Conferences bring together passionate developers, typically around a specific technology such as a programming language like Ruby. This makes them the perfect place to recruit developers for your company. This article outlines how a company can get the most value out of these conferences.
Don’t send recruiters to conferences
Developer conferences are organized by the community. Respect this and don’t treat the conference as only a venue to find new talent, or else your attempts to find developers will backfire.
Don’t send any HR types who have no interest in programming to a conference. Only employees who enjoy the content of the conference itself should attend.
Sponsoring a conference is a low hanging fruit. It has almost no overhead for a company: write a check, supply some information, and you’re done. Developers value companies who contribute back to the community through sponsorship, and doing so is an easy way to increase awareness of your brand in the developer community.
However, sponsorship alone is unlikely to give you many leads for developer candidates. Instead, a more proactive approach is needed.
Lower barriers for your developers to attend conferences
Your existing development team is your best tool to recruit new developers, so make it as easy as possible for them to attend conferences.
One simple step is to treat attending a conference as a normal workday. The last thing you want is to have your developers take time off to attend a conference they are interested in, as it not only discourages attendance, but also reflects badly on your company when other developers hear about it.
Along similar lines, you should also cover any costs associated with attending an event, such as the admission fee. Developer conferences are typically not for profit events, and as such offer an extraordinarily high return on investment when compared to other professional training events.
Encourage employees to present at conferences
Having a developer present at a conference is great exposure for your company. Talented developers want to work with other passionate developers, so when an employee presents at a conference, it reflects positively on your brand in the developer community.
Preparing a presentation is quite time consuming. For myself, it takes at least forty hours of preparation for a thirty minute presentation. Allow employees to prepare their presentation during normal work hours to encourage them to present at conferences.