How to Hire the Right AWS Expert for Your Business
In the world of cloud computing, Amazon Web Services (AWS) dominates with a 47.1 percent share of the cloud computing market. That means that the AWS cloud platform power hundreds of thousands of businesses in 190 countries. This strong position in the marketplace has led to a similarly strong demand for employees, ranging from AWS experts to entry-level AWS associates, with companies scrambling to fill empty positions of all kinds.
If your organization is one of the many seeking to recruit, hire and retain AWS Solution Architects, keeping in mind that a certification does not guarantee the experience. You’re looking to fill a technology role, but the right candidate has to be someone with more than just technical knowledge. To learn more about the various aspects of hiring an AWS Solutions Architect, read on.
Hire an AWS Expert With Hands-on Experience
When you start the recruiting process, you obviously want to hire a cloud architect who understands the key concepts, latest trends and best practices of working with AWS, as well as the nitty-gritty individual elements, including IAM, VPC, EC2, EBS, ELB, CDN, S3, EIP, KMS, Route 53, RDS, Glacier, Snowball, Cloudfront, Dynamo DB, Redshift, Auto Scaling, Cloudwatch, Elastic Cache, CloudTrail and so on. But there’s more: You want to know that they have the knowledge of the technology and know how to apply it.
This can get tricky when you have job candidates with a certification but not necessarily experience. Professionals with an AWS certification should have an in-depth understanding of AWS architectural principles and services. They should know how to design, plan and scale AWS cloud implementations using best practices. However, a certification alone does not mean that they have the experience. Obviously, they have some knowledge if they have the certification, and that might be enough if you’re hiring for an entry-level position. But, what if you need more? What if their knowledge is only theoretical but not practical?
To discern their level of practical knowledge, ask them how they prepared for their certification exams. Some certification preparation courses do provide hands-on training, such as Simplilearn’s AWS Solutions Architect Associate program. Within the Simplilearn program, practice assignments and live projects give students hands-on experience with the AWS management console.
The level of experience you’re hiring for will drive the kind of experience you want to see on an applicant’s resume, so it could be that the hands-on aspect is of less importance to you. And, if your goal is to hire an AWS expert, you’ll no doubt be reviewing resumes and talking to past employers to gauge the depth of someone’s experience and ability. The main point here is to avoid making assumptions about a candidate’s ability based on the fact that they’ve earned a certification.
Moving Beyond the Technical When You Hire a Cloud Architect
In addition to ensuring the type of knowledge your candidate has, you should also consider the fact that some vital skills can’t be taught in a certification program or gained through a previous job. Even a job candidate with hands-on experience, whether through their certification program or past employment, is not necessarily ideal, because an AWS Solutions Architect must be more than an IT person. Forget the stereotypes of anti-social IT pros; in order to hire an excellent AWS Solutions Architect, you need someone who is IT savvy as well as:
- An excellent communicator
- A problem solver
- A creative thinker
- A constant learner
- A good time manager
Excellent Communication and Interpersonal Skills: You want technical depth but also communication skills because a cloud architect must be able to listen to customers describe their problems and help them understand the proposed solutions. An AWS Solutions Architect often works in conjunction with a sales team to serve customers. The better the communication and interpersonal skills, the easier it will all be for all concerned to develop the best solutions.
Problem Solving Ability: Solving customer problems is probably a huge part of the job that you want to hire an AWS expert to do. But, how do you identify a good problem solver? After all, it’s not a skill learned while earning an AWS certification. You can learn what to look for, and find advice online for identifying problem-solving skills. Perhaps you can even present a problem during the interview process, albeit keeping it theoretical rather than technical. You don’t want to ask an interviewee to code while you’re sitting there looking over his or her shoulder. But you could present a problem (maybe one based on previous experience with a customer), and ask how they might approach it. Ideally, they will ask insightful questions to learn more before even starting to answer. And speaking of asking questions.
Creative Thinker: Creative thinkers will solve problems in creative ways, but, as with problem-solving skills, it can be hard to identify whether or not someone is a creative thinker. Again, as with problem-solving skills, you can find the traits of creative thinkers online. You can ask about problems they’ve solved at previous jobs, and if they ever had to switch gears because an initial approach wasn’t working, thus demonstrating adaptability. Most importantly, you can also observe a job candidate to see if they ask a lot of questions. Creative thinkers are curious and constantly learning, traits you want your AWS architect to have! And, their questions can also tell you a lot about what kind of person they are.
Constant Learner: Speaking of constant learning, you want to hire a cloud architect who recognizes both the value of and the need for, constant learning. Technologies change. Best practices change. Expectations change. What does your job candidate do to stay current with the world of cloud computing and AWS? What blogs do they read? Which influencers do they follow? Which LinkedIn groups or associations do they belong to?
Time Manager: As if all those skills and traits listed above were not enough, you also want to hire a cloud architect who is a good time manager. Architecting AWS solutions for customers means juggling a myriad of responsibilities, meetings, and emails. To learn how well a job candidate manages their time, you could ask about a typical day at their last job and how they prioritized tasks for some insight.
These soft skills can’t be learned through an AWS certification program nor does a certification mean a job candidate has these soft skills. But, to hire for long-term success, you definitely want to look beyond the technical qualifications to consider these other qualities too.
Keep Your Eye on the Goal: The Best Candidate for Your Business
Although organizations are busy trying to recruit and hire professionals with AWS skills and knowledge, and it can seem like you’re competing for candidates, as a result, remember that your ultimate goal is to hire the best AWS Solutions Architect for your business. If you hire someone who looks good on paper but lacks the interpersonal and softer skills described above(or even the hands-on experience you need), you run the risk of having to start this recruiting and hiring process all over again because that person was a bad fit. Take the time to hire right, and get the best person for the job…and your business.
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