The most talented tech professionals are curious. They solve problems. They are passionate about exploring their specialty. And many of them are engaged in talent communities.

The definition of “Talent Community” is widely varied, but when it comes to investing in relationships with passive candidates, we’re talking about people engaged in conversation over a common topic.

These snippets of conversation that occur in talent communities is what makes them fertile ground for identifying passive candidates.

However, a challenge that HR generalists, corporate recruiters, and hiring managers can face is that they may lack the technical knowledge needed to separate great IT talent from the rest.

So, how do you qualify technical candidates that you have identified in Talent Communities?

Activity: One sign of a great candidate active engagement in the community. Commenting, asking smart questions, and helping others solve problems indicate a person who is knowledgeable and literate in the subject.

Peer Recognition: Many talent communities, like StackOverflow, Dribbble, and Github provide users with tools for rating each other. While you may not have a very technical background, peer groups do. Those who are consistently recognized by their tech peers could be great candidates.

Culture Fit: While you may not always have the right background for evaluating a candidate’s technical skills, you do have a wealth of knowledge about the type of employee who excels in your work environment. An IT candidate’s social trail can leave important clues about their personality and whether or not they would fit well in your organization.

There are better candidates beyond the job boards. Evaluating candidate activity, peer recognition, and culture fit can help unlock a hidden, high quality talent pool.