Recruiting the right talent for your company is no small task, and it’s certainly never finished. Make it a technical job like engineer or software developer and add a buzzword like “DevOps” and you’re well on your way to feeling overwhelmed.
The good news is that DevOps is here to stay, as companies make the monumental shift away from traditional software programming and rely increasingly on cloud technologies. If the goal is to stay relevant in an ever-shifting market that combines high expectations and demands from customers with razor-edge competition, then being agile and responsive is necessary. And a DevOps culture – one that enables and enhances the relationships between developers and operational IT folks – is the best way to ensure this working environment.
Companies large and small are looking to deploy DevOps practices, so how do you ensure you’re recruiting the best talent when hiring for a DevOps position? Here is some help on sifting through resumes to identify top DevOps talent.
(This article is part of our DevOps Guide. Use the right-hand menu to navigate.)
Identifying DevOps jobs
There is no single “DevOps” job or career. Instead, DevOps is a catch-all term that encompasses tech administrators, engineers and programmers, security experts, and more, all in a package chock-full of soft skills, too. Gone are the days of a single programmer working all night long to build a new application. Instead, programmers have to work with all sorts of people – business leaders, project managers, product specialists, and even the end users – to develop and stay up to date in order to stay competitive.
DevOps is on the rise. In 2018, DevOps roles were the most heavily recruited technology jobs on LinkedIn, the leading professional social media network. Of course, DevOps isn’t a single job or opportunity, but more of an approach that can be applied to a range of techy jobs and career paths.
Identifying best skills on a DevOps resume
One skill in particular doesn’t make or break a DevOps engineer. Instead, a successful DevOps candidate will offer a variety of hard and soft skills that embrace a DevOps approach. DevOps roles increasingly interface not only with tech folk, but with non-tech positions as well, to align technology with business needs, so soft skills are being encouraged alongside hard, technical skills.
Here are the best skills to look for:
- Linux server administration experience. Because most DevOps teams use Linux in their tech stack, an ideal candidate will have a few years’ experience in Linux itself. Of course, some candidates may have Windows or other server admin experience, looking to switch to Linux via certification exams, but in this case, hands-on experience really is best. Determining a candidate’s experience level can be tricky, but prepare early by brainstorming with your existing team to develop a strong question or two around filesystem permissions, database server configuration, and other major issues in production workloads. You could ask candidates about fixing 503 errors in newly-deployed production code or how to prevent increased latency when migrating database workloads to new servers.
- Development experience. A good DevOps advocate need not have been a dedicated programmer or developer, but some basic knowledge can go far to minimize the differences between traditional developers and sysadmins. Look for a candidate who knows where PHP code lives, what it looks like, and who’s responsible for it. Likewise, a candidate who understands the filesystem can smooth communications in a DevOps environment.
- Communication skills. Bridging gaps and improving the relationship between Dev and Ops folks are the purposes of DevOps. Without intrapersonal communication, both with tech and non-tech folk, you’ll fail. Ideal candidates have strong tech and non-tech communication skills, both verbally and written.
- Cloud-hosting experience. Cloud technology is in its infancy and it will likely take up even more space for all companies in the coming years. A top DevOps hire will understand the platforms you deploy – particularly big ones like AWS, Google, and Microsoft. Look for a candidate who has fundamental understanding of how clouds host apps. At a higher level, you can seek talent with a certification in the specific clouds you’re already using, so the learning curve can be tailored to your company and less on the tech involved.
- Security standards experience. Software development in DevOps environments moves quickly, so you don’t have time to push security off till “later” – it must be baked into every release, right from the get-go. Look for candidates who are familiar with specific data security standards like PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), PII (Personally Identifiable Information), and FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standards).
- Automation experience. At the heart of DevOps is continuous integration, something that automation can support in spades. You’ll want a candidate who can understand and implement automation, but who also knows that automation is not a be-all-end-all, but rather a delicate balance specific to your business needs. Determining that balance will require a holistic approach to both the technology available but, more so, to the long-term business goals that the technology is meant to address.
- Specific certifications. Certifications aren’t necessary for DevOps roles, but they can help make up for experience gaps or show expert knowledge in a topic. Candidates can certify in specific languages and frameworks like Java, Apache, Python, among many others, or they can focus on product-specific certs like ITIL v3, AWS, Google, and Microsoft cloud services, or develop-related areas like Certified ScrumMaster or Red Hay System Administrator. PMP certifications (like Project Management Professionals) are also crossing into DevOps positions.
- Ability to make game-time decisions. The world of DevOps is continuous and agile – and non-stop! A DevOps specialist must have the ability (and the authority) to make quick decisions based on the relevant and available information at that time. Move too fast and you’ll break things, we promise, but move too slow and you may just lose your competitive edge.
When updating your resume or looking for the best hire, look for candidates who can link their DevOps approach to a positive business impact, such as how DevOps practices helped reduce specific costs or scale up workloads quickly to improve user experience. Also, a DevOps employee is a well-rounded employee: highlight softer skills like your curiosity, your leadership, or your ability to train and help others around you.