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Developer Trends in 2020 and Beyond: 4 Takeaways From DeveloperWeek

Earlier this year, HackerRank CEO and Co-founder, Vivek Ravisankar, gave a keynote at DeveloperWeek. In it, he shared some of the key insights from the 2020 Developer Skills Report (based on a survey of 116,648 developers from 162 countries).

In his summary at DeveloperWeek, he covered generational trends amongst developers, developer education trends, and more. Watch his keynote here, or check out his key takeaways below:

1. Millennials feel the strongest about compensation discrepancies

When asked whether they were being paid fairly compared to their peers, 39% of developers said they’re being paid unfairly.

Compared to Gen X and Baby Boomers, Millennials are most likely to note discrepancies in compensation. Over 40% of millennial developers say they’re being paid unfairly compared to their peers, versus 29% of previous generations.

That might be tied to related data around developer tenure. Tenure is, arguably, one of the factors that affects compensation most—and average job tenure is short for the majority of developers. The Developer Skills Report found that 42% of developers had tenures lasting less than a year.

While the report showed that global average tenure was 2.6 years, that varied from generation to generation. Baby Boomers had the longest tenure, with a trend of declining tenure down to the newest generation in the workforce (Gen Z). Tenure was also tied to seniority, with director and VP-level developers staying a longer tenure than those early in their career.

2.  Learning new technical skills is the preferred form of professional growth

So if the average tenure of a developer is only 2.6  years, what can hiring managers do to increase retention? To answer it, the report asked about the forms of professional development developers want most.

According to the research, 59% of developers say the opportunity to learn new skills during the job is the most important form of growth. To better keep employees engaged, Vivek says that employers are beginning to build skill maps for their engineers. The goal is to create a universal competency framework, and to measure each developer against it. It helps identify room for growth in their skill set, and a framework to follow for continual learning.

For starters, you can be explicit about how you’re enabling professional growth for your engineers. Use your job description to outline the long-term career path of the role to convey your investment in their professional development. By focusing on helping them learn on the job, you’ll set them up for success, and increase odds of a longer tenure.

3. Exploratory courses can help developers find their ideal career path

Another critical factor in increasing developer retention is matching them to the right roles. That’s especially important when it comes to promoting high-performing developers.

Vivek says that supervisors often make the mistake of promoting the strongest developer to a manager role. But without the right resources and training, they may not necessarily have the skills they need to succeed. Things like team management, cross-functional stakeholder alignment, and allocation of work are all core to a manager’s success. But not all developers will be suited for—or interested in—that work.

To help developers make informed decisions about their career path, Vivek explained that he’s seen an increasing number of employers offer “exploratory courses.” In those courses, developers are able to try out different roles (e.g. engineering manager) without committing to the role.

For one, it helps them make sure they’re making the right career decision. It also helps provide a psychological safety net for those that are ready to make a change. They can try a different role without having to leave the company, and without hesitation about pursuing a new set of responsibilities. That, in turn, helps to retain strong developers.

4. Four-year degrees are losing importance among employers

The report also showed that hiring managers at small companies are hiring developers without four-year degrees. In fact, 32% of hiring managers at small companies say they’ve hired a developer without a four-year degree. That’s likely thanks in part to trends set by tech giants like Google and Apple, who famously removed mandatory degree requirements from their job applications. Elon Musk has shared a similar sentiment.

It could be part of the reason why hiring managers are continuing to invest in bootcamp grads. A total 32% of hiring managers said that they’d hired a bootcamp grad. And of those that had hired a bootcamp grad, roughly 75% say those hires are equally (or better) equipped for the job compared to their peers.


Want to see the rest of the insights from the 116,000+ developer survey? Check out the report to read it in full.

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