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4 traits that make developers highly desirable by employers

It’s no secret that digital proficiency will give job seeker a competitive edge over other candidates.

As more companies carry their businesses online to reach the masses, they require help on the backend to plan, design, and execute their ideas.

A recent study by Capital One Financial Corp. and Burning Glass Technologies found that eight in 10 middle-skill jobs demand digital skills. And the incentive to garner a high skill set is large: industry-specific positions requiring digital skills offered 38 per cent higher wages on average, according to U.S. News.

While the need for digitally literate and IT-proficient employees is dire, studies suggest that in the next 5 to 10 years, there will be an increase of IT jobs available and a shortage of employees. By 2020, the country could have nearly six million jobs requiring IT skills and just over three million qualified candidates, according to Microsoft.

David Yang, lead instructor and co-founder at NYC’s Fullstack Academy of Code understands the demand. Yang and one of his co-founders, Nimit Maru, opened the JavaScript-focused academy in 2013 which now boasts a 97 per cent hire rate.

Earlier this month, Yang and Maru hosted an interactive hiring day at Fullstack, where students and prospective employees demonstrated projects they had been working on and partook in “speed dating” rounds with Fortune 500 and tech companies like Bank of America, American Express, and 1st Dibs.

Employers all had one thing in common.

Whether the companies were strictly corporate or tech-inclined, they all sought basic programming skills and traits.

Yang shared with Business Insider the qualities that some of today’s most successful companies, like the one at Fullstack’s Demo Day, often seek.

Coding javascriptShutterstock

Knowing JavaScript

This language, Yang explained, is “the first language that has been able to run almost on any device, platform that you can imagine.”

What Yang describes as unique about JavaScript is that it can run on a databases to mobile phones, robotic devices, web browsers, and desktop computers. It also makes communication and scaling up that much easier because everything is coded in the same language.

In its website, Fullstack acknowledges the rise of more recent languages like Ruby on Rails, Python, and Django, some of which were used to build the founders’ startups.

But the founders believe that JavaScript is the language that trains students to be able to best-deliver the “dynamic ‘single-page’ applications” that users seek, all while ensuring that the developers’ learning at the academy is not slowed by switching across languages.

Having JavaScript in their skill set, Fullstack says, will also help prospective employees stand out while others who have learned exclusively Rails compete for the same jobs.

“The only constant in technology has been JavaScript,” Yang said.

Coding, hacking, hackathon, computers, guysJoe Raedle/Getty Images

A full-stack engineer
By “full-stack,” Yang means developers that understand challenges across all levels of technology that today’s companies use. If these candidates can master every layer of software technology, the benefits are even greater.

“Anything from storing data all the way to how to make their sites interactive and running their applications on mobile platforms,” Yang said.

Bonus points if the candidate is already familiar with the different kinds of problems that tech companies often experience. In general, however, they make life for their co-workers easier.

These kind of employees understand servers and front-end code but can also ensure security throughout a program.



T-shaped people

An entire conference is devoted to help create these types of people.

These kinds of people are not exclusively generalists or specialists. Instead, they explore a breadth and moderate depth on all topics that they are knowledgeable about. You might find that these types of people are increasingly knowledgeable in at least one system and one discipline.

For the T-Summit, people with this quality are the reply to growing demand for “today’s young professionals to possess deep disciplinary knowledge along with a keen ability to communicate across social, cultural, and economic boundaries.”

But programming is not the only context in t-shaped people are highly desirable. For almost any job, including marketing and customer service, employers highly benefit from someone who is t-shaped, Yang says, who is trained across large capabilities.

Outside of the office, t-shaped people continue to look for learning opportunities through travel and involvement in the community.



Managing your own learning

Employees that can quickly identify what they don’t know in a new position and learn it on their own are highly valuable in the workplace.

While companies may train new people, it is often up to them to acquire new skills that will enhance their results. These people are efficient, save the company time and money and are invaluable assets to the company.

Even for professionals trained in a certain area in college, for example, a common issue prospective employees face is that they were either trained in too narrow of a subject or they learned about a very broad amount of information without depth in one area, Yang said.

What this means for job seekers with one background is that they should be comfortable and open to participate in interdisciplinary projects and possibly learn skills associated with fields other than their own.

To encourage learning beyond software, Fullstack Academy also offers a CTO program, which teaches students about leading a company, financials, and connects developers with other organisations.

The best way to kick-start learning beyond the workplace or classroom?

“Be active in the community,” Yang said. “It’s the shortest answer to indentifying new trends.” He encourages developers to get involved beyond their company. Geography can “play a big role in technology choices,” and by connecting with other developers at conferences and events, developers can become informed about their options and make their decisions as to what routes to pursue.

But “the best career advice I have,” he said, “when there is change, is when you can make your premier.” When technology changes, Yang said, developers can become experts in the area and lead the a specific field.

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