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How to Get the Open Source Job of Your Dreams

October 26, 2016 No Comments

Featured blog by Marie Louise van Deutekom, Global HR Director, SUSE

Think about many of the hottest technologies in enterprise technology today – Docker, OpenStack or Hadoop. It’s not a surprise that they all have open source roots. We’ve been fortunate to work in an industry that continues to get more popular over time.

That popularity reached new heights recently through the 2016 Open Source Jobs Report from the Linux Foundation reporting that 65 percent of hiring managers say open source hiring will continue to increase more than any other part of their business over the next six months. HR managers like me are always identifying new opportunities that apply to both experienced and less experienced candidates.

The beauty of open source is that there are several roles available that vary from intern/co-op positions to junior roles in programming and QA. In order to land a job in open source, candidates must have a basic skill set and willingness to learn. On a baseline level, candidates need an understanding of the general open source development processes, have proficiency in English and an interest around programming and understanding the obstacles of actual deployment. Having a certification is a plus to me, but this is not essential for landing a job in open source.

Some of the most exceptional hires that stick out in my mind and the ones that have impressed the hiring managers that appointed them are the candidates that have stood out from the crowd – these are candidates that have expressed a specific desire or passion to work for the company.

One of the questions that I ask candidates that I speak to is, “What is your motivation behind wanting to work for this company?”

I also have spoken to candidates that have said “I have been using Linux since I was a kid at home and have been in love with it ever since.”

One of our sales hiring managers shared,the “diverse” experience and background (working in different locations, understanding different cultures, having to make new contacts all the time) – and the fact that he had worked with the SUSE teams in the region (who all referenced him) – and the fact that he wanted (had a passion) to work with SUSE due to his LINUX experience were all very important factors in the hiring decision.”

So, what makes potential candidates shine in a competitive environment? In many cases, raw skills don’t always tell the whole story. Here are a few things I find valuable for candidates to stand out and nail their dream job in open source.


I’m looking for visible passion that will propel individuals to build experience that will help to grow a career in open source – retention of these young professionals is very important.

Community participation

If you’re going to work in the open source space, being an active participant in the community (both in and outside of work) is another quality I seek.

During an interview, hiring managers will often ask candidates to describe specific tasks or accomplishments that demonstrate their technical abilities or, depending on the role, contributions upstream. This will not only provide a tangible piece of work you’ve created, it will also show them how you accomplished it, which in most cases demonstrates your understanding of the project, your personality and how well you can interact with others.

Diverse experiences

The strong job candidate shows understanding that working in open source is all about appreciating the way open source works. Consider taking it to the next level by getting involved in community projects that don’t necessarily bring in a pay check but allow you to master tasks by getting your feet wet in, for example, coding.


More often than not, if you’re looking for a job in open source then working together and collaborating on projects is what it’s all about.

Working with your open source peers allows access to an additional set of knowledge. They are important to the process and will help benefit an open source project overall.

The beauty of open source is that the strength of the community is based on the diverse perspectives within it. Open source truly is “open,” allowing everyone involved to thrive with the right enthusiasm, experience and skills.

As open source continues to be adopted by several businesses, the talent pool is only getting larger. Whether you are actively involved in the open source community, or are considering making the career move to open source, these four points will help make the job search a successful one.





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