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!

13 responses to “How to Get a Linux (Related) Job”

  1. Josh says:

    Good article, I am currently trying to obtain a Linux related position in my company myself.

    • Terrence T. Cox says:

      Good luck on your job hunt! If any of these tips (or any that you come across in your search) appear to help out, please come back and give us all an update!

  2. richard says:

    my tip is to install Gentoo Linux a use it for at least a month and you will pass any Linux technical interview. That is what i did in 2004 and 2005 i passed Interview enjoying linux geek status in the company until today, while still on gentoo

    • Terrence T. Cox says:

      Well, although I am certain that is a step in the right direction, I would not agree that simply using an operating system on your desktop or in a virtual machine for a month prepares you for a technical interview where Enterprise experience is on the review agenda. I am glad it worked for you in your case, but YMMV.

  3. wdow01 says:

    Great article! I’m also trying within my company and externally to start working within the Open Source- / *nix- field, but not sure exactly how to approach it. I did study outside work for the RHCE exam, but when I was almost finished I got a new role within my company that took all my energy so I didn’t take the exam. But I’m now thinking of opening my books again to refresh and complete it this time, the only thing is that the exam here in Sweden costs about 1000 euro and require me to travel 400 km, take one day off work, etc. :/ But it might be worth it if it can get me the job.

    I would really love to see a tailored Linux resume. 🙂

  4. Glyn says:

    Dont forget to do your homework, and have a good lab set up at your house. That way, you can site it when asked about enterprise level services. Also, VMware and sql are what everyone seems to hire for right now, at least in Austin

    • Terrence T. Cox says:

      Agreed. Hit eBay up for some used Enterprise Class server hardware and load VMWare ESXi 5.x on it. Memory is cheap and a couple hundred gig of hard drive space is more than enough to set up a small network of web, database and administration servers running Fedora or CentOS.

  5. noah says:

    I glad you referenced places to look and certs that are important. This helped me know I was on the right track. Thanks

  6. Olimp says:

    Very good article. Waiting for tailoring resume

  7. Eddie G. says:

    I have been using Fedora…Ubuntu…CEntOS and Scientific Linux for the better part of a year, but I never felt I was “good enough” to warrant actually applying for a Linux oriented job, but I’ve since gotten a hold of two very good books regarding Linux…one for the….how did you put it? “Wet-Behind-The-Ears” person who has NO knowledge of administering Linux machines. and the other is the “official” RHCSA / RHCE Exam Preparation guide with practice exams on the 2 DVD’s that came with the book. I was planning on taking the exam in the spring / summer of this year, but just going through the Beginnier’s Linux Admin’s book I might have to push it back to about the end of the year / beginning of the next. I am grateful for this article because it has reinforced what I was suspecting for quite some time, that it’s not always about the “experience” but about what you can bring to the company, and if you’re a good fit for what they’re looking for. Thanks again for this great article!!

    • Terrence T. Cox says:

      Welcome to the fold! I think you only really become good enough when you are doing it. You have taken the first steps, now you just need to apply for some of the positions. I do not think you need to wait to pass the exam before throwing your name out there. In fact, getting some real world hands on experience will help you pass the exam more than the other way around. Stay tuned, I am already working on my ‘tuning your resume for linux’ article!

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