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SUSE’s global HR talks about employing Linux talent

LinuxCareer.com asked Marie Louise van Deutekom, the SUSE’s Global HR Director, to elaborate on the international recruitment process at SUSE. Marie Louise van Deutekom discussed with LinuxCareer.com topics relevant to SUSE’s search for Linux talent, interviewing process employed at SUSE and SUSE’s working environment. Marie Louise describes SUSE's business approach as follows:

As a company, we have a strong belief in Open Source as the model to develop good software. But it’s also important to effectively have a commercial model around it. We have an enterprise focus – we make a difference to the largest companies in this world. That matters to me.

SUSE's search for Linux talent

LinuxCareer.com: Do you agree with LinuxFoundation’s 2013 Linux Jobs Report,[1] which states that companies currently struggle to find qualified Linux professionals? If yes, do you expect this trend to change in the near future?
Marie Louise van Deutekom: At SUSE, our experience has been that there is a consistently high demand for Linux professionals. With Linux growing year over year and many companies increasing their interest in open source solutions, we expect that the high demand for Linux skills will continue for the (near) future.

LinuxCareer.com: The use of the Internet as a recruitment tool is increasing. What role does Internet recruiting play in the recruitment process of Linux professionals at SUSE? Do you use other methods or 3rd party services when searching for new employees?
Marie Louise van Deutekom: The recruiting landscape has changed dramatically over the last couple of years – internet, social networks and chat forums have become key to successfully attracting talent. By the way, that’s not unique for Linux talent! At SUSE we aim to maintain a good balance between online and offline recruiting, and between in-house and 3rd party recruiting.

LinuxCareer.com: As the global HR director at SUSE could you elaborate on the SUSE's international recruitment process and such issues as language, cultural differences, career and work attitudes among Linux job candidates?
Marie Louise van Deutekom: We think very carefully about the type of person we're looking for. Cultural fit, teaming (physical and virtual) and language skills are critical for each successful hire. For some positions we prefer an office location, for instance one of our development centers: Beijing, Provo, Nürnberg, Prague. For other positions it really doesn’t matter – skills are more important than location. This makes us flexible, increases the pool of potential candidates and makes us an attractive employer for candidates who are not living close to the traditional engineering hubs globally.

Interview for Linux positions at SUSE

LinuxCareer.com: Does SUSE have a standard interview procedure with Linux job candidates? What values do you seek in potential Linux employees at SUSE?
Marie Louise van Deutekom: SUSE’s evaluation process is pretty straightforward. We do have a minimum requirement to ensure that attitude, team fit, language and technical skills/experience are in order. Often we ask candidates to present a specific task that demonstrates their technical abilities. At the same time, we want to ensure that the candidate receives enough information about SUSE to say YES wholeheartedly! That means that we want candidates to meet (virtually or in person) with the hiring manager, members of the team and HR.

LinuxCareer.com: In employment interviews, individuals use impression management tactics, such as self-promotion, to present themselves as suitable candidates to interviewers. However, not all impression management tactics, or the interviewees who employ them, are effective at positively influencing interview scores.[2] As it is often the case, IT professionals usually try to avoid wearing a suit. Is wearing a suit an absolute must at SUSE interview?
Marie Louise van Deutekom: Suits are not required – not in the interview, not on the workfloor. It’s more important that the candidate can interview comfortably and present him or herself in a professional manner.

LinuxCareer.com: How many rounds of interviews do you ask your candidates to go through?
Marie Louise van Deutekom: The length of the process may depend on the location of the candidate and the hiring team. Think about travel or accommodating time zones in our global hiring approach.

LinuxCareer.com: What are the most common resume mistakes Linux job applicants make, which results in their resume to be withdrawn from the applicants pool?
Marie Louise van Deutekom: Our preferred way of getting in touch with good candidates is through networking (online or offline). With an increasing awareness of SUSE in the market this is progressing well. That also means that pure resume screening is not always the first phase of the recruiting process. However, the resume is always a relevant element in the process. When we look at the resume, we appreciate a carefully put together, informative overview of the candidate’s career. We look for candidates who know what they want to achieve in their career, and have a solid, structured and balanced career.

LinuxCareer.com: What is considered by SUSE as more important: IT qualification, work experience or certification? Does participation in the Linux community reflects in employability of Linux professionals at SUSE?
Marie Louise van Deutekom: Certifications are nice, but not essential for most roles. Active participation in the open source community, relevant experience and technical knowledge are better resume triggers.

Working at SUSE

LinuxCareer.com: Do you provide some initial training to newly employed Linux professionals at SUSE? How do you help them to adapt into a new workplace?
Marie Louise van Deutekom: Working at SUSE means working at a team where collaboration, professionalism and transparency are valued above all. We believe in providing a flat and transparent organization. To start working here, you need to learn about people, processes and systems. We invest a lot of time in building internal networks and onboarding employees. The initial investment in onboarding is critical for long-term success. Training is provided to new hires as and when needed. We look carefully at what our new colleagues need to be successful and then create onboarding plans. Often these plans are tailor made in our global organization with many different languages, cultures, team sizes and (home) office locations.

LinuxCareer.com: What technical skills are currently highly on demand at SUSE? What skills would you recommend to master by job seekers desiring to pursue a Linux career in 5 years from now?
Marie Louise van Deutekom: Skills that we always like to add to our teams are all common programming languages (e.g. C, C++, Python, Ruby on rails etc.) and also experience with OpenStack and Cloud Computing. Our recommendation for students who wish to pursue a career in SUSE is:
  1. to build Open Source and Linux experience,
  2. work on projects in the Open Source community,
  3. master English, and
  4. develop general programming skills.
LinuxCareer.com: How do you go about measuring the wellbeing of your Linux staff? Do you implement any employee recognition or reward programs to boost SUSE's employee retention or performance?
Marie Louise van Deutekom: “Career” in SUSE can mean many things. We believe in encouraging people to develop skills and expertise and we support our people to grow their careers horizontally and vertically. For example, SUSE has funds earmarked for company-paid training & conference travel etc.
Well-being for SUSE means that it’s both the company and the employee that matter, in balance:
  • We believe working at SUSE should be fun
  • We believe in empowering employees to make the right decisions, every day, by giving them the information they need. Especially when you think about the many home office workers that we have across the world, empowering people to make decisions is critical in our success. Trust is key!
  • We believe in celebrating success. Our recognition program, “Celebrate” , recognizes contributions globally and across all teams.

About Marie Louise van Deutekom

Marie Louise van Deutekom:

I’ve been in HR roles in the IT industry for the last 15 years. The last 11 years I worked in various HR roles in the Attachmate Group in EMEA and APAC, prior to being appointed as Global HR Director for SUSE in 2011.

What I particularly enjoy at SUSE is what we call “think globally”. I have many great colleagues to work with from all continents which makes work very often synonymous with “fun”. As an example: SUSE organizes a global “hackweek”, a week in which our technical colleagues can dedicate 100% of their time to innovative ideas. Another example: we participated with a team in a local business run in Nürnberg, Germany with colleagues from all departments. Great fun running in beautiful Nürnberg J.

As a company, we have a strong belief in Open Source as the model to develop good software. But it’s also important to effectively have a commercial model around it. We have an enterprise focus – we make a difference to the largest companies in this world. That matters to me.


[1] http://www.linuxfoundation.org/publications/linux-foundation/2013-linux-jobs-report
[2] Swider, B. W., Barrick, M. R., Harris, T. B., Stoverink, A. C. (2011): Managing and Creating an Image in the Interview. Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol.96(6), p.1275-1288

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