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How to Hire the DevOps You Need

How to Hire the DevOps You Need

No one knows--or, if they do, those few aren't talking.

DevOps is way too young and still actively fermenting for anyone to have certain knowledge of the One True Way to recruit. What we can do at this point is highlight a few of the puzzle pieces that seem most certain, so you can at least figure out where you fit in:

Hot Market

The market for DevOps is hot. Not "data scientist"-level hot, but certainly comfortably warm. New York City tech recruiter Workbridge Associates "has 20-30 jobs for DevOps professionals open at any given time and can immediately line up 10-15 interviews for an experienced DevOps engineer".

That's the word from Tim Lockwood, lead recruiter at Workbridge. At the same time, he emphasized to reporter Esther Shein that "... companies have different interpretations of what DevOps is ...". What's the remedy for that?

  • Understand your own expectations clearly;
  • "Look for soft skills". As Shein hints, creative freethinkers "... who get along well with others" will make a success of your DevOps position even though it differs from they last one they held;
  • Keep it real: verify the candidates' tech chops with specific questions representative of your computing environment;
  • Hire attitude, or, perhaps better said, look for higher-order talents. Recruiters are accustomed to thinking in terms of skills such as "Python programming" or "network maintenance". An example of a higher-order skill is understanding and commitment to the CAMS quadrivium of culture, automation, measurement, and sharing. While human-resources checklists don't capture these higher-order skills, you need to look for them in hiring; and
  • Therefore, you shouldn't confine yourself to conventional recruiting modes. Shein gives examples, including Hacker News, of locales where you might contact the prospects you seek.

The most important face-to-face element I know to success in recruiting DevOps is to practice from the first encounter the radical transparency you seek in your DevOps team members. Share your challenges with a candidate: tell her it's tough to locate someone who fulfills the precise expectations you have, and it's even harder to assess résumés for soft skills such as diligence, co-operation, and commitment. With these words, the interview becomes the ideal opportunity for the candidate to demonstrate that she hears and understands your business goals, and can relate them to her own experience. That's exactly what you need from your DevOps on a daily basis: the ability to apply technical background and expertise to concrete business situations. When you are sufficiently clear about expectations this way, candidates will largely sort themselves out, and make your choices easier.

One final tip: be open to candidates outside the mainstream. Tech culture has done a lot to earn its reputation for age discrimination, for instance, even though techs with enough career depth to have worked on both the operations and development side are just the ones you want. When you come across a candidate with the right combination of automation technique and customer-oriented attitude, but whose skin is too dark, diploma too little prestigious, or age too high to be "the right fit" for other organizations, just be grateful in your own thoughts and make an offer.

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