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Brent Marinaccio from HotLinuxJobs talks about Linux recruitment

LinuxCareer.com asked Brent Marinaccio, the HotLinuxJobs Director, to express his opinion on the Linux recruitment market and to provide some hints on how to land a Linux Job:

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LinuxCareer.com: Can you tell us about HotLinuxJobs.com and your role in the company?
Brent Marinaccio: HotLinuxJobs was founded back toward the end of 2000. Since that time, we have provided recruitment services to companies searching for open source software based engineers. Our work has been primarily done in the United States, but we have also conducted some searches abroad.
I am a Director with HotLinuxJobs.

LinuxCareer.com: Is it complicated to find qualified Linux professionals today? If yes, do you expect this trend to change in the near future?
Brent Marinaccio: It is extremely difficult in most instances to find the necessary Linux talent in today's labor market in the United States. That is driven by two primary reasons. One, we just do not produce enough homegrown talent to supply the demand that exists for Linux talent. And, we need to reinstate the previous levels of visa candidates that are allowed in this country. Unless these two situations are addressed, I do not seeing it change in the near term.

LinuxCareer.com: What Linux and Open Source positions are currently hard to fill?
Brent Marinaccio: There are a number of them. Any position that involves the need for the individual to have low level Linux experience are generally fairly difficult. Also, people with the experience of developing large scale applications are hard to find. More recently, the emphasis companies have put into cloud computing has resulted in a higher demand than supply for individuals with that background. And, the list goes on.

LinuxCareer.com: You have been doing Linux and Open Source recruitment for more than a decade. Is Linux and Open Source changing the recruiting landscape for IT professionals?
Brent Marinaccio: It did, and it may still be changing the landscape to some degree. But, I think it is less so today than it was a few years back. For a number of years, companies had a hard time coming to grips with how the open source software community worked. But, much has been learned over the years, and most companies are more knowledgeable about it today. Linux and open source software has become mainstream in the United States, so as that maturity continues to take place, companies have grown accustom to dealing with the nuances that individuals that have an open source software experience possess.

For instance, there was always much debate on what to do with candidates that had worked on various open source software projects, and whether or not they could continue with those projects after being hired by a company. We do not see as much of that today as there use to be. And, a lot of these developers are now getting paid to continue their work with that particular open source software project. Thus, a lot has changed over the years.

LinuxCareer.com: What do you consider as the most important when on an lookout for a new Linux job candidate: IT qualification, work experience or certification?
Brent Marinaccio: The most important criteria that companies focus on is experience. You can not replace experience with education or certification. With that being said, the latter two can be very important as well. Especially for those individuals early on in their career. If you are an individual that lacks the necessary experience, you can improve your chances of landing your desired role by obtaining a specific certification or degree. It generally benefits people that are earlier in their career or making a career switch, as opposed to someone that has been in a certain field for a number of years and is looking to remain in that same line of work.

LinuxCareer.com: What IT skills are currently in high demand?
Brent Marinaccio: There are a number of them. Any open source software project that has gained a lot of traction tends to be in high demand. Thus, it ranges from Linux kernel/device driver type of development work to Ruby on Rails/PHP/Python development to Android to OpenStack, etc. The list goes on and on. If there are a number of companies involved in a project, it goes without saying that there is going to be a high demand for people that can do that type of work.

LinuxCareer.com: According to our IT Skills Watch knowledge of Redhat/CentOS Linux is currently in the highest demand when compared with other Linux distributions. Do you think that future "want to be" Linux Professionals should learn Redhat/CentOS rather than Ubuntu or Suse in order to get a job?
Brent Marinaccio: Does RedHat/CentOS have the greatest market share in the United States? Yes. Thus, there are going to be a higher number of companies that have experience with those distributions. Does that mean that you should focus your attention on only RedHat/CentOS? Not necessarily. You see a number of companies that have Ubuntu and Suse installs. A lot of the companies looking for Linux professionals tend to generalize Linux, so they do not focus on one particular distribution. If you learn to work with any one of those Linux variants, you stand a solid chance of landing a position. At the end of the day, I suggest to individuals that they work with the distribution that excites them the most. Your passion should lead you in the right direction.

LinuxCareer.com: What is your impression of the current migration from Unix to Linux, from the recruitment point of view? What is the extend UNIX and Linux skills correlate with each other?
Brent Marinaccio: I personally think a lot of the Unix to Linux migration has taken place already. I am sure there is some of it that is going on today, but it use to be big news, and it really is not big news anymore. As far as how Unix and Linux skills correlate with one another, they generally correlate fairly well. With that being said, now that Linux has been around for awhile, there are a number of companies that will try to find that “Linux person” first as opposed to bringing the Unix professional up to speed on Linux. It generally is not that big of a deal, but companies can be fickle from time to time.

LinuxCareer.com: In your opinion, what is the best approach for a Linux beginner to land a Linux job?
Brent Marinaccio: It depends on what their goal is. If they are a beginner and are looking for a position in the systems/operations area, I would highly encourage them to look at getting a certification. As I mentioned before, these are the individuals that benefit the most from obtaining it.

If the individual is more interested in development work, there is a reason why it is called open source. The code is out there for everyone to see and for everyone to improve where needed. There is always work to be done in any of the open source projects that exist. I encourage them to take some time to watch the mailing list to see how everyone interacts. Then where applicable, pick a spot where they can get involved. It could be in the testing realm or perhaps doing some bug fixing. If you are successful within that project, you will have no problem locating an adequate position. It is a phenomenal chance for an engineer in this space to make a name for themselves.

LinuxCareer.com: What importance does MS Windows skills play when hunting for a Linux job?
Brent Marinaccio: All depends on the company. I must admit we do not see a lot of positions that require some Windows experience. However, a company that has a heterogeneous data center environment would surely find those skills useful.

LinuxCareer.com: On average, how long does it take to find a Linux professional for a position with 5 years Linux experience requirement?
Brent Marinaccio: That is a tough call. It all depends on the requirements. It is a question that Human Resource folks within organizations ask us all the time. But, I always tell them that it is too hard to predict. Recruiting is highly based on timing. There is always a chance you catch an engineering professional at the right time and they are looking to make a move. If that is the case, it can be rather quick. However, most are not. It usually takes a couple months to locate the right individual for the type of positions we try to fill.

LinuxCareer.com: How do you see the future development of Linux professionals recruitment sector?
Brent Marinaccio: Well, Linux is not going away. It just continues to grow. Thus, it bodes well for the individuals in this space. Throughout our time recruiting in the open source arena, the demand has always outstripped the supply for Linux professionals. Even in the two recessions we have been through. Therefore, I see no indication this is going to change in the near to mid term. All in all, it is a good time to be involved with open source software.

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