The DevOps Engineer Craze – Who You Should Really Hire

If you’re looking to hire a DevOps Engineer – you’re not alone. Many companies are in need of an IT professional to lead the charge in automation, CI/CD and operations of the software delivery lifecycle as part of their DevOps strategy. In fact, our most recent annual Upskilling: Enterprise DevOps Skills report found that 39 percent of respondents are hiring or recently hired a DevOps Engineer.

According to Glassdoor – “DevOps Engineer” is among the top ten “Best Jobs in America in 2019” and it ranked sixth in terms of most wanted professionals. In LinkedIn’s 2018 poll of top recruited jobs, DevOps Engineer was number one!

As companies look to thrive in the age of digital transformation, the high demand for DevOps Engineers and a small pool of qualified applicants has left IT leaders in a bind. Because the DevOps Engineer is a relatively new career path, there can be a lack of clarity in terms of what the DevOps Engineer position is responsible for within an organization. The most important skills and key competencies to look for when hiring are not clear-cut. There are many variables that contribute to what a company looks for and a lot depends on where the company is at along its own DevOps journey.

Even the title “DevOps Engineer” is up for debate among leading DevOps experts. However, no one can deny the value of bringing high-quality DevOps practitioners on board. To help your business determine what you need to look for in a potential DevOps Engineer, we have compiled a basic list of skills and a job description template that encompasses the most important attributes for hiring a DevOps Engineer.

You’ll want to adjust the template based on your company’s individual needs and the stage you’re at along your DevOps journey – but there are some real-life job listings as examples. Also, keep in mind that finding the perfect recipe for a DevOps Engineer can be challenging internally. What’s important to the C-Suite in terms of skills may not be as important to the IT management team. Take into consideration the desires and needs across the business – because that will matter as your IT transformation moves further along – potentially impacting more areas of the business.

The T-Shaped Professional

There is one thing that all DevOps Engineers should have in common, and that became undeniably clear in the Upskilling report. Businesses absolutely need to find and hire more T-shaped professionals — those with a disciplinary depth – in software development, for example – as well as the ability and skill to reach into other disciplines. T-shaped professionals are the future of IT – if anything the organization should at least keep this in mind while hiring.

The Skills List

Here is a list of the most frequently needed skills – many of which ranked very high in the latest Upskilling report. Again – remember that these vary based on your specific needs, so consider it mostly a spectrum of skills:

An ideal DevOps Engineer has a core competency in a specific area such as:

  • Software development or automation architecture – (again, these core competencies will depend on your individual organization’s needs)
  • Expertise in continuous integration and continuous deployment

The DevOps Engineer is considered a strong candidate if they also have most of the following skills:

  • Expertise and understanding of automation – this requirement ranks high, along with the core competencies, as most businesses list automation as part of the DevOps Engineer job description.
  • Process skills:
    • An understanding of process that leads to intelligent automation
  • A deep understanding of the software development lifecycle or process flow and analysis
  • Agile skills
  • Previous experience with source control models and processes
  • Technical skills such as:
    • Cloud computing experience
    • Analytical skills
    • Experience with commonly used software development and delivery tools
    • Coding and scripting
  • Functional Skills
    • Security has emerged as a top functional skill and will likely continue to grow in importance
    • IT operations and infrastructure knowledge
    • Application development and design
    • Development of UX/UI experiences
  • Soft skills (according to the upskilling report these are most important to business leaders – below are some of the top ‘soft’ skills for a DevOps Engineer identified in the report)
    • The ability to collaborate and cooperate
    • Intelligent problem solving
    • Excellent interpersonal skills
    • Adept at sharing and knowledge transfer
    • Flexibility and adaptability
    • Other common soft skills include: creativity, persuasion and time management

This is not an all-inclusive list of skills and there is certainly room for interpretation. Some organizations may put more of an emphasis on soft skills over functional, for example. It truly depends on your organization’s culture and needs.

The DevOps Engineer Job Description Template

Now, if you’re hiring or planning to hire a DevOps Engineer, getting the right job description out to the market is vitally important to finding the right person for the job.

Here is a template you can follow:

  1. Set the tone for what specific role the DevOps Engineer will play at your organization. This is the first thing that potential recruits will see, so you want to appeal not only to the skills but to how someone will fit culturally into your organization. Amazon does a great job in a DevOps Engineer posting on LinkedIn:

    “Are you a technical leader who wants to own critical, highly scalable systems, and spur innovation in the web services world? Are you passionate about building automation tool on AWS Cloud Infrastructure?

    Identity Services provide the core services that identify, authenticate and authorize our customers, and provide the information to hundreds of services within the Amazon service oriented architecture. We manage the customer authentication and authorization experience, and are working on new and exciting initiatives in this space.”

    Balsam Brands offers a specific description of the team that the DevOps Engineer will join:

    “Balsam Brands Digital Technology Team is seeking a DevOps Engineer with experience developing build, release, and maintain tools for deployment, monitoring and operations. We are seeking an experienced DevOps Engineer to join our TECHNOLOGY TEAM to utilize your technical expertise and experience in driving the design and automation of processes to support the Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) of web applications and services in the form of pipelines for the delivery of software across the enterprise.”

  2. Concisely describe what a DevOps Engineer is to your organization. For example, a LinkedIn posting from Trimble describes the position as someone  who will:

-“Help automate and streamline our operations and processes.
-Build and maintain tools for deployment, monitoring and operations.
-Troubleshoot and resolve issues in our dev, test and production environments.”

Amazon describes the position slightly different, with some crossover:

“As a DevOps Engineer you will be expected to drive operational excellence in everything we do. This includes creating sane and efficient processes, procedures and automation. You will own goals to consistently drive down operational load and increase efficiencies in every component of the team’s operational work. You will be developing, and leading building tools and systems for improving clients and developers experience.

  1. List the most important skills to your organization. It may be a good idea to take the skills list from above as a starting point and discuss among the key stakeholders at your organization. Decide which skills will truly make a difference.

    For example, Trimble offers specific day to day responsibilities in a LinkedIn job posting:

    “The Position Involves The Following Day To Day Responsibilities:
    -Structure and maintain the software configuration management system
    -Automate and maintain the software build process
    -Automate software deployment and monitoring
    -Automate software testing at multiple levels (component, configuration item, subsystem, system) and monitor results
    -Monitor site stability and performance and troubleshoot site issues
    -Scale infrastructure to meet rapidly increasing demand
    -Collaborate with developers to bring new features and services into production
    -Provide support to development teams that use the automated infrastructure
    -Develop and improve operational practices and procedures”

  2. Be transparent regarding the skills that will be most beneficial to your organization and list what the preferred candidate would have in their arsenal (what will make up the strongest candidate):

    -Preferred education shows up here
    -Automation experience is common under preferred skills
    -Knowledge of specific workflow and process tools
    -Highlight the importance of collaboration

Each of these sections make up the core of a good DevOps Engineer job description. Your DevOps Engineer job description will really depend on what your organization needs. There’s no black and white answer – but there are some common skills and job requirements are becoming more consistent among companies hiring a DevOps Engineer.

Although DevOps is driving more value within organizations as organizations work to accelerate software delivery while delivering quality solutions at scale, we also can’t forget how DevOps processes transform culture. Your DevOps Engineer plays an essential role in all of this, so it is important to create a job posting that brings in the right candidate and it’s just as important that they fit in culturally as they do technically.

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