Working in Information Technology over the last twenty years (and the last ten or so as a senior engineer or team lead in various organizations) has exposed me to a lot of resumes over that time. Over the last five years, one of the more common questions I am asked is “how can I get a Linux related job?”. I will attempt to address that in this space.
The most important thing to remember is that your quest for a Linux position at any organization is really no different than applying for any other I.T. position. Once you have identified the company and the posting (and a great place to get an idea of who is looking for Linux talent and with what experience, is The Linux Foundation), you need to focus on the attributes and experience you have that are directly applicable to the position you want. Your resume should then be tailored to highlight that experience throughout your career as much as possible.
Of course, you will find that certain areas of the market are more open to ‘self taught’ skills than others. System administration is a common Linux related job, however, those types of positions are going to expect certain levels of experience, generally in Enterprise settings. However, some programming positions that are typically associated with Linux will be much more forgiving about Enterprise experience as long as you can demonstrate proficiency. Android (and specifically java) programming is in great demand at this point. Since the entire ‘Android/Google Market’ is largely populated by small teams or individuals, proficiency is going to be more important than experience.
One approach to obtaining the position you want if you are a bit ‘wet behind the ears’ in the Linux world is to obtain a certification. There are several certifications that demonstrate proficiency in administration (Linux Professional Institute Certification, Red Hat Certified System Adminstrator or Engineer). Fortunately our sister site Linux Academy has courses that follows along the certification path.
Finally, one of the most valuable methods of identifying the position you want in the area you want to work in, is networking. Ask yourself ‘who do I know in the industry that already works with Linux every day?’. Of course, not everyone knows someone in the industry, but if you ask around enough, you can generally find someone or someone who knows someone. This will serve two purposes: the first, it will help target positions to apply for, second, it will develop your professional network. The more exposure you get, the more likely you will find what you want now or be ready for it in the future.
Don’t be afraid to interview for positions that you want, even if you feel like it may be above your level of experience. The exposure to the kinds of questions you are asked will help you focus on your own training as well as in preparation for the next interview.
I would love your feedback and, if enough people are interested, I can put together an article on tailoring your resume for the Linux position you want. Keywords and appropriate experience highlighting can be the difference between getting that interview or getting the famous ‘thanks for applying’ postcard. Let me know!