Why a start-up might be your next employer

IT professionals do not look for jobs, but are found by companies. Sean Bave from Stack Overflow explains why your next career step could very well be in a startup.

Why a start-up might be your next employer

Anyone who completes an IT-related degree or is already working in this area has a luxury problem: the agony of choosing between numerous exciting tasks in well-paid or very well-paid jobs. Without a doubt, most graduates are already being courted today. However, there are certain skills that can increase your chances on the market. Sean Bave, Managing Director of Stack Overflow EMEA, explains why your next career step could be in a startup.

DMEXCO: Never before has it been so easy to find a job after studying IT as it is today. But which programming languages and systems should one specialize in to be even more in demand as a recruit?

Sean Bave: I can only advise against studying with a specific demand in mind. You should follow your interests and never stop learning. However, in our annual Developer Survey, we naturally see certain trends in new technologies. When we look at salaries, the most popular programming languages are Clojure, Scala, Go, Rust and R. People with a command of these languages are simply paid better than others.

When we asked which languages developers want to learn next, our survey provided the answers: Python, Javascript, Go, TypeScript and Kotlin. The developer types with the highest salaries are Site Reliability and DevOps specialists as well as Data Engineers. We also see that around three-quarters of professional developers worldwide have a Bachelor’s degree or higher. A course of study still seems to be a good starting point, although practical experience should not be lacking.

DMEXCO: According to your annual developer survey, what are the soft skills that companies and start-ups are particularly interested in?

Sean Bave: The world of developers is getting more complex, so it’s more important than ever to be able to work well in a team. With the spread of developments like DevOps or agile management methods, we are seeing software releases, testing and user research taking place in parallel to the actual development process. Excellent developers can jump between teams, mediate and negotiate priorities. The key concept here consists of agile procedures.

DMEXCO: What sectors and areas will provide graduates good secure jobs in the coming years?

Sean Bave: Nobody can predict the future. But topics like the Cloud, Artificial Intelligence, Containerization, Security and DevOps are currently in high demand. Being a development genius is only half the battle, however. It is just as important to be helpful, a good communicator, and simply a lifelong learner who constantly wants to develop the best products. People with these qualities will likely have a resilient network of good relationships, and thus their career will always remain future-proof.

DMEXCO: How has the role of IT staff members changed over the years? Are they still the nerds no one from management listens to, or do they play a different role today?

Sean Bave: In my opinion, this cliché was never quite right. What is currently changing, however, are the companies themselves. They are listening to the developers more and beginning to understand how their knowledge and experience can help a company move forward. Especially when it comes to trends like Big Data, the importance of the development department for the company’s success is becoming increasingly clear, as is the significance of IT’s contribution to the company as a whole. I therefore think that many companies are on the right track here if they listen more to their own developers.

DMEXCO: German IT experts are very interested in US companies, especially from Silicon Valley. What tips would you give applicants for developing an agile, Silicon-Valley mentality? Or do we even have to emulate Silicon Valley?

Sean Bave: There are many amazing tech talents in Germany and there are many world market leaders in their respective industries, who possess a lot of technological know-how. Bringing the two together bears amazing potential for the digital revolution. We are already seeing this in the automotive industry and other sectors, but there is still a lot of untapped potential in the Internet of Things (IoT) area, for example. Although Silicon Valley is often talked about more, this is Germany’s clear advantage and unique selling proposition.

DMEXCO: What should developers pay attention to when choosing their future workplace? What are the indications for (or against) a company?

Sean Bave: In a nutshell, you should look at the workplace and meet the people there—not just the bosses, but also your potential co-workers. You should research the Internet and, if possible, also talk to former employees and ask as many questions as possible about how the team works and which tools are used there. Then it will become clear whether the chemistry is right and whether you can be happy in the working environment.

Sean Bave has been with Stack Overflow since 2012 and has played a key role in the company's growth. Since 2017 he has been General Manager of Stack Overflow Talent and Advertising as well as Managing Director of Stack Overflow EMEA. As a member of the executive team, Sean is responsible for defining the company's talent business strategy. His primary focus is on connecting developers with companies.