Laid Off? Top Ways to Find Opportunities in Open Source

by Ostatic Staff - Nov. 19, 2008

Both Joe Brockmeier at ZDNet and Matt Asay at CNet have items up today about how some of the newly unemployed folks out there can benefit from FOSS contributions. While it may seem illogical that making free contributions to free products is a good idea when the pink slip pops up, they make some good arguments for how it can improve both job and pay prospects. You'll find some good ways to improve your odds here.

Matt Asay points out that enterprise open source developers make up to 40 percent more than proprietary developers, based on research from Bluewolf Computing. Joe Brockmeier notes that open source is poised to do well during the economic downturn, which we've noted several times. The PC boom in the 1990s and the subsequent Internet boom both immediately followed recessions, and it's entirely likely that open source will do well during the downturn, and extend its reach coming out of it.

So what can you do to put your open source calling card out there? Here are several excellent ways to do so, with more ideas found in our previous post:

Post a profile on oDesk, and on OStatic. OStatic has partnered with oDesk, a leading online staffing marketplace, and you can find an extended interview with oDesk's CEO Gary Swart here. People with oDesk profiles posted have access to over 10,000 new job postings every month. There are many jobs posted for open source contributions and support, and most oDesk workers get remote jobs where they are interviewed by phone or on e-mail--giving them the opportunity to start working quickly. Put a profile up on oDesk, and while you're at it showcase your skills with a profile here at OStatic.

Hook up with remote employers at other online staffing sites. SmartData Enterprises specializes in placing outsourced open source workers on projects. AgoraCart is another good place to raise your open source profile. While you're at it, put up profiles at Elance and RentACoder.

Use the job boards. You know the familiar names here, such as, and for local work, Craigslist. These sites can lead to opportunities in open source. The job board at 37Signals also lists many open source opportunities.

Socialize. Social networks have become increasingly important ways to get interviews and get hired, including getting opportunities in open source. Raise your profile on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Tanglr, and other sites, and reach out to people in open source.

All the experts note that in the face of job loss, it's important not to get down on yourself. Any opportunities in open source that you can uncover as you seek work may end up just being parallel tracks to the job you eventually get, or you may get a job directly within the open source world. Putting your feet forward online is a good place to start.