Programming Skills Most Desired by Employers in 2016

It’s no myth that programmers are a highly sought-after group for companies all over the globe. In her Forbes article on The Most Promising Jobs of 2016, Katheryn Dill breaks down and analyzes GlassDoor’s Best Jobs in America rankings, which analyzed the highest scoring jobs on their site and compared the earning potential with the ability to obtain a job in that field. Mobile Developers came in at number five while Software Engineers are in the top ten. After falling in the past few years, Software Development Managers still hold a spot in the top twenty. Scott Dobroski, the career trends analyst for GlassDoor points out, “This year we see a lot of tech jobs and we also see a lot of health care jobs–that should not be a surprise,” said Dobroski. “What that indicates is these two industries continue to grow and be across the board great places for people to find jobs.”

Joseph Mapua also points out in his article in SkilledUp that, according to the BLS, businesses are looking to hire IT and computer workers due to the high demand for implementing new technologies. Developing software, enhancing security, upgrading outdated systems are all areas for which organizations have a need for computer professionals.

US News Today came out with their list of top 100 jobs of 2016 recently as well. Software and web developers held strong spots in the top fifteen and Computer Systems Analysts were number three in the entire list! Within the list of tech jobs, the top 5 careers include these three plus IT managers and Information Security Analyst.

The problem for programmers seeking a job is knowing on which skills to focus. Technology is an ever-changing field with new or updated programming languages introduced constantly. How do you know where to start and what to emphasize on your resume?

The following list should help give you an idea of what you may need to improve or add to your list of programming skills. Interestingly enough, you’ll see that even though a technology background is necessary, most employers emphasize interpersonal and analytical skills rather than certain programming languages.

Critical Thinking

Hopefully as an IT professional, you have already developed critical thinking skills to a good extent. The ability to analyze problems, come up with solutions, and to implement these solutions are all a very necessary part of programming, whether you are creating new code or maintaining and improving established systems. And companies seem to hire new programmers to do a little of both, as Matt Weisfeld discovered in his interview of small, medium, and large businesses to see what they are looking for most in new programming hires.

Interpersonal and Personal Skills

Another interesting find that Matt saw in his poll was that many businesses want computer professionals who are articulate, can communicate well, are professional, and some were even interested in programmers with presentation skills. Being a team player was also a big must to most of the businesses. found in his own experience of job hunting that emotional intelligence, the ability to self-learn, and creativity are other important personal skills to acquire.


Having the willingness to learn new skills is another huge factor that hiring employers desire in new programming employees. Matt found that all sizes of businesses he polled emphasized that foundational skills and a strong technical background are definitely necessary but that a certain language is not necessarily as important. If you have a good knowledge base, then it is easy for a company to train you on new languages they want you to know. It’s not so easy to train someone on interpersonal skills.

Big Data, Mobile, Cloud, Security

TechRepublic conducted a roundtable interview with top IT executives on what they predicted to be the top IT job skills most desired in 2014. Four of the most mentioned jobs were in anything related to big data, mobile, cloud, or security; and roles include software developers, database administrators (DBAs), and IT security professionals. Within mobile, a knowledge of Android is especially rising in demand. Another interesting point mentioned in this interview was that those who know only UI design without any UX skills will be less popular this year. Yet a programmer who also has design skills is much more highly desired this year as well.

High Demand Languages

Mentioned above a few times was the fact that, even though the top desired skills are personal and relational, a strong technology foundation is necessary. Thankfully, recent studies have emerged that show the trend for programming languages listed most often last year and so far this year in job posts.

Ashley Ellis published some interesting summaries of popular programming skills. One mentioned was the TIOBE index which shows which programming languages had the most search activity on the web. The list between 2013 and 2014 didn’t differ too much. C, Java, Objective-C, C++, C#, PHP, (Visual) Basic, and Python were all still the top eight. Ruby and Perl were #9 and #10 from the 2013 list but had been replaced by Javascript and Visual on the 2014 list.

The same Ashley Ellis article also pointed out an eWeek study on top programming languages employers want employees to know. The eWeek study found the same results as the TIOBE index, except that Ruby, HTML5, and CSS were also ones employers emphasized.

Mashable points out that in 2014, programming jobs are paying more than other tech jobs. The article, written by Rebecca Hiscott, lists Java, C, C++, C#, Objective-C, PHP, Python, Ruby, JavaScript, and SQL as the top desired languages by employers. In fact, a GlobalPost article mentions that SQL is the top paying skill in the job market, even if it is a little lower in demand that the aforementioned skills. Global Post also mentions Perl and XML in the list of high demand languages.

What to Mention in Your Resume

The best way to beef up your resume is to get some experience if you don’t yet have much. You may want to pick up some cheap or free projects just to add to your resume. When just starting out, this can be necessary at first, but make sure you only do this for a few very small projects. If you have some extra time, you may want to learn some new programming languages as well, since this will show you are a go-getter and self-learner.

Be sure to list details of experiences, and not just programming experience either. Mention anything in any projects you have done in which you dealt beautifully with a difficult client. Mention any collaboration you have done. Tell about a difficult problem you solved and briefly mentioned how you solved it. Any brief details such as these that show your relational and problem-solving skills will help you stand out. And, of course, don’t forget to mention your skills.

Most of all, be sure you can back up all of your mentions on your resume. It is wise to go into detail about how well you have handled situations and projects, but it will not reflect well on you if your prospective employer finds out you have been coloring your stories a little too brightly. Honestly promote yourself, and you will come across as a confident programmer with good character.

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