How to Hire the Coder that you want?

Ruhi Mahajan
7 min readJul 19, 2017


Originally published in HelloMeets.

We recently met Ruhi Mahajan, Assistant Manager — People Ops (HR), Kayako at our HR professionals meetups. There she shared with the audience how she’s building Kayako’s tech team.

Kayako is a SaaS business headquartered in London and helps businesses get better at Customer Service. It’s completely bootstrapped since 17 years and helps 131,000 businesses improve their customer support across the globe.

Like every other company, intending to make a world class product, Kayako too faced challenges in sourcing and hiring people who had the zeal to solve difficult problems.

Ruhi shared, “We were tired of bringing people to do what we wanted them to, so we thought of finding people who were already doing interesting things on their own.

We started searching for them online & checked if their work and passion fits our requirements.”

A couple of years back, they switched gears and started with what is widely famous as ‘Passive hiring’ — Reaching out to people who are doing good in their jobs.

So how do they hire at Kayako?

Ruhi says that she follows the pull effect with the candidates rather than the push effect & searches for best players in a particular technology on different online platforms.

What are some of the places where you can stalk Coders?

  • Backend developers push their code on GitHub or Bitbucket
  • Front end developers use Codepen to showcase their stuff
  • Stackoverflow is another source where we can trace some really good guys in their particular language
  • Blog posts on various blogging platforms like Medium, Quora, Y Combinator, etc — We can choose to connect with the writers of the posts that make most sense technically or the people who comment insightful stuff on posts

This technique gives recruiters a huge pool of candidates from where they need to identify the best-suited candidates for them.

How to find out which ones out there are the ones we need to invest our time in?

Detailing on the tools that worked best for her, Ruhi explained her process of sourcing, contacting and onboarding prospects from GitHub.

This is what aGithub profile looks like:

Source: Ruhi Mahajan, Github

How to use GitHub to hire your team?

  • For all those who don’t know about GitHub, it is a code hosting platform for version control and collaboration
  • It lets people work together on projects from anywhere & many recruiters use it to check the different kinds of projects developers have worked on
  • Companies use Github internally too, for collaborating the code among their engineering teams

How do you search?

The first step is to mention the specific language from which you want the engineers — Python, Ruby, PHP, ROR, etc in the Github search box.

Thereafter, click on users tab.

You must remember that these users are displayed in an unsorted manner. A recruiter will need them pertinent to a specific location only. For this extended search, a tool named Octohunt* comes handy.

Once the language and location is mentioned, we get an entire list of candidates in that specific location (not necessary that they are currently in that location, it just means the candidate updated his profile with that location).

Having the location specified really helps the recruiter as it automatically solves the problem of relocation that some candidates would face after being selected.

*Here’s what Octohunt looks like:

Octohunt displays the list in descending order of the followers of the Github users of that language.

Once you have this list, start to look up the profiles one after the other to see if they fit into your selection criteria.

The Green Dots on Github

Apart from the number of followers, there’s an interesting fact about the overview of the candidates profile. And that is the Green Dots — an indication of the user’s contribution on Github. The months in which a candidate has contributed more, shows densely populated dots and vice versa. This can help us decide if we want to view a user’s profile further or not.

Let’s see what all information we get once we click on the user’s profile:

Repositories are the projects that the user has made himself or the other people’s projects that he has contributed to. The more the repositories the better it is.

In order to look at the self-made projects of a candidate, we need to select ‘Sources’ from the Repositories.

The number of stars in each repo depicts its popularity.

To start with, we can look at the repo which has the maximum number of stars. When we view a project, mostly all technical stuff is displayed that a non-tech person wouldn’t understand.

So, a good way to gauge the project is to look at Readme which provides a synopsis of the project, what it does and how the code will run.

If a non-coder can understand that project to some extent, it indicates that the candidate has clarity of thought.

Readme also helps us screen through the written communication skills of a candidate, which these days (with people communicating over slack etc) has become highly essential.

Below is an example of a project explained through Readme.

After we have screened through some 20–30 profiles, we’ll be able to shortlist 2–3 of them.

What do you do once you have found a suitable candidate? How do you connect with them?

Usually, the email id’s/twitter handles are displayed on the profiles. The difficulty arises when the details aren’t mentioned. There are a few tricks that Ruhi learnt over the period of time. She says that its not necessary that they all work or for that matter, any of them work, but it is a good idea to use them.


  • Aevy — It’s a chrome extension that helps you pull the Email id, Linkedin, Stackoverflow, Twitter, Facebook profile of a particular user. This is a paid tool, so it may not be accessible for everyone. Also some profiles are not available as a few people choose not to show their profiles publicly
  • Another trick is hit and trial with a candidate’s name and location on Linkedin or Google maybe. It may fetch up the result
  • Profile display picture trick — this is the least useful but may come to our rescue in the worst time, so it’s worth a mention. Doing a google image search with the display pictures may help us get to the candidates’ profile at other places and then we can contact them

Searching for a good candidate and finding the contact through Github, is just 10% of the actual task of passive hiring.

People always want to feel special. So make sure you do that.

But how do you make them feel special?

Once Ruhi finds a lead, she makes sure she researches well about them to find their interests, likes, dislikes and other important stuff.

The better connect you make, the easier the hiring.

Dale Carnegie in his book, ‘How to Win Friends & Influence People’ says most important is “Ensuring that we keep the prospects warm, connect with them often, and be genuinely interested in them”

Things like the connect pitching emails, messages, or InMails have to be precisely customised for each candidate. (InMail messages are sent directly to another LinkedIn member you’re not connected to)

We need to have researched well on his/her projects, presence on social media so that we come across to be a really serious recruiter.

At the end of all this, all the people you connect with may not respond. The ones who do, will not always respond positively.

Even the positive replies may not always agree for interview process & the ones who agree — won’t necessarily get hired.

“Passive candidates and a dream team are not easy to achieve. I’m still chasing a candidate after having wished him on 2 birthdays, 1 Diwali and 3 of his successful projects!” — Ruhi

Recruitment is a slow process, passive hiring being even slower, a recruiter needs to be highly patient and persistent with their leads.

If you liked reading this, do hit the 💚 button !!

P.S — Kayako is hiring. If this excites you, drop me a line.