What does a successful developer actually look like?

Aiven’s Lorna Mitchell dispels the common misconceptions about developers and explains why recruiters need to broaden the talent pool.

Much like every sector across the board, the tech industry is experiencing a shortage of talent, many digital leaders stating they are unable to keep pace with change because of a lack of expertise.

With this talent shortage ongoing, recruiters need to re-evaluate their presumptions about what makes a successful developer. Those looking to hire developers need to leave behind the myths and misconceptions traditionally attached to the idea of what makes a good developer in order to attract the right individuals they urgently require.

Different career journeys 

Future Human

Developers are an incredibly varied group of people, which is reflected in the different career backgrounds and pathways to getting into the role. There are individuals who have been coding since childhood, others who have proactively pursued it as a career and those that have found themselves coding for work through circumstance. Apart from a shared professional interest, it can be difficult to draw lines of similarity from one developer to another. And so it should be.

In most fields, people on the same career path often share comparable qualifications. While having a degree is commonplace for the majority in software development, this is by no means uniform.

There is great variety in the degrees that software developers possess and isn’t necessary for the job. Many have pivoted from a career in a separate industry into development later on, bringing really useful alternative insights, experiences and transferrable skills along with them.

Communication and collaboration

There are many outdated presumptions on what developer personalities look like, such as the siloed worker typing away in a dark room.

The reality however is somewhat different, with a typical working day for a developer being full of teamwork, collaboration and consulting guidance. The very best developers are the ones that can work on complex projects using the skills of their teammates to get the best outcomes.

As with all professions, experience counts. It is possible for technical experience to be gained in a vacuum, but its effectiveness can be multiplied through collaboration.

Developers work with others and learn from one another along the way. Differing insights and alternative suggestions can be key to overcoming challenges. Open discussion and the exchange of ideas are ultimately encouraged by the very way that developer tools are built.

It’s not hard to come across misconceptions about successful developers. There may be a grain of truth in some, but many are either no longer applicable or were completely false in the first place.

Developers are not uniformly antisocial people. Developers can often be some of the most creative problem solvers, able to use deep skills and capacity to collaborate to tackle the task at hand. Being able to combine hard work with emotional intelligence and intellectual curiosity to learn new skills is what makes the best developers, and they help others around them do the same.

Growing the skill pool 

Demand for developer skills is rising. Steeply. As we continue to see the great resignation, opportunities for those considering a career in the developer field are all the more appealing.

Working as a software developer is well paid, but more importantly, it’s always interesting. With every industry embarking on digital transformation journeys, developers have ample opportunity to work across various sectors, growing their skillset and expanding their professional network along the way.

Tired stereotypes need to be overturned so that they don’t deter prospects from pursuing this career path. Organisations play a pivotal role in challenging these assumptions. By embracing the reality that developers can come from all walks of life, the misconceptions can be stamped out and not negatively influence recruitment efforts.

Not only will this drive talent toward the businesses that heavily depend on their skills, but it will also help many more people discover an endlessly rewarding career.

By Lorna Mitchell

Lorna Mitchell is the head of developer relations at open-source data technologies provider Aiven.

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