The Emerald Resource Group Blog

News, advice, and insights for job seekers and employers.


Top 4 ways Java developers can stay competitive in today’s market

The IT industry is ever changing especially in times like the one we are currently living through. Java developers are not spared from this relentless change.

In my 30 years of experience, exceptional Java developers have always been in demand. However, the tech and frameworks that current developers are using is constantly changing and evolving. Keeping up with these new frameworks, associated languages and other technologies, will keep you competitive in the marketplace. 

Typically what I’ve seen is if engineers don’t adapt to the new trends in the marketplace their role becomes stale and mundane. They may find their career starting to stall or worse yet they lose their passion for why they wanted to be in software development in the first place.

So what can you do right now to prepare for the future of Java development? 

From talking with CIOs, CTOs, and VPs of technology from Fortune 500 companies, mid-size firms, and start ups, They were willing to share 4 ways Java developers can stay competitive in today’s market.

1. Learn cloud platforms

When talking with hiring managers and IT leaders in organizations, one critical skill that has been coming up frequently is having some knowledge and ability to use various cloud platforms. You do not need to become a full-fledged cloud engineer. However, a Java developer with experience in cloud platforms is highly sought after. 

Why is that? 

Many CIO’s who I talked to who are using cloud platforms are starting with a few small projects that an organization needs to conduct related to their cloud platform. For example, an organization may need to write an integration or bridge the software to connect to the cloud. Most of the time, organizations will have to pay their cloud provider a high consulting fee to write these scripts. But, if you have some knowledge and experience working with cloud platforms, you could be able to write these integrations. This saves your company a lot of money on consulting fees. Which in turn reflects very highly on you.

Many leaders in IT have also told me they look for Java developers with cloud platform experience because they have first hand knowledge on whether reliability and performance issues with an application come from the infrastructure side or the application side and not have to rely on the vendor’s word. Having that resource in house helps facilitate getting the application back up and running for their business, employees, and/or customers much faster. 

But which cloud platform should you learn? 

There are three main cloud platforms to choose from which are AWS, Azure and Google cloud. My suggestion is you start with what current cloud platform your employer is running on. If your current environment isn’t running a cloud solution, I suggest asking your manager. At the very least it will demonstrate your interest in learning new skills. If you can’t get a response, you can do some research on what cloud platforms are most popular based on the company industry and company size in which you are applying to. 

Here are a few resources to help you learn the cloud platform that you choose. As always, in my experience be aware that courses and certifications are just the springboard for your learning process. As a Java developer, it is ideal if you can demonstrate what you have learned by incorporating them into side projects. 

For Azure


For Google Cloud

2. Increase your full stack abilities

Taking a business concept and having the ability to run it from front-end to the back-end is perhaps the number one skill I hear CIOs wish their java developers had. Full stack developers of applications are not only sought after by employers, but also increases your career options. 

You don’t have to be as skilled or experienced as a full UI/UX developer. However, you do want to have good knowledge and good experience in key front-end languages and frameworks. Here is a list of front end languages and frameworks you may want to have good knowledge and experience in:

  • HTML / CSS
  • React
  • Node.JS
  • Angular.JS
  • Vue.JS
  • JavaScript

As a Java developer, how can you start to learn the front-end to complete a full business concept all the way through? 

Starting learning front-end with books, courses, and real world experience

I have compiled a list of books and courses to help you start to learn the front-end to become a full stack developer.  

It is important to know that employers do not hire you because of online courses you take, but instead they hire you for the experience you have. Therefore, when going through the courses, my suggestion is to apply these ideas in your current role or as a side project to show your current or future employer you know what you are capable of.

3. Learn Kotlin

Kotlin is a multi-purpose programming language that is highly interoperable with Java. A few of the main reasons why it is highly sought after is its ability for code to be easily transpiled to mobile applications. Kotlin is also able to interact with older Java code. This saves a lot of times and headaches.
But how can you learn Kotlin? Here are a few resources I have compiled. However, from talking with hiring managers over the past three decades, I have learned that courses are a great start to learning. But, you must implement your new found knowledge and skills with current projects or side projects to prove to employers your ability to write in Kotlin. 

4. Develop great script writing skills

In my experience, a Java developer who has excellent script writing skills is more likely to be chosen for complex projects, because of the integration and automation that can be done with scripting.  
Here are a few online courses to help you learn how to use scripting languages:

As I have stated before, in my experience with working with employers the best way you can learn scripting languages and show to your current or future employer is to build a side project and host it on GitHub.

Embrace change!

In our ever changing world, it is important to be aware of the overall direction of where open source technology is headed.

It’s an exciting time in software development and with open source technology there are so many great options to learn newer technology and tools. It is important to just pick one or two tools that you’re passionate about learning and apply it to your current role or a side project.

If you are interested in learning more about opportunities in the Java development space feel free to schedule a call with one of our recruiters using the link here.