A report on Linux jobs

Where the Jobs Are

Article from Issue 174/2015

We look at some recent reports about the Linux job market and interview experts from Red Hat and SUSE.

Linux is omnipresent – it runs things ranging from tiny embedded devices to drones, supercomputers, and space stations – and that creates a big demand for Linux skills.

A recent Linux Foundation report titled "Who Writes Linux" [1]states that the percentage of unpaid contributors is declining, while paid contribution are on the rise. Almost 80 percent of kernel development is being done by paid developers – which means the people who have money to pay for kernel development need to stay on the lookout for talent.

An important way to get the attention of potential employers is to contribute to open source projects. L.J. Brock, Vice President of Global Talent Group & People Infrastructure for Red Hat, says, "If you do great work on an open source project, it's likely that technology companies will notice."

Even if the dream job doesn't fall into your lap, however, you can certainly build a network with Linux developers. Because almost all of the development happens publicly, it is easy for a developer to see the opportunities that could enrich a company's product.

Red Hat is not the only major open source company that feels that way. According to SUSE's Global HR Director Marie Louise van Deutekom, "Contributing to open source projects certainly helps with your visibility in the market and creates a certain level of interest from commercial open source companies."

Who Else Is Hiring?

Linux jobs are not limited just to Linux companies like SUSE or Red Hat. Open source is being used in almost every IT infrastructure. "Linux Jobs Report 2015" [2], published by the Linux Foundation, says that more than 97 percent of hiring managers said they would bring on Linux talent relative to other skill areas in the next six months. Additionally, more than 50 percent of hiring managers said they would hire more Linux talent this year than they did last year.

The Linux Jobs Report also states, "Hiring managers are still struggling to find professionals with Linux skills, with 88 percent reporting that it's 'very difficult' or 'somewhat difficult' to find these candidates."

This undersupply also means companies will go out of their way to retain Linux talent. "The majority of hiring managers (70 percent) say their companies have increased incentives to retain Linux talent, with 37 percent offering more flexible work hours and telecommuting and 36 percent increasing salaries for Linux pros more than in other parts of the company," according to the jobs report.

Jobs Are In the Cloud

Everyone is moving to the cloud, and Linux jobs are, too. The rise of cloud technologies in recent years has also given rise to Linux cloud-related jobs. Open source-based cloud technologies are gradually taking over the market – with OpenStack and CloudStack being the primary players.

Knowledge of and experience with these cloud platforms play a major role in the hiring decisions. The report said, "… 49 percent of Linux professionals believe open cloud will be the biggest growth area for Linux in 2015."

The flip side to this coin is that, although experience and knowledge of these cloud platforms influence hiring managers, knowledge of containers plays "almost" no role in ensuring a job.

Talent Alone Won't Do

Although talent does speak for itself; talent alone might not be enough to bag a job. You might need to do more than submit patches. Certification is also important for many companies.

The report said that more than 44 percent of the hiring managers are likely to hire a candidate with Linux certification. When it comes to hiring a system administrator, more than 54 percent of hiring managers expect the candidates to have either certification or formal training.

If you want to access the full range of available positions in system administration, it is a very good idea to get certifications and training. According to the report, "66 percent of hiring managers are looking for system administrators; Linux professionals with certifications will be the most in-demand talent in this year's job market."

The following interviews provide more details on skills and trends affecting Linux jobs globally. For these interviews, I spoke with L.J. Brock, Vice President, Global Talent Group & People Infrastructure, at Red Hat, and Marie Louise van Deutekom, Global HR Director at SUSE.

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