Career / Career Progression

How to Build a Competitive DevOps Resume

by Team Nuggets
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Published on June 27, 2017

The DevOps career field has become highly sought after among IT pros. LifeHacker reported early this year that DevOps engineer jobs are ranked second in their 50 Best Jobs in America ranking.

Even if you haven't seen the word "DevOps" appearing in job titles in your area, they're there. They're everywhere. Just dig just a little deeper. Many job descriptions paint the picture of a DevOps shop even if it's not in the title. Companies are looking for IT pros with computer science degrees, Agile experience, and heavy cross-functional skills.

Now that things are getting competitive, it's time to take a look at your resume. Even if you're not in a DevOps shop now, you can still build a competitive DevOps resume.

Make Friends Up and Down the Pipeline

First of all, you have to recognize that DevOps is a philosophy that arose from an urgent need for better alignment, collaboration, and empathy between development and IT operations. So, true to the collaborative nature of the philosophy, the best way to build a competitive DevOps resume is by reaching out to your IT or dev counterparts.

Today's product organizations require vertical, fully responsible teams, so go make friends. See how you can help. Start asking to clear tickets for tasks outside your normal responsibilities and even outside your comfort zone. If you start asking for tickets, you'll probably soon have more friends than you even realize.

Seek Experience in Cross-functional Projects

Tickets are one thing. Being involved in cross-functional projects is its own battle. DevOps is all about end-to-end responsibility for IT services. For you to acquire such skills in a non-DevOps environment, you'll need to involve yourself in projects that will allow you to closely work with people who are handling different roles.

Make Your Resume T-Shaped

If you're taking tickets and finding cross-functional projects, then you're well on your way to a T-shaped skill set, and a T-shaped resume. If you're not familiar with the term, the vertical bar on the "T" represents the depth of related skills and expertise in a single field. The horizontal bar represents broad generalist knowledge across various areas outside one's specialization.

You might have also heard of this concept described as deep versus wide. We humbly suggest that you should both go deep and wide for a competitive DevOps resume.

Full Stack Does Sound Better than JOAT

No longer are specialist skills appreciated as a standalone, unless they are complemented with a broad understanding of all the various aspects of an entire solution. And that's why the full stack developer became all the rage when it came to choosing premium talent.

This nearly-mythical role can deliver front- and back-end coding, infrastructure, and databases, as well as carry out the deployment and operational support all at once.

Now, while you can specialize in one area, you need to gain high-level knowledge about the other parts that make up the whole service. For example, if you are a DBA, you better come to grips with understanding integration, operation systems, and general coding principles if you want to make it in the DevOps space.

You'll need to adopt a mindset for continuous learning so that whether it's security or hardware, you'll know how stuff works.

Develop Your Soft Skills, Especially Project Management

A competitive resume in any field combines hard knowledge and soft skills, but especially DevOps. Above par DevOps candidates can demonstrate competencies such as negotiation, presentation, project management, communication, and critical thinking.

It's hard to certify your people skills, and that's what the interview is for anyways. You can, however, get certified in even the most entry-level project management methods to make your resume particularly competitive.

DevOps culture is characterized by collaboration, feedback, experimentation, and continuous improvement, so unless soft skills are part and parcel of your arsenal, convincing a recruiter that you are ready-made for such a role is highly improbable.

Get to Know the Tools and Get Certified

DevOps is a toolset as well as a mindset, philosophy, and job, so knowing what tools to use is paramount when it comes to having a competitive resume. Even if your employer has not taken the time to invest in premium solutions, there is a wide range of open source tools which you can experiment with.

Whether it's GitHub, Docker, Chef, or JIRA, experience in configuring and using such tools goes a long way in making your resume attractive for anyone looking to hire for DevOps-related roles.

So even if your organization still runs IT in the traditional way, there are opportunities for training, projects, and experimentation that can help you gain the modern skills required by DevOps.

Your employer isn't going to build your resume for you. To develop a strong DevOps resume, you'll have to start with a collaborative, high-speed, agile mindset, which is what DevOps is actually all about, if you think about it.


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