New Insights Into Developer Habits

A new global survey of developers (PDF), conducted by research firm IDC and commissioned by the Application Developers Alliance, offers some key insights for recruiters searching for top talent.

The survey featured a relatively small sample size: Some 850 developers, an extremely small fraction of the millions of people building software worldwide. Nonetheless, the responses will feel familiar to anyone who’s spent a lot of time around tech pros. Some key takeaways:

  • A majority of those surveyed (68 percent) had 5 or more years of experience.
  • Around 57 percent said they were interested in “staying current” about development technology.
  • Three-quarters (75 percent) used open-source software.
  • Roughly 83 percent thought of themselves as “self-reliant,” more likely to head to online forums for programming help (for example) than questioning colleagues or mentors.

Many developers also expressed an affinity for freelancing, with more than a third saying they weren’t affiliated with any particular company. “We believe that mobile devices and the app economy are important factors contributing to this [freelancer] growth,” the report added, “though the rise of gaming, and the higher level of freelancing in the economy in general are also contributing factors.”

Last but certainly not least, many of the surveyed developers reported working in very small teams—roughly 26 percent said they were the sole developer on most projects, while roughly a third said they worked on teams of 5 or fewer colleagues.

So what’s the takeaway? Companies that embrace smaller teams, training opportunities for developers, and open-source software may have an advantage when it comes to recruiting talent. For recruiters hunting for top developers, looking to the freelance community might prove an excellent way of surfacing great candidates, considering the number of developers who work independently (but who may be amenable to working for a company).

Image Credit: IDC/Application Developers Alliance

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