All posts

6 min read

Myers–Briggs for developer relations: 3 key insights for the modern DevRel role
Blog
Community
May 31st, 2023

Myers–Briggs for developer relations: 3 key insights for the modern DevRel role

You don’t have to take a Myers-Briggs test to find your ideal DevRel role, but it helps.

Rarely does a single discipline have so many career paths (or require you to wear so many hats). And while DevRel continues to gain much-deserved recognition—more than 60% of DevRel professionals said their organizations view their work as either “mission-critical” or “quite important”—career progression isn’t always straightforward.

That’s why we teamed up with the fine folks at Hoopy to bring a little clarity to the modern DevRel role. The resulting report, DevRel job titles and career progression, is based on interviews and surveys of team leaders from across the industry. It sheds light on how DevRel pros view different roles, the value they deliver, and what’s required to build a successful program.

Whether you’re pursuing a career in DevRel, looking to optimize your team’s performance, or simply want to see how your program strategy stacks up, this report’s for you.

Download the full report, but before you dig into its 30-plus pages, here’s a sneak peek at three of the top takeaways, including:

  • The four pillars of DevRel teams
  • The core roles most DevRel teams need
  • Ways to bring clarity to the DevRel career ladder

1. DevRel roles have many mouths to feed

Which business functions depend on DevRel? If your product is aimed in the general direction of developers, the short answer is: all of them.

But that makes it hard to zero in on the skills your team needs and the outcomes it delivers. Based on the day-to-day activities of DevRel teams and the goals they’re trying to achieve, you can group developer relations work into four pillars:

Developer marketingDeveloper enablementDeveloper advocacyDeveloper community
If you want developers to move down the funnel, you have to understand who they are and give them the info, tools, and support they need.Empowered product users are happy product users. That means giving developers everything they need to drive success, from detailed documentation to hands-on education.Developers want a person in their corner. If it’s going to be you, it requires building trust and acting as a bridge between them and your company.Audiences are interested in your product; communities are invested in it. It pays to create a space for developers to rally around common goals and work with peers to reach their own.

What it means for DevRel practitioners: Each pillar involves a wide range of activities, strategies, and tactics. They also tend to overlap. Even if you specialize in one area of DevRel, it helps to be a jack-of-all-trades.
What it means for DevRel leaders: Different pillars align with different skill sets, but it’s exceedingly rare for DevRel professionals to operate within rigid boundaries. Hire for your business objectives, but also seek out individuals who are comfortable coloring outside the lines.

Curious how other DevRel pros think about driving business impact? Check out our conversation with Vercel to learn more:

2. The ideal DevRel team hits the trifecta

No two developers are exactly alike. The same goes for DevRel teams.

That said, there are three core roles most DevRel teams need to fire on all cylinders:

1. Developer advocate

Developer advocates come in many shapes and sizes. Depending on how big your company is and the maturity of your DevRel program, they could be generalists or specialists. They may ladder up to marketing, product, or engineering. But they all have one thing in common: They’re developers’ chief cheerleader, ambassador, and coach. These individuals are often the face of a DevRel program.

Drilling down, you’ll find:

All-around developer advocatesOutreach-focused developer advocates (aka developer evangelists)Product-focused developer advocates (aka DevRel engineers)Internal developer advocates
Utility players who touch all four DevRel pillarsVersatile team members who are mostly focused on the advocacy pillarTeammates who are similar to their outreach-focused colleagues but concentrate more on the enablement pillarA cross between outreach-focused and product-focused developer advocates, but internal-facing

2. Community manager

If developer advocates are the face, community managers are the eyes and ears. While they don’t always have the same level of technical expertise as their teammates, they’re laser-focused on the specific wants and needs of product users. It’s their job to create, maintain, and nurture community members while aligning those communities with tangible business goals.

Unsurprisingly, community managers are mostly focused on the community pillar.

3. Developer educator

Part technical writer, part instructor, all expert—developer educators are responsible for writing your documentation, leading training sessions, recording tutorial videos, and much more. Technical knowledge, understanding of developer workflows, and excellent communication skills are par for the course.

Developer educators are primarily focused on the enablement pillar, but the materials they create play a huge role in advocacy and marketing.

While these roles constitute the core DevRel team, as companies evolve, still more roles—including program managers, operations managers, developer experience engineers, developer success engineers, and more—may be necessary.

What it means for DevRel practitioners: Different DevRel roles serve different purposes (and in different ways). When you’re planning out your DevRel career, consider what you're passionate about and how you want to spend your time.
What it means for DevRel leaders: Technical skills are important, but they’re not the be-all and end-all of DevRel. When hiring for different roles, consider experience and abilities—such as public speaking, conflict resolution, and more—that align with different functions.

3. Carving out a DevRel career path takes work

There’s no hard-and-fast framework for what a DevRel career looks like. For many DevRel pros, that’s part of the fun.

You get to blaze your own trail and follow your interests wherever they lead you. But that also makes it difficult to craft a fair and transparent career ladder.

Some companies, such as Slack, have tried to crystallize DevRel career progression. But ultimately it’s up to DevRel leaders to take charge and determine what makes the most sense for their teams and companies.

That means putting in the groundwork of developing a career framework that clarifies how roles are hired, how performance is evaluated, and what criteria practitioners must meet to advance.

As in other fields, career progression often means going from individual contributor to manager, but that may not always align with a DevRel professional’s personal wants and needs (not to mention the team’s). That’s why DevRel leaders are increasingly putting the structure in place to support long-term career development for both managers and individual contributors.

Exactly what form that takes depends on the needs of the company and its developer community. But having it in place will go a long way toward recruiting and retaining the right talent.

What it means for DevRel practitioners: Consider what a rewarding DevRel career path looks like to you. Whether you’re interviewing for a new role or working in an existing one, don’t be afraid to ask for clarity on future opportunities and what’s required to get there.
What it means for DevRel leaders: Take the time to create clear career paths for your DevRel practitioners. Balance building a solid framework with being flexible based on the career goals of your team and the needs of your company.

Check out our conversation with HubSpot to learn more about how DevRel teams track program performance:

DevRel is growing rapidly, and there’s no denying its business impact when it’s done right. But it’s still a relatively new discipline. And when compared to other fields, navigating the DevRel career ladder can feel like exploring uncharted territory.

If you’re on the front line, whether as a practitioner or team leader, remember that your work (and your working life) deserves the same level of care and attention as any other business-critical role. That’s what creates better DevRel programs—and happier developers.

Get the inside scoop on the modern DevRel role

Download the DevRel job titles and career progression report to learn more about today’s DevRel roles, best practices for establishing a successful DevRel program, and insights into DevRel careers.

Curious how Common Room can help you educate, empower, and enable your developer community? Sign up for free or request a demo today.

Learn, share, and connect with community leaders