How To Source The Best Engineers Through GitHub


We live in a time where if something can be imagined, it can be built. From apps that shame you into fitness to garbage bins for the sea, engineers are transforming the way we live every single day. Especially in the internet space, for a product or service to exist, a strong team of engineers is crucial. But finding talented engineers continues to pose a challenge for recruiters.

If you are a recruiter looking to hire great tech talent, you ought to be on GitHub. This post will tell you what is GitHub, what information can you find on it and how to leverage  that information to find engineers that are perfect for your team.

What is GitHub?

With 12.2 million members contributing to 31.1 million projects, GitHub boasts of one of the largest online community of developers. So, it's highly likely that the star developer you are searching for is on GitHub. And because GitHub is in a state of constant use, all the content is up to date.

GitHub started as an online version control tool. It records changes made to a code repository so collaboration and recalling a specific version becomes easy. Developers collaborate on software projects using GitHub in private or public projects. The public projects, also called open-source projects, is where the developers can publish the code for the project they have worked on, so other members of the community can contribute or build upon it.

For instance, here is an open source project on maps called OpenStreetMap. Anyone can “copy” the existing version of this project and build upon it. Or they could contribute to the development of OpenStreetMap itself. This feature makes community collaboration seamless, resulting in GitHub's popularity. 

What information can you find on GitHub?

Basic Details of the Developer

This how a profile looks like on GitHub. As you can see, Name, Username, Email, Organization and personal Website can be picked up straightaway.


The number of followers is a good indicator of how influential the developer is, based on his/her contributions.  

2-10 followers - Good

11-25 followers - Great

25-75 followers - Respected by peers

75+ followers - Revered by peers

Areas Of Expertise

A developer’s area of interest and proficiency can be understood from the Contributions and Repositories sections of the profile. In the simplest terms, repositories are the dump of all the code, assets and modules required for a project.

Contributions tab has the most popular repositories that the developer owns and has contributed to.


Repositories tab has the extensive list of all the repositories the user owns.



sourcing-github-2-2-16-19 indicates how many developers have favorited that particular repository.

sourcing-github-2-2-16-21 indicates how many developers have used it to build upon it.

Based on this, you can easily identify which programming languages the developer is an expert in, what kind of project he/she likes working on and validation from their peers regarding their contribution.


The Activities tab and the Public Acitivity tab can provide several unique insights that can help you understand the candidate better. This is how the Activities tab looks like:


And this is the Public Activity tab:


A GitHub profile updates whenever the user makes changes to a project hosted on the site. And these updates are visible on the 'Public Activity' tab. This gives you a look at all the recent projects the candidate has worked on.

You can find out what kind of projects interest the person and how passionate he/she are about what they do. Say, they have a day job but contribute even on Sundays towards Python-related projects, there is a good chance they will be open to an opportunity where they get to work on it full-time. 

Finding Folks on GitHub

GitHub or the search function on Github is not exactly built for recruiters because it project centric. But it can be used to source for candidates, which I will demonstrate here.

Using GitHub's Advanced Search: 

This is GitHub's Advanced Search page. Let us assume that folks who contribute to JavaScript are more likely Frontend developers. If a user has less than 2 followers, it is likely the profile is dormant.  Now, simply put in the location, follower count and language in the "User Options" filter at the very end. 


The result page will look like this. 


As you can see, you can filter users based on various criteria like Best Match, Most followers from the dropdown or the languages from the left panel. 

Note: If you notice, the search turns your filters into a Boolean string. You could also use Google search to narrow down GitHub users at a specific location, like Bangalore in India. 

[You can also use this custom search engine built by Praveen Kothapalli to search for projects or users with a keyword]

Using Projects: 

Open source projects are also a great place to look for potential candidates. Say I want the Frontend Engineer to work on a maps feautre, I could search for "maps" and get a list of map repositories. From there, I can find the project with the most "forks".


You can find people who have contributed to the project under the Contributors tab.


The Members tab, on the other hand has enthusiasts who are "following" the project.


Of course, the story doesn't end with sourcing. All these great insights form a solid arsenal for the modern recruiter to engage with the candidate. Similar to GitHub, there are several social networks and communities that are goldmines for undiscovered talent. And Belong is a great tool to tap into this pool. Why don't you let us give you a demo and decide for yourself? 

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