How to hire a cloud engineer for your start-up?

Modern startups often need to manage and maintain cloud infrastructure, as well as implement a cloud migration strategy or know how to build cloud-native products. To do all this, startups need to hire professionals with the right skills aka cloud engineers. However, finding the right candidate can be a complex and time-consuming process, with global demand for cloud engineers getting stronger, but skills gaps growing wider. This article has been created to help startups hire a cloud engineer and ensure they get the right candidate for their specific needs.

What is a cloud engineer?

Cloud engineers are IT professionals responsible for cloud computing tasks. This could be on the strategic side e.g. design and planning, or more technical e.g. maintenance and support. Organisations hire cloud engineers when they need to deploy or scale their cloud resources or gain a better understanding of the cloud. As a highly technical role, cloud engineers will usually have database, networking and programming skills, alongside knowledge of different operating systems, security, containerisation and virtualisation. The title cloud engineer can also encompass other roles, including cloud architect, cloud administrator, cloud security engineer and cloud network engineer.

People characters developing software and sending data to cloud storage. Developers team programming and writing program code. Development process concept. Flat isometric vector illustration isolated.

For a comprehensive overview of the skills a cloud engineer needs, read the below job spec created by the training team at OVHcloud. Feel free to copy and paste as needed:

Title: Cloud Engineer/CTO

Main Responsibilities: Seamlessly mesh tech know-how with business acumen to help us navigate all our cloud computing needs, including infrastructure design, maintenance, support and planning, and everything in between. Implement and maintain cloud and infrastructure components (server, storage, network, data, and applications) to deliver these end-to-end cloud infrastructure architectures.

Specific Duties:

  1. Research the best cloud strategy that aligns with the needs of the company and customers, with input from the team and customers, and communicate it to the team.
  2. Planning, designing, developing and deploying cloud-based applications.
  3. Managing cloud environments in accordance with company security guidelines.
  4. Setting up virtual servers and storage instances on the cloud platform of choice, with the necessary quality of service, backup and redundancy and distributed denial of service (DDoS) protection.
  5. Building and designing web services in the cloud, along with implementing geographically redundant services.
  6. Manage infrastructure automation through DevOps scripting (e.g. Shell, Powershell, Ansible, Terraform etc.).
  7. Configuration management, using Chef or Puppet (for example).
  8. Educating teams on the implementation of new cloud-based initiatives, providing relevant training as required.
  9. Lead and develop best practices for the larger engineering team.

Skills Required:

  1. Cloud Service Provider/VMware/OpenStack Solutions Architect Certified
  2. Five years’ experience in developing software, using languages such as Java, Python, C++ or Ruby
  3. Hands-on experience in migration of business software at scale to datacentres or the cloud
  4. Experience in performance optimisation techniques.
  5. Experience with Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) applications and cloud-based services.
  6. Sysadmin skills including Linux, Windows administration.
  7. DevOps skills including usage of OpenStack, Docker/Kubernetes and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) APIs.
  8. Database experience, including knowledge of SQL and NoSQL, and related data stores, such as Postgres.
  9. Storage solutions experience, including block and object storage.
  10. Extensive experience with open-source technology, software development and system engineering.

Role Requirements:

  1. Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology, Computer Science or Engineering.
  2. Good understanding of enterprise networks, security and identity access management.
  3. Three to five years’ experience in a Cloud Engineer role, or related position.
  4. Excellent communication and organisational skills, and the ability to engage with customers to gain insights to align product development with customer needs.
  5. Previous experience managing a team.
  6. Previous experience setting up infrastructure.
  7. Open-mindedness.
Hiring illustration set. Hr managers searching potential job candidates and analyzing CV. Character applying for work position. Job recruitment process concept. Vector illustration.

How to find and hire a cloud engineer (or other employees)?

You know your startup needs to hire someone with cloud skills and you’ve prepared a job spec for the right person. Now you want to ensure everyone knows you’re looking for this person and that your startup is the best place to work on earth. And preferably, you don’t want to spend lots of time and money finding that person, because your startup is lean. So how do you do this?

1. Ask your team for referrals

Firstly, ask your team for their support and incentivise them. Yes, that is a cost, but it will mean a happier and more engaged employee – and you can’t put a price on that. Your current employees, if you’ve chosen correctly, will more than likely attract people that fit your culture, which is a huge advantage. A referral from an employee can also come with insights about the potential candidate(s) they are proposing, which simplifies your job of choosing the right person.

2. Post the vacancy on your website

This shows visitors that you are growing, and you can also link postings of the vacancy on other channels back to your website. The application process can be streamlined at little or no cost by embedding a form from database tools like Airtable, for example. This allows you to capture candidate information (including CVs and even videos) in one place and manage the interview and feedback process with various levels of automation. Video submissions can be a great way of getting insights into the creativity and personality of an employee before the first interview. Additionally, posting your vacancies can come in handy for other administrative procedures, such as visa applications e.g. some countries ask to demonstrate that no local candidate was found after a period of time before you can hire internationally.

3. Post it on social media

Depending on your location, creating a job posting on LinkedIn is also a must. Other social media channels like X (Twitter) and Facebook can also be used very effectively to share your job vacancy. However, certain channels may produce large numbers of low-quality applications, so think about which channels are most appropriate and how many applications you’re looking for. These channels are also great for sharing photos of your team and what a great place your startup is to work at.

4. Consider job sites and recruiters

Once you’ve explored all the options above, consider job sites and recruiters too. I have listed a few below but, again, the channel you use often depends on the vacancy you’re trying to fill:

  • LinkedIn: You can set up and track paid job ad campaigns
  • Others: Glassdoor, Indeed

A recruitment agent that knows you and understands your business can also be a valuable channel for filtered candidates, particularly for those hard-to-fill roles. Invest some time in building these relationships, ready for when you need them most.

Finally, you can also consider government help. There are multiple grants and subsidies available to businesses who help attract specific talent. This can make your hiring offer more attractive, as well as provide connections to organisations that can advertise the role through other channels.

5. Talk about it!

Share the job vacancy with trusted people in your network who are good at making connections or have a history of referring people to you. Again, the warm referral will come with additional information that will help inform your final decision. You can also mention the vacancy when networking and meeting new people at professional events and job/recruitment fairs. You never know – you might be one meeting away from finding a fantastic candidate!

Your local Startup Program Manager would also be willing to help, if possible, within the Startup Program ecosystem, so click on the Startup Program logo below to connect with your local manager!

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Philip has been working with startups for the last 20 years within the VC, technology transfer and business incubation industries. He has accreditation as a mentor and business coach with Mentors and Business Coaches International and currently leads the OVHcloud Startup Program globally. OVHcloud is a leading European hyperscaler and pure-play cloud provider.