6 Common Mistakes Companies Hiring SREs Make
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6 Common Mistakes Companies Hiring SREs Make

Cloud, SRE, Staffing tips
May 5, 2021
Written by Firas Sozan
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3 minute read
Written by Firas Sozan
Find me on
3 minute read

Companies hiring Site Reliability Engineers (SREs) seek exceptional talent with considerable experience, but they often rush to make decisions. When businesses recognize the need to create an SRE team or add to it, choices made in haste to ramp up and scale lead to hiring mistakes. Making a bad hiring decision wastes time, money, and resources. It’s critical for employers to avoid these mistakes so that the organization and its employees find success.

With years of experience in the SRE recruitment field, our experts share how to avoid hiring plunders.

High Demand Shouldn’t Force Rash Decisions

The demand for SREs is high, and the pandemic had little impact on hiring increases in the field. While the origins of SREs are with technology companies, a diverse group of companies in nontraditional industries wants to build an SRE team. 

At the end of January 2021, a simple search on LinkedIn for SRE jobs indicated almost 70,000 open roles! That suggests that competition for great talent is fierce. It’s a candidate-driven field, allowing professionals to be choosy. Anyone looking for SREs knows this, and 58 percent of tech leaders confirm it’s a challenge. In any demand-supply imbalance, it’s easy to feel as though you should take whoever is available. 

Before you scrape the bottom of the barrel, take a moment to assess the effect on your business. If you hire someone who has some basic skills and knows about the role of SRE, will that help you achieve your goals? Would that person bring value?

As you ponder those questions and the journey ahead for your company, consider if you could be making mistakes in hiring SREs.


6 Mistakes for Companies Hiring SREs to Avoid

If you want to find and hire high-performing SREs strategically, it could be a long process. Before you start, take a deep dive into these possible missteps in hiring SREs.

1. Focusing too much on hard skills and not enough on soft skills

The best SREs are a hybrid of both and have diverse qualities. They can program, have automation skills, and have operational acumen on the technical side. They also demonstrate curiosity, adaptability, collaborative natures, and are excellent communicators. A technically proficient SRE can have an immediate impact but may falter when it comes to embracing change.

2. Being very narrow in your specific criteria related to tools

There are numerous SRE/DevOps tools and platforms that companies use. Omitting someone because they don’t have experience with that particular system could be a huge oversight. Hire based on skill sets, DevOps expertise, work experience, knowledge of CI/CD processes, and cultural fit. Technology platforms are easily learnable. The other aspects aren’t.

3. Not considering a culture fit

Skills and experience are great, but not every candidate will fit a company’s culture. Companies with a strong DevOps culture that permeates through the entire company aren’t afraid to fail and learn from it. Not everyone can thrive in this type of culture, so it’s essential to make it part of the hiring process.

4. Considering only local candidates

Many top SREs are in tech-focused regions, such as Silicon Valley, Seattle, and NYC, but others choose to live in less urban areas. Most companies are still in a remote work model because of the pandemic. Some may never go back to a full-time office environment. There is an opportunity to find talented SREs outside of your metro area and either allow for the role to be completely remote or offer relocation assistance.

5. Assuming that money is the best incentive

Salary is a critical aspect of a job but it’s far from the only one. SREs command high salaries—rightfully so—but you can expect that a candidate will simply say yes because of the zeroes on the paycheck. SREs are looking for benefits, a healthy culture, responsibility, autonomy, a respected team, and the opportunity to grow. Putting all your eggs in the money basket isn’t a sustainable recruitment strategy.

6. Only looking at those that apply to your job ad

Internal HR or recruiters treat SRE recruiting like any other position and wait for resumes to hit their inbox. Since most SREs are passive candidates, the quality of these likely won’t be of the highest, wasting time and money. Hiring SREs is a more complex process, one that requires specific expertise.

The Biggest Mistake Is Going It Alone

In most cases, the internal recruitment of SREs fails. The role is extremely technical, so general HR folks don’t know what to look for, and hiring managers don’t have the capacity. Going it alone leaves positions unfilled and projects stalled.

Instead, companies should engage with specialized recruiters with deep industry knowledge and relationships with SREs at the top of their game. That’s the approach of Harrison Clarke. If you want to learn more about the ecosystem of SRE hiring, contact us today to discuss our solutions.

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