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6 things you need to know about hiring software developers

Paul Rubens | Aug. 17, 2016
A survey of 1,400 developers finds that most mobile developers have relatively little experience, no one really wants to learn Java, and programming for IoT is about as far as you can get from fun. But the right combination of pay and perks can tip the scales in your favor.

Perks of the job

Aside from an interesting project to work on, preferably from home, what else can employers offer to attract the best developer talent? The survey found that almost 40 percent are looking for jobs that offer the right perks and benefits. "What we find is that developers want a training budget, and also an allowance to go to developer conferences," says Nowak. "They also like things like gym membership, medical insurance and that kind of thing, but a conference allowance is the most important."

But he warns developers to be wary of companies that offer too many perks. "Google famously offers free food, and even provides places where developers can go for a nap. But that's because they want to build a kind of jail and force people to work all the time," he says.

Big name attraction

Although many of the most interesting projects to work on are at startups or small, nimble companies, 17 percent of the developers surveyed said they are attracted to big, well-known companies with powerful brands. That could include the likes of Google, but also more staid organizations like IBM. The explanation for this, Nowak believes, is that larger companies are more likely to offer valuable perks, but also that they are likely to have a large knowledgebase in the form of experienced software engineers that new hires can tap to help improve their skill sets.

Java "too corporate"

When it comes to languages, the survey found that just 9 percent of developers had learned Java recently. Yet Java is one of the languages that is consistently in high demand. The TIOBE Index for July 2016 placed Java in the number one spot as the language most frequently entered as a search term in popular search engines, and developer research firm RedMonk ranked it at number 2 in its June 2016 rankings.

Why do so few developers want to learn Java when the job prospects for those with a knowledge of the language are so rosy?

4 dev factoid

It's because developers want to work on interesting projects and Java programming is considered boring, explains Nowak. "It's seen as too corporate, too enterprise. People would rather pick up Python or Ruby as the concepts are pretty much the same. Or they can have more fun with newer languages that have newer syntax and which are easier and faster. With these you don't have to write a two page class definition as everything is done automatically."

No experience necessary

Perhaps the hottest area of coding right now is mobile app development, and if you are after experienced mobile developers, the survey has a somber warning: You're not likely to find them even if you pander to developers' wants.


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