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SDET - The Challenge of Finding Technical Testers

Posted by Tony Simms on 21/06/2022
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DevOps Organisations Are Growing

One area where we are seeing large growth at the moment is that of DevOps and Software Development Engineer In Test (SDET), particularly with larger organisations and government departments.

Driving this demand is the desire to breakdown the barrier between software development & IT operations and blend them together so as to build cheaper, quicker and more valuable solutions.


In our experience, what can tend to happen when organisations start out on DevOps is that they take a very technical view of what DevOps is all about. This can be because the IT Department is taking the lead on implementing the DevOps approach. Or because the process has been hijacked by one of the many companies pushing their ‘silver bullet’ DevOps software and processes.

The result can be that the organisation can get fixated on tools and processes:

  • They look to automate their infrastructure build
  • They look to automate their testing
  • They look to automate the deployment
  • They look to automate the delivery

The danger is that they can overlook the vitally important need to build the right blend of skills, experience and organisational fit for their DevOps organisation.

Building a DevOps organisation can be a challenge!

In a 2020 DevOps Institute Survey,  58% percent of respondents stated that finding the right DevOps people is a challenge, whilst 42% percent reported that simply determining the right skill set was a challenge. 24% reported that recruiting DevOps team members was “Difficult” and 10% reported that they found it “Extremely Difficult”. 

DevOps is still a fairly new phenomenon and this means that there's not a whole load of staff out there with significant experience. That can lead to difficulties with recruiting. Skilled and experienced DevOps & SDET resource can command a high price. If your organisation hasn't got the budget to pay then it's going to struggle to recruit.

DevOps is a buzz word. Candidates know that by having this on a CV, they are more likely to get through the keyword sift used by many recruiters. But just because a CV has the term DevOps, that does not mean the candidate has the wide skill set required. For example, a manual tester may have worked on a DevOps project but that would not make them suitable for an SDET role. Cutting through the ‘CV Speak’ to get to the detail can be a difficult task.

DevOps is a hybrid role. In the past, development roles were very defined with clear demarcation, ‘Business Analyst’, ‘Developer’, ‘Tester’, etc. DevOps blurs all of that and to be an effective, DevOps Engineers need to have a range of skills, so as to be able to be able to contribute across the whole development and operations lifecycle.

It can be difficult to find DevOps people at all but finding the right people with the right set of technical skills and soft skills as well as being the right cultural fit can be near impossible.

Combating the challenge requires a multi stream approach

There's a number of things that can be done to help with the recruitment process:

Good Planning

Looking forward to make sure that you have a really good understanding of the pipeline is essential. It takes time to find the right people. The sooner you understand the future needs, the sooner you can start looking to fulfil them.
In the short to medium term, fulfilment will mean recruitment but medium to long term, fulfilment might mean upskilling existing staff or even training up raw recruits.

Specialist Help

Specialist recruitment and resource agencies can help you achieve your resourcing goals. One of the first things they can assist with is, helping you specify the right sort of individual, using their specialist knowledge and contact base to ensure you get the best fit candidates. Another area that specialist organisations can help you with is the upskilling of your own staff, helping you document the required competencies and conducting a gap analysis.

Graduate Recruitment Scheme or Academy

By training career entrants, you can ensure that you have the required skills, tailored to your specific needs and culture. It may take a little while to bring them up to speed but then you've got somebody that's skilled, that knows your organisation and is likely to stay with you. By partnering with an organisation that runs company-based academy programs, it is possible to enter into a ‘try before you buy’ arrangement that provides the infrastructure needed to successfully recruit, train and eventually bring on-board a new generation of DevOps engineers and SDETs. If you are looking to grow your own SDETs, then the nFocus Academy program may be of interest to you. If so, contact us today to find out how we can help.


Having a skilled DevOps team is critical to success of any DevOps transformation. A successful team needs to have the right combined of tools, process and people.
Building that team can be a difficult struggle but one that can bring significant rewards. Working with specialist organisations can help reduce the workload and increase the chances of success, particularly if the organisation can help you with recruitment, short term placements, staff upskilling and training graduates.nFocus SDET Academy

Topics: Software Testing, DevOps, SDET

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