Graduate turned Java Developer – what employers search for

Java programming – and java programmers themselves – are becoming no less popular as computers and technology evolves. Java remains one of the most popular programming languages around, rated the second most commonly used as well as the most in-demand programming language among employers.  In respect to the cloud, Java remains the number one developer choice, with 21 billion machines running on the code.

So, understandably, workplace demand is seeing a greater number of java developers than ever churned out of universities and educational institutions. In 2005, it was reported by the Sun that around 4.5 million Java programmers were floating around, worldwide. By 2007, that figure had almost doubled, and by 2010 there were around 9 million java developers employed globally.

There is certainly no shortage of candidates out there either. Universities around the world leapt onto the bandwagon almost immediately, adding Java-specific coding courses into their programs as soon as it was deemed doable, and so each year thousands of graduates spill out into the working world, seeking new and exciting opportunities.

So, how can candidates set themselves apart from others, and land themselves a great job in the java world right away? In this day and age, it takes a lot more than performing well in a simple java test to score the gig of your dreams. The question is, what exactly are employers looking for in a java developer?

Obviously, having an excellent grasp on coding basics is number one. This doesn’t even necessarily require a formal education, though generally company criteria dictates a college demands at the very least. You can learn java coding online through a tutorial, or of course enroll in a more formal course. While writing codes, try to understand (and memorize, if possible) each and every line of code – this will help you deliver faster, more efficient code later on in the workplace.

Recruiters and employers are also increasingly seeking developers who can demonstrate a strong foundation in object oriented programming (OOP). This refers particularly to encapsulation, inheritance, abstraction and polymorphism. Why is object oriented programming so important to java coding? Well, quite simply because everything in java is, essentially, an object. Great Java developers are fantastic at implementing object oriented design patterns and can architect their code effectively in this way.  

The ability to work with clients is another biggie.

This one goes without saying. While many harbor the belief that being a programmer involves tucking oneself into a dark room all day and having no interaction with the outside world, in actual fact the complete opposite is true. Java developers are often expected to deal with clients, managers, and other developers, responding to their demands, requests and needs wherever possible. In the same vein, programmers with excellent communication skills will fare far better than those lacking in them, as responding to complex challenges, demands and programming pressures requires eloquent and well-thought out responses.

Employers are looking to hire people who live, breathe and think like java programmers 24/7. People who are always abreast of new technologies, frameworks, and other coding developments are much more valuable than those who haven’t updated their knowledge and skillset since graduating college. Programmers who are familiar with different source codes and are able to understand their internal working mechanisms can contribute much more and solve far more complex problems than those whose knowledge is limited to just java. Continuous learning is highly recommended, and demonstrating an interest in continued professional development will only work in your favour in the workplace.

Patience is indeed a virtue – and one that we all know applies in almost every context but particularly in the world of computer programming. Many programming challenges require huge amounts of concentration and research to solve, and only those able to deal with complex, potentially infuriating problems while keeping a cool head will thrive in the world of java. In a similar vein, professionalism is critical skill for java programmers. The ability to problem solve, respond to complex challenges, and feedback to the boss in an appropriate, calm and collected way is a seriously undervalued skill in this space.  Candidates who can demonstrate the ability to lead, as both a mentor and listener, as well as take ownership of mistakes and handle pressure wherever required are qualities that employers are seeking, too. Developers who can at the same time demonstrate an ability to think creatively, explore novel solutions, step out of one’s comfort zone and experiment with the unexplored will go a very, very long way.

Other increasingly in-demand skills that appears lacking in the java development space is knowledge and understanding about JVM internals, GC behavior, and Java performance tuning. Having a strong understanding of concurrency and multithreading  will help put you ahead of the rest of the pack, too.

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