Hiring DevOps Engineers? Here’s How to Identify Your Team’s Needs
Across thousands of growing organizations, DevOps professionals are the engineer du jour when it comes to hiring. Hiring DevOps engineers typically means finding a candidate from either an operations and infrastructure background or someone from a software engineering and development background, and sprinkling in key skills related to continuous integration, configuration management, continuous delivery/deployment and cloud infrastructure.
In the ideal world, the two backgrounds will meet somewhere in the middle to form Dev and Ops, but in most cases, there is a lean toward one side or the other. Every company is different and there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong here. It all depends on your infrastructure, tech stack, other team members’ skills and the individual goals you hope to achieve by hiring this individual. Bearing that in mind, here’s how you can take stock of your own team, decide where your greatest DevOps hiring needs lie, and assess quality candidates to fill your roles.
Filling the Gaps
Start by identifying the strengths of your existing team. Do you already have some amazing software engineers, but lack infrastructure know-how? Aim to close these gaps. You may have been given the budget to hire for DevOps, but you don’t have to spend weeks searching for the best software engineer who happens to use Docker and Kubernetes just because they’re the trendy technologies. Find the person who will provide the most value in your environment and go from there.
Many teams will automatically start searching for a full-time permanent employee, but there are other ways to fill the gaps. If you’re aiming to design, implement and build a new DevOps environment, one option is to find a senior person who has done this a number of times already. Then, by bringing on a junior full-time hire in parallel, you’ll be able to retain the external contractor knowledge by having them work alongside the junior hire. Contractors can be expensive, but the knowledge they bring can be invaluable, especially if the work can be completed over a shorter time frame.
CTRL F is Not the Solution
Just because someone’s profile matches a list of keywords, doesn’t mean they’re relevant for the role. Understanding of DevOps and CI/CD-related processes should be valued higher than familiarity with specific tools. Does your candidate understand the concept of continuous integration, or continuous delivery? That’s more important than asking whether your candidate uses Jenkins versus Bamboo versus TeamCity and so on. Are they obsessed with increasing efficiency, saving time, automating manual processes and constantly searching for flaws in the system? They might be the person you were looking for, but you missed them because you didn’t see the word “Puppet” on the resume.
Hiring Manager & Talent Collaboration
The more hiring managers and recruiters work together, the better. Start by setting up an initial call to talk through the requirement. What are the need-to-haves for the job description? What does an ideal candidate look like? Is industry-specific experience important?
Next, hammer out the interview process. Decide on how many interview rounds, assemble the interview panel, and assign areas for each interviewer to address. Finally, set some timelines around getting candidates on site, and after taking stock of interview availability, make some projections for when the role will be filled.
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Drop the Ego
You may have an amazing company and product, but you also have some hot competition. It’s a candidate’s market, so in addition to selling your opportunities, you need to maintain a reputation as a great place to work and interview. A poor hiring process, such as interviewing without giving feedback, can result in a serious ripple effect. The DevOps community in your area may be quite small, and a sour review on Glassdoor could torpedo future recruiting efforts.
A Smooth Process Is a Successful One
“Let’s get every team member to do a one-hour interview with the new DevOps person!” Yikes. Two or three stages should be sufficient. We’ve experienced the most success with one phone screen followed by a few in-person meetings. During the in-person interview, spend a morning or afternoon allowing the candidate to meet the relevant leaders and senior members of their direct team. If the thumbs are up, make the offer and don’t wait around. A good candidate will usually have numerous offers on the table at the same time.
If all goes well, you should be inviting your shiny new employee or contractor into the office in the next few weeks. How do you go about identifying DevOps needs and assessing for good candidates? Let us know in the comments!