The Rocky Road of DevOps Hiring & How to Navigate It

Several factors are conspiring to make finding DevOps talent quite a challenge.  Hiring managers face off-the-charts competition for anyone with relevant experience. Then there is the general lack of agreement over what responsibilities specific DevOps roles include. And adding to the confusion, many DevOps experts don’t actually consider their field ‘DevOps’.

‘DevOps engineer’ is one of the top 10 notable tech roles in demand for 2019, according to recruiting site Glassdoor. The median base salary is $106,000, and DevOps engineers are the sixth most-wanted professionals. According to the DevOps Institute's 2019 Upskilling: Enterprise DevOps Skills Report, a survey of 1,600 people, the demand for DevOps professionals is very strong: 43% of respondent organisations are applying DevOps for one or multiple projects, 19% are applying DevOps across their enterprise, and 15% plan to incorporate DevOps within the next year or are in the initial stages now.

So what can you do to find and attract the DevOps talent you need? We suggest you start by navigating the obstacles carefully…

Job-role confusion

DevOps has become an umbrella term that can mean many things—technology transformation manager, Linux administrator, reliability engineer, etc. It is also akin to more general terms such as ‘data science’, so there is a lack of clarity around what organisations mean when they say they are looking for DevOps professionals.

Both the organization and the candidate have to be sure that they are talking about the same concepts when using generic terminology like DevOps, or it can lead to confusion, which can significantly delay hiring or lead to bad hires.

Underwhelming qualifications

Some individuals market themselves as DevOps engineers, but don’t have the skills and capabilities that hiring organisations need. The DevOps Institute survey asked respondents whether a skills matrix existed within their organisations. Some 32% said that they don’t have a good list of DevOps skills—or have no list at all. Another 27% said they continually update their existing DevOps skills matrix, and 21% have a documented list of key skills when hiring.

The DevOps title is also fairly new, so people may not have a specific DevOps title on their résumé, but may have the right skills.

What to look for

The top DevOps roles include DevOps engineer, cloud DevOps analyst, DevOps administrator, DevOps lead, and software engineer. Those titles will be more commonly found among younger professionals who may have started their career in a DevOps job, however there will be people who have been in the market longer may very well be doing similar jobs.

The hardest position to fill is the traditional DevOps role—someone who can bridge the gap between IT/systems administration and development/engineering, and who can help create and maintain a smooth process from developing to releasing code.

Craft a winning tech job description

Job descriptions have the power to attract or repel good talent.  We suggest that you avoid the temptation to use buzzwords such as: rock star, ‘not just a job’, innovative, and fast-paced, as these are generic fillers that usually turn-off candidates. Better terms to include are words such as: autonomy, ownership and modernisation.

Also, job descriptions should communicate to someone why they should take job, what's in it for them, and what their life is going to be like once they do.

A job description should tell a potential employee:

  • Basic requirements

  • The types of projects they will be working on

  • What they will learn

  • How they will interact with other employees

  • The level of exposure they will have to clients

Where to recruit for DevOps positions

The DevOps Institute survey found that companies are looking internally to find candidates because they feel that it's easier to develop and train internal employees for DevOps positions than it is to hire externally.

However, many IT professionals have worked in silos for many years, and a shift to DevOps is difficult for them. Suddenly they must collaborate, share knowledge, expand their skills, learn quickly and be creative… which is all unnatural for people that have worked in silos for a long time.

Another approach includes using tech recruitment firms. A good tech recruitment firm will likely already have a network of DevOps experts from which they can look for a match for your role.  Plus they will be able to sell your organisation to potential candidates while using their experience to make sure it is a great match for both parties. Ideally, find a tech recruiter that is highly specialised so that they can find candidates with the exact skills you need.

All in all, the world of technology is constantly changing, and with it comes a constantly evolving workforce.  DevOps may indeed be a catch-all term, but with some careful navigating, companies can find the talent they need within this murky pool, and come out on top.

About Oliver Parks

Oliver Parks Consulting offers search-based recruitment solutions to the technology sector, specialising in the ERP, CRM, CMS, ECM, BI and Open Source Technology spaces. The firm’s multilingual consultants operate in narrowly-defined niche market segments, enabling them to gain extensive knowledge of the people and companies operating in each technology.  Oliver Parks has a proven track-record with more than 100,000 candidates worldwide and more than 300 clients globally.