Is open source still a recruitment tool?

Is open source still a recruitment tool?

Summary: If you want to secure hotshots to your start-up you have to recruit. How much of that involves proving your open source bonafides?


As part of its effort to find the best employees it can, Twitter has launched a directory to the open source projects it supports, with cute little icons representing the employees working on each one.

It was apparently enough to bring in former Google programmer Isaac Hepworth, although it's also possible the cover sheet on his offer letter -- with happy little birdies (right) -- had something to do with it, too.

Despite high unemployment true talent remains in short supply. This is especially true in tech. Most of those without work in this downturn came from construction or manufacturing, others from office jobs squeezed out by other parts of the downturn.

Besides, we're talking talent. People aren't all the same. The best chefs, the best basketball players, even the very best plumbers can always find work. Employers seek them out.

Programming is the same. Critics will argue that it's skewed, like basketball, toward those who are youngest, those with the freshest games and the latest skills. Increasingly this means folks with open source experience.

It does seem everyone has a blog, or at least a home page, and this is especially true for young, talented programmers. They maintain their course lists, collections of projects they have worked on, the names of their advisers, and (sometimes) pictures of their pets, from the time they walk on campus until they leave.

These pages may list real-world programming experience done while in school, often open source programming experience, because universities are hotbeds of open source activity, and projects outside school are always looking for help.

Corporate recruiters may hit these pages the way college recruiters do sites covering high school basketball players. But it's not enough to identify the talent. You have to convince them to sign on your dotted line.

If you want to secure these hotshots to your start-up, or even your going concern, you have to do more than put an ad on Craigslist. You have to recruit.

How much of that pitch involves proving your open source bonafides? Any corporate talent coordinators want to tweet on this?

Topics: CXO, Open Source, IT Employment

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  • NO the simple answer, it does not help, it hurts

    I certain hurts you're prospects if you especially are an one eyed FOSS advocate. When I got my last computer job, it was for someone who knew computers and software, one day I would be working on (and mostly) VMS systems, but often Windows platforms, sometimes UNIX, sometimes (very rarly in commercial applications), Linux.

    If I have of applied for that job, and shown my extensive FOSS work, it might be a plus, IF you also show or display skills and experience on a range of platforms, and the ability to adapt to new platforms that you may not have even seen before.

    (fist time I ever used VMS at all, was my fist job it a new company).

    But with a solid foundation, and a long apprenceship, and a diverse skill set, you can adapt to new situations.

    But if you limit yourself to one and only one system (mabey Linux) and expecially if you display any distain for other systems (like hating Microsoft), you will find it much harder to get along. or get a job.

    Sure you might be lucky and find a job where you ONLY work on Linux systems, but if you dont have the skills and especially experience with a variety of systems, from both a user and developer perspective, you unnessarily blinker youreself. It's common and far to easy to become over specialised, when what industry often needs is a skilled generalist.

    Ive been involved in alot of hiring of IT staff, and technicians and engineers, and if their skillset is too narrow then they will not be hired, it's as simple as than, and especially if the want to bring politics and 'baggage' to you're work place, then that is not something that will help you either.

    I dred to think how the likes of Roy Schetowize of BoycottNovell would ever go at being taken seriously, or being employed by any company or group.
    Imagine if he ever decided to enter politics when he grows up, all the bitter hatred generated by his site, would though up massive red flags against such fanatics.

    It's just the way it is, if FOSS developers want to play in the big world with the big boys it's time for them to lift their game somewhat.
    • I totally agree with your hiring practices

      Many programmers tend to look at the OS/languages they are using as
      the answer to everything. The "stars" I work with like everything, get
      excited with a Linux release, or Windows 7, or new Macs. They know that
      those are just tools. Fun tools, but tools nonetheless.
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  • RE: Is open source still a recruitment tool?

    But its not enough to identify the talent. You have to convince them to sign on your dotted line.<a href=""><font color="white"> k</font></a>