What developers want


A fast-changing job

Remember the days when you had to listen to two minutes of dial-up noises to connect to the internet? Even checking your email was such a hassle. Nowadays, we can be online with literally only the tip of our fingertips. Just tap our phones and voila--we have access to the internet and the gazillion of apps and web services associated with it.

Accompanying this drastic change in (and need for) technology over the last couple of decades, the role of a developer has evolved significantly. It's no longer just blindly producing code and software all day long. The daily challenges that a developer encounters have become much more multidimensional: constantly solving complex problems, keeping up to date with new technologies and methodologies, while also staying innovative and ethical.

With more responsibilities and an increasing importance in the workforce, developers are looking for more than just a paycheck from their employers. They want a workplace where they feel good and have their work recognized and rewarded.

At CodinGame, we know what developers want. Our mission is to empower them to learn from their peers, level up and land jobs they deserve, no matter their educational or professional background. By listening to the needs of our community of one million programmers since 2014, we've come to fully understand what drives them.

In the beginning of 2018, we surveyed 6,128 developers. We learned what they value in their work, skills they’d like to acquire, tools that make their everyday work life better and pretty much all the other stuff that makes them stay in (or change) their workplaces.

We ended up with interesting facts such as:

  • 68% of developers consider that the ability to learn new things is more important than salary when considering a new job opportunity;
  • Machine learning is the number 1 skill that developers would like to acquire in 2018; and
  • Developers who work in small companies are more professionally fulfilled than those working in large groups.

Read on to discover the rest. We hope you’ll find some useful insights on hiring and retaining your tech talent.


How did developers start learning to code?

Coding is an early passion

69% of respondents started programming between 10 and 19 years old, with 8% even starting before the age of 10. Late transitions into a developer career after 35 years of age concern only 2% of respondents.

As the old saying goes, don't judge a book by its cover. Just because a candidate is young doesn't mean they're less wise or inexperienced.


Over half of developers are partially self-taught

The majority of developers are self-learners. This is a global trend in recent developer studies such as those from Stack Overflow or HackerRank. Thanks to the growing number of easily accessible resources, 51% of respondents started to learn to code on their own with the help of books and/or online content. Interestingly, only 3% of respondents learned programming through a short-term training session or bootcamp.

When you screen candidates, look beyond formal education and give more weight to actual skills. This could prevent you from missing out on a highly-qualified tech talent.

Also, to help your developers stay on top of new tech or methodologies, you may want to give them regular "training and development time" during work hours to learn on their own instead of sending them to a bootcamp or a short-term course.


Most developers have higher education qualifications

Though a large majority of developers qualify themselves as self-taught (at least partially), 68% of respondents hold a bachelor's degree and 28% hold a master's degree. Programmers with short-term training such as bootcamps only represent 3% of respondents.

If you have troubles finding a developer with a master's degree, you may want to revisit your set of qualifications. It's not about the degree obtained, but the pertinent knowledge that counts. When in doubt, use unbiased online coding tests to find out who's the real deal.

Developers graduate in…Computer Science

59% of developers who went to a college or university specialized in Computer Science. 23% majored in other sciences such as maths, physics or aerospace. The remaining 18% majored in other fields such as electronics, business, humanities, art and design.

As we saw previously, developers come from different backgrounds (i.e., self-taught vs university-graduated developers). To widen your tech talent pool, consider looking at other specializations beyond Computer Science to find your next dev starlet.


What makes developers happy
at work?

Developers rate their level of happiness at work with an average of 3.61 on a scale of five. As shown below, this score varies a lot depending on the company type and size.


Developers feel happier in smaller companies

Company size greatly influences how content developers are in their current jobs. Developers who work in a very small company (less than 10 employees) tend to have the greatest career satisfaction. 20% of developers working in companies with 1 - 9 employees declare to be "very happy" (score of 5/5) with their job, whereas this number drops to only 12% for developers working in large companies (more than 1,000 employees).

For large companies, it may be a good idea to simulate a small company environment in your groups to keep your programmers happy. This could range from giving devs the opportunity to wear different hats in the group to being more flexible and less bureaucratic with office policies.

Technology is the most fulfilling industry

Career satisfaction also varies according to industries. More programmers in Technology (19.0%) and Health Care (16.5%) are content with their careers compared to those in Finance (only 7.8%).

Companies in less desirable industries need to up your game to hire and retain tech talent. Employer branding activities and employee retention tactics are a must. Events such as fun and friendly hackathons or online programming contests not only attract tech talent, but also aid in building cohesive teams.


Photo by Silvestri Matteo on Unsplash

Canada is the best place to work for developers

With 24% of "very happy" developers (percentage of respondents who rated their level of satisfaction at work at 5 out of 5), Canada is considered as THE place to be for developers. Spain comes next at 21%, then Germany and Romania tying at 19%. Surprisingly, the US only ranks 6th with 15% (below Russia). Ukraine tends to be the country where developers feel the least satisfied with their job.

Obviously, it'll be easier for recruiters from more popular countries to attract and keep tech talent. If you find yourself in the not-so-popular category and you're in dire need to hire and/or retain developers, you need to make your company a more attractive place to work. For example, offering better compensation packages, improving work-life balance, investing in the latest technologies and implementing learning opportunities could all help make it or break it for a developer.


What tools do developers love (or hate)?

Most used VS most popular programming languages

Javascript is the most used programming language at work, followed by Java and C#. Even though they're widely used and are among the 10 most in-demand languages for 2018, these 3 languages aren't very popular with developers.

Although Javascript is in high demand for web development and Java has been widely used for over 20 years (and is gaining even more traction with the rise of Android), they're not most developers' cup of tea so...tread lightly. On the other hand, developers love Python and C++, both of which are less widely used in the industry.


Javascript frameworks are leading the race

The top five most widely used languages at work are Node.js, .NET Core, AngularJS, Spring and React. While Javascript frameworks are clearly leading the race, .NET Core, which has been released less than 2 years ago, ranks second, whereas Spring is steadily gaining traction.

Developers' favorite IDE is Visual Studio

Microsoft technologies are listed twice in the top five of developers' favorite IDEs, with Visual Studio on top of the podium with 42%. IntelliJ ranks second with 30%, followed by Visual Studio Code with 27% and Eclipse with 25%.

If you have the means, make it easier for your developers to come to work everyday by investing in the tools they love. After all, "you're only as good as your tools."


PHP is the most dreaded programming language

The top five least popular programming languages among developers are PHP, Java, VB.NET, Javascript and C.


The neverending tabs VS spaces debate

Code formatting is quite the trollish debate. Chances are, every developer has been involved in a passionate discussion about indentation styles at one point of their coding lives. Up to this day, no choice has been made between the two standards.

That said, if you want an icebreaker on a developer interview, here's a freebie:


What do developers look for in their next job?

All coders want to learn

Being able to learn and grow their skills in their next job is what matters most to developers when considering a career move. This is followed by salary, the ability to solve complex problems, a work environment filled with brilliant colleagues and flexible working hours. On the other hand, health benefits, vacation time and advancement opportunities aren’t criteria that developers consider the most essential when evaluating a new position.

When you write your next developer job description for an available position, be sure to highlight the popular elements and focus less on the least favored ones.



The US offers the highest developer salaries

Since salary is the second most important criteria for developers, let’s take a look at how it varies between countries. The US is the country where developers have the highest average annual salary with $93,000. Germany comes next with $69,000, followed by the UK with $64,000, and then Canada with $57,000. Poland is the Eastern European country with the highest average salary with $21,000.

Are your company's developer salaries comparable to those of your country's? If they're below your country's average, it might be time to review them if you want to stay competitive in the war for tech talent.


LinkedIn is the first place where developers search for jobs

When developers want to change jobs, LinkedIn is the first place where they look. The second most popular avenue is their personal network followed by Stack Overflow's job postings.

On your hunt for tech talent, make sure your job postings stand out on LinkedIn, Stack Overflow and all other job boards. Also, don't forget the power of word of mouth—you never know who knows who.


For job opportunities, developers prefer to be contacted by email

When approached for a job opportunity, developers prefer to be contacted by email (80%) or LinkedIn messages (49%). Recruiters beware—28% of them don't want to be contacted at all.

To avoid further irritating those who don't want to be contacted (or other developers for that matter), make sure that whatever you're offering is clear, straight to the point and relevant to them. It's surprising how many recruiters still make the mistake of sending irrelevant and ambiguous job postings.


How do developers get their learning on?

Online education is the number one resource to learn to code

With technology rapidly changing, constant learning is the most pressing need for developers. Online courses and MOOCS, which are in staggering growth, rank first as the coders' preferred resource to learn new programming topics. On that note, most online education programs now charge fees for course completion and certificates. This could explain why developers are turning to alternative learning methods such as competitive programming websites. Books are on par with traditional academic courses, whereas self-learning through personal projects comes fifth in the ranking. The latter shows that learning by doing is still one of the best ways to learn.

As we keep seeing over again, learning to a developer is like the battery that powers an Energizer bunny to keep on going. So, engage your tech talent by helping them stay relevant. Subsidizing online courses or setting aside some work time for them to learn on competitive programming websites could go a long way in retaining them.


Blogs are a great way to stay up to date with tech

Staying up to date with technology is a key concern for all developers. 64% of respondents say that the easiest way to keep their skills fresh is to read articles on blogs they know or content aggregators such as Reddit, Medium or Hacker News. One out of five developers uses Twitter to stay in the know.

If you're on a tech talent rut, get online. Spiff up your Twitter profile and start to build relationships with developers on this medium. If you enjoy writing, give articles a try on Medium or other online platforms. The most important thing is to put yourself out there.


Machine Learning is the hottest skill in 2018

When we asked developers which skills they'd like to acquire this year, Machine Learning surpassed all others with more than half of developers opting for it. Big Data (28%) and functional programming (27%) came next. Surprisingly, trending topics such as Blockchain or Virtual Reality ranked lower with developers.

Much like helping devs stay relevant, another way to keep them engaged at work would be to help them acquire the most wanted skill in the industry. Not only will they thank you for it; they'll love you for it!


CodinGame brings together a community of 1 million developers who use our platform to build up their coding skills by solving fun programming challenges and showcase their passion for code.

This study presents the results of a survey we conducted in January 2018 to which 6,128 developers in our community answered. The most represented countries among respondents were: the United States, France, Russia, Germany, Ukraine, Poland, India, the United Kingdom, Canada, Spain, Brazil, Romania, Hungary, Italia, Portugal, the Netherlands, Australia, China, Japan and Vietnam.

[email protected]

@2018 CodinGame

CodinGame provides developers with a unique free online playground to practice their coding skills and get noticed by top tech companies. We help references such as Nintendo, ebay or Deloitte supercharge their developer relations. Our platform allows them to hire and retain their tech talent with online coding tests and engage developers like no other with digital game-based hackathons. https://www.codingame.com/work