Open Source Software as a Marketing Platform for Hiring

Was just reading an article at cio.com that talks about How to Recruit in a Hot Market.  One of the points they talk about is marketing your IT organization, mentioning that some large corporation employ full time marketers for their IT team.  But how is a smaller team to compete?  One overlooked method is how an organization can leverage open source to market their development team.

How Can You Be Marketing A Development Team?

First, everyone should take an hour and read The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.  I’ll wait…..

Wasn’t that an hour well spent.  Okay, now that we know what marketing is and what to think about when building a marketing plan, we can dig into marketing your IT team.

When you recruit, you are selling a product.  To be precise, you need to sell to the consumer (the qualified job candidate) that your product is one they should buy (they should work for you rather than working for someone else).  From our previous discussion on building teams, I know that you are looking to hire great developers so they will shortly have multiple job offers.  Heck, they may already have a job and not be actively looking (lack of awareness of your product).  So your competition is fierce.  One way to compete is on price (in this example, by offering a higher salary).  But most discerning consumers are also concerned about the quality of the good and how satisfied they will be with it.  This is where your marketing plan kicks in.

What Must Our Marketing Plan Communicate

We want our consumers, potential hires, to know:

  • That a stellar product exists in the form of a great IT team
  • That it is available to them as positions are available
  • That they will be satisfied with their purchase as others who have bought in continue to enjoy their work.

So how can we let our customers know about our wonderful product.  Well the traditional way is by posting classified ads online.  While that may let some people know of the availability, it will attract only those that are looking for jobs (missing candidates that do not know they should be looking) and does nothing to help with the other two bullet points.

How Does Open Source Help

If your company either sponsors an interesting open source project or, at a minimum, encourages developers to submit patches and improvements back to open source projects, it can serve to notify the development community about what your team is doing and the quality of work that is going on.  It makes people realize that there is something interesting brewing in your company and can easily drive people to your site (a fair percentage of requests to Health Market Science’s home page come from http://jackcess.sourceforge.net/).

Now Leverage Your Superstars

Now that people can look at a bit of your work, you can encourage your team to speak at conferences and user groups about the technologies.  Again, it helps to spread the brand name for your IT team, make potential candidates aware of what you are doing, is rewarding to your current team, and costs little to nothing.

In a future blog post, I’ll talk about how to find projects to open source and how to try and sell it to superiors (I know that I have not been as successful in the selling as I would have hoped, but I do believe it matters). 

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