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Predictions for the year to come

Simeon Johnson
Mar 24
 - In 

Lookahead recently celebrated our ninth birthday. Over the years we've seen a lot of things change (and some things stay the same). As they say in the finance world, past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance, but we're going to try and make some predictions about how things will look by the time our tenth birthday arrives in 2021.

The rise of the paid tech test

Technical tests as part of interviews are always a hot topic. In times when candidates are in high demand, we see job searchers lose interest in a role when presented with yet another coding challenge for them to complete. Meanwhile companies still want a level of confidence in the people they hire, and believe a tech test is the best way to provide that.

Paying for the time a candidate spends completing a tech test acknowledges the effort required, and shows a level of respect that candidates will appreciate. If the "developer drought" continues then paid tech tests may likely become the norm.


Companies adapting to a skills shortage

Without the ability to import skilled engineers from overseas, Australian companies are all now competing for the same candidates. My prediction is that companies will invest more on internal development of their existing engineering teams and also be more flexible when it comes to hiring engineers who don't have experience with their particular tech stack.


The rise of the 'growth' developer

The past year was tough on a lot of businesses for obvious reasons. It's been over a year since COVID first reared its ugly head and companies are keen to know how they’ve performed, and how they can do better - particularly in the area of user interaction and customer acquisition. My prediction is that this year we will see the rise of the ‘growth’ developer - a new breed of developers who have great experience with the usual technologies, but also strong experience using marketing and analytics tools such as Segment, Mixpanel and Hotjar.


Onsite collaboration is a bonus, not a requirement

With the rise of remote-first working, software development teams are now collaborating virtually via video calls (Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams), instant messages (Slack), online documentation/knowledge bases (Confluence, Notion) and task management tools (Trello, Jira, Gitlab). Whilst onsite collaboration and co-location has been the norm for the past couple of decades, over the coming year I think we'll find that onsite meetings and co-located collaboration will be an exception, and not the norm. There may even come a point where software developers never meet their colleagues IRL (in real life), only virtually.


The need for someone to focus on effective communication

Since COVID, a lot of companies have transitioned to working remotely for the first time. How to continue to communicate effectively and efficiently within an organisation has become one of the biggest challenges. I think there'll be an increasing need for someone to focus on refining the communication process at a company, so that the teams can continue to collaborate effectively.


Every company becomes a training company

Remember how software was eating the world? It happened, and now every company is a software company. They’ll become a training company next.

Demand for developers will continue to rise sharply, along with salaries. As 2030 approaches, annual compensation packages of $1m AUD for technical leaders will be normal.

By embracing remote working, FAANG and others have unlocked previously ignored talent pools. If you’re running a startup in say Chicago, Toronto, or Dallas, 2020 was the year it got a whole lot harder to hire developers.

AUS/NZ are sheltered for now but eventually it’ll make more sense for tech giants to deal with the timezone difference and hire from relatively untapped market of amazing engineers. Companies like Square, Apple, Gitlab and Wordpress are leading the charge here.

Local Australian companies will create a sustainable advantage by training folks at all levels and finding the right balance of flexible working and on-site team interaction. Developers who can teach others and set standards across dev teams will be peers to the most senior engineers.


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