Following my article discussing the “7 Steps to DevOps Hiring Success,” it seemed fitting that I continue and discuss the seven steps to DevOps job-search success, with the focus on candidates rather than hiring managers.
Whether you’re a hands-on DevOps practitioner or a lead, VP, director or any other title, in this space you’re in hot demand. However, some of you are reading this and thinking, “What is this guy talking about!? I’ve been searching for a new job for two months and haven’t even got past the recruiter interview to speak with the hiring manager.” Well, this article may be for you—or it may be for someone you know.
Are You Selling Yourself Correctly?
Your resume, LinkedIn profile, URL to your personal website and any other methods you may be using, make sure you’re making those first impressions count. Your LinkedIn profile should be up to date with relevant content. Do hiring managers need to know that you worked in a part-time job in the local grocery store 10 years ago? No. They do, however, want to see what you have achieved in your current and previous roles.
Many who come from systems administration or infrastructure backgrounds aren’t selling themselves correctly. If you have been using configuration management tools such as Chef, Puppet, Ansible or Saltstack, you should include this in your resume. The same goes for container orchestration tools, such as Docker and Kubernetes, continuous integration tools and so on. Don’t create an exhaustive list, but note which you have used and how they allowed you to achieve the goals of the project.
Market Yourself on the Right Platform
Don’t bother uploading your resume onto every single job board; this just wastes yours and other people’s time. Definitely upload your resume to the right locations, though. Dice.com, Indeed.com, Ladders.com, Hired.com and Monster.com are some of the go-to job boards. (There are others, of course, and I’d be happy for others to comment with opinions on other job boards through which they have found success.) There aren’t many specialist DevOps recruitment companies out there, but I can drop a shameless plug and mention that my team at Salt are always worth speaking to, whether it’s for consultation on the current market trends or to actively search for your next move.
Drop Your Ego, Too!
In my last blog I told hiring managers to drop their ego when it comes to hiring. Sometimes candidates need to drop theirs, too.
“I won’t consider working at any company that won’t let me wear a batman outfit every day of the year, barefoot and with an automated snack machine that unwraps protein bars before passing them directly into my mouth.” Stop being so entitled.
Don’t get me wrong: I love freedom of expression and the idea of wearing whatever you want. I’d also love an automated protein-bar snack machine that feeds me! But be open-minded and don’t put roadblocks in your own way—it’s no good for anyone. It’s all about opening as many doors as possible at the start and focusing your options once you truly know what you’re looking at. That one company you may have declined to even consider might have given you the opportunity to work with the best people you’ve ever met, on the coolest and most innovative products you’ve ever imagined. And who knows, maybe they would have been the next Netflix, Twitter or Snapchat. Stay open-minded.
Is the Recruiter You’re Speaking With Reputable?
Some recruiters are generalists. That’s not a bad thing all the time, but when we are talking about a niche area with a plethora of technical skills to understand, it helps to speak with people who know what they are talking about and can easily decode your likes, dislikes and overall background. Check out the recruiter’s LinkedIn profile: Do they have recommendations from other clients and candidates in the same tech space, or have they only been referred by other recruiters? If you’re going to trust them with finding your next career move or contract, it’s worth ensuring that you’re speaking to the right person to support your needs. Speak to other folks in the space—who did they use to find their dream job? That could be a good start.
Rapport Isn’t Just for Salespeople
Do you have amazing technical skills but no knowledge of the company? You’re starting off on the wrong foot. It doesn’t take five minutes to research the company prior to your interview. Go to the company’s website and click on the “About Us” section. To show you actually care, think about your own passions and values and demonstrate how they align with those of the company. Hiring managers love this, so try to make it genuine.
Now to really make a good impression, why don’t you check out the interviewer on LinkedIn? Look up their background: What are their hobbies? Where did they work previously? Do you have any mutual connections? You’d be surprised: Asking them about their triathlon last month or mentioning that you both worked with Rita Smith on X project five years ago often can go as far as passing the technical test with flying colors. Remember, this doesn’t need to be time-consuming; just take a quick look and find something you have in common to build some rapport.
Searching for a new job doesn’t just mean sitting behind your laptop or making calls. Be sure to attend events and conferences to continue learning and networking. You’ll often bump into hiring managers or other team members who could end up being future colleagues. Also, promote yourself at events via social networks; for example, take some pictures, tweet about the event and/or share some content from the event on sites such as LinkedIn. This reinforces that you are part of this DevOps community and someone worth connecting with. Meetups for New Yorkers, for example, include DockerNYC, AWS NYC, ServerlessNYC, Continuous Delivery NYC and many more. There are also conferences such as DevOpsDays, Container Days and CloudExpo, among others. There are plenty of options in other cities and countries, too.
Making the Right Decision for You
Figure out what drives you, be it interesting projects, money, great working environments, awesome teams, job titles, making an impact or a mix of all the above. Now it’s rare to have two perfectly identical opportunities on the table, but if you’re lucky enough, you will have two, three or more job offers to choose from prior to signing on the dotted line. Deciding can be tough, and this is something I have to support people with on a daily basis from a non-biased perspective. I’ve seen people walk away from $250,000 to $300,000-level salaries to take a job paying $180,000. Why? Because they looked internally and realized that the other role suited their lifestyle, allowed them to continue playing an important role in their family life and the work was way more stimulating. In a different scenario, another individual might have been way more suited to taking the other position.
Once you’ve decided what really matters to you, there are a few simple things you can do to help with making these tough decisions. Start with getting a pen and paper to list out the pros and cons of each job. You’d be surprised how effective such a simple process can be for visualization and helping to clear your mind. Once you’ve had this internal discussion and opportunity to visualize, you should engage with some trusted resources. Speak to your partner, family members and former colleagues who know how it is to work with you. Finally, consult with your recruiter if you’ve been using one; a good recruiter should provide non-biased advice with the goal of helping your career.
As a final point, I know the job-searching process can be arduous for many people, but for those who have many options to choose from, enjoy it! Realize how lucky you are; don’t take these times for granted and be proud that you have such in-demand skills.
About the Author / Conor Delanbanque
Conor Delanbanque has been recruiting and leading recruitment teams in the DevOps space for the past few years. As well as being exclusively responsible for growing some of the most innovative DevOps & SRE teams in the US and Europe as an external consultant and recruiting partner, Conor also founded the Future of DevOps Thought Leaders Debate, sponsors DockerNYC Meetup on a regular basis and co-hosts ServerlessNYC. You can tweet him at @ConorDevOps, find him on LinkedIn or at events, expos and writing articles on DevOps.com.