The tech job market is on fire. And one of the hottest roles in tech right now is also one of the least understood: the developer relations professional.
Every DevRel advocate and team leader I’ve talked with in the last week was quick to stress that in their opinion, not everyone in tech — especially people working for software-adjacent companies (like banks) — actually understands what DevRel teams do. So, a quick refresher: DevRel teams are not marketers. They are not PR. They are communicators, usually with engineering and software backgrounds, who act as the conduit for feedback between the developers who use software and the engineers who make it. And while DevRel advocates used to spend most of their time on the road, traveling to conferences and hackathons to talk about their product and get developer feedback, in the last year most of them have become more like influencers, chatting up developers on Twitch livestreams and getting micro-famous on TikTok.
Which, understandably, is a skill in high demand. Most tech companies are hiring more engineers than they ever have before, so they clearly need more people who are able to explain how their software works to its users, and do it on the social platforms where most people spend their time. (Hint for execs: People will probably not buy or use your product if you don’t do this! This isn’t technically marketing, but it’s essential for selling your product anyway.)
Hence, an extremely intense job market.
- Cassidy Williams, the DevRel lead at Remote, described the state of her field in one perfect anecdote: “I actually tweeted, ‘Is anybody hiring DevRel right now?,’ on behalf of friends looking for work. Every friend I had tweeted on behalf of had a job within two days,” she said. “The demand for the job is ridiculous right now. I think people are just finally seeing the value in the role. I think it was kind of a misunderstood role, and now people are seeing that developers like to listen to other developers.”
- “The reason DevRel is hot in the industry right now is because more and more people are getting into software, and they understand the importance of community and building network effects around your software so that it grows and it grows organically,” Martin Woodward, the DevRel senior director at GitHub, told me. “Do you have APIs, do you have a developer interface? If you do, you probably need DevRel.”
If you’re hiring for one of the hundreds of open roles, Camunda DevRel director Mary Thengvall wants you to remember that you don’t necessarily need someone with tons of experience in the field or a flashy resume. Tech recruitment departments have a very bad reputation when it comes to looking outside the box for qualified candidates from nontraditional career paths. Thengvall thinks there are lots of ways to fix that in this particular sector.
- “You should be hiring from your technical support team, your support engineers, your pre-sales engineers, people who have been developers in the past. They know how to speak the language, they are able to ask the right questions, pass you along to someone who can really help,” she said. “People who are able to explain complex topics in an easy-to-understand manner. I don’t care if you haven’t had a DevRel internship, I’ll look to see if you’ve been a TA in college.”
- Thengvall also told me her weekly newsletter currently lists more than 580 active links to DevRel jobs at the moment, which she described as a massive spike compared to the same time last year. “One of the biggest things that a lot of people are looking for right now is, ‘How do I hire for this role?’ And I’ll be honest, it’s a struggle. 588 active links — it’s ridiculous.”
And for young people looking to break into the field for the first time, she had one piece of advice: If you are very junior and looking to make a massive career switch, a small startup might not be the best fit. Learning to be a DevRel advocate can be difficult, and larger companies with teams (like the ones at Microsoft, Amazon, etc.) can be better places to get the skills and mentorship advocates usually need to be successful.