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5 Developer hiring methods compared to talent marketplaces

4 August 2023 , by Marcelle van Niekerk

Urgently need to hire developers to join your team? There are multiple hiring methods you could leverage to find skilled developers, such as talent marketplaces, job boards or recruitment agencies, to name a few. If you’re considering using a talent marketplace, you might be wondering how it compares to other hiring methods. Here’s a detailed breakdown to help guide your decision.

5 Developer hiring methods compared to talent marketplaces

What is a talent marketplace?

A talent marketplace is an online platform that serves as a meeting point for companies seeking to hire professionals with certain skills and the talented individuals who possess those skills. It acts as a bridge between ‘buyers’ and ‘sellers’ of talent.

OfferZen is an example of a talent marketplace specialising in developer talent. This means that hiring teams get access to developers actively looking for their next opportunity and can directly engage with those developers through the marketplace.

What are typical features of a talent marketplace?

Although talent marketplaces can differ widely in their offering, some of the most common features include:

  • Offering filtering capabilities to find candidates that fit your hiring needs.
  • Automatically matching you to talent that is a good fit for your roles based on your search criteria, saving you time screening candidates.
  • Curation of the buyers and sellers that participate in the marketplace.
  • Standardised, transparent profiles that can showcase things like skills, recent projects and work history, helping you identify a shortlist to interview.

Now, let’s break down how a talent marketplace compares to some other popular developer hiring methods:

1. Job boards

Job boards allow employers to post public job listings, and developers can apply directly through the job portal for a specific opportunity.

What is an example of a job board?

Job boards can be general like LinkedIn or Indeed, or niche like Crunchboard, a job board for technical roles.

How does a job board compare to a talent marketplace?

In a talent marketplace, employers are matched to specific candidates that best suit their roles. In comparison, applicants can use a job board to directly apply to your open roles.


  • You know upfront that each applicant wants to proceed with your hiring process.
  • Job boards tend to have a vast audience, allowing you to reach a large number of potential candidates.
  • It’s a budget-friendly way to advertise your open roles.


  • A drawback of job boards is that you can be inundated with hundreds of applications, and need to spend a lot of time on candidate screening.
  • Your job posting may face stiff competition among many other employers, making it harder to stand out.
  • There’s also no curation of candidate quality, which talent marketplaces often offer.

For example, OfferZen curates developers for quality and job-seeking intent before they can use the platform for their job search.

2. Recruitment agencies

Recruitment agencies or individual third-party recruiters source qualified candidates on your behalf. They often act as a middleman between candidates and employers until an offer is signed.

What is an example of a recruitment agency?

Examples of recruitment agencies include Toptal, Adecco and Salt.

How does using a recruitment agency compare to a talent marketplace?

Recruitment agencies typically do sourcing and other aspects of the hiring process on your behalf, whereas talent marketplaces allow the customer to self-source and hire tech talent:


  • Recruiters have expertise in hiring in their fields, which can be helpful especially if you're new to hiring.
  • They typically have wide established networks and databases of candidates.
  • They can do some heavy lifting on your behalf, such as taking over processes like screening, salary negotiation and background checks.


  • Your hiring team will have less control over the hiring process as a whole, and the way your brand is represented to candidates. This can play a major role when you’re hiring in tech: Developers are well-known for disliking recruiters.
  • Despite their expertise, the agency may not fully understand the unique culture and requirements of your organisation, and they don’t have the same vested interest in your company's long-term success as internal HR teams. This can lead to culture getting overlooked in the sourcing process, and unsuitable candidates being presented to your team.
  • The cost per hire can be high, as agencies typically charge a percentage of the employee’s first-year salary ranging between 15-25%.

For example, in contrast, OfferZen offers subscriptions that allow you to make as many hires as you need over the course of the year for a fixed fee. Many marketplaces offer subscription options that allow you to save on cost per hire when compared to recruiter fees.

3. Referrals

You can also establish an employee referral program to source developers, which rewards employees for pointing you to qualified candidates for open roles.

How does a referral program compare to a talent marketplace?


  • Referral programs can help supply high-quality candidates that build your team culture, since employees are more likely to refer individuals they believe would be a good fit for the team.
  • Your current team members feel valued when their referrals are hired, which can give job satisfaction a boost.
  • It’s also a cost-effective way to hire, with the only hiring fees being the incentive you provide your employees.


  • A referral program is highly dependent on your current employees’ networks, which makes it an unpredictable avenue for sourcing. Startups or smaller companies may have more difficulties in leveraging a referral program.
  • Your diversity goals will be at risk, as the networks of your current employees may not be as diverse as the overall candidate pool.
  • You could be missing out on many qualified candidates who don't have a connection with your business.

On OfferZen, you get a steady stream of new developers as 200+ candidates are added to the marketplace every Monday.

4. Job fairs and events

Attending or sponsoring events dedicated to hiring can help you connect with like-minded developers that are looking for work.

How does relying on events compare to using a talent marketplace?


  • Participating in job fairs and events can increase your company's visibility and help grow your employer branding efforts.
  • You can personally connect with developers, offering a very organic way of sparking interest in your brand and your available roles. It can also help you assess their soft skills and interest in your company.
  • These events not only allow you to meet potential candidates but also offer networking opportunities with other industry professionals.


  • Events are often location-specific, which will restrict your reach to candidates who can attend in person.
  • Preparing for and attending events can be time-consuming and may require a significant investment in terms of staff and promotional materials.
  • This is a passive form of hiring — you’re likely to spend a lot of time meeting developers who aren’t actively job searching.

For example, on OfferZen, every developer is guaranteed to be actively looking for a new opportunity and is ready to interview when they start using the platform.

That said, it’s never a wasted effort to attend events and build your employer brand, which can yield many benefits in the long run, such as attracting future candidates and helping retain your existing team.

5. Inbound applications via career page

Another simple avenue when it comes to hiring is adding your open roles to your career page on your website, and promoting it via social media platforms such as LinkedIn.

How does a career page compare to using a talent marketplace?


  • You have full control and customisability over how to represent your company and the details of your role.
  • There are no extra costs involved in advertising your roles in this way unless you decide to sponsor posts.
  • People who are already interested in working for your company are likely to apply directly, which can lead to some applicants that care about your mission.


  • This method depends on inbound applications and the strength of your employer branding and internal marketing efforts, which makes it difficult to rely on as your only hiring method for finding great quality candidates. This is especially tricky if you’re a startup or small business with limited brand recognition.
  • Depending only on your career page might not attract a diverse pool of candidates, as it largely depends on people proactively seeking out your company.
  • Ensuring your career page is user-friendly and accessible to all users can be technically challenging, especially for smaller companies with limited resources.

On OfferZen, you get automatically matched to candidates that suit your open roles and can reach out to them directly, rather than hoping this candidate sees the role on your careers page.

Ultimately, your choice of hiring method will be highly dependent on your team’s goals, budget, and roles.

That said, when you compare the hiring options above, a developer job marketplace makes for an excellent choice if you need to make several hires and if you’d like control over your hiring process.

With a wide range of product features, these platforms can allow you to do more with less: For example, finding a shortlist of candidates and curating them for quality is done for you.

However, if you’re hiring for a niche single role, an option such as using a recruitment agency might make more sense. It’s also worth considering using some hiring methods in conjunction. Using a referral program will give you the benefit of tapping into your employee’s networks, but you can still build a more consistent pipeline by also making use of a marketplace such as OfferZen.

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