Tech & Work

5 habits of highly successful developers

Developers who learn several languages and value experience over education are more likely to find jobs, according to a survey from HackerRank.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Developers know four programming languages on average, and plan to learn four more. — HackerRank, 2018
  • While 67% of developers have computer science degrees, 74% said they were at least partially self-taught. — HackerRank, 2018

Developers remain in great demand, but the most successful share certain characteristics that help them both on the job and on personal projects, according to the 2018 Developer Skills Report from HackerRank, released Tuesday.

Here are five habits of successful developers, according to the 39,000-plus surveyed for the report. Some of these habits are specific to developers, while others may lead to success in any profession.

1. Learn multiple languages

On average, developers know four languages, and say they want to learn four more, HackerRank found. This gives them a major boost in the job market, as the top 25 companies in the Fortune 500 rely on about four different languages, according to another recent study.

SEE: Hiring kit: Python developer (Tech Pro Research)

2. Have a thirst for learning

More than a quarter of the developers surveyed wrote their first piece of code before they were 16 years old. But starting young is not necessarily an indication of success: Of those who started coding after the age of 26, 36% are now senior or higher-level developers, HackerRank found.

Self-teaching is the norm for developers of all ages, the survey found: While 67% of developers surveyed have computer science degrees, about 74% said they were at least partially self-taught.

"Since programming is centered on independent research aimed at solving new challenges, self-teaching is a major part of being a successful developer," the report stated. "In choosing what to learn next, the best guiding principle is to plant yourself in one discipline and learn tools as a means to grow. Tools will always change. Ultimately, it's curiosity and genuine interest in programs that should fuel the drive to learn new tools and adapt to tech's evolving landscape."

3. Research what employers want

While learning new languages and skills can give developers an edge, it's also important to keep a pulse on what employers are looking for. JavaScript, Java, Python, C++, and C remain the most sought-after programming languages across all industries, according to HackerRank. And AngularJS, Node.js, React, Spring, and Django were the most in-demand frameworks for employers, the report found.

SEE: The 10 coding languages top developers plan to learn next

4. Value experience over education

Problem-solving skills are the most common qualification that employers seek in developers—even more so than programming language proficiency, HackerRank found.

"Demonstrating computational thinking or the ability to break down large, complex problems is just as valuable (if not more so) than the baseline technical skills required for a job," the report stated.

Companies also rank a developer's experience and portfolio (such as GitHub) far above their education and training, the report noted.

"What you do matters more than anything else," the report stated. "Qualifications that generally bolster the resume (prestige of degree, education level, skill endorsements or certificates) rank the lowest among what companies care about the most."

5. Know what to look for in a job

While many tech companies focus heavily on their office perks, developers rank work/life balance as the most important factor they seek in an employer, the survey found. It was closely followed by professional growth and learning, and compensation. Perks ranked in the bottom three of the list.

"2018 will mark the end of the resume for developers," Vivek Ravisankar, co-founder and CEO of HackerRank said in a press release. "As more and more companies across all industries are hiring software engineers, it's more important than ever to truly take the time to understand who developers are, what they're interested in, what drives them, and what they look for in a job. Without this, hiring managers will always struggle to find the best technical people."

Also see

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Image: iStockphoto/DragonImages

About Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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