If you’re reading this, you more than likely are aware of the struggles involved in recruiting and building a team of technical professionals skilled in cloud-native computing technologies such as Kubernetes, Helm, Prometheus and service mesh. The Linux Foundation and edX’s “2020 Open Source Jobs Report” found 93% of hiring managers are having difficulties filling open positions that require open source skills like these. The report also found that cloud and container technologies are the most in-demand aside from Linux, which itself is a necessary basic skill for cloud professionals.
So the question is, between a talent shortage and rapidly increasing adoption of these technologies, how can any leader manage to build out a qualified team? Based on our experiences as a vendor-neutral provider of training and certification for many of these technologies, we’ve learned some tips and tricks that, with some effort, can help you establish a team that can handle any cloud-native project you throw at them.
Don’t Rely on the Same Old Recruiting Strategies
It’s important to understand that the most promising cloud developers, engineers, administrators and other team members may not have the most prestigious qualifications. You may often find a high school dropout who has completed a cloud computing bootcamp and passed a Kubernetes certification exam will be far more able to perform the functions of a job than a recent graduate with a computer science degree. This means you need to set the job qualifications appropriately.
If your organization is going to limit these hires to those holding a college degree, you are reducing an already limited talent pool even further and you’re going to miss out on some incredibly talented individuals. Instead, look at demonstrable skills and experience rather than only education. Some of the most talented contributors to these open source projects themselves don’t hold degrees; if the people building these technologies don’t need one, then neither do the ones implementing and administering them.
Of course, you should continue to look at candidates with computer science degrees—after all, you’re trying to expand your access to talent, not reshuffle your sources. College degrees are a valuable indicator of intelligence and tenacity in completing a rigorous program. But do not take the degree as evidence they can perform any cloud-native tasks. Look at their specific skills, what the university curriculum was, any external training or self-study they conducted and verifiable credentials.
Structure job postings as a list of skills and abilities necessary to be successful in the role rather than specific educational requirements or years of experience—in fact, many of these technologies are so new that no one has more than a year or two of experience with them. Avoid absolutes where possible and encourage folks to apply even if they don’t check every single box. And if you do want to ensure that someone is up to the challenge, you can require they hold verifiable certifications. The trick here is to find the certification most respected in the industry for a particular skill set, and prioritize performance-based certifications that test abilities to knowledge-based ones that only test memorization.
Go Where the Developers Live
Do not expect a wave of great applications just because you throw a well-crafted job posting on the internet. Many of the most talented cloud-native pros out there don’t bother looking for opportunities as they are already constantly bombarded with them. You need to find them where they are spending their time, which is likely message boards and forums such as StackOverflow and Reddit. LinkedIn can sometimes be effective, but experience shows this type of expert is less likely to spend time there than individuals working in many other professions.
And do not simply bombard these professionals with job opportunities, either. You need to make your organization stand out and demonstrate why they should want to come work for you. The Open Source Jobs Report asked opens source pros what would make them consider moving jobs—while to no one’s surprise salary is a top incentive, 65% stated the opportunity to work on interesting projects would tempt them, while 58% desire a better work-life balance and 51% want more flexible schedules or telecommuting options.
Talk these up in your outreach, but you should also put your money where your mouth is. Sixty-three percent of the hiring managers surveyed this year said their company has decided to contribute to an open source project, either financially or by contributing actual code, for the express purpose of attracting developers who work on that project. If your organization is using open source technologies but not giving back to the community, you will miss a significant opportunity to raise your profile among target recruits.
Take a Chance and Help Them Grow
Let’s say your company is participating openly in open source, being a good community member, offering competitive benefits, being open to considering individuals from a broad range of backgrounds and advertising your open roles in ways that both get in front of and attract talented cloud-native professionals. Despite all this, you still have not been able to recruit enough talent to tackle the needs of your organization.
The first recommendation when you’re at this stage is to look at your existing resources: Are there talented individuals in your organization who do not possess the skills necessary to perform these tasks but possibly could with the proper training? If so, give them the chance to grow into such a role. You can start off with very little risk involved; ask them to complete a free introductory training course and report back after. Consider how long it took them to complete the course and ask them how they feel about this type of work. It should be apparent quickly who is enthusiastic and excited about learning a new technology and who is not. You can then sponsor those who show promise for more advanced training courses and certifications to demonstrate they have gained the necessary skills to move positions.
If you don’t have anyone internally who either can or wants to train for a cloud-native role, look at recruiting someone with promise and make clear from the start that the expectation is they will complete training and gain an appropriate certification within a specified time period. Look for individuals who have already demonstrated both grit and an ability to learn. Perhaps they have an entry-level IT certification that is far from meeting your requirements but still shows that they can complete this kind of program. You’ll find many candidates are strongly enticed by such an offer.
This is reinforced by the data from the Open Source Jobs Report: 54% of developers surveyed stated that lack of employer-sponsored training is a major hindrance to their job and 70% stated that increased training would make them more effective. 70% of hiring managers also stated that they’ve seen more requests for training from employees the past year.
We know it’s a tough job finding qualified cloud-native talent to fill open roles, and it is not expected to get easier anytime soon. By putting in a concerted effort, being thoughtful and flexible about the types of applicants you consider and giving existing and potential employees the opportunity to grow into these roles, you and your team can be successful.
This article is part of a series of articles from sponsors of KubeCon + CloudNativeCon 2020 North America