How to Hire the Linux Talent You Need

Demand for Linux skills far outstrips supply, but these six strategies can help you get the right staff for your business.

By Katherine Noyes
Mon, September 12, 2011

PC World — Hiring good help is never easy, but the difficulty is compounded considerably when demand for the skills you're seeking exceeds supply.

That, in fact, is just the situation being faced by companies in search of Linux skills today. In a recent Linux Foundation survey conducted for the operating system's 20th anniversary, for example, respondents said that one of the biggest challenges for the Linux platform looking ahead is finding SysAdmins and developers with Linux-related skills.

That backs up data from a separate study by the foundation late last year in which more than a third of corporate respondents indicated that they're worried about finding people with the skills to support their increasing reliance on the free and open source operating system.

More than 30 Linux-specific IT and developer jobs were posted to the Linux Foundation's Jobs Board in a single week recently, while more than 11,000 Linux-related jobs can now be found on tech jobs site Dice.com. Demand for Linux experience, moreover, is growing at a rate of 31 percent year over year on Dice, compared with just 20 percent year on year for job postings overall.

It's a candidate's market, in other words, in the world of Linux skills today.

So what's a company in need of Linux skills to do? I spoke recently with both Alice Hill, managing director of Dice.com, and Amanda McPherson, vice president of marketing and developer programs at The Linux Foundation, about this very question. What follows is a collection of their best tips and suggestions.

1. Get Involved

One of the best ways to tap into the Linux talent that's out there is to be an active part of the community before you're in desperate need of related skills.

"You have to know who the best hires are before you're ready to hire," Hill explained. "Reach out and start building relationships now. This way, the relationship can start to develop before you need each other. Down the road, they'll be more ready to join your team, and not your competitor's, if you already know them."

One way to do that, for example, is to tap into the Dice Talent Network, which allows technology professionals to connect directly with hiring managers at specific companies.

Another good strategy is to "get your developers involved in projects," McPherson suggested. "The best way to recruit is for your existing developers to be well-known and respected in the community."

On an organizational level, it's also a smart move to join groups like the Linux Foundation and the Ada Initiative, McPherson said. Supporting such organizations not only gets you involved with the community and its key events, but it also shows developers that you care about their community and are willing to support it.

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