Hiring Site Reliability Engineers is challenging. All the data points to this as a high-demand, low-supply field. Most professionals are passive and aren’t actively looking for a new opportunity. In this situation, to hire the best candidates you need a new approach to recruiting that should align with a DevOps culture. If you’re going to get the best people, they need to feel confident that your company represents the tenets of DevOps.
Building your team should parallel building your culture. If these two don’t work in concert, you could miss out on talent and future growth and success for the organization.
Traditional Hiring Methods Don’t Work for DevOps/SREs
SREs are in short supply because it’s a highly specialized career. It requires many years of experience and honing of hard and soft skills to rank at the top. If those are the people you are targeting, traditional hiring methods don’t work.
It’s not like hiring for other senior-level positions in disciplines such as marketing, finance, or operations. Here’s why.
Help wanted ads won’t get their attention.
The typical path companies take to hiring is to place ads on job boards and wait for the resumes to roll in. This tactic won’t yield great candidates because the people you want aren’t actively searching these for opportunities. What you will get are people that don’t have the experience or expertise you desire. It will waste your time and theirs.
Internal recruiters may need support.
Your internal recruiting team is a great asset, and they have lots of knowledge about hiring. While they know how to build relationships and network, it can be more difficult in a niche, highly technical role such as those in DevOps. To provide internal recruiters support, ensuring they have rapport with external recruiters that only work in the space offers a way for strategic collaboration on these hard-to-fill positions.
Technical recruiters still have a knowledge gap.
Many firms focus on IT-related jobs, but the DevOps/SRE market is even more specialized. It’s a relatively new field that continues to grow and evolve. While these folks may have some foundational language, they may not adequately represent your brand and interests. You get one shot for a first impression and to begin cultivating that relationship. If the technical recruiter falls flat, the SRE may never consider your company again.
Internal referrals aren’t likely either.
Internal referrals are a great way to source quality applicants. Some companies even offer employees compensation if the person they recommend accepts a position. While that can be an effective program, since there is a low supply, this should be a supplementary option rather than a primary one.
These methods can yield some results but won’t solve the constant challenge of hiring SREs. By shifting some of these traditional recruiting pursuits, you can ensure better results.
5 Ways to Debug Your Hiring Process
Whether your organization is young and growing or more mature, you can hire successfully for SRE positions. You need a new strategy that should include the following actions. By implementing these practices, you'll be on your way to attracting the right talent.
1. Get specific on defining the roles you need.
They shouldn’t be general; they need to be granular and defined by actual DevOps/SRE experts, not HR. Identify your most urgent needs first and go from there.
2. Define the goals for the role(s) and how they align with business objectives.
This framework will be helpful in the interview process because an accomplished SRE will ask these questions. They are critical for growing your DevOps culture as well. While there is shared responsibility and collaboration in DevOps, each individual still has their core responsibilities.
3. Ensure you have a foundation for a DevOps culture.
If you don’t have your “culture” in order, your recruiting pursuits won’t go far because candidates will come in with expectations and questions. If you can’t meet or answer them, they may see it as a red flag. All the work you did to get them in the door will be for naught.
4. Build an ideal candidate that exemplifies hard and soft skills.
Don’t focus only on hard skills. Soft skills are essential to the DevOps world. Finding the balance in these matters. For example, an exceptional SRE may not have specific experience with the automation tools you use. Still, if they have the background, motivation, and willingness to learn, that means much more.
5. Work with a specialty recruitment firm specializing in SREs that understands the DevOps culture.
The best thing you can do to set up your company for success in hiring and operating a top-notch DevOps operation is to work with experts. The relationships these recruiters have with those in the field and their intimate knowledge of it are invaluable to finding excellent candidates. Such a firm will invest time and care into learning what you need and bringing you people that match that.
Recruit Smarter and Hire the Best Fit
Recruiting in this field is unique and like no other technical role. High demand and low supply complicate it even further, so you need to be creative about how you recruit rather than relying on old tactics.
Rethinking your strategy and debugging with these tips will enable your company to recruit smarter and hire the best fit.