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Oct 13, 2015

Java developers are everywhere. But why are they so hard to find?

Author: Oana Bucurica

Whenever we have positions open for Java developers, I think about how easy people seem to think they can be filled, vs. the actual time I end-up investing in recruiting them. Colleagues casually ask what I’m working on, I tell them I’m recruiting Java developers, and their reaction is almost always ‘Oh, Java, lucky you! They’re everywhere nowadays, aren’t they?’. And, with Java being the 1st most used development language, I guess they are. So then why are they so hard to hire?

The hyper-specialization era

With many projects being highly framework-specific, more and more Java developers focus their learning efforts on a particular framework, rather than investing their time into understanding the ‘essence’ of Java as a whole. This means they’ll have a tougher time adapting to a new framework, and will often not be willing to put in the effort, when they can just look for a project that requires their already consolidated expertise. When I get in touch with such very specialized programmers, they seem willing to hear me out at first, but almost always lose interest as soon as they find out they’d have to make a change in framework.

Wow factor

Most skilled developers rank the level of appeal a project presents as top decision-making factor – every job they’ll be offered, with their level of expertise, will insure a desirable salary, so naturally job satisfaction moves in as primary requirement. This is why recruiting Java developers involves some sales skills: you must persuade a potential candidate that the project you’re recruiting for is engaging, challenging and interesting. Not all development tasks are a career adventure but, needless to mention, clients don’t start projects based on their wow factor – and oftentimes ‘useful’ is not interesting enough for the talent I get in touch with, and I need to do my best to get their attention long enough to start discussing other benefits that might not be obvious with a first glance at the JD.

The ‘be your own boss’ mirage

I’ve heard many skilled developers say they 100% turn down a project, if they’re not allowed to work from home and organize their own agendas. The main argument here is that a significant part of the development process, and often the most creative and important part, happens away from the computer. The ‘Ahaa! moment’, when the solution to a problem comes to mind, often happens while they’re doing something completely random, like ironing shirts or playing the guitar.

However, team communication and the interaction with management is made more difficult by working from home. Having a local team be collocated makes a lot of difference in terms of efficiency, if managed well, in an Agile fashion. Developers feel that organizing their own agenda helps them come-up with better, more creative solutions to problems and aids in their productivity. Still, in most cases, a team of people being their own bosses while trying to work together is far less efficient than a team of people held together on the path of productivity by a single, Agile-certified vision.

Wanting experience without being willing to invest in people

Many talented, fast-learning candidates with a lot of potential are often ‘scared away’ from applying to a job by an imposing JD demanding 5+ year experience. Many of these candidates would have made excellent employees, with just a minimum amount of training to get them familiarized with whatever they feel less comfortable working with. I’ve often ran into ‘hidden talents’ other companies had not been willing to invest in, in order to help them grow.

Do you have trouble hiring skilled Java developers at your company? As a Java developer, do you feel good jobs are hard to find? Share your thoughts with me, and visit our careers page to scroll through our open positions and find out more about our culture.

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