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Software developers need more than coding skills

Employers are increasingly looking for software developers with soft skills, including time management and the ability to work on a team.

A new analysis of the software developer job market revealed that openings are expected to continue growing at a rapid pace. However, it takes more than strong coding skills to get hired in today's competitive market, a reality reflected in HackerRank's upcoming developer skills platform expansion.

HackerRank, a technical hiring company, recently stated its intent to use a $60 million series D round of funding to help it move beyond coding skills assessment, highlighting the premium employers place on more diverse skill sets.

The company, which was founded in 2012 and counts 25% of the Fortune 100 as customers, plans to screen for technical skills in emerging areas like blockchain, cryptocurrency and machine learning. In addition, plans are underway to assess skills outside of software development, including design, hardware and quality assurance, according to a press release.

The company stated in its release that the move will "better evaluate attributes increasingly valued among distributed teams."

Soft skills are critical

As well as requiring technical skills, employers are placing more emphasis on soft skills such as organization, time management and the ability to work effectively on a team. HackerRank's plans to identify candidates with these sought-after skills matches what is already going on in the marketplace.

"We screen for soft skills in our rigorous talent interview process," said Christy Schumann, senior vice president of talent operations for Toptal, a tech talent company. The company specializes in placement of freelance software developers. "We account for language and communications skills, professionalism and problem-solving abilities."

This level of consideration, she said, makes a difference for Toptal's clients, who range from enterprise companies to SMBs. "Not only are they able to work with top developer talent, they are being matched with someone who can fit well into existing teams and play an integral role in the success of any given project," she said.

Keeping up with emerging trends

Schumann added that there are opportunities for software developers with skills in blockchain, React/React Native, Node.js and Python. However, she said, the marketplace is changing fast.

"The speed at which tech is developing -- anything from the cloud to mobile apps -- is nearly outpacing the supply of skilled workers who know how to manage it," she said.

Another emerging trend is the shift toward code written by machine learning algorithms. Human coders will still be in demand, but the emphasis will change from writing code from scratch to working side by side with AI. Vincent Granville, founder of AI company MLtechniques.com and co-founder of Data Science Central, a community for big data practitioners that is owned by TechTarget, would employ developers if not for automation.

"I use platforms and don't have to code anything," Granville said. "When I click on some button to design a nice feature, it's just one click -- the code is automatically generated in the back end by a piece of code that writes code."

Still, software development remains critical for enterprises. "There is a real need for people who can put stuff in production mode," Granville said. "And they can be trained to learn data science, especially as mathematical modeling is more and more automated. The other way around is less easy."

Hot job market for developers

Plus, right now it's a job seekers' market for software developers with the right skills.

"With tech unemployment notably low, employers everywhere are offering more in order to secure the developer talent they need," said Nick Kolakowski, senior editor at Dice, a tech-focused career marketplace based in New York.

This has led to higher compensation, Kolakowski continued. In a recent analysis of the job market, Dice reported that median salaries for software developers range from $98,728 to $110,140 per year, making it one of the top-paying tech jobs. In addition to flexible work schedules, employers are offering extended benefits such as childcare, good work-life balance and work-from-home stipends.

It's going to continue be a hot market for the foreseeable future. A U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report published last year estimated a 22% growth rate in software developer jobs by the end of this decade; that's an additional 409,500 software developer jobs added to the marketplace by 2030.

More talent is entering the marketplace, too. Schumann said that Toptal is seeing a 60% rise in freelance talent applications, suggesting a growing awareness of opportunities in software development.

While the BLS And Dice analyses indicated software developers will remain in high demand for the foreseeable future, Schumann's statistic serves as a caution that the job market is becoming more competitive.

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