What is a Developer Advocate?

What is a Developer Advocate?
Developer Advocates often go by 'avocados'. Photo by Dirk Ribbler / Unsplash

You may have seen Developer Advocates popping up all over the tech world. It seems like every developer-focused company has open roles right now.

But what exactly is a Developer Advocate, and why are they in such high demand?

What does a Developer Advocate do?

For Karl Hughes, the goal of Developer Advocates is to "help software developers be successful with their particular technology."

To get a feel for what Developer Advocates do, imagine a user asks a question on StackOverflow about your product.

A Developer Advocate may take this opportunity to:

  • Help solve the problem using their expertise in your product/technology
  • Communicate and build a relationship with the user who asked the question
  • Feedback on any feature/requests issues that the product team should know

As a bonus, helping this user may also increase awareness of your product among other users.

Since the responsibilities are defined more by the goal than activities, the job tends to have variety. Wassim Chegham explains it perfectly with their graphic on Developer Advocate Iceberg.

The Developer Advocate Iceberg by Wassim Chegham

What makes a great Developer Advocate

Developers Advocates are voracious learners who love to share their knowledge with others.

Developer Advocates often come from a technical background or are comfortable solving developer users' issues. You might see requirements like "Experience working in a software engineering team."

Developer Advocates are also confident communicators across different mediums, for example, conferences, videos, blog articles, and  Slack/Discord.

The variety of in-demand skills required is one of the reasons it's so hard for companies to hire Developer Advocates.

How do you become a Developer Advocate?

...if you're working at a developer-focused company

In this case, you're halfway there because you can start doing things that Developer Advocates do. Suppose your company has an API or developers use the product. In that case, you may be able to begin voluntarily helping out with events, blog posts, and answering community questions. You should also get to know the Developer Advocate team, if there is one. Since it's so hard to hire Developer Advocates, I'm sure a position could open up quickly!

...if your company isn't developer-focused

The most significant thing you can do is start demonstrating your excellent skills in engaging with developers. Writing articles, building up a developer following on Twitter, attending events, and recording YouTube videos are great ways to demonstrate your communication skills and passion. In addition, try to get to know other Developer Advocates/DevRel and help them with their content and events. Building up this network will open up so many doors.

Rizèl Scarlett has collated handy advice for those seeking to become Developer Advocates here.

Developer Advocates to follow

Here are some brilliant Developer Advocates to follow:

Other Developer Advocate Resources

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