What Tech Employers Should Know About IT Skills and Trends in 2020


The unemployment rate for American tech workers stands at 1.3% and is at an all-time low. 

Is this good news for you? It certainly is, if you’re a developer. 

For tech employers from startups to companies with larger development teams, this means fighting for the attention of the best talent. Being an employer in this dynamic tech world is nothing short of a challenge. Especially, as only 15.2% of the entire developer workforce is actively looking for a job.

In this article, we’re going to talk about the most demanded IT skills as well as share some tips on attracting the best talent in 2020. Let’s dive in. 

What IT skills are considered a must-have in 2020? 

Everyone wants JavaScript developers

Saying that the demand for JavaScript developers is high is an understatement. 72% of businesses are searching for programmers proficient in JavaScript, with React being the most popular JavaScript framework. This explains why as many as 33% of developers are tested on their knowledge of React. ES6 and Angular 2+ come in as second and third, respectively. 

Many thought that JavaScript will be finally overtaken by other programming tech stacks, but it still remains the number one programming language. In a survey done by Application Demand Trends Magazine, there were over 10 million JS users in 2018, with 3 million users becoming part of the JS family within a year of conducting the study. 

As we enter the third decade of the century, the demand for JavaScript developers still exceeds the supply.

What implications does it have for tech employers?

Talent war

The competition is fierce, and employers must fight for the best talent. While programmers have a wide choice of employment options, the same cannot be said for tech companies searching for developers with outstanding IT skills. 

It’s worth thinking about the factors that have a crucial impact on deciding which job offer to accept. 

Compensation (49%), professional development opportunities (33%), and good work-life balance (29%) are all seen as important in accepting a new job offer. 

It’s a common rule to offer a pay raise to those who switch jobs. Staying in the same position means getting a 2-5% raise annually while switching jobs might result in 10-50% higher earnings. Knowing how important salary is, it’s something that must be considered by tech employers who compete for the best IT talent. 

Nothing, however, beats personal growth and good career development opportunities, the lack of which is the number one reason for job switching. 

Good programmers get several jobs offers a month. If they stop learning, their work isn’t recognized, or they don’t see any opportunities for progression they will leave – it’s that simple. 

Most developers will have their JavaScript IT skills tested

JavaScript still appears to be the “must-have” IT skill, as more and more tech employers test their candidates’ JS expertise. Even if it’s not the only technology they’re being considered for!

Here’s an interesting graph that shows just how ubiquitous JavaScript is in today’s software world:

As you can see, only 3 out of the 8 most popular language pairs don’t include JavaScript.

Roughly, every fifth web developer tested for CSS or HTML will also need to display JavaScript skills (and vice versa). 

JS is also tested together with backend languages – Java (9.6%), and PHP (7.1%) – as well as SQL (13.8%).

This means that JavaScript is essential for any full-stack developer– even if it’s not the main technology they work in.

How about the main takeaway for tech employers?

They should consider the flexibility of hiring JavaScript developers for roles throughout their tech stack. 

Remember – JavaScript is about so much more than web-based applications; it’s also leveraged, for instance, in server-side deployments using Node.js. 

Hence, putting an emphasis on JS knowledge does wonders to facilitate communication between frontend and backend teams.

How about the trends taking place outside of the JavaScript discipline?

The demand for highly-skilled Python developers is growing

While JavaScript remains the most sought-after IT skill in 2020, Python should also be high up on your watchlist. 

According to a survey by Stack Overflow, “Python just edged out Java in the overall ranking, much like it surpassed C# last year and PHP the year before”.

There are several reasons for its skyrocketing popularity.

Firstly, Python is a general-purpose programming language. It’s also often referred to as a “batteries included” technology, as it features a comprehensive stack of libraries suited to many tasks.

Python has become the go-to language for AI, Machine Learning, and Data Science projects – which, as we know, are currently on the rise.

In fact, ‘Data Analysis’ is the single most popular IT skill tested within the Python stack, with 30% of all tests.

Interestingly, the second most popular Python-related skill is Django, a framework frequently used for server-side web development (21.8%). This is also reflected in the number of job posts that can be found online (as of February 21st, 2020, there were over 15,200 job offers for Django developers on LinkedIn alone).

Tech companies whose focus lies in AI, Data Science, or Machine Learning should thus put a strong emphasis on recruiting skilled Pythoners or growing their developers’ IT skills in this direction.

If you need any more convincing, then this trend hasn’t gone unnoticed by top tech companies. As of May 2019, Google alone had a staggering 30,000 Python developers on their AI-related projects!

Other technology trends you need to be aware of in 2020

While the ‘big two’ for 2020 might be JavaScript and Python, there are also several other trends worth noting.

According to DevSkiller’s IT skills report for 2020, Spring, ASP.NET, MySQL, HTML, Data Analysis, and Laravel also remain popular. 

To provide you with the most actionable insights, we’ve also checked what LinkedIn has to say on the matter.

Here a few global statistics as of late-February 2020:

Java – nearly 200,000 job offers for entry-level developers

At the moment of writing this post, there were over 400,000 job offers globally for Java developers. Nearly half were open to entry-level applicants – 195,000! 

This only confirms that there is a higher demand for senior Java developers than there is a supply of them. 

No wonder tech employers are open to junior talent and are willing to invest their time and effort into growing their competencies.

.NET/C# – 145,000 job posts worldwide (including 61,000 with an ASP.NET requirement)

If you’re wondering if there’s a specific .NET/C# skill there’s high competition for, it’s the popular ASP.NET framework. 

According to DevSkiller research, 55% of all .NET/C# tests are focused on this skill. 

This is closely reflected by the number of job offers on LinkedIn – 42.5% of all posts mention ASP.NET.

The conclusion here is that tech employers need to put in the extra effort into making their job offer stand out from the crowd.

SQL – nearly half a million job posts worldwide

Nearly 545,000 job posts were waiting to be filled in late-February 2020 – and that’s just data for LinkedIn alone!

Also, MySQL is the most sought-after framework – with 37.3% of all SQL-related tests according to DevSkiller, and nearly 125,000 job offers. 

HTML/CSS – a skill 63% of all developers are tested for

There are roughly 250,000 job offers with an HTML, and 220,000 with a CSS requirement. 

But it’s safe to say these numbers don’t do the HTML&CSS combo justice.

While you may not find such a requirement in a job ad, tech employers don’t take HTML&CSS for granted, and still verify these skills in 63% of all tests.

PHP stands strong with 122,000 job offers worldwide

For many years now, the tech community has been discussing whether PHP is becoming a thing of the past. However, with the strong Laravel framework community, and with the number of job offers, it’s safe to say that it’s here to stay.

While these numbers refer to the volume of job ads per technology, LinkedIn also offers a way to find the most attractive tech talent worldwide.

Let’s proceed to how you can attract the best developers to work with you in 2020.

What tech employers can do to attract (and hire!) the best talent in 2020 – best practices and tips

1. Offer a competitive salary

Everyone should be compensated fairly, irrespective of the sector they work in. However, this is especially important in the IT sector, where competition for talent is fierce, and where programmers can switch jobs every quarter if they feel like it. 

An average salary for a JavaScript developer in the United States is $78k with a lot of variation depending on the regional labor market. Knowing that 70% of businesses search for JavaScript programmers, offering a salary that at least meets the minimum salary requirements should be a no-brainer.

2. Recognize young talent and invest in their potential

We’ve mentioned earlier there is a deficit of experienced programmers with good IT skills, and one way of approaching this challenge is investing in young talent. The number of software developers is growing and is expected to reach 27.7 million by 2023, which is good news. But it also means there will be lots of inexperienced programmers entering the market. 

You should treat it as a business opportunity – it’s your chance to find talent with potential and help it flourish. 

How can you do it? 

Introducing mentoring programs is one way. You can assign a senior developer to each junior programmer, to offer them an opportunity to learn from their more experienced colleagues. Mentoring programs have proven very successful – no wonder they’re used by 71% of Fortune 500 companies. They have a positive impact on both mentors and mentees, increasing retention rates and speeding up promotion. This can be a good way for a startup without a strong employer brand to retain developers 

3. Work on your employer branding 

The time has come where employees recruit their future employers – not the other way around. This makes employer branding more prevalent than ever. 

Companies create entire departments responsible for employer branding which is a good indicator of its rising importance, so it is never too early to start building your employer brand.. 

Designing a good recruitment process should be high on your priority list if you aim to attract talent with outstanding IT skills. Bear in mind that good candidate experience is not limited to the interaction with a recruiter. It also includes the ease of navigating around the recruitment process. Do you provide sufficient information in the job description, do you regularly communicate with your candidates? 

According to Stephanie Troiano from The Hire Talent, nothing scares candidates away as effectively as an overly lengthy and complex recruitment process. 

We frequently hear about programmers complaining about having to complete various recruitment tasks which they’re not compensated for. 

Why should it matter to you? 

If your recruitment process isn’t evaluated positively by the candidate, they might discourage their fellow developers from applying for the job. As you know, the IT talent pool is rather limited, so a bad reputation isn’t something you can afford. Especially if you can’t call yourself Google of Facebook. 

4. Invest in training 

Offering learning opportunities and good perspectives for growth is another tactic for keeping and attracting IT talent. Setting aside a development budget for your programmers is an effective way to ensure continuous learning. 

You should encourage your developers to learn new programming frameworks. This will not only reduce any skill gaps you might have in your organization but also show you invest time and resources in your employees’ professional growth. 

Final thoughts 

Tech employers have a tough job, to say the least. The need for software developers is growing fast, while the pool of available talent is not growing fast enough. This trend turns talent acquisition into a real battlefield – especially when it comes to recruiting JavaScript developers. 

JS still remains the most demanded IT skill in 2020 and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to change any time soon – even with Python going up the ranks.

To enable tech employers to compete for the best IT talent they have to offer attractive salaries, good growth opportunities and make their employees feel rewarded and appreciated.

Even though most businesses aim at recruiting experienced programmers, it’s about time to start investing in more junior developers to address talent scarcity.