The emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) technology is having an influence on the tech job market and the work of IT pros themselves, according to the results from CoderPad's annual State of Tech Hiring survey.
More than two-thirds (67%) of tech professionals surveyed said they are already incorporating AI into their daily work, using tools such as ChatGPT and GitHub's Copilot.
The rise of AI in recruitment practices was also evident, with more than a third (38%) of tech recruiters leveraging AI in their hiring processes, marking it as a top investment priority for 2024.
However, a third of job candidates said they viewed the use of AI in job interviews as cheating, while only 8% of recruiters encouraged its utilization.
Recruiters said they anticipate a challenge in hiring AI/machine learning specialists, marking a shift in the roles they anticipate being difficult to fill in 2024.
The top roles recruiters said they will be challenged to fill are back-end developers and engineers, cited by 21% of respondents, followed by AI or machine learning specialists at 18%, and full-stack developers and engineers (15%).
Developers' Soft Skills Take On Greater Importance
The prominence of soft skills, considered as crucial as hard skills by 78% of developers and 81% of recruiters, also indicated the transformative influence of AI on the broader spectrum of job roles.
"AI technologies are only becoming more central to software development and with that shift, skills such as code editing, code review, identifying issues, and seeing around technical corners will become increasingly important," explained CoderPad CEO Amanda Richardson.
She advises developers to work on skills that are more aligned with being an editor than being a writer.
"The rising demand for soft skills in development reflects the need for developers to work collaboratively on teams and across the company," she said. "Communication skills, being able to explain complex concepts in simple language, and collaborating with others are top needs."
Richardson said companies should prioritize finding ways to assess these skills in interviews — from having developers demonstrate these skills during the interview process to using structured interviewing to describe situations when they've used these skills.
"It's absolutely crucial to evaluate a developer's skills during the interview process, far more than just talking about where someone worked," she added.
What Developers Are Prioritizing When Job Searching
Despite signs of a recovering tech job market, 21% of developers expressed a decrease in job security, prompting 59% of them to either switch jobs recently or contemplate exploring new roles.
Among the reasons cited for job changes were better advancement opportunities (52%), higher salary (48%), and a desire for new challenges (27%).
The developers surveyed were clear about their needs for a new job — working on challenging projects and with talented colleagues, plus having opportunities for advancement consistently ranked as the top reasons to take a new job.
"Developers also prioritize work-life balance and working from home," Richardson said. "A number of the faster-growing AI companies offer these options, so companies should be prepared to understand what they're up against in recruiting."
She said she was most surprised and excited about the increased optimism in technical recruiting. Despite dramatic headlines about layoffs, recruiters report a 26% increase in budgets for technical recruiting in 2024 versus last year.
"This reflects what we see in internal data and hear from recruiters, but it's fair to say there is considerable cautious optimism about technical hiring in the coming months," she explained.
Developers are making it very clear that they're interested in remote work, a bit of work-life balance, and interesting technical challenges, according to Richardson.
"All those are within a company's control," she noted. "Given the expected rise in recruiting and job openings, a company looking to retain talent should look at their overall 'package' for developers, ensuring they're giving their best people big challenges and the freedom to get that big work done."
In the end, Richardson said, like many roles, developers want interesting work and some freedom in how they get that work done.
"If a company is hoping to attract and retain this type of talent, it better be able to answer these needs," she said.
About the authorNathan Eddy is a freelance writer for ITPro Today. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin.