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Competing for developer roles in DevOps environments

Upskilling, interviews and expectations

February 26, 2018 | By Jordan Schwartz, TEKsystems Digital Marketing Specialist

male and female review code on a computer

“DevOps is fast becoming the new standard practice for developer teams,” says Riv Sachdeva, a Java recruiting specialist at TEKsystems. "Remember when everyone moved from Waterfall to Agile? The same thing is happening with DevOps. At the end of the day, it’s all about automating and becoming more efficient.”

Are you hesitant or maybe confused as to how to get hired at company employing developers in a DevOps environment? You're not alone. Companies want to invest in their continuous integration/deployment pipeline and are ready to supplement their projects with developers who have the mindset and skills to work in a DevOps environment. Grab a mug of coffee and let us walk you through exactly what our hungry clients are looking for—and why developers should be excited about the future.

Technical skills that put you on the radar

With an ever-increasing list of tools available, IT pros worry about falling behind—you certainly can’t learn every new technology that comes along. Employers hoping to hire resources with an exact (and long) list of skills are having an increasingly hard time identifying those unicorns. Because of this, we’re seeing an evolution of how our clients look for qualified candidates, their skills requirements and how they approach the hiring process.

It’s important to remember that the days of clear lines of development responsibility are long gone. Not only do we work in the age of rapidly multiplying tools, but we’re also shifting work left, including operations, InfoSec and QA. While the learning curve might feel overwhelming for a while, this is the new normal for the modern developer. The most in-demand developers are well-rounded IT pros who master their craft but also have some have broader knowledge into one more related skills sets across the development life cycle. The industry calls this complementary broad and deep pairing “T-shaped.”

“Companies used to be stuck on certain tools,” says Mike Smith, a services account manager at TEKsystems. “Now we’re seeing a change. Companies now want to see IT pros understand the foundation of what these tools do, and they’re open to people who know different tools than what the hiring manager originally had their heart set on.”

Cloud skills are also increasingly important for developers. Most of our enterprise-level clients are looking to move to the cloud in order to speed up the pace for bringing products to market faster, and also lower their overall infrastructure spend. However, although the cloud is a key enabler of DevOps transformation—and all the benefits that go with it—some companies maintain on-premise data centers.

Additionally, hiring managers like meeting candidates who can also be thought leaders in a technology space because of their past experience. “IT pros with particular backgrounds seem to be able to assist with several aspects of a cloud and DevOps strategy,” says Smith. “Architecture, cloud automation, Agile and configuration management experience can help IT pros provide a different perspective that will help the company make important decisions—like choosing private, hybrid or public cloud.”

Not to mention, having these backgrounds will help you adopt the DevOps practice a bit quicker and show that you’re a problem-solver both technically and organizationally. “If you have a background in configuration management tools, you'll be an asset when determining the direction to go when building roadmaps that tie back into the business initiatives,” says Smith.

If you don’t have any of these skills in your background, all is not lost! Customers are figuring out how to get creative when bringing in talent, and they look favorably upon strong scripting and programming experience, which is helpful when learning new tools for DevOps. “A client’s thought process when hiring has evolved. Many are targeting developers or engineers with strong scripting and programming backgrounds that align to the desired automation tools. If the customer has Ansible in their environment, they may target a candidate with a strong Python background and train them up on the tool,” says Smith. “This creates longevity for consultants because of their ability to upskill while on the job.”

Soft skills that keep you on the radar

“Technical skills are still very important, but right now our clients are very interested in an IT pro’s aptitude, attitude and mindset,” says Sachdeva. Are you adaptable? Will you join a project and hit the ground running?

Anytime a company is going through a transition like DevOps, they need team members who will take on challenges, can talk about the ‘why’ when making decisions, work well with others and can articulate the value behind their decisions.

“Cultural fit is just as important as or more important than technical ability,” says Candice McNelly, a Digital & Creative account manager at TEKsystems. “Hiring managers are looking for innovators, people who will push back in a good way. They like candidates who essentially act as a consultant during the process, not just someone who is given a list of requirements to cross off.”

Community involvement can also be a huge hiring factor beyond your resume. “It’s important to build your network by attending local user groups in your market and getting to know the community in your space,” says McNelly. “If you are seeking career advancement through these avenues, a client will bring you on over someone who has more years of experience.” Bonus tip: hiring managers tend to take a peek at LinkedIn profiles for more insight, so make sure you're keeping your profile up to date!

What to expect in the DevOps interview

Hiring managers conducting interviews are looking to understand your thought process and work style. “We see managers asking candidates scenario-based questions at first,” says Sachdeva. Situation-based questions place you into a hypothetical circumstance to see how you’d go about solving a problem.

“In terms of questioning your technical ability, managers like understanding your background and how it relates to what they are hiring you for,” says McNelly.

What about certifications?

Hiring managers value continuous learning, which certifications can definitely be a part of. Questions they may ask themselves are:

  • How is this candidate staying on top of trends that they can share with our organization?
  • Are they keeping up with the latest and greatest tools and technological changes?

Like we’ve mentioned previously, certifications probably won’t make or break your chances of getting a job. However, certain certifications will definitely pique a hiring manager’s interest and show you’ll go above and beyond to learn about current technologies.

“If you’re a Scrum Master, you definitely want to get the CSM. Our clients are also interested in those who have the AWS certification since the trend is to move to the cloud,” says McNelly.

Are you ready to take the leap and get on a board a cloud DevOps transformation? You can talk to one of TEKsystems' Applications recruiters by calling your nearest TEKsystems office. Or search hundreds of DevOps jobs now.

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