Hiring for DevOps/SREs: Expectation vs. Reality

Hiring for DevOps/SREs: Expectation vs. Reality

Staffing tips
February 18, 2021
Written by Firas Sozan
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3 minute read
Written by Firas Sozan
Find me on
3 minute read

Hiring for any role has an expectation and a reality. Recruiting for DevOps professionals and site reliability engineers (SREs) is no different. Companies just beginning to build their teams and those adding to existing ones often deal with the same pitfalls, misconceptions, and considerations. To ensure your DevOps hiring practices deliver value in your reality, you should dissect all those elements.

Avoid These Pitfalls in DevOps Hiring

Missteps in hiring often occur, but they aren’t inevitable. There are tactics you can use to avoid the pitfalls that can derail your recruiting efforts.

First, you should define the DevOps roles you need based on your specific requirements. Creating a general job description won’t help you find the best candidates. There are certainly hard and soft skills necessary for these positions, but specificity provides job seekers with a clearer picture of your expectations. The more precise you are in outlining the role, the less likely you are to waste time on applicants who don’t match your needs.

Second, to assist with role definitions, outline your use cases for your DevOps team. Use cases are essential in any DevOps culture. They identify real-world scenarios and gaps. Doing this requires collaboration across the enterprise, and it should align with your organization’s goals and objectives. It could be automation, security, reliability, testing, or any other core DevOps responsibility. 

Third, you need to temper your expectations around active job seekers. Even though the current environment in the U.S. is seeing an economic downturn and rising unemployment, due mostly to COVID-19, it doesn’t mean DevOps roles fit into this picture. According to LinkedIn, DevOps engineers are No. 3 in demand when it comes to remote jobs. Keep this in mind as you expand your team.

Understand DevOps Hiring Misconceptions

Along with pitfalls, misconceptions also impact expectations versus reality in DevOps hiring. One of the biggest misconceptions in DevOps is that it’s “one” role. It’s not. Rather, it’s a methodology. It encompasses a variety of jobs that focus on development and operations. 

Along with SREs, there are developers, release managers, automation specialists, security engineers, and others. Having a DevOps culture in place ensures this won't sideline your organization.

Another major misconception is that you’ll find the “perfect” candidate. They don’t exist, so you can’t expect that a candidate will check every box. There are fundamental skills and a level of experience that a candidate should have, but don’t get caught up in chasing perfection. Instead, make sure the person has a good background, a commitment to DevOps principles, and a willingness to learn. Give someone the opportunity to upskill through training and education. 

Also, remember that technical skills are only part of the package. Finding an applicant who is a whiz with automation tools and knows various programming languages is wonderful, but don’t overlook soft skills. 

The most technically apt professional isn’t always the best choice. They should also display soft skills that matter, such as being a strong communicator, an eager collaborator, and empathetic. For a long-term match, your top candidates should have hard AND soft skills.

DevOps Hiring Considerations

After avoiding the pitfalls and addressing the misconceptions, it’s time to look at considerations for your role. Here are some questions to ask as you chart your recruiting course:

  • What are your highest-priority needs? You may not be able to hire multiple people right now, so start with what’s urgent. 
  • What are the goals of your DevOps team? Strategically hire to reach them based on current gaps. 
  • What traits should the candidate have to fit your culture? Answering this helps you identify the most important hard and soft skills. 

After reviewing these questions, it’s time to devise a plan for recruiting and attracting the right talent.

Aligning Your DevOps Hiring Reality with Your Expectations

Looking at the pitfalls, misconceptions, and considerations, you can see why expectations and reality might not align. By addressing those before you hire, you’re more likely to make the best decision. That begins with a strategy for recruiting, which includes engaging with an agency that focuses only on DevOps roles.

One of the biggest benefits of this process is avoiding turnover, which costs U.S. businesses a trillion dollars each year. The specific cost to an organization typically ranges from one-half to two times the role’s annual salary. Turnover costs include the cost of hiring, onboarding, training, learning, and development in addition to the cost of time.

SREs in New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Seattle have salaries between $150,000-$230,000 depending on leveling. Turnover costs in these regions are substantial, but hiring smart from the start yields longevity and helps reduce turnover. 

Create a Realistic Hiring Plan with Our Experts

If you’re hiring for DevOps professionals, you know that these roles are in high demand. Formulating a plan based on your reality rather than naive expectations ensures you get the right people and limit turnover exposure. We can help. Recruiting for DevOps is all we do. Let’s talk about developing your strategy.

2021 DevOps/SRE Compensation Survey


Staffing tips