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Building a DevRel Dream Team

Developers are the lifeblood of any software company, and building strong relationships with them is key to success. That’s where a well-crafted Developer Relations (DevRel) team comes in. However, building a high-performing DevRel team requires a strategic approach and recruiting the right individuals with the skills and passion to foster a thriving developer ecosystem.

Last month, we explored these key concepts in our webinar, “Building a DevRel Dream Team.” Led by industry experts Tessa Kriesel (DevRel Leader & Coach), Dan Moore (Head of Developer Relations at FusionAuth), and Owen Parker (Founder & Director at DevRel Talent), we dived into the strategies and best practices for building a DevRel team that drives results.

In this post, I want to dig deeper into their thought-provoking conversation and explore some of the essential building blocks for a dream DevRel team.

Whether you’re a founder of a startup thinking of hiring your first DevRel, or perhaps you’re the only DevRel in your company being tasked with scaling your team, this discussion offers valuable perspectives on building a high-performing unit that cultivates strong developer relationships.

Laying a Solid Foundation for a DevRel Team

When it comes to building a DevRel team, one of the biggest mistakes companies make is trying to hire fast to get quick results. But simply hiring a Developer Advocate won’t guarantee results if there are no clear goals. That’s why the primary focus should be establishing a solid foundation before hiring. This ensures that the team aligns with the company’s goals and objectives, and can deliver the anticipated results.

In our webinar, Tessa Kriesel emphasized the importance of understanding what the company aims to achieve:

“Is the objective to drive sales, foster a community, or perhaps something else?”

Once these goals are understood, they’ll guide the creation and operation of the DevRel team.

The speakers also highlighted the necessity of company buy-in for the DevRel team to be effective. DevRel should not be an afterthought or something put on the back burner, but rather an integral part of the company’s operations. 

Owen Parker added that the team will have a significant influence over certain areas of the company, and for it to be beneficial, there needs to be an executive buy-in and understanding of what DevRel can contribute.

Lastly, Dan Moore discussed that while results are essential, they should not dictate the team’s direction right from the beginning. The first focus should be on defining the strategy and playbook for the DevRel team. Once there is a clear direction, the team will be more capable of delivering meaningful results aligned with the company’s objectives.

This foundation - understanding the company’s goals, ensuring company buy-in, and defining a clear strategy - is where the building process for your DevRel team should begin.

Hiring Your First DevRel

After laying a solid foundation for your DevRel team, the next step is hiring your first DevRel and structuring your team. This can be daunting, especially for startups. Companies often crave quick results, so there’s a temptation to seek a “do-it-all” DevRel superstar. However, it’s crucial to consider your needs. To ensure you make informed decisions, here are four actionable steps to guide you through the process.

Pinpoint Your Product Stage

The stage of your product development will directly impact your DevRel needs. Are you in the early stages of building awareness, or are you fostering a thriving community around a more mature product? For example, in an early-stage startup, your first DevRel hire might need to wear many hats - developer advocacy, community management, and content creation. They’ll be laying the groundwork for future growth.

Leader or Hands-on DevRel?

Do you need a strategic leader who can drive the vision, build the team, and achieve company objectives?  Alternatively, would you benefit from a combination of a hands-on DevRel alongside a consultant to help establish the strategy and playbook?

Explore Team Roles

Initially, your DevRel team may include roles like Developer Advocates and Community Leaders. Developer Advocates champion developer needs, promote your products within the developer community and provide feedback to product teams. Community Leaders, on the other hand, focus on overall community strategy, manage day-to-day operations, and cultivate a welcoming developer environment. Exploring the nuances of different DevRel roles can help you define what your company needs. 

Define Your Team Structure

At the end, the specific structure of your DevRel team depends on your company’s needs and goals. For instance, targeting a new developer market might require multiple developer advocates and a dedicated community operations leader, as Tessa Kriesel’s experience suggests.

The Unique Challenge of DevRel Recruitment

DevRel recruitment stands out from other tech roles. It requires a unique blend of technical credibility, strong communication skills, and a passion for engaging with developer communities. Many companies struggle to find candidates who possess this specific combination of skills. As Owen Parker highlighted:

“We did research for a client in San Francisco where we found 100,000 software engineers, but only 500 people in DevRel. So the talent pools are really small compared to a lot of bigger industries.”

So, how do you recruit for such a unique role? Here are some tips and strategies from our speakers:

  • Don’t limit yourself to experienced DevRel professionals. Consider software engineers with the necessary skills and a desire to transition into a DevRel role. You can ask candidates to showcase their community engagement or samples of their work to assess their suitability.
  • Move beyond social media buzz. Popularity on platforms like X isn’t the sole indicator of a candidate’s skills or fit for the role.
  • Verify the candidate’s reputation. A good reputation can be a positive sign, but it’s crucial to ensure the candidate can effectively perform the specific DevRel tasks required by your company and that they align with your company culture.
  • Take a proactive approach to recruitment, almost like a marketing campaign, actively targeting potential hires instead of just waiting for applicants. Leverage your existing network within the DevRel community, as Tessa Kriesel suggests.
  • Leverage your network connections within the DevRel community to reach potential candidates and look for talent among those who are already actively advocating for your product.

Another way to streamline the recruiting process is by leveraging targeted platforms and communities dedicated to DevRel professionals. Whether you’re an employer hoping to connect with potential candidates or a DevRel professional seeking fresh opportunities, platforms like DevRel Careers come in handy. This tailored job board caters specifically to the developer relations community, serving as an effective bridge between employers and candidates.

Finally, A strong DevRel team isn’t just about technical experience. As Tessa Kriesel shared:

“When seeking out talent, it’s essential not only to consider an individual’s skills and experience but also their different life views and backgrounds.”

This way, not only do you create a team that is representative of the community it serves, but you also build a culture of inclusion and mutual respect.

How to Compensate Your DevRel Team Effectively

According to the 2023 Developer Relations compensation & culture report, the median gross total compensation for DevRel professionals globally sits at $175,000 USD equivalent, pre-tax, so when it comes to hiring a DevRel, be ready to invest high. Why? Because if you trim down the salaries to marketing levels, you’re more likely to attract a marketing professional, not a DevRel expert. But let’s dive deeper into why it is important to offer competitive compensation in the DevRel sector.

DevRel professionals aren’t just marketers. They are technical experts who often possess a deep understanding of software engineering. They’re skilled in bridging the gap between your product and the developer communities, ensuring your offerings are refined, understood, and well-received. More than that, they’re adept at nurturing relationships that lead to a strong community around your product.

Additionally, when transitioning from software engineering to DevRel roles, professionals often expect salary increases reflective of their growing responsibilities and the value they offer.

In the end, the compensation you offer your DevRel team should reflect both the technical and interpersonal expertise they bring to the table. 

Scaling Your DevRel Team

Now that we’ve discussed laying a good foundation and hiring for your first DevRel, the next crucial step is scaling your team strategically. This isn’t about impulsive decisions but about a well-defined plan built on the foundation of your team’s success. 

Effective DevRel team scaling isn’t just about adding headcount. Similarly to hiring your first DevRel, scaling is about determining your organization’s broader needs and how your DevRel team can adapt to meet them. Therefore, consider both internal operational scaling (supporting your team’s efficiency) and external community scaling (expanding your reach within the developer community).

Also, as your DevRel team grows, specialization becomes more important. Identify your most successful DevRel areas, whether it’s technical writing, community development, or developer advocacy. Use this knowledge to guide how you scale your team.

Scaling may also require planning for resources. This might involve tools, additional personnel, agencies, or contractors. These resources help decongest operations, freeing up your team to focus on core functions.

Finally, the key to effective scaling lies in a deep understanding of your company. This includes its products, strategic goals, and customer base. By aligning your DevRel team’s growth with these factors, you ensure it continues to be a valuable asset to your company’s success.

Enhancing Your Own Skills In DevRel

Building and scaling your DevRel team is a significant accomplishment. But as you navigate this exciting chapter, you might be wondering: how do I ensure my own skills keep pace?

Here are some practical strategies from our speakers to refine your DevRel skillset:

Develop A Continuous Learning Habit

Dedicate a specific amount of time to ongoing learning, and explore online resources and books on Developer Relations

Create A Well-Rounded Skillset

While technical knowledge is a foundation, DevRel success requires more. If you are someone with a strong technical background, focus on improving these areas:

  • Effective communication: Learn how to present complex information clearly and concisely, both verbally and in writing.
  • Relationship building: Foster strong connections with developers, industry influencers, and colleagues.
  • Stakeholder management: Effectively communicate DevRel value and progress to internal stakeholders.

Continuously Self-Assess & Make A Skill Gap Analysis

Regularly evaluate your strengths and weaknesses across different areas of your DevRel strategy such as program management, leadership, and personal development.

Maintain Your Technical Proficiency

Set aside dedicated time to stay connected to the technical aspects of your role:

  • Work on sample applications: Develop example apps or quick starts that showcase your company’s products or APIs.
  • Participate in code reviews: Engage in code reviews to stay up-to-date on coding practices and best practices.
  • Contribute bug fixes: If possible, contribute bug fixes to your company’s product to maintain a hands-on technical connection.


Building a strong DevRel team is a strategic endeavor that requires careful planning, effective hiring, and constant nurturing. As the developer relations field evolves, so does the approach to hiring in this sector. An emerging trend highlighted by Owen Parker is that Venture Capitalist (VC) firms are now looking into having their own DevRel strategies, indicating a broadening appreciation of the role that DevRel plays. As VCs create portfolios of startups, having a DevRel strategy can help these companies gain traction among developers.

Remember, your DevRel team is not just about technical expertise or marketing strategies, but about fostering connections, continually learning, and adapting to the needs of your company. Ultimately, successful future DevRel hiring will depend on recognizing these aspects and the value that a well-rounded DevRel team brings to the table.

Keen on exploring more topics on DevRel and Developer Marketing? Join our upcoming webinars featuring insights from industry leaders.

Annika Puura

By Annika Puura

Annika is an Operations Manager here at Draft. With a background in international business, finance, and education, she is fluent in Estonian, English, and Spanish. When not at work, she enjoys running, dancing, and doing HIIT workouts.