Editor’s note: This post was originally published on October 23, 2018, and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

There’s one question I am consistently asked by recruiters on my WizardSourcer blog or when networking: “How can I expand my knowledge and understanding of the Information Technology space?”

That’s the right question to ask because my best advice is always to learn about what you are sourcing for. The resources below will help orient you if you are new to IT sourcing and provide a base for deep dives. 

1. Adopt extensions & tools

GlossaryTech’s extension is my go-to resource for tech keyword searching. Highlight any keyword and within seconds it gives you a full definition. It’s great for finding additional keywords for searches and it’s absolutely free. 

TechTerms is a dictionary search engine that defines tech-related words. It’s another great resource to help with definitions of programming languages and database keywords.

The deeper your understanding of niche roles, the more you will understand what to search for and which other keywords to add. Your new knowledge will give you more credibility with your candidates, and you will be able to build better relationships with your hiring managers. 

Hiretual’s free Chrome extension lets you create complex Boolean searches using plain English search terms, just as you do in Google searches. It also suggests keywords to add to your search. Upload a job description and it automatically suggests more skill sets to add. 

Hiretual Pro for Business has AI Sourcing, a method that uses machine learning for results that are far superior to standard Boolean searches. Within seconds, AI Sourcing returns a list of the 50 candidates that best meet your search criteria, each ranked in order of match

2. Listen to podcasts

Podcasts are another great opportunity to learn, especially if you have a long commute every day. These are a few of the podcasts that I’ve been listening to recently.

Talk Python To Me has interviews with software developers coding in Python and overcoming challenges. It’s a very helpful resource if you are new to Python.

Clockwise covers a variety of different tech-related topics.

Exponent highlights the latest technology news. It’s a quick way to stay up to date on the tech sector.

3. Keep current with blogs and books

There are endless educational materials, blogs, and books to read on the IT space. These are some resources I have used and can recommend:

Dr. Dobb’s blog gathers together some of the biggest thinkers in the development community.

Jeff Atwood’s Coding Horror blog is an easy-to-understand resource covering the latest software development updates.

The Non-Technical Guide to Web Technologies is a quick and simple read to understand basic tech-related skills. The book highlights different job titles and is tailored for recruiters.

How to Speak Tech: The Non-Techie’s Guide to Technology is a book for someone just starting out in the IT field. It discusses different programming languages — which are front-end, back-end, database — as well as debugging processes and much more. It’s a great starting point to learn about a variety of technologies.

4. Take online courses

There are many online resources offering courses for free, including Coursera, Udemy, Harvard Online Learning, Udacity, Codecademy, and edX.

5. Watch YouTube and TED talks

YouTube has endless free videos and content on everything from basic explainer videos to full, in-depth course material. It’s a great resource for learning more about the different skill sets you are sourcing.

6. Join online communities and forum groups

Reddit has a forum discussion on almost every single tech-related field, including /r/  learn programming, hardware, iOS, Android, software, and programming. See my post about how to recruit on Reddit.

Slack is another great place to find great discussions. There are many private communities where you can freely ask any type of question, and there are thousands of niche communities you can join. Check out my poston how to get started with recruiting on Slack.

Quora is another great community for asking questions. You can also search millions of previously-answered questions on many different technical subjects. Aside from helping you find answers and expand your technical understanding, Quora can also be a great tool to source industry leaders, as discussed in my post on recruiting with Quora.

7. Attend meetups and networking events

Search Meetup.com and you will find hundreds of tech-related community groups to attend in your city. I’ve attended any number of meetups that have been helpful — on everything from Xamarin and SAP to AX Dynamics. I recommend attending a meetup or networking every few months if you are focused on a particular technical niche. It’s a great place to learn and build relationships with others in your area.

8. Reach out to past applicants and IT recruiters

Any time you have a question about a tech skill, try emailing your question to some past applicants with whom you connected. I have made some close friends over the years while helping them land jobs as developers. People enjoy helping others and it’s always great to connect with them. That’s one of the things I enjoy most about recruiting: getting to make a lot of connections with people throughout the day. 

Learning from seasoned IT recruiters is yet another way I have grown my knowledge. Starting right from my first job out of college, where I sat in a cube community with about a dozen recruiters, I picked up a lot of knowledge in a short amount of time. Just listening to how they conducted phone screens and how they framed certain questions was an education. No matter where you are, find colleagues who know more than you and soak up their expertise.

Never stop learning

Keep asking a lot of questions and be willing to fail forward. Learn every day from seasoned IT recruiters and hiring managers. Ask questions to understand their needs and to deepen your own understanding of the technology niches you are sourcing for. 

The more experience you get, the more knowledge you will gain. It’s a virtuous cycle.

About the author
Jonathan Kidder has eight years of recruiting experience and has worked with startups and small businesses alike on their talent sourcing efforts. He blogs about talent sourcing trends on his own personal blog WizardSourcer, which focuses on the latest recruitment insights, extension tool reviews, recruiting startups, and interviews with industry leaders.