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IT Recruiting: 8 Trends in 2019

Tom Winter headshot
by 
Tom Winter
on April 17, 2019

This week’s blog is guest authored by Tom Winter, Tech Recruitment Adviser and Co-founder at Devskiller, a developer screening and interview platform. Tom is also the co-author of IT Recruitment Process that Works: Proven Strategies, Industry Benchmarks, and Expert Intel to Supercharge Your Tech Hiring.


Across industries, IT recruiting is incredibly competitive, and it’s only going to become moreso for the foreseeable future. In the U.S., the Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that the number of software developers needed will grow 24% from 2016 to 2026, over three times the average rate of 7% for all other occupations.

Clearly, it’s more important than ever for companies to keep up with the evolution of IT skills, developer expectations and preferences, and smart hacks that the best IT recruiters are using to win candidates.

To help recruiters tackle the challenges ahead in 2019, we looked at data from respected industry sources and mined our own data, compiling insights into 8 trends driving IT recruiting to help the savvy recruiter.

1. 73% of Developers Will Take the Coding Tests You Send Them

What makes tech different than most other fields is that on one hand, there’s a high demand for skilled developers. On the other hand, there are not enough of them. This is complicated by the fact that software development is not a commodity.

Different developers have different specialized skills, and you need to find the ones that match the requirements of the position you are trying to fill. The right person can have an outsized effect on your bottom line by driving innovation, elevating customer satisfaction with your product, and other critical contributions.

Conversely, a bad developer can eat up the productivity of your team while building a buggy product, creating reputational and financial risks.

To effectively assess technical skills, smart companies will avoid whiteboard tests, bug-hunting exercises, and random programming questions and, instead, simulate a “first day at work” experience using dedicated skill screening software.

But will developers invest their time in this type of pre-employment assessment?

In our Global Technical Hiring & Skills Report 2019, Devskiller reviewed more than 112,000 coding tests that simulated work samples (as opposed to academic algorithmic tests) and found that 73% of candidates do, in fact, take them. And in some countries, the completion rates soared as high as 98%.

Clearly, the right coding test is a lean and effective method for confirming the skills of technical candidates.

2. Coding Tests Sent on Tuesday Get the Fastest Response Time

Speaking of coding tests, in 2019, optimizing your use of developer screening tools can help you hire developers faster and reduce the risk of candidate drop-out.

As it turns out, one very simple optimization is the day you send out the coding test.

average wait days after sending code test

Source: Devskiller Global Technical Hiring & Skills Report 2019

Looking at our data on hundreds of thousands of assessments, we found that tests sent on Tuesday get the fastest responses.

(Clearly, developers prefer to leave their weekends free.)

With this one easy adjustment to your pre-employment screening process, IT recruiters can accelerate the hiring process while still taking necessary steps to assess and ensure candidate quality.

3. Three-Quarters of Developers Are Employed Full Time

So, does the fact that developers wanted to do coding tests during the week mean they’re unemployed? The answer is an overwhelming no.

Stack Overflow’s 2018 Developer Hiring Landscape report found that 76.9% of developers who responded to their yearly survey were employed full time. Only 5.1% were unemployed and looking for work.

What that means for tech recruiters is that in 2019, the vast majority of technical candidates you need will already have a job.

When companies need candidates more than candidates need jobs, the candidate gain a considerable amount of leverage.

One solution we recommend is to redouble your passive sourcing efforts. This means doing everything possible to lessen the impact of the hiring process on your candidates.

Optimizing your use of coding tests in line with developer preferences is one way to do this.

Another is to implement a best-of-breed applicant tracking system like PeopleFluent that helps you maintain touchpoints with candidates and improve their recruitment experience.

4. A Third of Developers Want to be Doing Something Different in 5 Years

Just because the developer candidates already have a job, will it be impossible to get their attention?

Not necessarily.  

A third of developers want to be in a different or more specialized technical role in 5 years.

This might mean working on a different technology or a different type of project. It can also mean advancing up the ranks from junior developer.

For employers, the insights within this data are twofold:

  • Developers are seeking new kinds of opportunities – If yours is appealing, it can garner the attention of someone who is otherwise happily employed.
  • It signals another way to attract more skilled candidates – If your company offers developers interesting work and a path for professional advancement, they'll be more likely to accept a position and stay longer.

5. Nearly Half of Developers in Coding Bootcamps Are Employed

Top developers are avid learners, always preparing for new challenges and seeking training on emerging languages and technologies.

What’s interesting is how some of them go about upskilling—and at what point in their careers.

While most still advance through self-study, coding bootcamps are popular. And 45.5% of bootcampers are already employed as developers.

So rather than only being a means for novices to build skills to meet entry-level qualifications, coding bootcamps should also be seen as an option for established developers to advance their skills and careers.

For recruiters, this means that developer resumes listing recent bootcamps can be a positive signal of a candidate’s commitment to continuing professional development, not just a basic qualification.

6. Kotlin is the Fastest Growing Open Source Language

One reason that experienced developers flock to coding bootcamps is the rapid pace of technological development.

A good indication of what will become widely used commercially is to see what is prominent in the Open Source Community.

fastest growing open source languages

Source: The State of the Octoverse 2018

Information from open source repository GitHub shows that Kotlin (used for developing Android apps, among other things) is currently the fastest growing language on their platform.

The wise tech recruiter will keep an eye out for passive candidates with skills in Kotlin and other emerging languages, as it can give you a leg up on future hiring needs.

However, recruiters will need to continue nurturing candidates with JavaScript, SQL, and other key skills that drive recruiting needs today.

top 5 technology skills companies want

Source: Devskiller Global Technical Hiring & Skills Report 2019

7. Companies in Need are Recruiting Outside their Geographical Borders

One of the most interesting trends in tech recruitment is that the labor pool has become vastly distributed.

Even protected labor markets are looking for skilled software developers, and for some countries sourcing developers abroad has become essential to maintaining their industry.

international technical hiring statistics by country

Source: Devskiller Global Technical Hiring & Skills Report 2019

Kuwaiti companies recruit the most developers outside of their borders by far, with 98% taking coding tests somewhere other than Kuwait.

For a small but prosperous country with limited human capital, this stands to reason. But even countries like the U.S. and Germany recruit roughly half of their developers outside their borders.

No matter what country you're in, the tech labor force is becoming increasingly fluid. Smart tech recruiters look beyond their local labor pool for the skills needed to drive innovation and organizational success.

8. Tech Recruiters are Investing in Domain Knowledge

Given the constant change that characterizes the IT employment landscape, recruiters are always looking for strategies to give them an edge.

One trend we see is an uptick in tech recruiters working to develop specialized technical knowledge themselves.

At Devskiller, we offer a free certification course in tech recruitment and are always impressed by participation and completion rates.

Two-thirds of the recruiters pass on the first attempt, investing an average of 3 weeks to ensure they master the material.

This commitment to self-study echoes that of the developers they seek to hire, and it reflects a genuine desire for domain expertise rather than an empty badge on their LinkedIn profile.

8 Strategies for Winning Top IT Talent in 2019

Perhaps more than any other field, the tech recruitment landscape is constantly changing.

As recruiters tackle your stack of developer requisitions in 2019, we recommend these 9 strategies:

  • Use coding tests to shorten time-to-hire and ensure candidate quality
  • Optimize your assessments by sending coding tests to candidates at the right time
  • Redouble your efforts to nurture a passive network of employed developers
  • Capture and convey to candidates the opportunities you offer for them to do challenging work and advance professionally
  • Treat coding bootcamps as a skills enhancer rather than an entry-level course
  • Recruit for the skills you need today (like JavaScript), but look for candidates with skills in emerging open source technologies like Kotlin
  • Look outside your geographical borders for new talent
  • Develop your domain-specific knowledge to boost your success as an IT recruiter.

By staying abreast of emerging trends and deploying assessment technologies and recruiting solutions, your company can build the skilled IT workforce it takes to succeed.

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