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The 13 developer skills you need to master now

Paul Heltzel | March 1, 2016
From JavaScript to big data to devops, we break down your best bets for bolstering your career this year.


The skills companies are looking for today are considerably more varied compared to a few years ago, says WinterWyman Search’s Stagno: “Java and C# remain a part of the market, but when you look at companies founded after the last recession, you're seeing a variety: Ruby on Rails, Python/Django, Node.js, and the emergence of functional programming languages, with Scala the most prevalent.

“We're starting to see some companies adopt Go as well. I'm not a believer that you need to find the ‘right’ technology to master, but you want to make sure that you are current, as there are wrong technologies to choose that will put you behind the curve as the landscape is ever-changing.”

Use the source

In particular for freelancers, the ability to point to your code on GitHub shows that your work has been put to good use and reviewed by your peers.

“Work on meaningful libraries and open-source them to demonstrate instantaneous value to potential employers,” says Kiran Bondalapati, co-founder and CTO of ZeroStack, adding that contributing to open source projects can also help establish collaboration credentials.

Candace Murphy, recruiting manager at staffing services firm Addison Group, says that .Net and Java skills are still in great demand, but “larger trends in open source development are growing. We’re seeing uptick in requests for IT professionals with Ruby, Python, Node.js, and AngularJS open source JavaScript experience. This trend is driven by companies moving away from the traditional platforms that require licensing fees.”

If companies themselves are exploring GitHub for technologies to add to their stacks, shouldn’t you?

Be agile -- and hone your teamwork skills

Agile development should be part of a coders’ quiver of skills in 2016, says Greg Sterndale, co-founder of PromptWorks, a Philadelphia software consulting shop specializing in Web and mobile applications. And keep it simple: “Be humble and be hungry. Be familiar with agile and lean methodologies -- the ability to break down big projects into small stories, prioritizing, adapting to change, and delivering the most value.”

Since offering feedback is important in an agile environment, Dev Bootcamp instructor Abushadi stresses the need to understand your co-workers as well as the project: “The ability to provide honest, kind, and actionable feedback when working in teams is only truly possible when you have empathy, and the skill of giving -- and receiving -- feedback is more often than not the key difference between successful and unsuccessful projects.”

Get secure

According to Addison’s Murphy, companies that suffered security breaches last year already know what they want and what skills will be the most useful to them in 2016.

“They’re taking more proactive approaches to increase security, not only within their IT department but across the board,” Murphy says. “We’ll see a shift in the most in-demand technologies this year as a result.


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