"You're not just gaining real-world experience, you also gain a tangible product that you can showcase for employers," he says. "Your name will appear on the working group list for the most recent iterations of open source technology, for products that any IT professional will instantly recognize."
Not only that, Brosseau says, but working on open source projects demonstrates a candidate's ability to collaborate, work well with a team, and highlight their leadership skills and ability to work independently.
"If a candidate came to me and said, 'I was let go six months ago, but I've thrown myself into these kinds of projects, built up my skills and helped the community in the process,' I'd have a sense that they were motivated, driven and altruistic," Cava says. "And that's the kind of person I'd want to hire."
Sharon Florentine covers IT careers and data center topics for CIO.com. Follow Sharon on Twitter @MyShar0na. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook.
Read more about careers in CIO's Careers Drilldown.