As a tech startup, you'll need all the help you can get to attract software engineers and web developer talent. You need to somehow differentiate yourself from all the other companies out there looking to hire the same profile, not to mention the likes of established companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter, among others.

To make matters worse, most of the top engineers are not actively looking and they are certainly not scanning the plethora of job descriptions out there.

This is why I’m a fan of engineering blogs as a differentiator for startups. How is an engineering blog going to help you with recruiting? It's a very effective and subtle way to attract candidates by showcasing your company’s technology, people, and engineering culture. For instance, it can highlight the technologies being used at the company, the types of technical challenges candidates might help solve, and the personalities of the engineering team and culture of the company.

Let's take a look at three strong examples:

Etsy  A marketplace for handmade and vintage goods? Doesn’t sound too techno savvy. But wait. Once you dive deep into Code as Craft, Etsy's engineering blog, you will see a world full of blog posts talking about big data, scaling, MongoDB, and Hadoop. In addition, you’ll notice that Etsy is committed to having its team learn from other experts in the industry via its Etsy Speaker Series.

Etsy tracks the number of referrals, interviews, and hires that originate in its blog. Although the company doesn’t share specific details, it does say the numbers are significant. It also stresses the importance of having the blog “speak with the voice of the engineering culture behind it” and thus…it’s critical to have established a great engineering culture in the first place.

Airbnb  Airbnb raised $112 million this past summer and it is one of the fastest-growing web companies. Its Nerd Blog takes you deep into a variety of technical factors that make Airbnb tick, such as improving search performance, and MySQL in the cloud. Sharing this information with the general engineering community is very positive, as this content is very useful for everyone. Remember, as with most things in life… the more you give, the more you get in return.

Wayfair  Wayfair is a rapidly-growing e-commerce company in Boston. It recently launched an engineering blog for a couple of reasons. For one, Wayfair executives have learned a lot from other engineering blogs and this was a great way for them to give back. They also agreed that an engineering blog allows them to promote the engineering strength of the company, which in turn helps attract top talent.

The two biggest barriers for most companies in terms of setting up an engineering blog are time and content. We are all busy with constant demands and deadlines, but it can be worthwhile if your company creates a buzz in the engineering community as a top place to work.

I recommend you spread out the content creation across multiple team members and assign realistic goals to keep a continuous stream of content. Aim for at least one new post on the blog per week. Have fun, and show the personality of your company. A blog is only effective if it has fresh material, which keeps people coming back for more. Perhaps switch up the content by posting a video highlighting a recent event at your company or pictures of your team.

Over time, those followers of your blog just might end up being your next employees.


Nov 18, 2011