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Spike Morelli has over a decade of experience as an engineer and is now a devops consultant and proud startup owner. After years focused on technical challenges like automation, monitoring, scalability and cloud, Spike took an unexpected turn and while still in engineering he started working with people rather than machines, coaching engineers and helping teams going from good to great. Spike is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 10 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Why Having "DevOps" in a Job Title Makes Sense

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We’ve been trying to grow our team for a few months now and the title we’re hiring for is Devops Engineer. One of the candidates our recruiters reached out to, let’s call him John, came back to us with a bunch of questions including:

How do you feel about hiring someone with a devops title?

It’s a very legittimate question, Devops is a cultural and professional movement, so how could it be a job title? What I argued in my reply to this fella is that Devops isn’t the job title, Devops Engineer is, and in this sense Devops is just a qualifier and I strongly believe a very useful one.

I really sympathise with those that are fighting hard to keep Devops real and avoid the same faith that some refer to as the sad commercialisation of Agile. My campaign to make of devops a job title isn’t a campaign to come up with a set of bullet points that define Devops as a job so that I can put it on a resume or build it into a product.

My argument here is that the guy I’m trying to hire, John, I want him to be a certain kind of guy and the best way I have to describe what I want is Devops Engineer. I’m looking for an operations guy , but I want him to be open to developers, consider engineering and the company as a whole, be focused on delivering value and not rathole into fights about technology or claim root access only on principle. I want that guy to have great communication skills and the interest to explore what’s besides his infrastructure, to be wanting to borrow as much good he can find in other disciplines across the organisation. And then of course there is the practical part, the desire to automate and escape a boring manual routine, the familiarity with cloud that willing or not has powered the movement, and even more specific things like configuration management. You may argue that this is just a good engineer or what systems engineers are becoming, in other words nothing new under the sun. And you may be right, but job titles are in many ways just another way to communicate, to broadcast an intent and a need.

So you know what I told John about hiring Devops Engineers? That I felt pretty damn proud about it. The true ones, not the ones slapping it on their CV to get a job, are fantastic engineers and I can’t but encourage them to start to respond to that qualifier. Likewise the companies and individuals seeking them out are likely the ones building great groups those people will want to be members of. Yes, the moment it becomes a keyword recruiters start to match against we’re likely to see a spur of fakes trying to land a job, but that’s nothing new under the sun.

Signed, a Devops manager

Published at DZone with permission of Spike Morelli, author and DZone MVB.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)



Timo Lihtinen replied on Wed, 2012/03/14 - 11:29am

I am just starting to hire for a DevOps Engineer for PacketVideo’s Charlotte office. I must say it seems pretty daunting Putting DevOps in the title is not attracting any candidates. When I search for DevOps in a job title on LinkedIn throughout the entire U.S. it only pulls up 8 people total. That is without any other search criteria period.

My quesiton would be – how do I attract DevOps people with this narrow of a title. Seems to me I need to come up with a better title that will garner a little more attention to my networking attempts. Is this really that narrow of a field?

Brad Knowles replied on Fri, 2012/04/20 - 12:33pm in response to: Timo Lihtinen

I think there are a quickly growing number of people in the community who subscribe to the four basic tenets of DevOps (Culture, Automation, Measurement, and Sharing, see, but I think there are relatively few employers that are forward thinking enough to have already hired people with an official title that includes "DevOps" in the name.  This is a classic chicken/egg problem.

I would encourage you to describe the types of things you're looking for from this person, as well as putting "DevOps" as a descriptor in the title.  And realize that you may have to do some education and outreach in the community, because not everyone has heard of this concept and they may not have already signed on.

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