With the demand for DevOps/SRE professionals on the rise, the market further establishes its candidate-driven status, making hiring SREs ever more challenging.
In the current IT climate, consumers’ persistent demand for new features and uninterrupted services result in increased reliability and security risks. Modern technology-driven organizations need to build or expand their SRE teams to address those risks, innovate, and maintain competitiveness.
However, in a market where talent is scarce, knowing where and how to look for top candidates becomes paramount to company growth.
At Harrison Clarke, the majority of the candidates we place are passive when we engage them.
Top SREs are generally experienced engineers in senior-level roles, with competitive salaries and financial benefits, work-life balance, and career growth opportunities within their current organizations.
Therefore, passive talent needs compelling offers to consider leaving their present position. As recruiters, we must come to them with only the most exciting choices.
One of the key questions we ask throughout the lifecycle of our relationships with potential candidates is, “Where do you want to work and why?”
When evaluating an offer, passive candidates consistently ask us about the stakeholders involved in the company. Because great people want to be surrounded by great people, from engineers to leaders to investors, the human element plays a crucial role in candidates’ decision-making process.
Furthermore, attracting talent that is already satisfied with their compensation will require more than a bigger salary. SREs are more likely to consider roles that provide meaning to their activity, like the chance to work on exciting technology that could impact other engineers in the industry, than higher compensation.
Passive candidates are more likely to leave their current position if the prospect role involves joining a team of innovative engineers. SREs value the occasion to contribute to solving important problems in the field; they constantly seek to improve their skills and learn new technologies. In other words, SREs evaluate job opportunities firstly in terms of added purpose and then salary.
Digitally enabled businesses across all industries are hiring Site Reliability Engineers, and competition is fierce. Throughout our experience recruiting in the DevOps/SRE space, we noticed that the ideal job offer falls in a sweet spot between the opportunity to solve an exciting problem and working alongside excellent people.
Candidates expect an increase in at least one area of the prospective job before making a move, but an increase does not always mean higher compensation. In fact, the factors that prompt passive candidates to accept a new position outweigh compensation-related reasons. More specifically, engineers will look for an opportunity that brings 30% more value compared to their current status!
The main factors that influence an SRE’s decision to join a new company are:
Career stretch: the engineer will be handling a bigger job with more learning and more impact, and
Career growth: the new company and environment will enable the engineer to continue growing at a rapid rate.
Collectively, job stretch and job growth represent at least 20-25% of the total increase, while the rest tends to be compensation.
At Harrison Clarke, we found that whenever compensation becomes the bigger part of the package, the person will wind up slowing their career rather than growing it; this, in turn, has a knock-on effect on the future growth in both employment and compensation in later roles.
As the market continues to progress and hiring for SRE positions becomes increasingly challenging, leaders should create exciting opportunities that provide meaningful work environments more than promising a bigger paycheck. When most DevOps/SRE professionals are happily employed, simply offering more money will not persuade passive candidates to switch careers.
In fact, great engineers take a VC approach when evaluating a potential career investment. Venture capitalists usually look at the management team, the product, the market size, and whether the timing is suitable for the product before investing financial capital.
Similarly, top SREs consider the same factors before investing their time and career into a new company. Many of the candidates we are placing at startups are walking away from publicly traded companies where the total compensation on their W-2 is three to five times higher than what startups can offer in liquid cash. Yet, top engineers are making this change and sacrifice because they trust the company’s product and team, and they consider that the market is big enough and the timing is right.
We recommend companies approach their recruitment process by first defining their needs and build an offering that truly reflects the organization’s culture and provides engineers with the chance to contribute to the industry in a worthwhile way.