Recruiters: Coding talent needed, degree optional

HackerRank finds that bootcamps and other alternatives to four-year degrees are now seen as viable

Employers who once focused on finding software development talent from top universities are now hiring developers who learned the trade from coding bootcamps, junior colleges, and online resources, technical recruiter HackerRank says.

Citing an ongoing developer talent shortage that needs addressing, HackerRank sees technology democratizing how developers acquire skills. "It's more important than ever to realize that CS (computer science) degrees are not the only way to become a great developer," says Vivek Ravisankar, HackerRank co-founder & CEO. "That said, training is only one part of the equation. If companies don't find new ways to find and evaluate candidates based on skill, versus pedigree, then they'll continue to face a skills shortage."

Someone driven to learn the fundamentals, be a self starter, and demonstrate strong computational thinking can absolutely become a great software engineer without a traditional CS degree, Ravisankar says, citing Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg as examples of prominent developers without these degrees. Companies like JP Morgan Chase and VMware are looking at candidates without traditional degrees when hiring developers, HackerRank said.

When it comes to colleges, schools with the most esteemed reputations, such as Stanford University, are not the only suppliers of programmers, Ravisankar adds. Junior colleges or other perhaps less-esteemed four-year schools also matter. "With the democratization of skill training, it's increasingly less about where you went to school and more about whether or not you can do the job well," he points out. "Today, there are better ways to evaluate actual skills than what's on a resume. It's about skills first above all."

HackerRank emphasizes coding bootcamps like Software Guild, Iron Yard, epicodus, Code Fellows, and Treehouse as an alternative. "These are usually rigorous full-time courses that require a lot of work, practice, and skill assessments," notes Ravisankar.

JavaScript gets a greater focus at bootcamps than it does at traditional colleges. "Bootcamps have a limited amount of time to teach, and Javascript is a more practical skill in the industry," says Heraldo Memelli, lead content curator at HackerRank. "Javascript has increasingly become of the one of the most sought-after skills. It's a tool that new developers can use to build things fast."

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