A 5-step process for hiring tech talent

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Bitnami cofounder and COO, Erica Brescia says hiring good engineers is difficult. One of the greatest challenges facing companies today is that the younger, less experienced engineers may be a better culture fit than engineers with more experience. Also, more experienced engineers may not apply at all because they are secure in their current jobs.

To combat this problem, and improve their hiring process, Bitnami designed a process called "Bitnami Bootcamp." Erica reports a high level of retention and that it has helped to build their brand. Plus, each hiring class gains comraderie which helps with satisfaction and retention. 


Erica Brescia from Bitnami giving her #oscon keynote

A photo posted by Opensource.com (@opensourceway) on


5 steps of Bitnami Bootcamp

1. Apply. Bitnami gets the word out via universities and social channels. It's important to have a short answer question or two, to weed out non-serious candidates. The questions need not be on deep technical matters, and could be as simple as "What's your favorite programming language, and why?" Ask questions that can't be answered by a "yes" or "no."

2. Phone screen. Next, ask candidates questions like "How did you hear about the Bootcamp?" Also, test at this point for basic Linux skills. At this time, the goals of the Bootcamp are given, along with emphasis on the intensive, fulltime nature of the Bootcamp.

3. Bootcamp. Those that move on to this phase are entrenched in a two-week intensive training of all tools and technologies used at Bitnami. There are lectures in the mornings, and labs in the afternoons. Attendees get to spend their lunches with Bitnami teams, where they can see the culture and ask questions.

4. Project. A small project is scheduled that should take about a day. This gives candidates an idea of the kinds of work they'll be doing if they get an offer. This is the final step!

5. Onboarding. Typically, everyone who gets an offer joins on the same day. This streamlines the onboarding process, and creates a great sense of camaraderie among the hire groups.

The results so far have been astonishing. Over the course of four bootcamps over two years, Bitnami has had 425 applicants, 53 of whom (12%) were accepted as students in the Bootcamp. Out of those, 20 (38%) were hired, and only one of those has left the company. Additionally, the local community has benefitted from the students who were not given offers—the training they received helped them get jobs elsewhere.

This process might not work for all tech companies in all places, but Bitnami's success suggests that this "bootcamp" style process can help create a strong workforce of awesome developers!

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Ruth Holloway has been a system administrator and software developer for a long, long time, getting her professional start on a VAX 11/780, way back when. She spent a lot of her career (so far) serving the technology needs of libraries, and has been a contributor since 2008 to the Koha open source library automation suite. Ruth is currently a Perl developer and project lead at Clearbuilt.

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After the keynotes today, I spoke to Alejandro Ruiz and Jesus Rodriguez, both from Seville, who participated in Bitnami Bootcamp. Alejandro was in the first Bootcamp, which was a month long. He said that while there was more material covered in greater depth, the month-long marathon of sustained effort was tiring! Jesus was in the second session, shortened to the current timeframe of two weeks, and while some sections about compilation and deployment of less-commonly used things were removed, the curriculum was more than adequate to give him the confidence and tools that he needed to do his job.

Both stressed the value of the Bootcamp, and how much they learned. Alejandro said, "It wasn't a competition. Some were there just to learn, and getting a job was almost secondary, and one got a job in London a few months later because of the things we learned about, and the experience of the Bootcamp was very useful to them."

Alejandro and Jesus also talked a lot about the importance Bitnami placed on teamwork, and on helping other students during the Bootcamp. The Bitnami instructors look for class members who are helping each other, and mentoring in the things they have already learned.

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