Recruiting software talent

Red Hat Software participates in high-profile projects, such as One Laptop Per Child, and many of its employees are high-profile contributors to open source projects used outside the company. How does one open source vendor use its corporate culture to win the hiring game?

From your perspective, what will employees find at Red Hat that is not found anywhere else?

Well, recently, because we have been maturing as a company, we have developed what the older companies already have, and that is our total-rewards philosophy. But what we are trying to do from the ground floor up, as opposed to from the top to down, is figure out what Red Hat's philosophy is all about. What are our rewards? Our work experience is one of those rewards. Compensation is part of that too, as are benefits. But our work experience is a big part of that.

After really talking and interviewing a huge cross section of our population across the globe, what we have determined is that our work experience distinguishes Red Hat. We certainly are competitive and want to make sure our compensation is competitive and our benefits are competitive. But what is our defining differentiator is that work experience. So what about it is unique?

Probably, the top one related to this particular discussion is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to participate in the global development and deployment of the structured technology that is going to change the social fabric of the community in which it touches. That is one key differentiator in this work experience.

This is our culture. We are nonhierarchical. We limit the number of hierarchies in the organization, because we want to make sure that we are fostering collaboration and leadership at all levels. We want to make sure that we are celebrating achievements across the company, as opposed to growing the number of managers in the organization. We are really focusing on growing innovators. So, it is a culture that is characterized by open communication and collaboration.

We are offering greater professional-development opportunities and training. We have created Red Hat University. There are different tracks for people so they can continue to grow and learn.

Clearly, a big focus is technical training, so that individuals that are on the technical side can come in and progress right after school. If they are one of the key maintainers of of our core strategy, there are opportunities for them to actually give back and to become one of our secondary experts for Red Hat University. So, I think that these are all factors that really distinguished our work environment and work experience.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions in the IT community about open source and open source talent?

I do not know what others are saying about open source, other than they often get it wrong about what you can use this for, or what you can do with the code, but there are a lot misconceptions about the licensing aspects of open source software that other companies pass off, and often people are afraid to participate.

That is something that is out there and has been out there. It is not any different than it has been, but I think the interesting thing is, from what I have seen over the last six years, is a huge change and a huge new respect for or the fact that the GPL license is supported by copyright law, and it makes sense.

Now, there is this huge collaborative effort in creating the next version of that. I think the biggest things that I have noticed are: not understanding what open source software and open source licensing is all about.

I might also add to that that some of the misconceptions are that open source is a trend or a fad. I think Red Hat's is kind of trailblazer and the best business model for open source companies that we have seen for longevity, sustainability and profit.

We have had 20 plus quarters of profitability. I think that shows that open source is not a trend. It is not a fad. In addition to all the things that I have just mentioned and all the different market factors that are going on right now with Microsoft, et cetera, and Novell, the fact that we [our products] are in most of the top Fortune 500 companies, shows that open source is here to stay. It is a movement that we are going to participate in and be a major player in.

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Jim Romeo

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