping resumes just doesn’t cut it. Separating the wheat from the chaff is just darn hard. As a software person myself I’ve found it takes me several months of working with someone to determine if they are pretty good or really great (crummy is usually easy to spot).

So how to get those ‘top’ candidates? I don’t have all the answers, and in fact the question is so complex that in this post I’m just going to focus on how to source them, and I’m going to do it with a video I created online with one of my software clients.

AppleTree Staffing in Indianapolis, one of the fastest growing companies in the country, has focused primarily on commercial staffing but because of super-pleasing results their tier one clients have begun to use them to fill high-end software positions as well.

In this video, I share with their team how I use the rather new phenomenon of the Q&A-based job boards – Stack Overflow in this case. If you don’t want to make your way through the full five-plus minutes of the video, I’ll share here why I prefer Stack Overflow over others:

  • Reputation. I can evaluate candidates with hard evidence (i.e. the quality of answers (and questions) they’ve posted on the site)
  • Highly targeted search. Winnow quickly by skill set, geography, and professional status.  Easily avoid one of the biggest hangups today for tech recruiters – wasting time with candidates who don’t have the right to work here in the USA
  • Rapid messaging. Without leaving the site, you can quickly message the candidates using templates.

Summary

If you’ve already got great skills for selling and recruiting, the jump to tech staffing may not be as hard as you think. Step one is creating solid commercial staffing relationships in which you are trusted for your core ability to under-promise and over-deliver.

That’s not an easy thing to do, but step two – mastering the sourcing of the top candidates – can be even harder. Finding the right places to fish can help get you there.

Tags: Advice, Stack Overflow, Manpower, AppleTree Staffing, Design Service