Getting hired for any position depends on having the right education and experience. For site reliability engineers, more than many other positions, having the right experience is more important than the right degree.
The reason for this is that site reliability engineers need to keep critical applications running. This requires a level of understanding that only comes from real-world experience; book smarts just aren’t enough to provide the insights that let SREs resolve problems quickly.
Build Technical Experience
The SRE position also requires systems understanding that runs both deep and broad. SREs need to understand networking, systems administration, databases, applications development, and all the interactions between them. SREs can be involved in architecting the environment where the applications will run and need to know how to bring all the components together effectively.
Experience working with programming languages, including both high-level languages like Java and scripting languages like Python, is necessary to develop the tools SREs use. Writing a few "hello world" level programs doesn't offer deep experience to build and debug complex applications.
Develop Trouble-Shooting Skills
The more problems you solve, the better you get at solving problems. A large part of the SRE role is solving problems; often, they're solved by recognizing similarities to a previous issue. The more experience you have solving problems, the bigger the dataset you can apply pattern recognition to. You don't have to start solving every problem from first principles; you can jump right to the most likely sources of trouble. Shortcutting the problem-solving process means shortening the length of time the problem exists.
Another reason companies look for experience in their SREs is that the position requires interacting with other internal organizations to investigate and resolve problems as quickly as possible. Things get stressful fast; when a core application is down, business doesn't get done and companies lose money, as well as potentially taking a hit to their image. Developing the ability to stay calm and focused, and work through analyses when managers are losing their cool around you, is key to getting the job done. This kind of battle hardening only comes from living through complicated real-world problems and makes you more effective at your SRE job.
Are you a brand? Whether you realize it or not, you have a personal brand: the way others see you when they look you up online. When you're job hunting, you don't want your online brand to consist solely of your Facebook page and the funny posts you share with your friends. Building a professional brand on LinkedIn helps you stand out and impress recruiters and potential employers. Use these tips to turn your online profile into a brand that attracts attention.
1. Stand out from the start.
Your LinkedIn headline, like the headline in a newspaper article, needs to grab the reader's eye. It also needs to emphasize the main subject matter – easier to do for a news story than for your personal history. You've got limited space and characters to work with, so keep it tight. Provide your location, your title, and your primary skills or significant accomplishment.
2. Back up your headline claim.
Your headline makes a claim for how good you are; the rest of your profile needs to provide the details that prove it. Be sure to mention your awards, certifications, and other credentials that support your qualifications.
3. Get found.
For your profile to be found during searches, it needs to include the keywords that people search on. If there are multiple ways a key phrase might be worded, include all possibilities. Keywords can include things like titles, skills, or credentials, so include that information throughout the profile – in the headline, the summary, and other sections. Be sure to complete the “Skills” section completely. Adding additional custom sections for information like recent coursework is a great way to create more room for keywords.
4. Ask others to vouch for you.
Testimonials provide proof of the claims you make. Ask your former employers and colleagues for testimonials including the keywords you're emphasizing to add additional weight.
5. Participate in groups.
Post updates and contribute to group discussions to get your name and information "out there." The information you share online in LinkedIn should be professional; this isn't the forum for being outrageous. Present a professional image so that when others read your opinions, they can envision you working for their organization.
When you're applying for a corporate job, it makes sense to go for a corporate look at your interview. You want to look like you can fit in and do the job. When you're applying for a job at a startup, deciding what to wear isn't so straightforward. Startups are the antithesis of corporate, and without a dress code, their employees usually wear pretty much whatever they want. But that doesn't mean you can wear whatever you want to your interview.
Every startup is different. To some extent, you need to use common sense based on what you've heard about this specific startup and the specific role you're interviewing for. Sales jobs and other jobs that require meeting with customers may require a more pulled-together appearance. So what follows, then, aren't rules but guidelines that will help you decide how to present yourself.
It doesn't matter how casual the dress code is; your clothes should be freshly laundered. You should not be rumpled, smelly or stained, it will seem like you aren't able to handle basic self care, or give the position your respect.
A pulled-together look is always better. That doesn't mean formal, but it does mean looking like you made an effort. It's not so much the specifics of what you wear, but that you give an impression that the interview is a big deal to you.
Not all casual environments are the same. Some are fine with short; others draw the line at jeans. It's better to be one step more formal than the workplace than to push it too far.
For both gents and ladies, khakis and a button-down shirt are always a safe choice. There's no need for a tie. Ladies can also wear a dress; just don't go too short or too low cut. If you go with jeans, darker colors read more formal than light colors. A sports jacket or blazer also step up your style when you wear jeans.
No smart company will make the decision to hire you based solely on what you wear to the interview, but it's another piece of information they'll consider. Miss the mark too badly and they'll wonder about your judgment. Make a smart wardrobe choice for your interview, and once you're hired, you can dress like you belong there.
Mobile application development is a hot topic these days. There are many opportunities, but lots of resumes are submitted for each opening. To make your resume stand out in the pile, make sure it lists both the technical skills and other qualities managers are looking for.
Programming languages and environments are key. Java is required as is the Android SDK. Most real world apps will require getting data through APIs, so provide information on that and other third-party libraries your work used.
Also list the IDE you worked in, including any plugins, plus the emulator you used for testing. If you used Git or some other version control system, list that as well.
If you aren't limited to working on the phone side of the project, you'll be able to contribute in more ways. Backend experience with databases and webservers add valuable skills.
Provide details on the projects you've worked on, detailing your specific responsibilities and contributions. Detail the Android technical concepts that underlie your development work.
You should be able to show that you understand the process for submitting an app to Google Play and other common app stores. If you can provide links to your apps, that's even better; an online portfolio that lets hiring managers see and even try out your work gives a real picture of what you can accomplish.
Software development is a team effort and relies heavily on communication. Work on developing both verbal and written communication skills. Your passion for technology can be shown through membership in organizations. If you have a lead role in the organization, or if you've arranged presentations or given one yourself, be sure to include that information on your resume. Also list any additional training you've taken, online study, or non-work related projects that expand your technical skills.
A buzzword-laden resume may get you the interview, but it won't get you the job. You need to be able to backup the skills claimed on the resume with solid answers to interview questions. If you've never used a technology, take time to study it and learn it before you put it on your resume. The better prepared you are, the more likely you are to get the job.
Finding good technical employees can be time consuming. It takes time to publish the job description, sift through resumes, and screen potential employees. Offloading this work to a technical recruiter lets you focus on the work your business needs to get done – if you hire the right recruiter. Look for a technical recruiter with these skills to help you fill your open position fast.
Understanding of technology and the industry
Technical roles require a lot of specific skills. The more a recruiter understands about the skills, the more effectively they'll be able to winnow out candidates who've padded resumes with buzzwords not backed up by experience. And the more they understand about your industry, the better able they'll be to distinguish the “must have” skills from the “nice to have” skills.
Lots of contacts and the drive to make more
If the recruiter has a large database of resumes already, they can start identifying candidates before the job description is even posted. They should also know where to network both online and in the real world, to make more contacts and solicit resumes from more potential hires.
With an understanding of the marketplace, an effective technical recruiter can help you determine an appropriate salary for the position you're listing. They can also give you a realistic sense of whether it's an employer's market or an employee's market, and how long it takes the average company to fill an average position.
Because potential employees have to get through the technical recruiter before they get to you, it's important that they have good people skills. They need to be friendly and build relationships with candidates, and they need to know how to sell your company to make job candidates want to work for you. They need good listening skills to know what candidates want, what you want, and to see when there's a match.
You want personal attention from the recruiter, and so do job seekers. Look for someone who's good at following up, returning phone calls, and replying to emails. When you have questions, the recruiter should have the time to provide all the information you need. If they don't give you enough attention, they probably won't give candidates enough attention, either, and that can frustrate and drive away someone you might want to hire.
When job search takes longer than you expect, sometimes taking a temp or contract role is a solution. It gets you a paycheck, and more than that, it gets you into a company. You may be able to turn the temp role into a permanent one.
The Company Called It a Temp-to-Hire Position
Some companies are explicit about the "trying-before-buying" nature of a temporary job when they bring on a temporary worker. Recognize that "try-before-buy" works both ways; you're under no obligation to stay with the company if the position isn't what you're looking for.
You'll want to do exceptional work to impress them. Treat the job as if you'll be there until retirement and are climbing their career ladder. Be there every day and take on more than they ask of you. Make sure you have positive relationships with your managers, co-workers, and others in the company. If you're difficult to work with, it will be hard to convince them to retain you … no matter how good your work is.
The Company Called It a Temp Position
If the company hasn't held out the possibility of converting your status to full time employee, you still need to do stellar work, but you need to do more to convince them to retain you. When you start, let the company know you'd be interested in a permanent position, and as the contract nears termination, raise the subject with your manager. Depending on the size of the company, you may want to reach out to the HR department as well. If you have a good reputation within your department, they may be able to recommend you for another opening in the company, even if your current position will not continue.
The company may have sized the work they assigned you based on the length of the contract. If there's more work to be done, if there's a follow-up project, or if you've learned skills that are applicable to other ongoing work in the department, point it out to management. You may also want to remind them that you're already here and know how things work, while it will take time for them to find, hire, and train someone else.
Leverage the Temp Role to Boost Your Career
Whether you want the temp role to turn permanent or not, don't treat it as a throwaway. Take advantage of the position to learn about the company, the industry, or the technology you're working with. No matter how short the temp job, it's an opportunity to learn something and develop skills or character that will enhance your resume and lead to the job you want.
Some interview questions are unique. "If you could have any superpower, what would it be?"
Some interview questions are routine. "Why did you leave your last job?"
Despite their being so different in form, both questions have a common purpose. They are meant to help the interviewer understand your motivations and desires and to help them judge whether you will fit in.
Questions like the first are hard to prepare for – they're so non-standard, they're unexpected, and it's hard to know how someone will react to anything you say – but there's no excuse for not being prepared for the second. Your answer has to be fact-based (because a potential employer can verify your answer), it needs to feel truthful to you (so you can state it with confidence), and it needs to reassure the interviewer that your rationale for leaving was appropriate.
No matter what your reason for leaving was, there are ways to shape your answer to this question that make it positive. Use the following examples as a guideline for answering this question:
• I was laid off. The company had layoffs, and unfortunately I was one of the people who were affected.
• I was bored. I went into the job hoping to accomplish A,B,C (or learn X,Y,Z), and I was able to do that. Now I'm looking for a role where I can achieve D,E,F (or work with technology Q,R,S).
• There was too much production support. The company had a lot of other issues that kept us from focusing on building the product.
• Politics got in the way. I'm really excited by the opportunity to develop and ship a product. Because of management changes at my former employer, we weren't able to focus on delivery.
• It was disappointing in every way imaginable and I escaped as fast as I could. I knew very quickly that the situation wasn't the right fit for me. I could have stayed but I wouldn't have been doing my best, which wasn't fair to either me or my employer. By moving on, I can find a position where I can contribute fully, and they can find an employee who will contribute what they need.
Code is important, but code is invisible. No matter how elegant the code, end users never see it. End users don't interact with code; they interact with buttons, images, links, lists, and menus. Those interface items and the sequence of clicks they have to make to accomplish something are how they judge their experience with a website or software application, and that's why the UI architect role is critical in developing successful software.
Although the UI Architect role is defined differently in different companies, you should expect to have the following abilities to fulfill job responsibilities:
Understand End Users
UI architects need to understand how software works, but it's more important that they understand how people work. By understanding how people want to work, they can design interfaces that streamline the processes and make them fun, instead of frustrating. Study psychology and human-computer interaction to understand how to achieve this.
Understand Interface Tools
UI architects never work alone; no software project consists solely of a UI. It's therefore important that the architect work well with teams. Creating the interface architecture requires communicating with both developers and users. It also requires the ability to meet short project deadlines, especially as most projects turn to agile development and deliver in two week sprints.
Today's applications need to run in multiple environments: desktop, web browser, mobile web, tablet, phone – even watch. Understanding the capabilities and limitations of each environment is key to designing an effective, enjoyable user experience.
Most of all, the UI architect role requires the ability to envision something that doesn't exist yet. UI architects use their understanding of users, developers, technology, and tools to design a brand new way of accomplishing a task. When done at its best, it's hard to imagine any other way of doing it.
The IT project manager role is a funny kind of job. You need to understand technology and be able to make technical decisions, but the job isn't about completing technical tasks. You need to understand people, but the job isn't about supervisory skills. You need to understand business needs, but the job isn't about completing business tasks. Being an IT project manager requires knowing how to work with people and help them work with technology to get a project completed and provide the functionality the business needs.
These seven skills will help you combine those traits to be a standout project manager:
Keep technically current.You need a strong technical team you can rely on with answers about technology, but you also need to be able to evaluate their answers. Developers are always over optimistic about how long it will be to complete a task and how easy it will be to integrate a new technology. You need to know enough about the technology to evaluate their input and weigh it against other business concerns like cost and schedule.
Be a leader.There's a difference between managing and leading, and both are part of this job. Managing requires paying attention to the details and ensuring the necessary work is completed. You also need to lead up, down, and sideways: you need to get buy-in from your team, your management, and your end users that the strategy you're using is the most effective one to deliver the project.
Be a communicator.One of the most common reasons projects fail is because people don't know what needs to be done. You need to communicate with your team about the work and its priorities. You also need to communicate with management and end users about their priorities and project status.
Multitask.As a project manager, you're never looking at a single moment in time. You need to be evaluating work that was done in the past, responding to crises in the present, and planning the work that needs to be done in the future. Being able to calmly juggle multiple demands for input is necessary to get through your day.
Negotiate for what your team needs.Management doesn't always know what it takes to get a project done. If the resources allocated to the project – people or hardware – aren't adequate, you may be able to negotiate beyond those limits.
Be proactive.Small problems grow into big problems. Don't micromanage your team, but pay close attention so you become aware as soon as an issue develops. Step in as soon as necessary to help your team overcome obstacles.
Pay attention.People don't like sharing bad news. The staff who report to you may hesitate to let you know how difficult they're finding the work. Your management may delay letting you know changes in budget, staffing or priorities. Watch for the subtle signs that let you know there's a problem, so you can address it even if no one explicitly tells you about it.
Information technology is a competitive business. Companies compete for funding, for sales, and for employees. Because top tech talent is in short supply, sometimes the best hire is working for your competition. If you do steal someone away, make sure your theft is legal.
Take the Employee's Talent, Not Their Employer's Trade Secrets
You should be aiming to gain competitive advantage from the employee's special skills and knowledge, not from their inside information about their former employer's business plans. Trade secrets are protected by law, even if the employee hasn't signed a nondisclosure agreement.
It's important to make sure any ideas the employee brings with them are original and can't be claimed by their current employer. Some employment contracts give ownership of ideas, even if they were developed on personal time or seem unrelated to the company's line of business.
Make Sure the Employee Can Work For You
Some employees are under noncompete agreements with their employer. While courts don't always uphold these agreements if they're challenged, you should consider the consequences of a potential fight before hiring the employee. Litigation can be expensive, even if you win. Court battles require time as well as money, so the employee's contributions may be limited until the case is settled.
Ask about any other agreements the employee signed. In addition to non compete agreements, nondisclosure, nonsolicitation, confidentiality, and other clauses may affect the ability of the employee to perform the services you want.
Make a Clean Break
Under some circumstances, it may be possible to work with the current employer to ensure that the employee doesn't bring over any materials. The current employer can designate a monitor to document that only personal items are removed from the premises and that all required corporate material was returned. This can eliminate the basis for claims of trade secret thefts later. If possible, you can structure the new employee's responsibilities to reduce the possibility of disclosing confidential information.
Consult Your Attorney
The best way to make sure your hiring the competitor's employee is within the law is to consult an attorney prior to offering a position to them. Make sure you and your legal advisor review all employment agreements signed by the employee with their current employer. Once you understand the commitments they've made, you'll be able to determine whether there are any risks in hiring them and if those risks are worth taking.