Your DevRel pipeline

penguin-funny-blue-water-86405

According to my inboxes, developer relations/advocacy/evangelism is a hot job title. I am a little surprised by this since those of us already in the industry thought we might get pushed off the ice flow if there was a downturn and we weren’t physically in front of people. But it’s really really in demand. Yay for us!

This penguin is thriving and learning to use a webcam instead of physical travel

However, most of the people who are at the mid-to-senior level of DevRel fell into it sideways. I started as a technical writer. I know people who have come to it from theater+bootcamp, from product management, from sales engineering, from pure coding positions. There wasn’t a path, there was a series of happy accidents for most of us. This un-pattern makes it really hard to say “this is the way you get into the job”. We can list some skills, but we don’t have a progression to offer people.

Happy accidents are no way to build a sustainable pipeline.

So as we’re looking around and trying to think about how to create the next generation of DevRel that companies so desperately need, I’d like to suggest…..
Support

A Black woman taking a call and writing notes

Yes, support. They’re like 3/4 of the way to doing DevRel already, and the support progression could easily include DevRel as an outcome. Here’s what they already bring to the table:

  • Product knowledge, especially of actual implementation as opposed to the ideal
  • People skills
  • Tolerance of reaction- or interrupt-based work
  • Implementation, glue code, and auth experience in a hands-on way

That seems like a really solid foundation for most DevRel roles! And the great thing is that you can retain senior support people by giving them this additional path to try, either part-time or full-time.

I think the reason we aren’t already recruiting heavily from our support departments is because we’re a little biased — we tend to think of it as an entry-level, non-technical (hah!) role. Technology culture generally values ✨creation✨ over 🛠maintenance🛠. But you know, because you have been saved by that level-3 support person at some point, that it’s pretty darn technical.

So if you’re recruiting heavily for a mid-level DevRel type who can connect with your developer-users, talk to pain points, come up with creative solutions, and can get up to speed on your product almost instantly, look inside.

Heidi Waterhouse

Heidi is a developer advocate at LaunchDarkly, a company that lets you make business decisions about your software at runtime. She spends a lot of time talking and writing about things you only thought you understood, and how they are connected. She also has an unhealthy fascination with near-disasters of the technical variety.

Upcoming appearances

Velocity Berlin
Minneapolis DevOps Meetup
DeliveryConf