With more and more software developers autodidacts and companies often hiring to meet deadlines, fill a vacancy quickly or take on new projects, a debate has emerged on whether a young candidate’s potential can outdo another’s years of hands-on experience.
The difficulty of funding studies while still having not found regular, full-time employment, coupled with the impracticality of studying to enhance one’s skills once installed in the workforce full-time means that many software developers are taking the initiative to study at home, to bring their skills set to a higher level and enhance their chances of getting hired.
This DIY approach can help to feed the talent pool, particularly in cities or regions where there is a shortage, and at a time when increasing numbers of US developers are outsourcing machine learning, UX/UI design and discovery phase to Latin America.
However, when applying for jobs, such candidates will find themselves competing against more experienced, even veteran, developers, and while years of experience and a long CV were traditionally seen as the requirements for employment, that is not always the case, with some companies opting to pay developers for the value they bring, rather than for their experience.
‘Interesting new trends’
“The majority of companies continue to hire for certain skills, coupled with years of experience, but there are some interesting new trends,” Enrique Cortés Rello, CEO of HealthCube, which provides digital healthcare solutions, told Nearshore Americas.
“There is beginning to be a significant number of self-taught techies who learned online and at hackathons, and by participating in open software projects, and there are some companies that will conduct more technical interviews, asking candidates to solve algorithm or data issues, and which require programming skills, as their main criterion.”
“And there are also companies that don’t care what you studied, or where, and don’t even care if you studied or not,” he said.
“But the problem there, frankly, is the US visa system, where a person must have studied in their field of work [in order to obtain a visa].”
“The truth is that a good software developer is educated by building software, and the more practice they have the better,” Cortés Rello said.
He also warned that, by rewarding new talent that walks in the door and not valuing experience, companies risk alienating current employees, and that new talent has a lot to learn in the business world as a developer with years of experience.
However, while there are certain skills that can only be learned over time, the new talent emerging continually, means that even seasoned developers have to stay current, such as learning new languages for writing code and being up to date with the latest technology.
“If you do not study and stay current, you become a dead weight,” Cortés Rello said.