How to hire the right DevOps talent

How to hire the right DevOps talent

The annual base salary for a junior DevOps engineer now tops $100,000/year.

How to hire the right DevOps talent
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DevOps culture is quickly gaining ground, and demand for top-notch DevOps talent is greater than ever at companies all over the world. With the annual base salary for a junior DevOps engineer now topping $100,000, IT professionals are hurrying to make the transition into DevOps.

But how do you choose the right candidate to fill your DevOps role?


Most teams are looking for candidates with a background in operations and infrastructure, software engineering, or development. This is in conjunction with skills that relate to configuration management, continuous integration, and deployment (CI/CD), as well as cloud infrastructure. Knowledge of container orchestration is also in high demand.

In a perfect world, the two backgrounds would meet somewhere in the middle to form Dev and Ops, but in most cases, candidates lean toward one side or the other. Yet they must possess the skills necessary to understand the needs of their counterparts to work effectively as a team to achieve continuous delivery and deployment. Since every company is different, there is no single right or wrong since so much depends on a company’s tech stack and infrastructure, as well as the goals and the skills of other team members. So how do you focus your search?

Decide on the background

Begin by assessing the strength of your current team. Do you have rock-star software engineers but lack infrastructure knowledge? Focus on closing the skill gaps. Just because you have the budget to hire a DevOps engineer doesn’t mean you should spend weeks, or even months, trying to find the best software engineer who also happens to use Kubernetes and Docker because they are currently the trend. Instead, look for someone who will provide the most value in your environment, and see how things go from there.

There is no “Ctrl + F” solution

Instead of concentrating on specific tools, concentrate on a candidate's understanding of DevOps and CI/CD-related processes. You'll be better off with someone who understands methodologies over tools. It is more important to ensure that candidates comprehend the concept of CI/CD than to ask if they prefer Jenkins, Bamboo, or TeamCity. Don’t get too caught up in the exact toolchain—rather, focus on problem-solving skills and the ability to increase efficiency, save time, and automate manual processes. You don't want to miss out on the right candidate just because the word “Puppet” was not on their resume.

Check your ego

As mentioned above, DevOps is a rapidly growing field, and DevOps engineers are in hot demand. That means candidates have great buying power. You may have an amazing company or product, but hiring top talent is no longer as simple as putting up a “Help Wanted” sign and waiting for top-quality applicants to rush in. I'm not suggesting that maintaining a reputation a great place to work is unimportant, but in today's environment, you need to make an effort to sell your position. Flaws or glitches in the hiring process, such as abruptly canceling interviews or not offering feedback after interviews, can lead to negative reviews spreading across the industry. Remember, it takes just a couple of minutes to leave a negative review on Glassdoor.

Contractor or permanent employee?

Most recruiters and hiring managers immediately start searching for a full-time employee, even though they may have other options. If you’re looking to design, build, and implement a new DevOps environment, why not hire a senior person who has done this in the past? Consider hiring a senior contractor, along with a junior full-time hire. That way, you can tap the knowledge and experience of the contractor by having them work with the junior employee. Contractors can be expensive, but they bring invaluable knowledge—especially if the work can be done within a short timeframe.

Cultivate from within

With so many companies competing for talent, it is difficult to find the right DevOps engineer. Not only will you need to pay top dollar to hire this person, but you must also consider that the search can take several months. However, since few companies are lucky enough to find the ideal DevOps engineer, consider searching for a candidate internally. You might be surprised at the talent you can cultivate from within your own organization.


About the author

Stanislav Ivaschenko - Stanislav Ivaschenko is a certified AWS solutions architect with more than ten years of professional experience in building, delivering, supporting and optimizing a broad range of software applications. From bare metal to the cloud, from monolith architecture to microservices his expertise and experience help to meet business needs for startups, mid-sized companies and large enterprises. He has experienced a large number of DevOps and infrastructure related tools, services and management... more about Stanislav Ivaschenko