Despite the rising number of DevOps practitioners, DevOps Engineers remain tricky to hire.
In this Research Byte, we explored the skillset of London’s DevOps talent pool to see which skills they possess, and how this matches up to the skills employers are asking for.
Through this research, we aim to help companies target the right DevOps professionals by providing a holistic view of the talent market and equipping employers with the information they need to formulate a hiring strategy.
For this study into the existing skillsets of DevOps professionals and the subsequent state of the talent pool, we spoke to 352 DevOps professionals from our network of engineers and analysed the careers and technical capabilities of 2,750 DevOps Engineers to formulate some key findings for businesses.
Due to the open-source nature of DevOps technologies, there is a very expansive list of potential skills. As a result, we’ve highlighted the capabilities most commonly requested by our client base, which is indicative of the market in general.
The listed skills of DevOps Engineers on LinkedIn show a clear divergence between more generalised (but still important) core skills such as Cloud services (including AWS, GCP, and Azure) and specific software skills.
AWS Lambda was the rarest skill, with only 8% of DevOps Engineers on LinkedIn possessing it. Kubernetes and Terraform were the next most uncommon, with 27% of engineers having Kubernetes, and 32% having Terraform. Docker, Terraform, Jenkins, and Ansible were more common among the DevOps pool, but the most prevalent skill was by far Cloud services, at 66%.
When comparing a sample set of the skills applicants have against the skills being requested on a job site, we found that the biggest skill-job mismatch lay with AWS and Kubernetes. That being said, both prerequisite and complimentary skills show a reverse in skills-job matching – so if you need to get an applicant with one of the lesser-available skills, you could instead choose to focus on a comparable – or cross-trainable – skill.
For example, if you need AWS, you can expand your potential pool of applicants by opening your search to other Cloud-based services, such as GCP and Azure. If you’re seeking Kubernetes, you could instead search for applicants that know Docker.
Hire based on foundational skills rather than specific platforms and software.
When it comes to hiring DevOps Engineers, going back to basics with your requirements is key. Many employers make it a point to highlight the need for modern tools such as AWS Lambda and Kubernetes, but by doing so they end up shrinking their pool of potential applicants significantly.
If you really need your new employee to hit the ground running from day one, you might consider hiring based on foundational skills. A proficient DevOps Engineer with firm foundational skills would be capable of picking up the necessary new skills and technology on the job.
By considering alternative technologies you can be sure that they understand the context behind the processes, without having used the specific tool itself. Plus, by hiring based on potential and experience rather than specific hot skills, you can potentially save significantly in terms of initial base salary and time-to-hire.
Take comparable alternative technologies into account when hiring.
It is important to be aware of technology alternatives when hiring, as some applicants might have experience with similar technology but may be overlooked due to the different tool name.
For example, if you need Kubernetes but have an applicant that has only worked with DockerSwarm, you can be assured that they would understand the underlying concepts essential to Kubernetes despite not having used the same tool.
Make the ability to self-learn and pick up new skills a priority when hiring.
A good mix of skills and work ethic make for a good hire, but the ability to self-learn and self-motivate make for a great one. Engineers that are motivated by learning and skills development are the ones that will be able to pick up new skills and learn new technology when the opportunity arises.
To maximise your chances of hiring good learners, make sure you screen for these soft skills when hiring.
Cross-train a talented Linux System Administrator into DevOps.
Many System Administrators progress into DevOps roles over the course of their career. You can save money and avoid hiring competition from other employers by recruiting a System Administrator interested in moving into DevOps and upskilling them into the role. System Administrators – especially those working in Linux-based roles – have many of the base skills needed for DevOps and are far more affordable to budget for.
Mid-level System Administrators tend to require salaries ranging from £40 to £50k; seniors actively looking to transition into DevOps attract salaries of £50 to £70k. The learning curve would also encourage retention in your new engineer.