Thursday, September 15, 2011

Article on Finding Linux Talent

It goes without saying that we are in an environment whereby the number of positions requiring an open source software based background has outstripped the supply of the individuals with the skill sets needed to fill these positions. As I have heard time and time again, we are currently in a state of high unemployment, while also being in the midst of a labor shortage. I completely agree with this assessment. A lot of that labor shortage falls in the highly skilled areas.

There are many reasons for this; with the two most prominent being the lack of people pursuing a math/science related degree, and the fact that we have done a horrendous job of keeping the quality skilled professionals that are educated here to remain here after their studies are complete. This country was built on immigration, but somehow we have forgotten that phenomenon. Under the current structure, we would rather that person go back to their home country to found a startup than doing it on our soil, even if it is their desire to do so. But, that rant is for another time. We have to deal with the landscape the way it is, and thus we must focus on the best ways to find the needed Linux talent with the hand we have been dealt.

This PCWorld article provides some good insight. Some of the article is purely marketing related; the company/foundation pushing their products, but I am OK with that to some degree. You just have to sift through it to find the substance.

From my vantage point, the two most important points for companies out there looking for Linux/open source software talent are getting involved and being flexible. There is no question that if your developers are active and good participants in the community, it increases your chances of attracting the right talent to your company. Your employees will be more satisfied in their position, and at the same time you are setting up a successful recruiting pipeline.

The other key that I have stressed time and time again is flexibility in the workplace. Here we are in the midst of a challenging recruiting landscape, and yet a large number of companies are still reluctant to provide a telecommuting option to their engineers. I understand that there are instances where telecommuting is too much of a challenge based on the position, but there are still a number of opportunities that do not allow for this option that it appears could. I tend to think it is in each company's best interest to put together the best engineering team possible. In order to accomplish this feat, in most cases, you have to go outside of your immediate geographical boundary. Therefore, get active and be flexible, and the challenges of recruiting open source software based engineers will hopefully ease to some degree.

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