For software developers, adaptability is key to a successful career. The IT job market is constantly changing, whether it’s due to emerging technologies, economic and environmental factors, or a mix of all three. Software developers who quickly adapt to the changing demands of the IT job market—for example, by learning new skills, gaining certifications, or adjusting their salary expectations—tend to fare better than those who don’t.
One thing that remains stable is that developers are in high demand across many different industries. Let’s take a look at what developers on the job market can expect right now.
Developers are still in high demand
“The job market for software developers is really healthy in terms of demand for those with the skill set,” says Christy Schumann, senior vice president of talent operations at Toptal, which operates an exclusive network of freelance software developers, designers, product managers, and other professionals for hire.
“As businesses and consumers continue to adopt technology for nearly everything we do, developers and aspiring developers have a great opportunity to grow successful careers right now,” Schumann says.
Hiring firm Robert Half characterizes hiring trends for developers as still moderate to fairly strong. “The market remains rather competitive and finding top talent remains a challenge,” says Jason Deneu, a regional director at the firm.
Front-end and back-end web developers are in high demand, Deneu says, as are developers with a background in cloud-related technologies. “Data engineers also are still in the ‘hot zone’ for hiring requirements,” he says. “These roles hold the best outlook based upon client feedback, for the coming months.”
Another jobs site, ZipRecruiter, says developer job postings peaked in May 2022 and have fallen since, but they’re still well above pre-Covid levels. “That’s likely because tech industry employment overall has grown since the pandemic, spurred by the increased digitalization of work, leisure, education, entertainment, and exercise,” says Julia Pollak, chief economist at the firm.
As of July 2022, the developer skills most in demand were for Java, web, and full-stack development. “The same was true pre-pandemic in 2020, and continued through 2021 as well,” Pollak says. “These skills are and will likely remain in high demand, as they are the most broadly applicable to corporations.”
Top technologies and hiring trends
While Toptal is seeing hiring freezes at some of the major technology companies, the need for a variety of developer talent is still growing steadily, Schumann says. “Increased adoption of remote work, and popularity of freelancing offer developers the opportunity to gain diversity of experience, and the opportunity to work on their own terms versus adhering to more traditional full-time employment,” she says.
“The most in-demand [professionals] routinely are those who are proficient in multiple tech skills,” Schumann says. “Mobile programming like Android and iOS; cloud platforms like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform; and software like Salesforce, Shopify, and WordPress are in-demand and hireable skills.” But people who are skilled and experienced in more than one of these areas are highly sought, she says.
Don’t forget collaboration and communication
Toptal is also finding that soft skills are a must for its clients hiring developers. “Having developers adept at team collaboration, management of roadblocks, and the ability to understand the business case for the project at hand has become invaluable for our clients,” Schumann says.
The top prerequisite in the technology industry, following software skills, is having great communication skills, Pollak says. “Not only is it crucial for highly technical tasks, but it’s true for overall business operations as well,” she says. “If this is an area for improvement for you, consider taking a business communications class at a local community college, or explore many of the continuing education programs out there.”
A developer’s perspective on the IT job market
“The overall job market for developers has been and is still hot,” says Jason Moore, a full-stack developer at software company Aras. Moore has been a developer for more than 20 years.
“I am approached almost daily on sites such as LinkedIn and via email concerning new potential job opportunities,” Moore says. “Because I have an array of both technical and soft skills that I have developed over the years, I can confidently say that my skills are still in demand, namely because I continually learn and improve on my foundational skills in communication, analysis, and technology.”
Among the job offers Moore receives are those for senior-level development roles across a variety of industries. Which new skills and capabilities are required depends upon on the type of job, Moore says.
“Some, but not all, positions require you to be more hands-on code-wise, architecturally astute, or require a project manager background to move up into those ranks,” Moore says. “Perhaps the biggest shift that I’ve seen versus 20 years ago is that there is no such thing as a technical strategic people manager. Teams are functioning leaner and more agile. You need to be able to both do the work and also delegate technical work appropriately if management is your aspiration.”
Eye on cybersecurity and devsecops
Robert Half is not seeing any “earth-shattering” shifts in the developer market, Deneu says. “But there has been an increased interest in security-based roles over the past year and we see that continuing,” he says. That includes IT auditing and cybersecurity for the web, internal systems, and networks.
The ongoing focus on strong cybersecurity will no doubt lead to a greater need for people who can develop security tools as well as ensure that other software is secure before it’s released. The rise of the devsecops model, in which security is included in all phases throughout the development lifecycle, is indicative of how important security has become for development processes.
Security software developers combine technical programming knowledge with product development and security skills, and need to be up to date on the latest threats and vulnerabilities.
How to get hired as a software developer
Although experienced developers should face little trouble landing good jobs, given the demand, there are steps software developers can take to be even more attractive in the market and to adapt to ongoing changes.
One good practice is to consistently look for opportunities to update existing skill sets or learn entirely new skills. As Schumann notes, while demand is high for developers in general, those who can offer multiple skills are more likely to get the job.
Given the ongoing shift to the cloud, it’s a good idea to sharpen your skills related to cloud services and tools.
“Cloud is a big factor now and will be a big factor in the future,” Deneu says. “Any developer needs to have a strong grasp of cloud-based technologies to continue a seamless transition. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box in terms of learning new and emerging technologies. Be proactive in self-learning.”
It’s also a good idea to update your resume as regularly as possible. “Research best practices for optimizing your resume, and ways to best display your work samples,” Schumann says. “For example, can you show how your contributions to a recent project had a measurable impact on a business outcome?”
Most employers use applicant tracking systems to parse resumes, Pollak says. “A straightforward template works best to get noticed,” she says. “No need for headers, columns, or text boxes.”
Especially for complex developer roles, “make sure you are as specific as possible in listing out any training or certifications you’ve received on your resume,” Pollak says. “While some may have taken just one technical course to acquire a given skill, you may have years of experience. Consider listing years of experience tied to each skill in order to stand out.”
It is also important to keep your code samples and public works up to date via GitHub or another code-sharing platform, Deneu says. “Potential employers are looking at your portfolio.”
The industry is moving at such a fast pace that potential employers want to see that candidates know the latest developments in languages and that they have relevant and recent experience.
“Attend or participate in conferences or events specific to your field to get a sense of how it is transforming,” Schumann says. “While not everything showcased at these events will come to fruition, it will show the direction industries are heading and will help you determine how to best position yourself to successfully land these opportunities.”
To stand out for potential jobs, Schumann says, developers need to clearly articulate challenging problems they have personally solved and the impact. “But stick to the facts and avoid excessive embellishing,” she says. “Support your achievements with specific data.”
In addition, it’s good for professionals to have a variety of recommendations on their LinkedIn profiles, from peers and managers who can validate their skills.
“Think about your LinkedIn profile as your business card, and list your most recent contact info and interests,” Schumann says. “If you’re open to new opportunities, turn on that feature in LinkedIn and be specific about the types of opportunities you’re looking for,” including whether you are open to remote roles or relocation.
For developers such as Moore, the key to success is the ability to continue learning and adapting. “My advice for individuals trying to navigate the rapidly changing developer field is to always stay curious about learning, be cutting edge—don’t ‘get married’ to one technology—and get the certifications that make sense for your chosen career path.”
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