Are IT Staffing Firms the Solution to the Tech Talent ShortageOne of the biggest trends impacting businesses these days is the increasing cross-functionality of major roles. In IT specifically, this is most clearly evident in the roles and workflow processes that are categorized under DevOps. As cloud computing and other technologies continue to develop at a rapid pace, it has become clear that the gap between the coding environment at the development level and the testing and deployment environments at the operational level leads to inefficiencies and inaccuracies that negatively impact the business. The role of DevOps, then, is to approach this gap with better integration, configuration and automation of infrastructure driven by a collaborative team of DevOps professionals. And yet, the challenges of hiring for DevOps are far and wide, preventing companies from adopting the DevOps culture as quickly as they’d like. We explore these challenges below.

Challenge #1: The Sheer Volume of Demand

Puppet Labs, the creator of one of the leading DevOps tools, reports that when organizations employ DevOps practices, they are able to deploy code 30 times more frequently than their competitors with 60 times fewer deployment failures.

With those kind of statistics, it comes as little surprise that the demand for DevOps professionals has skyrocketed over the last couple of years. 80% of Global Fortune 1000 companies are expecting to adopt DevOps practices by 2019. Dice, meanwhile, reports a 63% and 67% increase in year-over-year job postings for Puppet and Chef, respectively.

This massive jump in demand simply can’t be matched by the supply. DevOps tools are still evolving and present a steep learning curve. And there’s no particular career track currently available to churn out the talent. Instead, DevOps professionals are typically those who have pushed the boundaries of their own role – be it coding or operations – out of curiosity and passion for technology. While there is a growing number of eLearning opportunities, such as this course from Udacity, these individuals are still few and far between, increasing the challenges of hiring for DevOps.

Challenge #2: No Universal Job Title

For your everyday software engineer or systems admin, you can run a straightforward search in your resume database and quickly find the people you need with the titles and job descriptions to match. The same isn’t true for DevOps.

As mentioned above, there’s no existing career track for a DevOps professional. As such, it’s rare that an individual self-identifies as a DevOps Engineer. Puppet Labs reports that only 18% of IT professionals have someone with that title at their company. The rest are often developers, software engineers and networks or systems admins who have gained experience and expertise outside of their core skill sets.

With this in mind, you need to looks for specific skills and experiences rather than just titles. Look for coding skills like Ruby, Python, PHP and Java, as well as configuration and automation tools like Puppet and Chef. Soft skills are also essential. These individuals must be great communicators, collaborators and problem-solvers.

Challenge #3: They Aren’t Active Jobseekers

One of the biggest challenges of hiring for DevOps is the vastly more in-depth work required to recruit the right professionals. The majority of them simply aren’t actively applying to jobs (this is a problem for IT in general, with a survey from StackOverflow reporting that just 15% of professionals are active job seekers, versus the 60% who are open to opportunities even if they aren’t actively looking).

With fewer quality applications in your inbox, recruiting DevOps professionals is going to take a better recruitment strategy. Networking is key, but it’s important to realize that networks like LinkedIn aren’t the only place to go; in fact, DevOps pros are often so inundated with LinkedIn messages from recruiters that you almost always need to branch out. Other great places to look are GitHub and Stack Exchange.

Challenge #4: They’re Salaries Are Sky High

In general, nationwide IT Salaries are exponentially higher than many other occupations. DevOps professionals, in particular, come with a handsome price tag. Puppet Labs reports that 55% of DevOps Engineers make well over $100,000 per year. Data from Dice corroborates this, showing a high of $172,083 for professionals with Puppet expertise and $168,750 for Chef expertise.

In order to deliver salaries like that, companies have to be fully committed to adopting DevOps practices within their business.

Overcoming the Challenges of Hiring for DevOps

Companies that embrace a holistic attitude towards their development and operational infrastructure are the ones that will continue to thrive in the evolving technology landscape. However, this requires deep expertise and cross-functional innovation. And it should be clear why finding the talent to fulfill this requirement is a major challenge.

At MDI Group, we’re focused on staying ahead of technology trends and building our network of experts who can do the same. If you have a need for DevOps, let us know. We can help you out.

Brian KnappBrian Knapp is the Executive Vice-President, Operations at MDI Group. If you are interested in learning more about how to justify hiring the best IT talent, contact Brian directly at, or call us 888-416-7949.  MDI Group has offices and specializes in recruiting IT talent in Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Greenville and Phoenix.