Why hasn’t StackOverflow monopolized tech hiring yet?

StackOverflow (SO) needs no introduction among the developer community. No matter what type of problem you’re stuck with — whether you’re unable to figure out a merging algorithm or whether you’re staring at a dense error log by your web server — just throw those words into the search engine and nine times out of ten, StackOverflow will have an existing, clear-cut answer for that.

It’s arguably the largest destination for developers, and no matter what level and skillset you’re talking of, you’re likely to find more than enough suitable devs there.

Which made me wonder recently: why hasn’t then all tech hiring moved to StackOverflow? 🤔

It’s not as if the site doesn’t have a dedicated jobs section. Right from company details that matter to the exact salary being offered, the job listings contain everything.

Jobs, jobs …

And when it comes to filtering candidates, the reputation system on StackOverflow works quite well. Of course, when you’ve got a few candidates, you’d put them through your own test.

All said and done, the hiring scene for StackOverflow is dismal at best. Almost no developer, hiring manager, or company features StackOverflow in their recruitment strategy (it’s LinkedIn, recruiters, referrals, or popular job sites, or some combination of these). Similarly, while I have a StackOverflow account, I’ve barely given through to the job there (the reason is different than you think).

So I thought I’d pose this question to my developer community at dev.to. I got some interesting answers. One of them helped me understand just what might be going wrong:

Well, for one thing, they’ve got nothing on Hired and Triplebyte (prior DEV sponsor!!). Those places that the time to match the person to the job, and do a great job at it. StackOverflow isn’t even that good at suggesting roles; I rarely get anything even remotely interesting through them. The lack of a proper mediated communication system (not to mention the frankly clunky “timeline” on the developer story) make it feel like a cold, impersonal afterthought of a job board…at least to me.

So, for SO, jobs were an afterthought. It certainly feels that way. And I can say the same for developer story, SO for teams, and whatever enhancements they’ve offered recently — it all feels like a rush job aimed at becoming more relevant to more areas of a developer’s life. And if as per the quote above, they’re doing a bad job matching people, well, good luck.

In passing, I must also mention another comment I received:

StackOverflow is not great place for better answers. Most highly voted questions and answers are simple syntax errors and are mostly used by new comers in the industry. Also there is no validation of answers by experts as anyone can vote and downvote anything.

I can feel the passion behind this answer, but it misses the point of my question: numbers. StackOverflow doesn’t need to be the most correct answer platform in order to dominate. Facebook is not the best social network (quite the opposite, actually!), Dominos is not the best pizza, and Coke/Pepsi is not the best beverage. But if you’re good enough and you get the underlying business right, you can dominate the market so completely and all hope of competition is vanished forever.

And that’s what I would’ve expected from StackOverflow.

To conclude, I’d say that hiring remains a tricky, tricky domain. Actually, hiring and education are my two favorite domains, in the sense that they both badly need fixing, and they both are incredibly hard to fix as they eventually come down to individual motivations.