Innovation is key in the rapidly evolving tech landscape, as it helps you capture market share and drive product adoption. Developer marketing has emerged as a crucial discipline that bridges the gap between technical products and their technical audience – developers.

Hiring internally is a great strategy to help orgs succeed, since they’re making the most of their most valuable resources. Tapping into your existing talent means that, not only are you providing a platform for employees to learn and develop, but you also get benefits that external hiring may not provide.

So, whether you’re hiring a developer marketer or advertising for developer relations jobs, let’s take a look at the best practices you should follow, as well as the challenges you can expect to face. 👇

  • The benefits of hiring internally
  • Best practices when hiring internally for developer marketing roles
  • Challenges of recruiting developer marketers

The benefits of hiring internally

“Acquiring the right talent is the most important key to growth. Hiring was  –  and still is –  the most important thing we do.” – Marc Bennioff, CEO at Salesforce

Developer marketers are versatile, as they possess a unique blend of technical expertise and marketing know-how, which allows them to more easily communicate with developers.

When trying to hire for these roles, you may be faced with a crucial decision: should you hire externally or look within your own talent pool?

While there’s no denying that external hiring has a lot of merits, there’s a lot to be said about promoting internally – so, here are the reasons why recruiting internally can be a game-changer:

Familiarity with your company

Internal candidates already have a deep understanding of your org’s culture, values, products, and audience, as well as your mission and vision. They can hit the ground running a lot faster than an external hire.

Product and technical knowledge

Developer marketers need to have a strong understanding of the products they’re marketing, as well as the technical elements behind them. Your existing employees often have a solid grasp of this and can leverage their existing knowledge to create more accurate and compelling marketing messages.

Existing relationships

Internal candidates will have established relationships within your company, and may already have connections with your target audience too – this makes for smoother collaboration and communication and can lead to better integration between the teams.

Faster onboarding

Existing employees will require less time to get up to speed with the org’s processes, tools, and systems. They’re already familiar with the internal structure, which reduces the learning curve associated with an external hire. This allows them to start contributing to marketing efforts quickly.

Increased staff morale

Promoting internally can boost your employee’s morale and motivation, since it shows you value internal talent, encourage career growth, and provide opportunities for advancement. This can lead to higher job satisfaction and increased loyalty among existing employees.

Most cost-effective

Recruiting externally tends to involve significant costs, such as advertising, recruiting agencies, and onboarding. You save on these expenses when you look internally.

Best practices when hiring internally for developer marketing roles

When identifying best practices for hiring developer marketers or DevRel pros, consider the following:

Clearly define the role

I.e., consider what makes a good developer marketer.

It’s crucial you start by defining the responsibilities, skills, and qualifications required for the developer marketing role. This includes understanding the specific needs of the position, such as technical knowledge, marketing expertise, and familiarity with developer communities.

There are many skills you can consider when hiring for a developer marketing role, such as:

  • Technical skills
  • Communication skills
  • Independence and initiative
  • Customer acquisition skills
  • Resilience
  • Adept at analyzing and using data
  • Storytelling abilities
  • Business acumen
  • Content creation skills
  • Project management skills
  • Creativity
  • Marketing skills
  • Understanding of API design and development
  • Leadership skills
  • Sales
  • Community-building skills
  • Problem-solving
  • Analytical skills
  • Strategic thinking

There are many different types of roles involved in marketing to developers, so you should have a clear idea of what’s really needed at your company.

For example, you can hire someone who will focus on marketing strategy, on implementing a developer relations program, on community management, on product evangelism, on subject matter expertise, and so much more.

A well-defined job description allows you to effectively communicate the expectations to internal candidates and hiring managers alike.

Promote internal applications

Communicate the availability of the developer marketing role to existing employees through internal channels like email, company newsletters, or intranet. Make sure you’re providing a detailed job description and specifying any necessary qualifications or experience.

Establish a fair selection process

It’s paramount to treat internal candidates with the same level of fairness and impartiality as external candidates. Create a selection process that ensures consistency and objectivity.

Develop a set of criteria against which all applicants will be evaluated, and utilize skills assessments, interviews, and relevant exercises to assess their suitability for the developer marketing role.

It’s crucial to avoid any bias or favoritism when making the hiring decision, and ensure equal opportunities for all internal candidates.

Leverage existing performance data

One of the advantages of internal hiring is the ability to access past performance data of your current employees. Review their performance evaluations, feedback from managers or colleagues, and any relevant metrics that can shed light on their capabilities, work ethic, and alignment with company values.

You should also consider the candidates' track records, their ability to work in cross-functional teams, their communication skills, and their overall performance within the organization. This information provides valuable insights into their potential fit for the developer marketing role.

Development opportunities

You can also provide training and development opportunities for internal candidates who may have the necessary technical skills but lack marketing expertise, for example. This can include workshops, courses, or mentoring programs to help them acquire the required knowledge for the developer marketing role.

Consider people’s career aspirations

Understand the career goals and aspirations of internal candidates. Determine how the developer marketing role aligns with their long-term objectives and consider the potential for growth within the position.

Conduct structured interviews

During the interview process, use a structured format that includes standardized questions. Ask candidates about their experiences in working with developers, their understanding of developer pain points and needs, and their strategies for creating effective technical content.

Assess their ability to communicate complex technical concepts to non-technical audiences and gauge their creativity in developing developer-focused marketing campaigns. A structured interview format helps ensure consistency in evaluation and enables a fair comparison among candidates.

Examples of interview questions you can ask when recruiting internally are:

  • How has your current role at the company prepared you for this position?
  • In your opinion, what makes our products or services unique? How would you communicate these unique features to our technical audience?
  • How would you apply your current understanding of our company culture and objectives to this new role?
  • Can you share an instance where you worked with our development and marketing teams? What was the project, and what was your role?
  • Given your understanding of our current developer community, what improvements or changes would you suggest in our marketing strategies?
  • If you were to pitch our products/services to a developer right now, how would you do it?
  • How would you handle a situation where there is a disagreement between the marketing team and the developer team regarding the product?
  • Can you describe an instance where you had to explain a technical concept to non-technical colleagues? How did you approach this situation?
  • Given your existing relationships within the company, how would you leverage those to make this role successful?
  • Based on your understanding of our product roadmap, how would you align the marketing plan to it?
  • Can you describe a situation in your current role where you were able to successfully incorporate feedback from the developer community?
  • Considering your existing workload, how would you prioritize and manage your responsibilities in this new role?
  • How would you improve communication between the marketing and development teams?
  • From your perspective, what challenges might you face in this role, and how do you plan to overcome them?
  • Why are you interested in transitioning into this developer marketer role, and how do you see it aligning with your career progression?

Feedback and communication

Throughout the hiring process, maintain open and transparent communication with internal candidates. Keep them informed about the stages of the process, the expected timelines, and any updates or changes. This transparency helps create a positive candidate experience and reinforces trust within the organization.

Also, whether an internal candidate is selected or not, provide constructive feedback on their performance and areas for improvement. Encourage them to apply for future opportunities and offer resources or development programs that can support their growth.

Support the transition process

Once an internal candidate is selected for the developer marketing role, it’s important to provide them with the necessary support for a smooth transition. Offer training programs that focus on developer marketing strategies, developer persona development, content creation, and campaign management.

Assign a mentor or coach to guide the internal hire through the early stages of their new role, helping them understand the nuances of developer-focused marketing and integrating them into relevant teams and projects.

This support ensures a successful transition and sets the internal hire up for long-term success.

Challenges of recruiting developer marketers

When recruiting for a developer marketing role, whether internally or externally, you may face several challenges, including:

  • Technical expertise: it can be tough to find the right candidate who has a strong understanding of software development, programming languages, and technical concepts, along with marketing skills.
  • Niche marketing understanding: developer marketing requires a deep understanding of the developer community, their needs, preferences, and challenges. This can make it hard to find the right person for the job, as it’s a specialized niche within the broader marketing field.
  • Limited talent pool: there may be fewer experienced developer marketers when compared to other marketing roles. The demand for skilled developer marketers may exceed the available supply, which leads to increased competition among employers for qualified candidates.
  • Evolving landscape: because the developer marketing landscape is constantly evolving, with new technologies, tools, and platforms emerging regularly, candidates must be adaptable and quick learners to keep up with these changes. Finding individuals who are up-to-date with the latest trends and can leverage emerging technologies can be a challenge.
  • Cultural fit: another thing to consider is that developer marketing often involves working closely with engineering teams and developers. It’s important you find candidates who can seamlessly integrate into a technical environment, understand the developer mindset, and effectively collaborate with technical teams, though this can be tough sometimes.

To conclude

Hiring internally for a developer marketing role can be a strategic move that offers many benefits to your company. It can help to enhance collaboration and communication between the marketing and development teams, as employees shifting roles internally are already well-acquainted with the company's values, culture, and products.

Given their unique understanding of the org, internal candidates can often identify opportunities for innovation and improvement that an external candidate may overlook. Their familiarity with the product and the development process also makes them more effective at communicating the value proposition of your offering to both technical and non-technical audiences.

However, successful internal hiring requires a careful approach. It's important to be transparent about the expectations of the new role, and to provide support to the candidate during their transition. Ask pointed and relevant questions during the interview to gauge the individual's readiness for the role and to understand how they plan to apply their existing knowledge to their new responsibilities.

Lastly, remember that even though the candidate is already part of the team, they will still need some time to adjust to their new position. A thoughtful onboarding process can be incredibly beneficial in this regard, even for internal hires.

In the end, the decision to hire internally should be driven by the candidate's potential to grow within the role and contribute to the success of your company.

Looking to climb the ladder all the way to the top? Learn from the best in the business with our C-Suite Masterclass cohort and boost your leadership skills!

Become an executive powerhouse with the C-Suite Masterclass