Report: How COVID-19 has changed developer hiring in 2020

HackerEarth's new survey underscores big shifts in common practices, which have led to an accelerated pace of digital transformation.

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It's an indisputable fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world, and tech recruiting company HackerEarth has the survey results to show that COVID-19 has affected developer hiring as well.

"To say the entire field of human resources and hiring was turned upside down in 2020 due to the pandemic and issues around racial equality is an understatement," said Sachin Gupta, CEO of HackerEarth.

Gupta cited the abandonment of outdated practices, the elimination of geography as a hiring factor, the rise of an ethos that prioritizes developer skills, and the adoption of tech that makes hiring a better experience for candidates and hiring managers as ways tech hiring has transformed.

SEE: COVID-19 workplace policy (TechRepublic Premium)

There's a lot to unpack in HackerEarth's State of Developer Recruitment 2020 report. For recruiters and candidates alike, a few important takeaways stand out.

Get used to assessment tools

If you're worried about not making it to the interview stage thanks to a program disqualifying you before you speak to a human, the pandemic hasn't been your friend. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, 42% of organizations that weren't using developer assessment tools have begun using one. That means developers have a definite chance of running into online coding assessment tools than ever before. 

Assessment tools are preferred thanks to their ability to provide unbiased opinions of a developer's skill, which is the top reason recruiters say they use the platforms in their hiring practice. Organizations that don't use assessment tools cite experience and skills as the top two factors in their hiring decisions.

Collaborative coding, video interviews are a new norm

With developer hiring becoming untethered from geography in 2020, video interviews became the new preferred method for recruiters, as did collaborative coding tools that allow candidates and interviewers to work together in real time.

Despite the fact that COVID-19 has essentially eliminated the office temperament and culture fit remain high on recruiter's priority lists. Developers looking for work amid the pandemic shouldn't expect any less pressure to have well-trained soft skills than before.

2021 tech hiring predictions

Along with assessing the current state of developer hiring, HackerEarth also had respondents predict a bit about hiring in 2021 as well. 

The prediction for most in-demand skills puts AI and machine learning at the top of the list, followed by DevOps, data science, and back end. As far as actual hiring goes, expect continued proliferation of both AI and natural language processing-based hiring tools, and semi-automated interviews as the elimination of subconscious biases becomes a central part of the discussion around hiring.

Respondents said health insurance, flexible work hours, and company-sponsored training are the top priorities when looking for a new job in 2021; as far as training goes, respondents said the best way to upskill is via coding platforms and bootcamps.

Remote assessment and hiring of developers, HackerEarth said, has never been easier and COVID-19 is largely to thank (or blame) for this rapid shift. Regardless, the hiring environment of 2021 will look very different from that of 2020, the report concludes.

"It will not be enough for hiring managers to provide their recruiting team with a checklist. Keeping communication lines open, and staying aware of the end-to-end latency in the talent pipeline needs to become a habit. In a world as swiftly changing as tech, it will be even more important to keep alive the conversations around mental health and overall wellness sparked by COVID; even when normalcy returns," HackerEarth said. 

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