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Why being a Linux geek could make you more employable

I love Linux and I have been fortunate enough to have been able to use it as my base operating system in all of the different companies that I’ve worked for the last ten years or so. But, I know that unless you’re a systems administrator, most fans of the OS find themselves battling against corporate IT if they even try to run a non-Windows system at work.

Just recently, I noticed a post on Slashdot where a user was asking where he could get a job in the FOSS industry. So, I was quite relieved to see that according to the Linux Foundation, jobs are on the rise for Linux Professionals.

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Admittedly its the first report put together studying these trends, but the Linux Foundation has worked in conjunction with the tech job site in order to gather the data. Some highlights of the report include the survey results based on the responses of over 2000 hiring managers from a wide range of different business sizes and industries across the world. According to the survey, 81% of the respondents say that hiring Linux talent is a priority this year, with 63% claiming that they are increasing Linux hires relative to other jobs.

This is great news, particularly in light of the fact that the report claims that Linux professionals get higher salaries and more perks than other staff. However, it is worth noting that just jumping in the deep end and hoping that you are going to be able to take advantage of this upturn in the job-market is probably not going to get you very far. Most of the respondents in the survey claimed that finding actual Linux talent was actually very difficult and that they’re looking for at least three to five years’ minimum experience on the operating system.

This story came to me via TechCrunch, where Scott Merrill offers some very worthwhile advice for hiring managers, including joining up with a local Linux user group and offering to host meetings. It is a great opportunity to meet highly skilled Linux users and people who are passionate about the operating system. He also suggests that hiring managers look beyond professional experience when reviewing CVs. Very often, Linux enthusiasts are forced to pursue their interests as extracurricular activities and some Linux hobbyists have made significant contributions to the FOSS community.

Toward the end of last year, Brian Proffitt at ITWorld reported that in his conversations with Ralph Flaxa, SuSE’s VP of Linux Engineering, he discovered that the Linux giant has around 10 to 20 new job openings every week, and that its growth is going exceptionally well. Flaxa was very positive about SuSE’s growth in China and felt that while he couldn’t pinpoint a geographic hotspot for the company’s hiring strategy, he would say that currently China is seeing a lot of demand. Proffitt goes on to mention that he believes that Canonical (the company behind Ubuntu) and RedHat are also doing some very healthy hiring.

One of the big drives behind the demand for Linux skills will certainly be related to the growth that we are seeing in cloud computing infrastructures. A quick glance at the Cloud Market’s analysis of operating system distribution on Amazon’s EC2 infrastructure shows that Ubuntu linux is a clear winner here, with over 10,000 instances next to Windows systems at just over 3,000 instances. But the cloud isn’t the only place where Linux is shining, Big Data is another space where Linux is holding its own. Open-source technology like Hadoop, MapReduce, and NoSQL are frequently used to help companies working with big data to cope with this type of information. With the backing of Internet giants like Google and Facebook, many other industries are starting to feel more confident about adopting these open-source technologies.

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