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Why hiring DevOps engineers is so difficult

September 11, 2019

If you’re trying to stay competitive while building and scaling your code today, you’ve probably started thinking about hiring a DevOps team and growing your DevOps capabilities internally. However, as this 2016 report from Indeed shows, DevOps Engineers are one of the hardest tech jobs to hire for. Your journey may not be easy but doing it right can exponentially increase your company’s productivity. Let’s understand what lies beneath this new buzzword so you can hire the best team from the start.

DevOps need to know how to code

Lots of DevOps engineers today have backgrounds in system administration and operation who cannot code or who don’t understand multi-cloud hybrid infrastructure and systems. When most code started being hosted on the cloud, a lot of these sysadmin and operator roles were eaten up. Automation became king, meaning that skills that sysadmins are not typically trained for, like scripting, were now necessary. Next time a sysadmin CV comes in, make sure you ask about their ability to code and work with the cloud.

DevOps can seem at odds with managed services

The cloud and managed services, like AWS, brought about another complexity in hiring the right person. As TechCrunch writes in their dramatically titled article “Managed services killed DevOps”

Today, developers are increasingly turning to managed services for toolsets and infrastructure requirements — tasks traditionally managed by DevOps teams.

So if those traditional tasks are gone, what should you look for? Here’s more from TechCrunch:

The DevOps role itself will live on in a different state, though — largely to manage governance issues like centralized security and cost management, because, while the cloud provides flexibility for instantly provisioning new software and tools on demand, the flip side is you have to be careful with it — otherwise you can unintentionally provision more than you need, and you’ll end up spending a fortune.

These complications with the cloud only get worse as companies start using multiple providers for multiple different products. In fact this is the very reason we built Dops to help CTOs and DevOps engineers manage and scale their technology effortlessly.

Brush up on your knowledge of upcoming services that you might need and put them in your job description. This will help the right DevOps engineers find you more easily, saving you a lot of headache when you’re integrating them into your teams.

DevOps is as much about attitude as technical skills

We’re all familiar with the cranky IT guy that refuses to change anything in case something breaks. DevOps is not about that at all. It’s a shift in attitude from one of shielding against developers mistakes to one of enabling developers to build safely. Look for engineers who are excited about change. They should be able to understand the business requirements, and swiftly create automations to prevent crashes and downtime.

Hire for your needs not for industry buzz

Too often, companies go out hunting for a role because it’s what everyone says they should hire. Your need for a DevOps engineer should arise from clear and specific challenges that your company is facing, and not from the pressure to check off a “DevOps” checkbox.

Think of the technologies you are using and how important automating integration and deployment is for you right now. What are the common complaints from your dev team that are also hindering your business’s growth? If you can find someone to help you solve these issues, but they don’t identify as a DevOps engineer—they’re probably worth hiring anyway!

Define DevOps clearly and communicate that definition

There are far too many debates about what DevOps means. Is it a role or a culture? Where does it belong in a companies org chart? When should companies adopt it? The reality is that there will probably never be one single clear definition of what DevOps is and how it could work for all companies.

Instead, you should aim to understand your company’s specific situation and tailor the broad DevOps tools and principles to suit you best. Companies like Netflix have created a product that generates the majority of the world’s internet traffic with only 70 DevOps engineers.

Only once you and your team fully understand what DevOps means to you, can you then hire the ideal candidate.

In conclusion

DevOps is becoming increasingly more common in companies and we don’t see this changing any time soon. Companies and startups of all sizes can benefit from building a great DevOps teams or using DevOps automation tools. You will see improvements across the board, ranging from reduced stress on developers, better product uptime, and increased code scalability.