Hiring a Newbie DevOps Engineer? How to Fail With 98.7% Chance


Published: 14 Jun 2019



in this article

NCube is software development service company located in the UK that supports multiple Clients from the USA and Western Europe. We understand that virtual teams in an innovative outsourcing destination like Ukraine allow our Clients to find the best experts outside their vicinity and cut the budget.

Junior specialists for DevOps position is a request that comes our way quite often. In fact, it’s typical for us to have 3-4 active vacancies for DevOps engineers. Usually, we find good specialists in 2-3 week who are a great fit in terms of the project technical requirements. We are astounded by the fact that the clients often decline qualified and promising candidates. We have found this situation thought-provoking and that’s why we have decided to shed some light in this article. So where do DevOps professionals come from and how to find a DevOps field expert?

Security audit

While software engineers can work without access to the customer’s sensitive data, it quite rare for DevOps. Clients usually provide this access to 1-2 best experts, including numerous limitations in terms of systems access, encryption, and closed spaces. Thus, for a newly-minted DevOps, it would be difficult to pass the IT security.
We can see that the GDPR and other data leakage prevention policies lead to security localization as opposed to globalization tendencies. Some clients hire DevOps locally to work under the guidance of more experienced workers. More often than not, the effort of overcoming the security formalities is not worth taking the trouble for remote teams.

Juniors’ performance

There is a division in tasks depending on programmers’ qualifications. Senior developers deal with architecture, systems integration, load, optimizing and solve complex tasks while their junior counterparts work on simple tasks. In DevOps, it’s common for a correctly set up environment that the task can be run thousands of times, often fully automatically by a trigger or a schedule. Therefore, it makes no sense to engage a top specialist as this resource is not likely to pay off in the long run. The bottom line is that a single talented DevOps can be more effective than 5-8 middle-level specialists that will rather make a team of system administrators than junior DevOps.

Lack of standard requirements

First of all, we should consider the fact that this profession is relatively new. Having appeared 4-5 years ago, it is still evolving and many professionals are yet to join its ranks. This is why many Clients still have no idea about the ideal DevOps candidate. Approaches to code optimization and automated testing, CI and cross-environment migration are defined by one or two people and vary among those companies, even if they have the same budget.

Lack of formal education

DevOps is not a scholarly discipline. To become a specialist, one needs to have a degree in programming or computer networks and learn DevOps independently by taking courses and reading field-specific literature. However, it doesn’t mean that all skilled engineers will eventually switch to DevOps.

Stiff competition

The number of vacancies exceeds the available resources. In a market like this, the best solution would be to engage a DevOps engineer part-time or on a freelance basis. Having an environment set up once by a professional makes more sense than hiring a junior who will need months to come to grips with how the infrastructure works.

Producing instant results is extremely important in DevOps, especially when you need to upload the most recent backup. This is the major difference between hiring programmers and DevOps engineers – it’s more beneficial to engage the best specialists instead of investing in juniors.

The price of a mistake

When someone starts to look for a DevOps specialist, they are not always aware of the risks and dependencies. But when it comes to the hiring decision, the Client starts feeling hesitant about candidate’s junior-level skills and realizes that they need the best-in-class specialist. This is understandable – the stakes are high due to the risk of data leak and downtime damages. No matter how qualified, a junior is still a junior. They need more time for self-education and cannot be relied on for making critical decisions.

Becoming a DevOps is quite an undertaking


In most cases, DevOps professionals switch from other fields like system administration and network systems or even programming. Becoming a DevOps specialist without any prior programming background is practically impossible. In this field, junior skills are gained through accomplishments in other fields, plus at least a decade of commercial experience. All of these don’t come easy and takes a great deal of knowledge and self-education.

Additional skills

DevOps truly is a one person army, and most clients know about this fact. In addition to the typical tasks like automation, deployment and monitoring, they must have a set of various skills. For example, DevOps is indeed the right person to deal with “between” technologies tasks. In instances when you need a Golang developer for API integration or a developer to write scripts, it would be easier to engage your in-house DevOps to address the task than a freelancer like remote Python developer.

In conclusion


If you still want to hire a junior DevOps, we have a few words of advice that will hopefully be useful for you.

  • Make sure to pay attention to candidates with system administration and networking background. In our experience, these are fast-learners who will become a true asset to your team over a short time-frame.
  • Create an employee development plan for a newcomer. It will help them to integrate into the company’s processes and learn. Taking online courses will be less effective.
  • Assign a 15-minute test – you will probably be astounded by how differently candidates solve the task.
  • Eliminate the requirement for formal education or extensive work experience in the DevOps filed. These won’t be of help in a real work environment.
  • Don’t ignore English skills – communication is essential in remote teams.
  • Avoid hiring people who go on long retreats. Sometimes you need 3 minutes of DevOps time to restore the system.

Above all, investing in juniors is rather time-consuming and may not pay off in the end, given that many companies relentlessly hunt DevOps specialists.


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