What developers want, what they don't, and what you can do to attract top talent

Stack Overflow's 2020 survey of developers provides a snapshot of the programming community that can be useful in building hiring strategies and prioritizing programming plans.

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Developer community hub Stack Overflow has released its annual survey of developers for 2020, giving insight into how the software dev community feels about their jobs, the programming languages they use, and who is earning the most money. The 2020 Stack Overflow survey of developers polled over 65,000 people, and much of its findings are consistent each year. 

There is one major caveat that Stack Overflow mentions in the intro to its survey report: Participants were polled in February 2020, before the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 and subsequent changes to work culture and growing unemployment numbers. So while the 2020 Stack Overflow survey can still be a valuable insight into the software developer world there's no telling how much it may change in 2021.

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The tools that developers love and hate

There aren't many surprises here, as much of the top ranking languages, frameworks, and tools remained the same in 2020. One upset, however, comes in the decreasing popularity of Python, which dropped to third in the rankings for most popular language behind top-ranked Rust (now in its fifth year as leader) and newly minted second place TypeScript, which pushed Python down a spot.

VBA, Objective C, and Perl are the most hated languages, which Stack Overflow notes are currently highly used, but the developers coding with the nave "no interest in continuing to do so."

JavaScript remains the most commonly used language for the eighth year in a row, jQuery is still at the top of the frameworks list, and the same goes for MySQL for databases. 

Hiring and retaining developers

92% of respondents said they were working at least part time. 65% are satisfied with their jobs, and 83% aren't interested in leaving their current position, so it may be difficult for companies in need of developers to attract new talent. As mentioned above, these numbers were pre-pandemic, so the post-pandemic world may end up looking quite different.

Organizations that want to attract good developers stand to gain a lot from Stack Overflow's 2020 survey, which breaks down employment information in a variety of ways. 

In terms of what developers want out of a job, respondents say they largely aren't concerned about the financial performance of the company, the team they'd be working with, or the level of diversity in the organization. What they do care about (the survey specifically controlled for compensation, benefits, and location) is the languages they'll be using, the office environment and company culture, and the flexibility of their schedule. 

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There are slight discrepancies when comparing what women and non-binary respondents said were their top priorities, so businesses shouldn't disregard other factors when considering how to market a job or what sorts of workplace elements to prioritize. Women who responded ranked diversity much higher in importance, as did non-binary respondents, both of whom also said office environment and company culture were their top factors. 

As for why job seekers are looking for a different position, there are two leading factors to consider: 70% leave their current positions for better pay, and wanting to work with new technologies ranked as the second most important factor in why they choose to leave a job, as well as being a major difference in choosing between two job offers.

Courting a long-term employee doesn't end with accepting a job offer, either: Less than half of respondents said their company had a good onboarding process, and one fifth said there was no onboarding process at all. Onboarding is a crucial component in helping new employees get off on the right foot, and companies looking to retain good developers should be careful not to be negligent in that area.

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