August 14, 2018
First, what is Agile? In a nutshell, it’s a set of management practices that allows software developers to write code and build products more efficiently.Agile has gained serious ground in IT departments across a variety of industries, from finance to food service. While Agile doesn’t explicitly require a team of full stack developers, it does ask developers to be fully engaged in all facets of building an application, from creating user stories to deployment. As a result, roles on an Agile team start to blur, and each individual winds up working on features across the tech stack.=There’s no doubt that a team of specialized front-end and back-end developers can build great software. However, today’s hiring managers seem to have a preference for full stack developers, or at least those who understand both sides of a given tech stack, because these well-rounded employees have a leg up on others in an Agile environment.
Structure and efficiency are still important for software engineers to get right, but more and more, it’s critical for developers to code across the stack with the end user at top of mind. In fact, Agile teams dedicate time to create user stories that inform the products they build, and each team member is involved in a recurring (or iterative) design process.Tim Brown, the CEO of international design firm IDEO, says, “Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer's toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”Software is everywhere these days, and it’s not just for techies. Solutions need to be slick, innovative, and easy-to-use. The latest version of iOS or Android needs to be impressive enough for tech enthusiasts to get excited about and straightforward enough for grandpa to check his voicemail. Most importantly, good developers realize those two things aren’t mutually exclusive.
Diversity in tech remains elusive and persists as a key talking point in the industry. Women, as well as black, Latinx, and LGBT workers, remain severely underrepresented. In light of this year’s high-profile headlines on gender diversity issues at Uber and Google, many tech companies have doubled down on their commitments to boost workplace equality and employ people who authentically empathize with a diverse group of end users.We’ve also noticed a growing trend toward diversity initiatives that aim to include nontraditional hires like military veterans, career changers, and candidates without four-year degrees. For example, the Microsoft LEAP initiative seeks candidates who have tech experience but may have been out of work for a while (e.g., stay-at-home moms or dads) or career changers with at least six months of software development experience.
This is less of a hiring trend than it is a skill that employers continue to require of all new developers, especially non-traditional hires who may not have a computer science degree or years of experience.Software developers – especially those new to the field – are in a constant state of learning new technologies and solving problems they’ve never encountered before. The ability to define a problem, recognize key inputs, and identify potential solutions is particularly important when the quality of a line of code depends on the developer’s ability to think logically and efficiently.Interviewers often ask candidates to walk through a scenario, usually a past experience or a hypothetical case study, where the candidate needs to demonstrate their ability to assess a problem and formulate a solution. Sometimes these questions can be technical and quantitative, other times they’re more behavioral, but either way, it’s clear that companies want employees who think well on their feet and come to their managers with solutions instead of self-explanatory questions.